Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Cattaraugus Canyon (March Canyon), 1933-57; watercolor, gouache, and charcoal on joined paper, mounted on board, 39 ¾ x 54 inches; DC Moore Gallery, New York
Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, October 13, 1938
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
South to the Zoar Valley & beyond on a sketching trip. First to Elma to take bicycle to be repaired, then south thru East Aurora, & on [washing paint-box in clear cold stream under a little bridge. The pleasure it gave me was almost a pang-] down “Center Street”, which took me to east of Springville. From Springville to Zoar Valley. On all side spectacular & theatrical patterns of trees on the hillsides. At the “Lace Gable” House, I parked, and ascended the hill to the north; here the view was so enchanting, and it being noon, I got my lunch and ate it leisurely there. The warm sun beat down, and I was in a drowsy state of contentment.
Simple as my lunch was, I amused [myself] thinking from what remote parts of the earth the “raw materials” of it came. Cashew butter made from nuts imported from India; Oranges from California, Coffee from Brazil, bananas I know not whence; bread from wheat no doubt from our own middle west; olives from Spain; apples from New York State.
A head of cattle with two horses drowsing, and slowly moving towards & then below me. Some of them looked curiously at me for quite some time, then resumed their grazing. There is something hypnotic in their slow rhythmic progression, and regular cropping of the grass, seemingly in unison. The drowsy sunlight & haze added to the dreaminess of the moment.
After lunch, by narrow winding road southward (leaving the Zoar Valley) in search of a subject, albeit I was doing it from a sense of duty & without real impulse. Paused a moment in the narrow Cattaraugus Creek Canyon, then up the steep road, when [an] unveiled wooded hill attracted me. I set up my paraphernalia & started. Rain was brewing in the west, where the sun was only a dim wintry glow beyond a rolling hill. (Heard katydids from the woods) Before I was done, rain forced me to change the position of my easel. I finished the sketch [somehow], then sat a short while in the car, enjoyed the coming of twilight & listening to the rain, eating an orange the while. Then I proceeded without further ado home thru Gowanda & Hamburg. The glow of yellow maples, wet & with the twilight [deepening] in the woods, was pure magic.
These are truly rare October days; unusual for our territory, warm sunshiny days, some without a cloud in the hazy blue sky. Never has the tree-foliage aged so slowly & mellowly; producing such colors as seem to belong in the Never-Never Land. You stand before the gaudy trees, unbelieving. It must be some sort of dream there ever were such colors.
Charles E. Burchfield, October 13, 1938