Charles E. Burchfield in his own words Share Tweet

Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, December 22, 1960

Saturday, December 22, 2018

I was born in, and grew up, in humble circumstances — and all my life the subject matter for my art has been the same sort of material – I have tried to show, not that the most modest home is dismal or worthy of our pity, but that therein life is dignified and deserving of our highest respect—I think it will always be so, nay more, I hope it will always be that way.

Those artists, writers etc. who, on achieving their first fame and material reward, immediately flee from their former surroundings and settle in “better” locations merely reveal their shallowness, and more, are denying themselves their birthright.

In my present circumstances, I could live in a more “stylish” neighborhood — in the “right” neighborhood as vulgar minds so designate it— The odd thing is that I am now in the right neighborhood, and my neighbors are the right people.

The above thoughts grow out of the contemplation and study of a late 1917 (Dec. 15) study of the little house water-colors. It is a job that seems to square itself in all directions as the work proceeds. But it is work that has been “crying” to be done for years, and just the right sort of work for me just before my show in New York –
Toward noon of this brilliant cold day. (10° in spite of a cloudless sky and blazing sun) I went out to break off some huge icicles hanging on the north side of the studio— A brilliant spot in the sky caught my eye; it was a gull whose body and outspread winds, pure white, caught the reflected glow of the sunlit snow below, so that it seemed like a detached piece of sunlight — Against the deep cavernous blue of the zenith, it was a beautiful sight. There were just two small accents of black in the wings.

4:00 P.M. It is just a little over 24 hours since the winter Solstice (3:27 pm yesterday) Perhaps it is just in my mind, but already today the sun seems stronger, more buoyant— as if already we were turned again towards Spring. The mellowness of Autumn is long gone.

Charles E. Burchfield, December 22, 1960