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Archive for December 10th, 2013

Charles Burchfield- Sun and Rocks- Albright-Know Art GalleryAn artist must paint not what he sees in nature, but what is there. To do so he must invent symbols, which, if properly used, make his work seem even more real than what is in front of him.

–Charles Burchfield

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I am a big fan of the work of Charles Burchfield (1893-1967), a western  New York painter who lived and painted in the Buffalo area for most of his life.  His work was decidedly visionary in its scope, taking the environment that he knew around western New York and embellishing it with a life force and energy that he sensed beneath the surface.  That’s what he was referring to in the quote above– taking what you see around you and not simply recording it but painting how it moves you emotionally.  To me, his work is as emotionally charged in the same way as that of Van Gogh.

Charles Burchfield- An April Mood- Whitney Museum of American ArtCreating symbols, as Burchfield refers to in the quote, have been a big part of my work.  I have long emulated his use of creating a visual vocabulary that moved through a body of work.  It becomes a sort of language of its own  that people who take it in and understand it find easy to read and absorb as they move from picture to picture.  Those who can’t read it find less in the images and feel less drawn into them.  In an earlier post  about Burchfield I wrote about an artist friend who just didn’t get Burchfield’s work in any sense.  He just one of those people who couldn’t read the language clearly written in the work.

I also have been influenced by the way Burchfield would constantly go back to earlier work and use it as a new starting point, as though the added knowledge gained through the years would take this work in a new direction.  I often do the same thing, constantly revisiting images and motifs from years ago looking for a thread or path to follow anew.

Even this post is a revisitation, going back and looking at an influence, trying to pull that original inspiration from it.  With Charles Burchfield, that’s always an easy thing to accomplish.

Charles Burchfield- Childhood's Garden

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