Selecting Charles Burchfield Drawings for my Exhibit

Drawing is seeing. 

I don't know who said that, but it is something I find myself saying all the time. 

One of the joys of the two and a half years I spent as the Burchfield Penney Art Center's Artist is Residence was my discovery of how much the painter Charles Burchfield apparently  agreed with me. Burchfield drew seemingly all the time.

When the museum first proposed holding an exhibition of my work from the Residency they suggested I could curate into my exhibit drawings I selected from their Burchfield Archives. I think my response at the time was a dignified "I'd love to" but on the inside it was " Holy Cow!!!" I feel deeply honored to have my work displayed side-by-side with this American master

Burchfield's drawing of a house and trees at left; at right my 
drawing of Burchfield's boyhood home that I made on a trip
to Salem, Ohio. Below is a better view of the Burchfield.

There are a few drawings in the main gallery where my exhibition's oil paintings are hanging but most of the work on paper is in the adjoining Museum Study Center in oversized flat file drawers one can pull out to look at the paired drawings.

In the exhibition's main gallery a display case had my pastel
drawing at left and Burchfield's drawing of the same building
His drawing served as a study for his major watercolor Rainy
Night (San Diego Museum of Art) while mine helped me prepare 
for the largest oil in the exhibition Mansard Roof.

Another of Burchfield's studies for Rainy Night.

In the Museum Study Center, my pastel The Rainy Night
Building on the wall hanging over a group of Burchfield's
preparatory drawings for his watercolor Rainy Night.

Making drawings from direct observation takes time. It forces the artist to slow down and absorb the look and feel of the world. The way I look at it is the world has a several billion year head start on any one of us- it has had time to evolve into an incredibly rich environment. We'd be fools not to absorb the things it has to tell us about who we are and where we come from.

My charcoal drawing Coke Ovens: Leetonia at left and a Burchfield
study of a the patterns in a thicket of trees.  

A better view of the Burchfield seen above.

A closer view of my drawing Coke Ovens: Leetonia.

I couldn't resist throwing in this photo my wife Alice took of me arriving at the museum to see my show installed for my first time. I had been working hard on the paintings and drawings for the exhibition for nearly three years and the sense of anticipation was palpable and then some.


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