Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Oat Field in July, 1938-; watercolor on paper, with charcoal plans for revision, 27 3/4 x 22 3/4 inches; Courtesy of DC Moore Gallery, New York
Charles Burchfield, Journals, July 9, 1942
Tuesday, July 9, 2019
To country north and east of Lancaster.
A brilliant July day - exactly what I needed for my picture. First to Harris Hill Rd, and parked on Pleasant View Road near its junction with this road. Altho one is not conscious of any rise in elevation proceeding north of Lancaster, yet there must be some, for here there is a vast wide spreading expanse to the southward - Flat it is, but more vast and thrilling than many a view from a high hill. The low hills south east of Lancaster were veiled with a thick milky blue-violet haze - the pale hot blue sky above, spotted with pale phantom like cumulus clouds, only visible by their pasty white crowns, and pale violet gray bases. In the immediate foreground, a beautiful field of wheat swayed and trembled luxuriantly in the hot sunlight. I made several drawings here, and ate my lunch before going on. Once a cat came slinking timidly along the edge of the field. I called to it; it wanted to make friends for it came clear up on the running board of the car, but could not overcome its fear, and finally wandered on. A young farmer boy went back and forth several times, and I felt that he was wanting to see what I was doing. Not wishing to be bothered I gave him no more encouragement than a pleasant "good morning" - tho I felt guilty about it.
After lunch, eastward on Genesee St. A large wheat field on the North side; park and walk back to its north east corner. There I found exactly what I wanted for my field of wheat, and made many studies. It was a glorious moment, the sky by now cleared of clouds, the sky vast, remote, pale - The countryside was luscious, and full. To the northwest a limestone (?) works, brilliant white - blasting at times, with great clouds of chalk-white dust following.
Next to Pavement Rd, and then from it to Peppermint Rd. (what a delightful name! - a field here of reddish wheat. Walk back to its Northeast corner, where I had to enter a lane to make my studies. Shortly after I started, a farmer started down the lane with horse and hay-tedder. I felt I should make some sort of explanation for my trespass on his farmer, so when he came alongside I said "I am just admiring your field of wheat!" "Oh" he replied "You'll have to ask the boss" ! - The "boss did indeed come along a few minutes after, on a hay wagon - I repeated my remark to him & explained what I was doing. "O.K." he replied pleasantly. To my question: when would the wheat be ready to cut, he said that he was starting Monday.
Followed Peppermint Rd to Ransom Rd, on which I turned south - The country here again is wide and far-horizoned - many railroads running east and west adding a note of excitement. I spent an hour or so here, then southward, past Clinton to Rice Rd and thence home.
Charles E. Burchfield, July 9, 1942