Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), The Wind Harp, 1947-57; watercolor, pencil and charcoal on joined paper mounted on board, 30 x 40 inches; Image from the Burchfield Penney Art Center Archives
Charles Burchfield, Journals, March 31, 1948
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
S.W. of Gowanda – (Route 18 & 62 S.W. to Cattaraugus Rd, east on it & then left on a narrow dirt road a short distance.)
A warm windy day, with dark layer clouds, seemingly an ideal day, for painting – Route 18A to Collins & thence to Gowanda. Once I stopped at a ravine thru which ran a noisy brook over greenish flat rock – Again – to make a sketch of a telegraph pole. Stop by Stream – hepaticas in bloom.
Southwestward on 18 & 62, to the Cattaraugus Rd, east on which to a narrow dirt road. By a bridge that spanned a small stream running thru low flat meadows, I found a subject that seemed ideal for improvising on a March wind theme – trees in the vague form of a harp, with a tiny rivulet paralleling them, with a scattered group of trees beyond, & a woods. As the road was narrow, I backed off of it into a field, first having tested it (as I thought) for solidarity. By now the wind was becoming almost a gale. I planned to set up my easel on the lea of the car, - First I ate my lunch; all at once, it began to rain, fine at first, & then, as the clouds thickened and turned to a dense wall of mist, coming down in a torrent. Sketching was out of the question, and I realized I had better get the car out on the road, before the rain made the ground too soggy for traction. Apparently, I was too late, for the wheels only spun futilely into the soft mud, I used some aluminum mesh tracks without avail. There was nothing to do but seek help. Down the road a short distance were two farmhouses, in the yard of the first was standing a new truck. I went down, rather doubtfully. A very clean-looking intelligent young man opened the door, grinned slightly when I told him my predicament, and said he would come at once. – First he got a tow-chain from the barn & then we were on our way. It was but the rush of a moment out get my car out on the road. Grateful, I asked him how much I owed him – He only smiled & said not a thing. I could see that he would be insulted if I pressed him, so I thanked him & went on my way, feeling a glow over the encounter.
The balance of the day was one of rather futile wandering, trying to find some place where I could paint sheltered from the rain – Thru Cattaraugus, thence to Otto & East Otto – once, on the E. Otto Springville Rd, I stopped at a church, and contemplated making a sketch from the vehicle sheltered from the rain. – but it was not very interesting. Shortly beyond here, I stopped at a dense swamp, and as the rain had slackened decided to try to make a sketch. I had my easel all set up & the umbrella, when all at once the skies “opened” again and more torrential rains than ever came down. I hastily put my paraphernalia away – then sat in the car a while just looking at the swamp & making mental notes. There were many pussy willows half out, as well as some beautiful pale silvery green cottonwoods with jet black markings, in full bloom. Many peepers –
Then on home, feeling frustrated –
Charles E. Burchfield, March 31, 1948