Wainscott Pond looks today much how it has looked for the last several hundred years. In my opinion it is one of the most beautiful undeveloped panoramic vistas on the East End. A thousand cars drive by here everyday and rarely does anyone pull over to take notice. That’s especially true on the weekend in the summer when there are even more cars going up and down Wainscott Main Street. Some people are in a hurry to get home, or they’re on the way out from the city to their second home or summer rental. It might save a little time to come this way and you avoid the traffic on Hwy. 27. Besides the view the best reason to come this way is Bill and Lisa’s farm stand. But normally in the off season there’s not that much traffic. In the very early morning or late in the evening it’s as quiet as anywhere around here.
There are several ponds along the shoreline of the East End and many more kettle ponds moving inland. Hook Pond, Georgica Pond, Sagg Pond, Fairfield, Mecox are just a few along the shore. They all formed about the same time when Long Island was shaping up 15,000 years ago and all share similar characteristics but today the land around Wainscott Pond is less developed than the others like Sagg Pond to the west. Wainscott has the least number of homes built by it due in part and thankfully to the Osborn family that still owns a good portion of the land north and east. The Topping family farmed the west side of the pond and that hasn’t changed a lot. The south side is bordered by dunes and the Atlantic Ocean. And unlike Georgica or Sagg Pond, Wainscott Pond is never opened or “cut” so it drains out. The dunes in front still offers some protection, it’s not as large as the others and there’s a natural breath of rainfall runoff and evaporation.
I’ve been painting this scene for about 20 years and looking thru some of the pieces I’ve done my compositions haven’t changed much either. I tend to set up in about the same spot as the year before. I’ve looked at the pond from all sides but this seems to be the most interesting. It’s certainly the easiest to access. I can leave my studio and In literally less than ten minutes I’ve set up by the side of the road and I’m painting. I’ve noticed subtle changes in the plant growth around the pond. The Lythrum, sometimes called loosestrife used to grow around the perimeter but for the last few years I haven’t seen it. In the late summer the field around it is full of Queen Anne’s Lace, not to mention deer, geese and ducks. The light, atmosphere, time of day or year all play their part in the way it looks. It’s the view I’m interested in, not the painting. Painting is just an excuse for being there. I could open a folding chair and just sit there for a couple of hours every day but people would think I’m crazy. I set up my easel and paints and look like I’m working and people think I’m an artist.
Between the ebb and flow of traffic it’s usually quiet and peaceful. Occasionally someone will stop, get out of their car and take a picture. They get it. One evening I was painting, there’s no one else around, the traffic had all but ended. A car pulls up, parks right next to me and this guy gets out of the car and starts talking on his cell phone. C’mon there’s a 1/2 mile stretch where the person could have pulled over but he pulls up right next to where I’m working and starts yaking away. It may have taken 30 seconds before I walked over, interrupted him and explained my objection to his cell phone etiquette. He left immediately. I’ve also met some very interesting people while painting there. Some stop to say hello and ask if I don’t mind them looking at what I’m painting. Generally they’re polite and recognize, like I do, the beauty of this place. Sometimes they even live nearby, like the day Rob Hector pulls up and stopped to talk. I’d met him the summer before and he bought the painting of the pond I did that year. He doesn’t even get out of the car and yells out his window, “I want to buy that painting”. I turn around and recognize Rob. I think he’s kidding me and I say it’s not finished yet. He says, “Well, I want to buy it as soon as it is, can I give you a check now”. I laugh. Sure! One afternoon a couple pulls up in a $175,000 Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet. The man driving gets out and talks to me for a minute. He asks if the painting is for sale and how much. When I tell him the price he says, and I quote, “That’s too much money, would you take…”. I’m thinking. that’s too much money for a car but I say, “No, if you want a discount, try K-Mart.” He got back in his car and drove off. Still I go back every year. I’ve gotten used to the traffic. I’ve gotten used to the comments good or bad that I tend to ignore and the compliments that are always appreciated. It’s a place I never get tired of and it’s one of the most beautiful places I know of anywhere nearby. It’s been an idea for awhile now, to have a show at the Wainscott Chapel of as many of the Wainscott Pond paintings as I’ve done that I can borrow and exhibit them together. Maybe one day.
The following are members of my own Wainscott Pond Collectors Society, those who have a Wainscott Pond painting: Jeffrey M & Suzanne D Lyons Ttee, Henry and Anita Clifford, Bob and Diane Cummings, Karen Mary O’Neil, Jean and Judith Lanier, Peter Croncota, Dr. Mark Kot 2001, Dr. Lloyd Harris, Mark and Monique O’Neil, Dr. Mark Kot 2002, Robert Hector Jr. 2005, Mitchell and Kathy Mezynieski, Charlie and Wendy Butler, John and Maureen Ferrari, Robert Hector 2007, Jackie Szcepankowski, Bunny Shankman, Darron Weinstein and Stacey Naven, Dan and Bess Mulvihill, Dan and Marisa Mulvihill, Ron and Carol Alhers. I know I’ve left someone out. If you’re reading this please let me know.
composite photo of Wainscott Pond