One of my favorite roadside oddities is the Pymatuning Spillway. If you’re the type of person who can’t pass a car accident without looking, or always eats/smells something gross, especially after someone just said, “Ew! This smells so gross!” then the Pymatuning Spillway is the place for you.
The reservoir is packed with thousands of carp making their way from the nearby hatchery to rivers and lakes where they can be caught and turned into tasty dinners. Before they get there they first make a stop at the spillway where they leap and fight each other for the stale bread visitors toss out to them. There are so many fish that the ducks can hop across their heads to try to beat them to their meal.
For the travel poster I wanted to focus on a few things. The two most important were having a duck strolling across the tops of the carp and the second was the chaos of the carp themselves. These carp aren’t the beautiful, tranquil kind you see in Japanese Gardens; they’re dark, dirty vicious carb hungry breasts, as you can see in this video. Although these fish aren’t the most genteel I wanted to reference their koi cousins swimming in tranquil pools.
The color palette I chose is a direct reference to the fall and was determined more by the animals than anything else. I also wanted to add some spectators, because without people there to throw bread at the little monsters there’d be no reason to visit. The thing is I didn’t want them to detract from the main event: the carp. In order to keep them present but not pull focus I didn’t define any features and instead made them flat background players.
Purchase a travel poster print over at Society6.
Since a postcard is a horizontal orientation instead of a vertical one, and I was pretty much over drawing carp, I decided to get up close and personal with the fish. Sadly I lost the great visual of the frantic fish underwater. To compensate I decided to illustrate a little girl joining in the fun.
Kids love the Spillway. If you visit you’re likely to see handfuls of little tykes tossing bread in the water and squealing with joy as the wall of fish surge forward. Kids are the biggest fans of gross.