Burchfield Drought Weather


Pencil and crayon drawing of a reddish sun radiating over two buildings and a field of wilting crops.

Charles Ephraim Burchfield
b. 1893 Ashtabula, OH; d. 1967 West Seneca, NY
Drought Weather, 1953
Conté crayon and graphite on paper
13 in x 17 1/4 in
Acquired in 1989
The Dr. and Mrs. John J. Mayers Collection


Visual Arts

Grade Range



Critical analysis


Museum trip


Personal Connection worksheet

About the Artist

Charles Burchfield, best known for his watercolor landscapes, was born April 9, 1893 in Ashtabula Harbor, Ohio. After graduating high school as class valedictorian in 1911, he won a scholarship to attend the Cleveland School of Arts. After college, he settled in Buffalo, NY where he married Bertha Kenreich and together they raised five children. 
Artist friend Edward Hopper, wrote "The work of Charles Burchfield is most decidedly founded, not on art, but on life, and the life that he knows and loves best.”In

1930, the Museum of Modern Art in New York organized its first one-person exhibition, Charles Burchfield: Early Watercolors 1916-1918. He was included in the Carnegie Institute’s The 1935 International Exhibition of Paintings, in which his painting The Shed in the Swamp (1933-34) was awarded second prize. In December 1936, Life magazine declared him one of America’s ten greatest painters.

Burchfield once stated "An 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."

Honoring his artistic achievement, Buffalo State College (now SUNY Buffalo State) created the Burchfield Penney Art Center. It is the largest public collection of Burchfield’s works and includes over 70 volumes of handwritten journals, 25,000 drawings, and a recreation of Burchfield’s studio which was located in Gardenville, New York.

Learning Goal

To use critical analysis to describe the characteristics of the drawing Drought Weather by Charles Burchfield.

I Can Statement

I can use critical analysis to describe the characteristics of the drawing Drought Weather by Charles Burchfield.


Critical analysis, landscape, realistic, abstract, drought, realistic, abstract


  • Define and discuss critical analysis.
  • Introduce or review the vocabulary.
  • Point out that the artist was born in Ashtabula Harbor, Ohio.
  • Elicit information about Ohio from the class (location, climate, capital city).
  • What is this type of scene called (landscape).
  • Discuss the concepts of realistic and abstract art.
  • Is the drawing more realistic or more abstract?
  • Ask for an explanation of what is going on in this scene.
  • Does the title help to explain what the artist is showing us? Explain.
  • Describe and explain the mood evoked in you by this scene (serious, happy or sad).
  • Have the students describe the colors (warm, cool, bright or dull).
  • Ask the students how the colors affect their mood (happy, sad, calm, or afraid).
  • What do you suppose was the artist’s mood when he drew this landscape?
  • Discuss the artwork in terms of lines (straight, curvy, diagonal).
  • Have the students describe the shapes (geometric, organic, circles, squares).
  • Discuss texture and ask the children to describe what they see (smooth or bumpy).


Ask for a brief critique of the drawing; I liked or disliked the drawing because …


Have the students complete the Personal Connection worksheet.

Florida Standards

Florida Visual Arts Standards Grades K-5

  • Vocabulary: VA.1.C.3.1 / VA.2.C.3.1 / VA.3.C.3.1 / VA.4.C.3.1 / VA.1.S.1.4/ VA.2.S.1.4 / VA.3.S.1.4 / VA.4.S.1.4 / VA.5.S.1.4
  • Interpret and Reflect: VA.K.C.1 .2 / VA.1.C.1.2 / VA.2.C.1.2 / VA.3.C.1.2 / VA.4.C.1.2 / VA.5.C.1.2
  • Artist’s intent: VA.5.C.3.2
  • Critique art: VA.3.C.3.3 / VA.4.C.3.3 / VA.5.C.3.3
  • Identify shapes: MAFS.K.G.1.2 / MAFS.4.G.1.2 / MAFS.5.G.2.4

Florida Visual Arts Standards Grades 6-8

  • Vocabulary: VA.68.C.3.1 
  • Interpret and Reflect: VA.68.C.1.2
  • Artist’s intent: VA.68.S.1.5
  • Describe art from selected cultures: VA.68.H.1.1
  • Critique art: VA.68.C.3.3

Florida Visual Arts Standards Grades 9-12

  • Interpret and Reflect: VA.912.C.1
  • Vocabulary: VA.912.C.3.1
  • Describe art from selected cultures: VA.912.H.1
  • Critique art: VA.912.C.3
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