Earlier this month I was at the Burchfield Penney Art Center for my first visit as the Art Center's Artist In Residence. One of my goals with the Residency is to study the working process of Charles Burchfield, an artist I deeply admire, to nourish my own working methods with my paintings.
BPAC is a treasure house of Burchfield's drawings. Tullis Johnson, Curator and Manager of BPAC's Burchfield Archives, kindly pulled out for me volumes of Burchfield's drawings to examine. It was amazing to cradle his drawings in my hands (I did wear cotton gloves).
Burchfield drew in widely contrasting styles. Most of the drawings I'm reproducing here are his tremendously impressive finished nature studies. Their delicacy and sureness of form made me think of Leonardo da Vinci.
But most of his drawings were gesture studies- drawings made rapidly more with his whole arm than with just wrist and fingers. Often I'd encounter four or five sheets of paper each with only a handful of lines coursing across his page.
First and foremost he was an artist who expressed movement. For him the earth is full of living things- plants, clouds, and even his rocks and buildings seem to move, sigh and breath. That he could make movement so credible stems in large part from how he began his pieces- starting not with detail but with the most sweeping gesture of his arm across the page.
Read more at Philip's website.