Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), An April Mood, 1946-1955; watercolor and charcoal on joined paper, 40 x 58 inches; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Purchase, with partial funds from Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence A. Fleischman, 55.39
Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, April 4, 1950
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
To the “Big Woods” east of Gowanda, painting.
A warm sunshine and shower day, with occasional gusts of wind.
How good it was to be out again, to be “going out painting” –
Below Hamburg I saw a bluebird on a wire. I stopped the car & got out. Soon another (his mate) & then still another pair came. They kept flying to a woods and back again, singing. I could not get a clear view of the color. Again a few miles further on I saw two more pairs –
Spring peckers in full song.
Arrived at the woods about noon. The sun shining – a strong warm S.W. wind. For a little walk. A blue bird in a field to the left and so crossing the fence, I went toward it. He settled on a fence post and I was able to get very close and revel in his color to my heart’s content. From time to time he flew down to the ground, singing his soft elusive song, – It is always a new born miracle.
Westward to the old rail fence & then back for lunch, having picked out a spot in the woods for my afternoon’s painting.
I had planned to do a song of the song-sparrow coming into a woods, but as the sky became over-cast and a strong wind began its roaring in the tree tops, I changed and decided to try to paint the roar of the wind in the woods. A fine afternoon – At times the wind ceased altogether and a great calm settled over the woods; then in a distant part a soft roaring would commence and grow louder & louder & soon all the trees about me would be clashing & swaying majestically back & forth like inverted pendulums. Soon it began to rain and I had to get the big umbrella. As the day wore on my ideas changed & I began to improvise on other themes, such as wind thru leaves dancing over the floor of the woods, and big rain-drops hitting them with a great clatter. Bits of sunlight entering into “windows” of the woods, great hemlocks bending before the force of the wind, the branches overhead clashing in anger at the menacing clouds. Will I ever truly be able to express the elemental power & beauty of God’s woods?
After I had quit painting and carried the things into the car, the rain let up for a while. I got three baskets of rotting wood, & then drove west to the brow of the hill by the “amphitheater” with its woods back-drop. Here I ate my evening lunch, watching the landscape & listening to all the sounds. The woods below me was beautiful in color – tops rich sienna & orange and with rich purplish gloom inside – a sort of warm color red-violet. All at once a deer appeared on the edge of the hill near me. “He” saw the car, but was curious & came slowly in – then another & another & still another appeared. It seemed like a doe, or an antler-less buck (tho I could not be sure) and two younger ones. – They were very curious and kept walkingaround eyeing the car, while I sat “frozen” afraid to move. Against the orange & purple woods they were a wonderful sight. Presently, tiring of this game, they turned as one, lifted their snow-white tails & ran off into the woods. For several minutes I could see them running around in the woods, frisking & playing with great abandon.
Charles E. Burchfield, April 4, 1950