Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Flame of Spring, 1948; watercolor on paper, 40 x 30 inches; Image from the Burchfield Penney Art Center Archives, Collection of Munson-Williams Proctor
Charles E. Burchfield, Journals March 18, 1948
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
To Elma Nursery Country—sketching—
A mild, sunny day, with no wind.
How good it was to be out in the open again! I made little excursions up and down the creek, and up on the high earth bank to the south—on all sides I felt the presence of God, and the goodness of his creation (which writers from the beginning of times have euphemistically called Nature! Nature does this or plans that wisely etc—as if Nature were a separate being from God—in reality an atheistic term)—the bark of trees, as it caught the sunlight, each little branch and knot as it gleamed sunlight against the blue sky, the way some branches high up were in shadow,—all seemed too beautiful to be true—The water-washed pebbles and small rounded stones by the creek, and murmur of the water— an elemental sound out of eternity! At one point I watched the sunlight dancing on the rippled surface of the water. The water was composed of two principle colors, a soft neutral pink, and pale soapstone green which kept constantly interweaving and changing places with each other but never blending.
Up the high bank, above the huge semi-circular cavity where the earth is eroding rapidly—huge massive yellow brown clumps of earth trembled down, jutting into the creeks, and, as it dissolve muddying the hitherto clear waters up —The earth up here had been plowed last Fall, but already part of the plowed part has fallen away. Warm up here, with heat waves quivering over the dead bleached out grass—The high up quivering call of a blue-bird—I saw him, a tiny bird, with characteristic dipping flight—a plaintive sound—
Having determined to make a painting of the fantastic fermenting old willows forming a pointed arch over a little water fall, I went back to the car and ate my lunch. Then I set up my easel (with some difficulty due to the slant of the road bank and close proximity to the road) and soon was at work. I felt full of energy and drive. Worked until 5:00.
Putting my things in the car, & locking it, I went for a walk along the eastern cliff over hanging the creek, to reach which I climbed the roof-like ridge of bank, which descended here to the creek. Again the same rhapsodic mood came to me. Altho the sun was low in the west, it was still warm, the air very still—The sun turning the creek to silver,—when I reached the highest points (after crossing several spongey wheat fields, a slight cool current of air from the east.
Back to the car and soon on my way home.
Evening the chamber music concert at the Gallery. A fine concert. The players seemed in especially good form. First a Beethoven Trio (opus. 1 No. 2) a fine thing, and what a remarkable creation for an opus No. 1. ! Then a duet for cello & violin by Haydn, which somehow I could not grasp, and then after an intermission, the beloved Dumky Trio by Dvorak: — This was beautiful beyond even my wildest anticipation. Wonderfully played, and I heard things that the records I love, had not reproduced. A fine evening.
Charles E. Burchfield, March 18. 1948