Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Heat Lightning, 1962; watercolor, charcoal, and white chalk on joined paper, unfinished, 58 x 45 inches; DC Moore Gallery, New York
Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, July 14, 1947
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Mounting paper in studio.
Evening—a beautiful, violent storm at sun-down. I watched it from the back yard—(later M & C join me).
It had been preceded by a calm, close humid evening—scarce a breeze stirring—the sun a pale rose-golden glow imperceptibly (almost) only in pale gray green mists—(glowing thru the pear tree)— Long before there were any visible signs of a storm, low ominous rumbling commenced, growing gradually louder and more insistent. Then appeared a slight darkening of the gray green mists in the south and southeast—for a time it appeared as if the rumbling was a false alarm. Then abruptly the storm developed; the mists disappeared and high in the southwest, the storm appeared in all its awesome glory—great masses of blue black clouds, with sullen blackish depths underneath a roll of cold white “wind” clouds—above a dull saffron yellow sky—came sweeping on above the trees & houses, which were lit up by a pale cold blue light from the east—vivid streaks of brilliant pink lightening cut thru the heavy yellow sky, which was now streaked with falling rain—Now the wind was heard, advancing like an express train; overhead strange dark rhythms of cloud with cold white rifts, seemed to writhe in agony—The great poplar trees, leaning far over, were a jet black-green toward the storm, but lit up from the east, a strange effect—and then the full force of the storm was upon us, & we had to retreat into the studio (we opened the window and watched from there)—Now one was a monotonous gray of falling rain.
Many of the bolts seemed to strike close (later we learned an oil tank in Ebenezer was struck and set afire).
After the storm passed on, the whole western sky became more & more yellow – lightening still flashing from the east lit up the house with a strange blue-violet light, brighter than the yellow sky behind.
It was pleasant.
Art home from his Canadian trip about 11:00—he had us laughing at his description of their journey thru the lakes & swamps.
It was pleasant in bed, to listen to a storm to the South. Will I ever be able adequately to paint the glory & mystery of a summer storm?
Charles E. Burchfield, July 14, 1947