Friday, March 1, 2024

An Artist's Date with Charles Burchfield

As I confided yesterday, I am working through Julia Cameron's famous book "The Artist's Way." I am on Chapter Two and yesterday I decided it was time for my second Artist's Date.

These are forays you make on your own, to anywhere -- it is just supposed to be something you enjoy, something that's fun. Technically you are supposed to plan them in advance. Yeah right, as Leonard Pennario used to say. I will get better at this however right now I am just trying to make sure these Artist's Dates happen. You do a chapter of the book a week and one Artist's Date a week. This weekend is kind of crowded and I wanted to make sure I did not fall behind with things.

I have a list of possibilities for Artist's Dates. It is easy to overthink them and I have vowed not to. I think I get the gist of it, which is to step out of your routine, do something different.

So yesterday I carved out a couple of hours and sallied out to the Burchfield Nature Center in Gardenville, i.e. West Seneca. It was actually not far from Cazenovia Park where I went for my first Artist's Date. South Buffalo and West Seneca are neighbors.

And speaking of neighbors, guess what was right across the street from the Burchfield Nature Center?

Beautiful Fourteen Holy Helpers!

The Burchfield Nature Center is a kind of mystery to me. Even after going there I was unable to determine its exact connection with Charles Burchfield. Did C.B. live there? Was it at least his property? I cannot figure that out and there was no one I could ask.

However it was new to me and I enjoyed, even in what amounted to bitter cold, walking on the wooden pathways and standing at the edge of the rushing creek.



What creek is this? That is another question.

From time to time plaques showed you pictures of Burchfield's wacky nature paintings. They would tell you he liked painting poplar trees, things like that. 


It left me wanting more information.

I wanted to know if it were these particular poplar trees he painted!

Did he paint this exact creek?

I am sentimental. I will have to look up these answers. One goofy thing about all this is I was friends with his daughter. My friend Michelle introduced me to Charles Burchfield's daughter Catherine Parker. Catherine was at my house several times. I was at her studio. I saw her at other friends' houses. Did I ever ask her one question about her dad? No!

Back then I knew nothing about Burchfield and I just was not curious. Which probably helped my friendship with her -- she must have gotten sick of people asking her about her famous father. But still.

Couldn't I at least have asked one question?

Back to yesterday. The Burchfield Nature Center itself, this sprawling wealthy-looking house, was closed. It was just me and the cold. I actually think this was a day Burchfield would have liked. I think he would have liked the color palette.


He loved this time of year, very early spring. He also loved the approach of winter. He liked the drama of our seasons here in Buffalo.

I walked around for about 45 minutes, thinking about things like this, and then I went on to Part Two of my Artist Date, which was to visit a nursery and treat myself to some plants. Gardenville was named for all its nurseries. 

I thought I might buy one or two plants. Yeah right -- again.

I came home with about a dozen! Here is my cart at Rudolph's, on Clinton Street.


When I got them home I arranged my acquisitions in the sun room. And the flora, I now say, were the best part of the Artist's Date. Last night, as I was getting ready to go rehearse with the St. Louis Choir, I was sort of fretting about how the day had gone. I wasted too much time, I thought. I have a lot of work to do. That Artist's Date ate too much of my day. I should do them on Sundays. You are supposed to fritter away Sundays, not Thursdays.

Then I looked up and saw all those flowers and ferns. And I thought, this is a day I will remember.

With pleasure.

No comments: