On January 3, 1965, Charles E. Burchfield wrote The Place of Drawing in an Artist’s Work, and began by stating: “One of the greatest joys of an artist's working life is producing drawings”. The essay which was published in The Drawings of Charles Burchfield three years later, shortly after his passing, describes many of the ways that he used drawing, and what the act of drawing meant to him.
Six of the works that were published along with his essay are now in the collection of the Burchfield Penney. Five of them are included here. Further, some of the work in this exhibition has not been exhibited in more than 20 years.
The works presented are from as early as 1911 through the 1960s. The earliest represent what he considered when thinking about writing and illustrating his own books on nature. This focus on nature continued throughout his lifetime.
In 1915 he made hundreds of quick sketches of the landscape and weather in Cleveland and Salem, Ohio. These sketches would inspire later paintings and serve as an actual record of the weather of the time, matching available data.
In addition to his consideration of themes, included are works that illustrate Burchfield’s expansion process for paintings. For example, in some cases, he used a grid technique to expand information captured in smaller drawings onto larger paper for paintings. Other drawings explore how he used, “cartoons,” to expand the composition of smaller paintings by adding paper to the borders of existing works.
In addition to drawings as a method for developing or recording ideas, several works from the 1950s represent completed drawings that were later used to create lithographs.
This exhibition is presented with support from the Charles E. Burchfield Foundation, and dedicated to Nancy Weekly. Her 40-year tenure at the Burchfield Penney is being celebrated at the time of this exhibition. Her research and scholarship on the life and art of Charles Burchfield are unmatched. She has laid the groundwork for scholars of his art for generations to come.