Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Summer Solstice (In Memory of the American Chestnut Tree), 1961-66; watercolor on paper, 54 x 60 inches; Image from the Burchfield Penney Art Center Archives
Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, July 10, 1964
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
A hot day, but low humidity, —
All day on “Summer Solstice” bringing it to a stage where I can begin to judge it [as] a whole — The foreground, which in so many pictures is a problem (i.e. — it has to “be there,” but not detract too much from the main theme) after all seemed to solve itself, more or less. Employing daisies and buttercups (as the most familiar or common of childhood flowers) I found that they could not have even the slightest dark accent, but must be swimming in a glare of sunlight from the zenith sun, and therefore all but obliterated.
“A tree is a temple; God surrounds the innocent child (a man) with His presence.
“From behind a dark overhanging cloud, the sunlight falls to earth from the Zenith, like golden rain”
I can see the external beauty of “new” flowers, or exotic flowers, and marvel at them, but I always return to the “commonplace” flowers (i.e., common in the eyes of small-minded people) — daisies, buttercups, chickweed, black-eyed Susans, sorrel, queen-anne’s lace, goldenrod, asters, etc, as the most beautiful of all summer flowers. They belong to the elemental world of childhood; of the simplicity of an unreasoning and blind faith in God as the creator of all things.
On my way to the drugstore and Nenner’s — at late afternoon, everything seemed to be so rich in interest: — a world born anew —
At sunset we went out to see our “retreat” (the smell of redwood) — it’s almost finished (needing only the windows & some extras inside)
Then stopped at the studio to look at “Summer Solstice” Bertha thought it approached a finish in effect, and that it was beautiful —
Charles E. Burchfield, July 10, 1964