The Mighty Tuolumne River

"Low Water on the Tuolumne", 20x16, oil on board
“Low Water on the Tuolumne”, 20×16, oil on board

The Tuolumne River is one of the mightiest rivers in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Flowing for 149 miles, it drains a rugged watershed in the high Sierras, and flows calmly through Tuolumne Meadows before cascading into the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. The river, captured by Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, provides water and power to the City of San Francisco and the SF Bay area prior to merging with the San Joaquin River in California’s Central Valley.

This painting is from a study in late September when the river is low, close to the Tuolumne Meadows Campground. The river flows over solid granite, through deep pools, and waterfalls as it meanders through Tuolumne Meadows. As usual, I will have to put this away for awhile, and in a few weeks look at it again to see if it is really finished!

A Free Gift to You

"Reflections in Ellery", 18x24, acrylic on panel
“Reflections in Ellery”, 18×24, acrylic on panel

Here is a gift to all my followers. I have provided a hi-resolution image of the painting “Reflections in Ellery” on my website which you can download and print. (all the images I usually upload are low resolution). This beautiful lake is right at Tioga Pass, along Highway 120, just outside Yosemite National Park, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains high country. The painting was featured in the book “How Did You Paint That?: 100 Ways to Paint Seascapes, Rivers & Lakes”

1. Just click on this link, or copy and paste it into a web browser–

http://www.donaldneff.com/neffellery.jpg

2. Right click on the picture, then save to your computer.
3. Open the picture on your computer, then print.

You can alternately print it out directly from your web browser, although it might distort the printout unless you choose ‘Landscape’ option when printing.

This gift will be available only through the holidays, so if you want a copy, don’t delay!


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Have a Great Holidays!

Seasons Greetings
Seasons Greetings

Be happy and of good cheer for this is a great time of year
For laughing, loving, and caring and most of all sharing.

–Catherine Pulsifer


   
Politics aside, it has been a great year! I hope everyone finishes 2016 happily and prospers in 2017!
   


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Hacked!!

My weblog was hacked! An intruder was posting links to viagra and cialis websites hidden in my weblog entries. These were manifest by greyed out words (hospital, rx, store, etc) which seem out of place. It was done via some backdoor method to the weblog database. So far as I know, if you viewed my weblog were in no danger unless you clicked on one of these random, barely visible words.

We just restored everything, but lost all weblog entries since early December, which I will try to manually restore in the next few days.

Apologies, but I guess that is life on the internet.

Kako-no-ike

"Kako-no-ike Pond, Korakuen", 24x12, oil on canvas.
“Kako-no-ike Pond, Korakuen”, 24×12, oil on canvas.

One of the Three Great Gardens of Japan is called Korakuen (K?raku-en). Located in Okayama, Japan, it was built in 1700 by Ikeda Tsunamasa. Korakuen means “garden of pleasure after”, which is a reference to a saying attributed to Confucius explaining that a wise ruler must attend to his subjects’ needs first, and only then should he consider his own interests. Once a playground for the elite, in 1884 Okayama Prefecture took Korakuen over and opened it to the public.

In 1957 Okayama and my home town, San Jose, became sister cities. San Jose built it’s own garden in 1965, called the Japanese Friendship Garden, patterned after Korakuen, and in 1966 it’s koi ponds were stocked with koi sent from Okayama. Although koi live over 50 years with some reports of over 200 years, unfortunately in 2009 a virus wiped out much of the koi in the gardens.

This is a painting of Kako-no-ike, one of the ponds in the garden, and the eighth in my Japan studio series. I visited Korakuen January 2015 while visiting my son who has been teaching English to school kids in the area the last three years. I didn’t have time to do any paintings there, but this is my second studio painting of the garden. You can see all my Japan paintings, both en plein air (on location), and studio paintings on Pinterest, here.


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Plein Air vs Studio Paintings

Most of you know I paint frequently en plein air, that is outdoors on location. All great landscape painters paint from life, at least occasionally, because you just can’t get true results by just using photos. Photographs skew the values, that is the relative darkness or lightness of a color, making shadows too dark and sunlit areas frequently too light. They can also modify the color to varying degrees. Most good artists can tell when a painting is done strictly from photographs.

I don’t often translate or re-paint a studio work directly from a plein air work, but on occasion do just that. Below are a few examples.


The first is of an inlet in Lake Tahoe, on the NE part of the lake close to Incline Village, Nevada.


The scene I was painting
The scene I was painting


Here is the plein air piece–
"Tahoe Inlet", 9x12, oil on board
“Tahoe Inlet”, 9×12, oil on board


and the work done in the studio–

"Tahoe Inlet", 24x30, oil on canvas
“Tahoe Inlet”, 24×30, oil on canvas


I later used the studio piece for the cover of my book “Plein Tahoe”, which you can purchase here.


The second example is of Santorini, Greece. As the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history, the Greek island of Santorini is one of the most spectacular in the world. Many scholars believe the eruption spawned the legend of Atlantis. Fira and other towns cling to the cliff overlooking the sea-drowned caldera left behind.

I visited there on a cruise in 2006, and did several studies overlooking Fira and the multicolored cliffs soaring a thousand feet above the caldera. What a spectacular view and setting!

Below are pictures of the scene, my small plein air study in acrylic, and a large studio painting in oil I did later. I made very few changes from the original study to the studio piece…it wasn’t necessary to improve on the scene!


Santorini, Greece
Santorini, Greece


“Santorini”, 8×10, acrylic on board, plein air


“Santorini”, 28×22 , oil on canvas, studio


If you are a landscape artist, be sure to actually visit and paint the landscape in real time!

Playing Outside

Thomas Jefferson Kitts brought to my attention a short video about teaching plein air painting to kids. This made me a little nostalgic as I used to go out and paint way prior to the current plein air renaissance and even before it was dubbed ‘plein air’. When my parents gave me an oil paint set during my high school years, the first paintings I did was outside of the lake by where we lived. I searched through all my old photos to see if I had any of me painting prior to going full time in the early 2000’s while I had a day job as a computer software developer. Heres what I found.

The first two are painting in the snow (sorry for the quality, but they are old Polaroids) probably around 1979, and I think around Strawberry, California along Hwy 108.


plein air painting in the late 70's
plein air painting in the late 70’s

plein air painting in the late 70's
plein air painting in the late 70’s

…and some in Yosemite in the early 90’s.


plein air painting in the early 90's
plein air painting in the early 90’s

pleinairhistory-2w

pleinairhistory-1w


Here is the video–


From Small to Big


Early Snow, Yosemite, 15x30, oil on canvas
Early Snow, Yosemite, 15×30, oil on canvas


 

Some may recognize this painting…but it’s new! I painted a small version, 6×12, several months ago for my miniature show, and posted it on Facebook. It’s also part of the logo picture above. I liked the mood and composition, so decided to do a larger, 15×30 version. Other than adding more detail, and a little more color to the bridge, the paintings are essentially the same.

About the scene–
There are eight beautiful and historic stone bridges in Yosemite Valley, most of them spanning the Merced River. This is the Clark Bridge, just after a snow storm. The Clark Bridge was built in 1928 with a span of 75.5 ft (23 m) over the Merced River and right by the Upper and Lower Pines campgrounds, where I have camped dozens of times over the decades.

  
Here is the small version, 6×12, oil on canvas. This version is currently available at James Harold Galleries in Tahoe City, CA.


Early Snow, Yosemite, 6x12, oil on canvas
Early Snow, Yosemite, 6×12, oil on canvas