Charles E. Burchfield in his own words Share Tweet

 
Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Orion in December, 1959; watercolor and pencil on paper, 39 7/8 x 32 7/8 inches; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.

Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Orion in December, 1959; watercolor and pencil on paper, 39 7/8 x 32 7/8 inches; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.

Charles E. Burchfield, Letter to Theodore Braasch, December 30, 1959

Friday, December 30, 2016

Yes, I did get the rising of Sirius and Orion painted – As I suspected it would, it turned out differently than I had planned. I added to the idea the moon rising (just the very tip of it shows over the hill) – I did some astronomical juggling to get in all I wanted – above & to the left of the moon is “Canis Minor” to the right and the most prominent “Orion” with Sirius below – all these have been put closer together than they would normally be – A few days later, I observed the rising of the full moon – all these stars were in the eastern half of the sky, but Orion and Sirius were much higher and farther to the south, as was Canis Minor to the north east. An astronomer would no doubt be shocked. In the foreground is a field with weeds, coated with ice and frost, that catch the light of the stars and the moon – the whole handled in a fantasy manner.

I must have been prophetic with my ice-coated weeds, for now we are in such a phenomenon: The Buffalo papers said this is the “worst” ice-storm we had had in 30 years – I’ve been here for 37 years and I never saw anything like it – in my whole life either. The effects are incredibly beautiful and impossible to describe. I went out once or twice to make studies from the car, but I soon felt I was going out of my mind, and I gave up and decided it was just to be enjoyed, like a sunset, or the Grand Canyon etc – Probably never again will we see such ravishing beauty.

The other side of the story is that [thousands] of homes have been without electricity for varying periods (some still are) – We were fairly lucky, we were only without power for 34 hours – and we discovered how idiotic it is to depend on one source of heat – Buffalo lost some of her best plants – we spent the night at our daughter's and ate out and so got by – Fortunately the studio furnace does not require electricity so it was good and warm all through. We spent some time there.

But still, I know that the end of 1959 is going to be remembered by us, as a period of a miraculous phenomenon, of over-powering beauty.

Charles E. Burchfield, Letter to Theodore Braasch, December 30, 1959

 

Comments