Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Flower Garden and Pillar of Clouds, 1961-62; watercolor on paper, 40 x 30 inches (101.6 by 76.2 cm); Image courtesy of the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Charles E. Burchfield Archives
Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, Vol. 60, October 12, 1961
Saturday, October 12, 2019
Oct. 12, Thurs.
Bertha and I to the Gowanda country –
A beautiful sunny day again, with a light S.W. breeze.
To the E. Becker Road, thinking I might retrieve the “lost” painting of the elm scattering its leaves – But when we arrived at the spot, a parked car drove us away; and besides, the elm tree was almost bare.
So we turned westward again, and stopped by another larger elm which was in full orange-yellow glory, and scattering its leaves – Here we decided to ear our lunch (ham sandwiches, coffee, celery, radishes, tomatoes and peach. We saved some coffee and crackers and cheese spread for late afternoon.)
It was only after we were eating lunch that we realized what a beautiful spot we were in —pastures and vast cornfields to the south, with a small winding stream for cattle – beyond the elm and showing but the upper  half a large rugged barn, made of new aluminum, glistening in the sun like a castle – the farmhouse out of sight, another round-topped aluminum barn to the left of the road. The farmers were cutting corn on the far side of the rise, and taking it to the barn for processing into ensilage all afternoon.
Yellow and white butterflies nervously zigzagging over the pasture to the north – a row of willows. By the road an odd new (to us) plant with clusters of pale yellow bell-shaped flowers.
A lovely hour.
After lunch we took our chairs further down the road to “watch” the tree. I kept thinking I ought to make a painting of such a gorgeous thing, but could not bring myself to start. All at once I saw the real picture – just the sunlight edge of the disintegrating foliage arching over the road, with the sparkling cornfield to the left, above it the vast sunlit sky.
With Bertha’s help, I soon had the easel set up and  was at work. (I used the mount of the new paper – it seemed over-large (34 x 42) but it gave me a lot of freedom to “brandish the brush”!
In the sky I put a pale ghostly cumulus cloud that we had seen on our arrival, with the darkish leaves whirling across it —a beautiful poetic sight –
I finished about five – I called Bertha who had been sitting in the car reading and listening to the concert from Toronto (Hayden’s Trauer Symphony she said). She thought the sketch beautiful—to me it had seemed too a raw unfinished statement.
We had coffee and the cheese and crackers, and shared a Cortland apple – and then drove home.
Evening Louse called, and said Fred had seemed a little brighter – they are feeding and giving him medicine intravenously – there is still the suspicion of cancer of the liver – she did not think it advisable for us to come yet -
—Charles E. Burchfield, October 12, 1961