Growing out of my Feral and Invasive Pigments project, Feral Hues on Estuarial Fill brings this practice home to the bioregion I’m rooted in: Mohican land in the heart of the Mahicanituck/Hudson River Watershed. This project page is designed to complement the book Feral Hues: A guide to painting with weeds, released Publication Studio Hudson in March 2023 (and also available from me). The palette I used for the paintings below is made from plant parts collected across a year of research and fieldwork along the post-industrial waterfront of current-day Hudson, New York. From December 2021 to November 2022 (with support from Basilica Hudson and Toolshed), I investigated the weedy plant communities who green land known as the “South Bay.” Part of the Hudson River Estuary (the portion of the river that experiences tidal flows from the ocean) this former marshland was filled to accommodate commerce and industry along the river’s edge (pdf). This manufactured land, built with soil dredged from the river and construction debris, is predicted to flood again in the future as sea levels rise.
I used colors in the palette above to create several paintings. The one below takes its shape from the municipal boundaries of current-day Hudson. Embedded in the street grid and shoreline are portraits of the feral plants who green the city’s margins, sidewalk cracks, and abandoned infrastructure.
While blending and layering hues generates metaphorical and physical complexity that feels appropriate to representing the complex ecosocial systems we’re embedded in, I also get a lot of pleasure from analyzing an appreciating the individual plant pigments on their own. The chart below lays out the range of variations provided by the thirteen plants I worked with for my South Bay palette, while the burst palette painting below that allows them to blend both visually and physically without representing a specific shape or geopgraphy.