Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Landscape with Hills and Clouds, Undated; watercolor on paper, 26 x 30 inches; Image from the Burchfield Penney Art Center Archives
Charles Burchfield, Journals, July 26, 1936
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Last evening an unusual cloud phenomenon- (similar to the cloud effects of that rhapsodic year of 1915, when I was continually overwhelmed by the power and beauty of the heavens)- a long narrow mass of heavy cumulus clouds extending from the west to the east, dividing the sky almost into two equal parts. The edges of the cloud tops to the north, were lit up by the sun, brilliantly white and constantly swelling rapidly and changing shape as if inflating from within. The ragged edges of the overhead clouds, seethed and writhed ominously, like an invented sea, and were tinged with an eerie cold blue light. It had the feeling of an enormous cavern, with the clouds as the ceiling and the earth as the floor, a cavern such as never had existed. When at last the serpentine line came to the end and the sun burst forth, the whole group turned suddenly blue-black, with bright houses & trees standing out sharply against it.
It is difficult now to understand the state of mind I was in, on June 10, when I went to call on Rev Neeb, for now it seems so impossible that I could accept the legends of the Old Testament as facts. What was I thinking of? As I walked out thru the back-yard after supper, and saw the clear sunset sky flecked with golden yellow clouds, and saw the “look” of the sunlit side of the shed, I realized that for me the only divine reality is the unspeakable beauty of the world as it is.
The last few weeks of takingtreatments from Dr. Canderi, of work on the coop, and the seemingly endless work on frames are like a nightmare to me. How I long for peace, and leisure, and freedom from worry, and for the delight of a creative period.
Charles Burchfield, July 26, 1936