Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Sun-glow on a Rainy Day, March 23, 1917; watercolor and gouache on paper, 15 3/4 x 13 1/2 inches (Frame: 32 5/8 x 26 1/2 inches); Gift of Peter E. and Elizabeth M. Parisi, 2005
Charles Burchfield, Journals, August, 21, 1914
Monday, August 21, 2017
Rainy season continues.
Big misty low hanging clouds. Light showers all morning. When there are such clouds it seems as if the swelling earth went up to meet the clouds not the clouds dissolving and coming down.
At noon the sky clears off but almost immediately a storm appears in the northwest. We are on the outskirts of it on this account we have a rare combination of sunlight and rain. The rain - straight falling big drops - comes in “regiments” - there is music in the roaring sound of the rain approaching ever growing louder like a wind penetrating a woods, until finally the air is streaked with great snowy drops and then that sudden cessation of sound as it passes on, it is like the coming & passing shadows on a windy half-cloudy day.
At the height of such a shower, the sun, at the meridian came out - what a miracle. It was like some masterpiece of music when there is a general softness of tone and all at once every instrument blares forth in an ecstasy of sound. Such was the sunlight shattering the rain - only far more wonderful. The falling drops caught the sunlight, sparkled brilliantly and carrying it to earth broke it into diamond dust; wet roofs caught and sent it shattering to the glistening tree-leaves - where it hung momentarily until jarred loosed by the wind it came back thru the glossy elastic air, and so it flashed back and fort till the air was a sparkle of light.
I looked for a rainbow, but the sunlight was of short life. The sky became overcast Over in the southwest was one patch which glared white by contrast - it was like a huge sun which had become dissolved into a cloud of light. Under its glare, tiny pools flashed + tree leaves dripped jewells. A thing of rare beauty was a wire fence, on which were many sparkling drops of water, the wire against a dark background of earth became invisible, and the drops seem as tho motionless in the air, - like a fairy mirage.
What a rare sight! - dimmed overlapping trees finally blending into the sky a million miles away for such the horizon seems to be - streaked by falling rain! Loose foamy clouds dissolving in mid-air.
There is music in the sound of dripping trees - what makes that glitter on the gutter rills? Perhaps some of the leaf glint adhered to the drips splashing thru the trees and is carried into the streams.
Sunlight falling on gutter rills broken into a thousand flecks by the tiny brickripples and are carried tossingly to the sewer. Is sewer life so dark after all? One is inclined to think that this sunlight finds it way hither by this means. It may account for that white luminous gas which comes from the sewers on some days.
P.M. To Boatshop.
Sky clearing, A brisk hot breeze from S.W.
It is interesting to note various kinds of plants that thrive along the smoky railroad. Two kinds of burdock, (in bloom) “sweet-grass” clover - in great abundance, a pleasing odor comes up from them, unexpected in a place like this - ragweed, pennyworts & an odd unfamiliar plant. Flat & circular. Upper half of stems red as tho sunburnt. Leaves in pairs. Flowers – tiny; white; four petals. Small seed pods triangular pyramids - plant lies comparatively flat - has appearance of being whirled. Found it thriving in cinder piles. When broken gave out a sticky milky substance.
At evening air in a crystalline state. Sky a deep blue. Sun-light on trees is a sparkling yellow. Air dry & cold.
A cloudless sunset - a strong saffron yellow glow in the west which blending into the blue, creates a delicate red violet, which is odd. I pigment such a blending would be green. At the very horizon is a red purple haze. We are inclined to believe that the air about us is also of such a color only so thin as to appear colorless. In a month or two the air will become thick the color will be more apparent.
Charles E. Burchfield, August 21, 1914