Spatterdock Camp

Painting outdoors directly from life is my way of becoming absorbed in nature observation with natural  light and  fresh air.  A favorite painting spot along the Hudson River in the upper Hudson Valley south of Coeymans Landing  became the go-to-place to paint river life in person.  One aspect in the river, at this particular location, became a challenge each time and that was Spatterdock.  

Spatterdock is a supposedly edible water lily formally known as Yellow Pond Lily. There are several varieties of Yellow Pond Lily.  The one common in our region and specific to the intertidal fresh and brackish marsh waters of the Hudson is Nuphar avena.    Other common names and spellings include Beaver-lily, Beaver-root, Brandy-bottle, Bullhead Lily, Bull-head Lily, Bullhead Pond-lily, Spatterdock, Common Spatter Dock, Common Spatterdock, Common Yellow Pond-lily, Variegated Yellow Pond-lily, Yellow Cow-lily, Yellow Pond-lily, and Yellow Water-lily.  

Spatterdock are floating aquatic plants with long stalks anchored in the riverbed.  The leaves float flatly on the water surface when the water is the correct height.  When the river tide is high they are submerged and when it is low they can be completely exposed to the air.  Spatterdock must thrive with these changes in order to survive.  Observing the various ways the plant looks during different water heights may make you think you are seeing a different plant each time.  For the painter it is a challenge to capture the massive greenery before it rather quickly gains stature or completely disappears under the water.  I cannot say that the focus of my painting in this location garnered an appreciation for Spatterdock, in fact I’d say I preferred days when it was completely submerged.  It became a distraction and nuisance.  I decided to investigate its pathology and biology in order to be fair.  Giving it too much attention in paint  was a hinderance to capturing free flowing impressions of the usual landscape.  How like life this is, when a niggling bump in the road repeatedly requires your attention.  The bit of sand in the oyster.  So far Spatterdock is no pearl.

Super Random

Mostly I’m attracted to activity in the natural landscape but not everything is a Plein-Air painting outing! Certain groupings of shapes and colors, whether seen gazing out the window or from a photo, inspire musings in paint.  The initial structure and design of an idea picks up and leaves off from sighting to brush tip. Cadences of color and light from everyday observances reflected on paper with paint.  No grandiose themes and lengthy corrections, only dabs and swooshes to capture a sketchwork of the day. 

Officially Unofficial

As a youngster growing up in the lower Hudson Valley town of Mount Kisco, a major thoroughfare the SMP also known as the Saw Mill River Parkway got us where we needed to go.  There is also the TSP, or Taconic State Parkway.  Perhaps you have heard of this  beautiful and convenient road?  Today I am attracted to another major roadway of downstate that is an integral part of getting around in this area of the northern Hudson Valley.  The road is New York State Route 9.  Around here we are familiar with 9W, 9G, 9H and others. Directions can be confusing. Over the years I have imagined that the letters refer to various area associations:

9 W with W meaning West of the Hudson River

9 G for Germantown

9 H for Hudson

9 J for Junction

As it turns out U.S. Route 9 is a major deal and begins all the way down in Laurel, Delaware and goes clear up to Champlain, New York.  The letters do not refer to any place specifically and also include 9N, 9P, 9A, 9F, 9D, 9L, etc.

I am inspired by this neighborhood road and it’s long history intertwined with my life travels.  It’ll be interesting to see where this fondness leads.

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