Emerson Burkhart � 'Landscape of Stream in Winter' 1944, oil on canvas, 24 x 30. (From Collection of Geoff Hetrick)

NOTE: Burkhart loved hot weather and wasn't particularly fond of Midwest winters. He seldom painted winter scenes. This is an exception. It may be Alum Creek since this was the closest stream to his home on Woodland Avenue. The appeal is Burkhart's ability to inject color using the remaining leaves in an otherwise gloomy Ohio winter.

Script Page 11

no-day man's fallen tree. I think I fell in love with it that summer. He chopped at his tree just like I paint. I would start in the bright morning when the room was sunny. He would start on that tree. He'd stop in the middle of the day to make love or what ever he did and I would stop in the middle of the day to make love...or what ever I did. Then in the afternoon, we'd both start chopping and painting.

I think I did more pictures that summer from this room than I ever did before. Didn't have to go out very much. I could stand right here and see nature. Nature doing something constructive. It was nature serving man, a man who was his own king and owner of his own world right out there. I think one of the things I liked about that man was that he was saying to hell with the lunch bucket. He was gonna stay in his yard and cut down a tree...the tree was dead...it had served a purpose, now it was gonna serve another. It was gonna keep a man warm. In a way it was keeping me warm.


That was the summer I decided to read up on...the Gospel of Beauty...Vachel Lindsay again... it seemed to fit the two of us that summer...both of us no-day men.

(Pauses, looks upward as if trying to repeat memorized words.) "The things most worthwhile are one's own hearth and neighborhood...we should make our own home and neighborhood the most democratic, the most beautiful and the holiest in the world..."

But to do that, it's gonna take more no-day men in this world than we got now.


Mickel-Angelo (EB pronounce) was a no-day man. But for awhile there I guess he had to be...that Catholic had him chained up on that scaffold for a long time. And then Mickel- Angelo almost went crazy...he'd stay up there night and day. They'd bring him food after awhile and he'd throw it down. If nothing else, he had endurance.

The endurance of the production of a man...take painting. One man makes thirty-four paintings. Another man makes twelve thousand. Cezanne...Paul Cezanne, he painted about 600 in oil in his lifetime. That's about the same number that Rembrandt painted. Slow, methodical worker, both men would paint about a hundred sittings on one painting and then make some sarcastic remark about... well, I don't dislike the front of the shirt. Another man, Franz Hals, paint a good portrait in one afternoon and git drunk that night. The same thing holds true with writers. Prolific writers. Joseph Conrad had a difficult time in getting a book... writing it and then getting it published. Writing and publishing go hand and hand. Not so with painters. I paint. Then I hang it up and look at it awhile. If you come in here and look at it, then that is the same as getting it published to me.

Renoir was fast...he did 5,000 or something like that. Me...Burkhart, I kept track of certain years. In 1959 I painted 205 pictures. My output compared to George Bellows... Emma Bellows once told me...we were standing in front of a painting of her done by George. I asked her how long he had painted on it. She said it was done the first day...but he scraped the head off before it got dry.

He probably didn't like her that day so he put the head on later.


I always liked that story. But every time I saw Emma all I could think of was her without a head. Bellows could do that. Me. I start a picture and I finish it.

Oh, I learned to fudge a little bit. When Karl Jaeger and I went to Berlin, I would look across into East Berlin and see all those bombed out buildings...they had wonderful walls and the Communists didn't want you to see them too close. Hell, I would just pick up my paint box and a couple of canvasses and walk through the gate. I was American. How could they mistake me for anything else? I just walk on through and wander around untill I found me a wall. The worse the better for me. A couple of times one of those Volpos would come around and want to know what I was doing. He could see. Gawd-damn, how could anyone miss what I was painting? They'd hang around and look over my shoulder. They couldn't talk my' language and I could only say two words of theirs...I'd be painting this scrubby looking wall and one of them would come around...so I'd put in a window in this blank wall and point to it...schones fraulein... pretty girl. In German. It works In any language.

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