Wainscott Pond looks today much how it has looked for the last several hundred years. In my opinion 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. Maybe it saves a little time and avoids the traffic on 27. The best reason to come this way is Bill and Lisa’s farm stand. But normally there’s not that much traffic. In the very early morning or late in the evening it’s quiet.
There are several ponds along the shoreline of the East End. Hook Pond, Georgica Pond, Sagg Pond, Fairfield, Mecox are just a few. 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 set up right by the side of the road in less than ten minutes. 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. The light, atmosphere, time of day or year play a part of 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 as easy as setting up my easel and paint for 3-4 hours.
Except for the ebb and flow of traffic it’s usually pretty quiet. 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. WTF! The guy could have pulled over anywhere but he pulls up right next to where I’m working and he’s yaking away. Within 30 seconds I interrupted him and got on his case about how he was bothering me. He understood my point and left. I’ve also met some very interesting people while painting there. People stop to say hello and ask if I don’t mind them seeing what I’m painting. Generally they’re polite and recognize, like I do, the beauty of this place. Many times they even live nearby. One day Rob Hector stopped. I’d met him the summer before and he bought the painting of the pond I did that year. He pulls up, 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 is one of the most calming 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 I’ve done and borrow to 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. Sorry if I’ve left anyone out. Let me know.