Oceanfront Plein Air

Here at the Outer Banks I have enjoyed looking at all of these large multi-family vacation homes in a new light. My recent close study of Edward Hopper has given me a different appreciation for these houses. Decking is very important down here, as are unexpected pop-out rooms with large windows. This leads to fascinating arrangements of line, surface, and shadow. I have been taking pictures of some of the more compelling houses, and I will likely use these for some in-depth paintings later.

In the meantime, I am looking do to some smaller works. Yesterday, while being interrupted by my two-year-old daughter feeding me cashews, I did a 30-45 minute plein air study of this house across the way from where we have stayed for the past several years thanks to a good family friend. I tried to apply some of what I learned from Hopper, such as the over-dark shadows. I got a little sloppy with some of the lines, so might have to go back in to clean up later depending on how this looks matted. I used ultramarine blue, pthalo blue, pthalo green, burnt sienna, and permanent yellow deep. The house was largely done in ultramarine and burnt sienna. The actual roof was a pretty dark grey, but I changed it to what you see below to add some more interest. The painting needed this and the bit of green of the plants on the dunes to counteract the coolness of the house. I hope to do another one or two like this while here showcasing the different housing variations.

Thanks for reading.

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4 thoughts on “Oceanfront Plein Air

  1. davidtripp May 28, 2013 / 10:03 am

    Excellent! I laughed when I read your comment about cleaning up the lines. I cannot explain this, but I’m “anal” with siding and shingles, and feel that my stuff often looks “tight” and cartoonish. I look with wonder on Edward Hopper’s watercolors of Victorian homes. His lines are free-hand, inaccurate, and oftentimes the siding is very unrefined on close inspection. And yet, the works are always splendid, very pleasing, compositionally. I don’t get it, still. I want to have that kind of splendid look, instead of tight and anal, and yet I feel like my sloppiness looks sloppy when it comes to the details of architecture. I don’t know Hopper’s secret. But I’m still on the chase! I love your work, Corey!

    • coreyaber May 28, 2013 / 9:08 pm

      Thank you! It’s funny, I wish I could get some things as precise as you do, as I like the precision of your buildings set in your Pollock-effect foliage. That juxtaposition is really compelling. I don’t have the patience to work with a straight edge, though, and I am afraid to use it. Even if my lines were straight, I’d get the angles wrong, and that would look worse than wobbly or straying lines. At least with freehand I have an excuse. My dad had a nice way of encouraging me to work in freehand only. He told me that when you do that, you’re putting yourself and your own geometry into the structure. As long as nothing looks really off and the effect is there, then it will work. With my recent white house painting this turned out okay, I think, until you look closely and realize that the upstairs is too short. In my geometry, a person shrinks from full size to 3/4 size as he climbs the stairs.

      • davidtripp May 28, 2013 / 10:43 pm

        I haven’t found the secret. I generally start with a straight-edge to “plumb” my building. But I redraw the lines in free-hand, making sure the corners are plumb on the straight-edge. I make sure the horizontals sag on the old houses, etc, and make sure the siding has a slight bow. But still, I don’t get the effect I want.

      • coreyaber May 28, 2013 / 11:53 pm

        That’s a good tip to balance accuracy and character. I might try that with this upcoming yellow house on which the siding is so important and see what happens. I am still thinking about how to handle it, though probably lightly so the siding doesn’t distract from the overall effect that I think should come from the sky. I’ve been experimenting with different blues and blue mixes to sort out the look I want, especially at the top, but haven’t quite solved it.

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