Charles E. Burchfield in his own words

From the age of seventeen until the end of his life, American watercolor painter Charles E. Burchfield wrote in journals that chronicled his artistic and intellectual development. These journals reveal much about his unique vision, love of nature and gift for writing. Burchfield’s passion for writing could not be contained in the journals alone. Throughout his career, his moods, ideas and personal critiques were also recorded on thousands of scraps of paper and studies for paintings as well as in letters to family, friends and colleagues. His complex and layered visual language points to a complex human being. The inner triumphs, struggles and ambitions of his career are reflected and recorded in his own words and serve as an inspiration for all.

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  • Charles Burchfield, Journals, January 19, 1962

    Sunday, January 19, 2020

    Workmen on their way home would cluster about the window, looking at the pictures with evident pleasure. It gave me a feeling of nostalgia and even regret, for long ago I lost contact with that kind of audience...

  • Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, January 18, 1943

    Saturday, January 18, 2020

    P.M. A painting, from our stair-landing, of the view across Bengert’s garage. All afternoon – I was indeed “rusty” from my long idleness — It was hard to get started, and it was not until the last that anything like boldness or freedom came to me. The finished sketchmore

  • Charles Burchfield, Journals, January 19, 1942

    Friday, January 17, 2020

    The January thaw.—Thick almost impenetrable fog—The pores of the earth seem to open and exude a chill dampness into the sodden air—

  • Charles Burchfield, from On the Middle Border, 1928

    Thursday, January 16, 2020

    It is simply part of my mental make up, that I am satisfied to express my own surroundings as nearly as possible in my own way.

  • Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, January 15, 1920

    Wednesday, January 15, 2020

    At sundown a pale smooth cold blue – grey bank of cloud came up out of the west – it hung like there like a phantom – the houses seemed to shrink – at midnight a heavy snow is falling –

  • Charles Burchfield, Journals, January 14, 1941

    Tuesday, January 14, 2020

    A dream, most of which evaporated with waking.  Out there remains the memory of finding two pair of beautiful moths by the side of a dark green pool...

  • Charles Burchfield, Journals, January 13, 1964

    Monday, January 13, 2020

    A week spent in reading up and relocating things in the studio — The carpenters finished up Tuesday at noon —

  • From Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, January 12, 1962

    Sunday, January 12, 2020

    A brilliant sun shone from a clear blue sky, in which there were just a few elongated cirrus cloud masses. Temp. about 20° - no wind.

  • Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, January 11, 1939

    Saturday, January 11, 2020

    A.M. to Frick Museum — the beauty of Vermeer overpowering — What a truly great painter he is — Rembrandt’s Self-portrait — the new Cezanne, El Greco’s St. Jerome – the St. Francis by ? – Organ music (a piece by Bach & one by Handel). What balm itmore

  • Charles Burchfield, Journals, January 10, 1931

    Friday, January 10, 2020

    I realize this: that making so many pencil notes is but another form of procrastination—

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