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Showing posts from May, 2017

Thomas Cole Drawing at Princeton & Burchfield Drawings in Buffalo

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Last weekend I did some time traveling. Or so it seemed. 
I took a trip with the Baltimore Museum of Art's Prints, Drawings and Photographs Society to the Princeton University Art Museum. Upon entering the Museum's galleries I fell almost immediately into an unassuming drawing by one of the great old masters of American painting, Thomas Cole (1801-1848), the founder of the Hudson River School of landscape painters. Titled simply Rocks, Trees, and Dog, Cole made it out probably while out on one of his nature hikes in 1846, just two years before his untimely death. 
As I looked at it I had the sensation that old as it was, it could have been drawn by Charles Burchfield (Am. 1893- 1967) whose drawings I've been studying the last couple of years in the Archives at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, NY. 
Modest as Cole's drawing is in scale, it has a lot to say-playing eloquently with themes of solidity and permanence v.s. forms that are delicate, and almost immate…

Did Charles Burchfield Lie About Color?

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When you've grown up in Western New York State as I did you know Spring comes late. Down here in Baltimore all our leaves have fully sprung forth for the year. It's downright green everywhere.
As I was driving yesterday I got to musing about this superabundance of the color green for us landscape painters. Nature's green hues are great for enabling photosynthesis. But the blunt truth for artists is it is almost impossible to paint the colors you see in the forest truthfully and end up with a painting with any life to it. 
Burchfield Penney Art Center just this morning posted the above Charles Burchfield watercolor, Maytime in the Woods, 40 x 33 inches, 1948-1963 on their Facebook page. It's one heck of a stunning painting. 
Seeing it forcefully reminded me of how realist painters, including Charles Burchfield, have to make art that talks about the internal experience. We can't simply report on the literal facts of what we have seen. As he did in so many of his paintin…

Seven Things Charles Burchfield Wants You to Know

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A deeply thoughtful man, Charles Burchfield, through the example he set with his studio practice, had a lot to say. This is on my mind as next month I'll be returning to spend another week in Buffalo, NY as part of my Burchfield Residency at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. I thought it would be useful to summarize some of what I've learned from this artist. 

Here goes:

1. Value where you are. Trust that there is meaning in your immediate surroundings. Burchfield realized after only a brief stay in New York City that his creativity had always been most stimulated by close proximity to nature. The big city for him would have been a bad career move.

2. Prepare yourself for insight. He was constantly studying the world through the thousands of drawings he left us. When he got a good new idea it found its way onto drawing paper fast.

3. Be patient.  He knew often brilliance comes to us only slowly. There's no better example than Burchfield of a painter willing to work on a image …