Charles E. Burchfield in his own words Share Tweet


Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Hepaticas and Tree Spirit, 1965; Conté crayon and watercolor, 11 x 17 inches; Private Collection

Charles E Burchfield, Journals, April 20, 1963

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A sunny cool day – The “Life” photographer (John Loengard) arrived at 11:00 (instead of 1:00 as he announced yesterday) When I asked him how long it would take he said casually he expected to be around most of the afternoon. To my suggestion that we take him to lunch he countered with the proposal that he do the honors, “Henry Luce likes to take people out to eat.” –

First he took pictures of me out by the willow tree (his sole purpose to get a “portrait” of me in connection with trees – Most of them taken through branches which puzzled me until he explained that the branches would be out of focus – Then to Chestnut Lodge for lunch – (Bertha was somewhat loath to go along, thinking she would be “in the way”. She would not be “in the way” and I felt I needed her presence, as I felt sure he and I would have little to talk about – and so it proved, he did not seem disposed to talk at all, so I had to keep the conversation going which was a strain.)

He had before asked Bertha if there was any particular spot in the country which was a favorite sketching spot of mine – She thought of the “Big Woods” so, after lunch, in spite of the distance, there is where we headed. He chose a young beech-tree, with its last year’s bleached out leaves intact, as a background, he facing into the sun – He took innumerable pictures, the process seeming to me, endless. In spite of the discomfiture of posing, I was able to take note of the beauty of the day, and I wished I were painting – From the woodland ponds to the south, spring peepers sent up a shrill call – enveloping clamor – a wild elemental sound that never fails to stir the blood. At our feet were many hepaticas in bloom. One odd one at the base of a tree – two fully formed flowers on one stem. By the roadside, the yellow flowers that resemble dandelions a little (the name of which I can never recall) – It does not seem as if spring were here, unless we see the flowers. We arrive home by 5:00 – he left for the airport at once.

Charles E Burchfield, Journals April 20, 1963