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Charles Burchfield


Charles Burchfield, Noontide in Late May, 1917. Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on paper, 22 × 18 in. (55.9 × 45.7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase  31.408
All works by Charles Burchfield are reproduced with permission of the Charles E. Burchfield Foundation
Nature was the main inspiration for Charles Burchfield’s work. Wherever he was, Burchfield would go outside and sketch the environment around him. He didn’t just record what he saw—his work expressed the energy, mood, and emotions of these scenes. During his lifetime, Burchfield made almost two thousand paintings, as well as many drawings, sketches, and doodles. He even made a few prints, too. This is a painting of his neighbor’s backyard on a hot day in late spring.
About the artist
Charles Burchfield was born in Ashtabula Harbor, Ohio in 1893. He had five brothers and sisters. After he graduated from high school, Burchfield went to Cleveland School of Art in Ohio, where he became interested in design and decorative illustration.

Burchfield’s note to himself:

“It is as difficult to take in all the glory of a dandelion, as it is to take in a mountain, or a thunderstorm.”

—Charles Burchfield

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“Paint directly—do not fill in outlined patterns.”

—Charles Burchfield

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As a child, Charles Burchfield was interested in nature and the changing seasons. When he was about fourteen years old, Burchfield began to draw the wild plants and fruit trees of Salem, Ohio, the small country town where he grew up. 

Burchfield read a lot, particularly books about the natural world. As a teenager, Burchfield began to keep a journal of writing, drawing, and poetry. He continued to keep journals throughout his adult life.

Burchfield was also inspired by Chinese art and Japanese prints, especially images of nature. He loved classical music, which, he believed, also had a connection with nature.