Month: November 2021

Holiday Sale!! Magnificent Miniatures!!

Looking for a totally unique custom gift for the holiday season which will last a lifetime? These little paintings make great holiday gifts.. This is the biggest discount I ever sell my paintings, some up to 70% off. Most prices are for unframed original, however if the frame is shown, it is included. Shipping is free in the continental US.

I don’t have a sophisticated sales system, so just email me at if interested in a painting. I can take credit card or check.

The Holiday Gallery is on Pinterest. Just click here to view images and prices. This sale will continue until Dec 24.

Here are just a few paintings in the sale. Click here to see all of them, plus prices and sizes.

A Thanksgiving in Japan with a Wise Teacher

Note: this post was originally published in 2016 and updated here.

It was in November 2015 that I spent a few weeks in Japan and Thanksgiving with my son, Justin, who had lived there over three years teaching English to school kids. He works and lives in the mountainous town of Maniwa. I have visited him several times, and cannot get enough of the Japanese countryside. Yes, of course the cities are where most visitors go and great fun, but after awhile, to me, the big cities start to blend into the same.

Well, this blog entry is not about Thanksgiving day, but about one day at a school where Justin teaches…a day I will never forget. Justin rotates around a half dozen schools teaching English from Kindergarten through grade school.

The Kusakabe Elementary School principal was interested in meeting me, so I went with Justin in his car to the school for his teaching day. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay the entire day sitting around a Japanese school, and it was a little too far to walk home, so figured I was there for the day. After the first hour I didn’t want to leave!

Kusakabe School
Kusakabe School

It was a drizzly cloudy day.

As soon as we arrived, the principal was expecting me, and he and some teachers royally greeted me. In Japanese schools, upon entering, you take your outside shoes off, and put your inside shoes on. They have slippers for visitors, so I ‘slipped’ into those, and followed the principal to his office. We sat down in some sofas in front of his desk, and chatted a bit, somewhat in English with Justin doing a little interpreting.

A few teachers came to greet me, and before you know it, I had rice paper, ink, and a Japanese brush in front of me and everyone expecting a ‘masterpiece’. Whoa! Japanese art such as this simplifies everything into just a few strokes. I am so unfamiliar with this, I just brushed out what I had seen the day before, Kamba Falls…and it didn’t turn out well.

Kamba Falls near Maniwa, Japan

The first class of the day Justin taught was pre-school. I have never seen such a lively bunch of precious little kids eager to learn. Justin taught a few words for the day…banana, ice cream cone (can’t remember all exactly)…he put them in a song, talked, continually interacted with the children, and invited me to to come up and draw pictures of the words he was teaching on the board.

I was so impressed by one student confined to a walker, seemingly the happiest of all. I didn’t know his condition, maybe palsy, but all the other kids just constantly came over and embraced and loved him.

Watching those kids with all their enthusiasm was one of the sweetest and lovely things I have seen in my life, and it made me realize why Justin loved to live and teach there.

After that, I went to a number of other grade school classes with Justin, but after an introduction, and a little talk, I would exit the class.

I wanted to go paint the Asahi River close to the school, so walked a few blocks with my acrylic travel kit, found a bench by the river, and started to paint.

Asahi River
Asahi River

Like I said, it was an inclimate day, and it soon started to drizzle and found it impossible to continue.

Paint kit by the Asahi River
Paint kit by the Asahi River

Heading back to the school, I asked them for a couple chairs to sit and finish the painting outside under the eves. Almost the entire time, I was surrounded by school kids asking me all kinds of questions in a few English words, using gestures, but mostly unable to communicate.

I finished the painting under the eves of the school, and at the end of the day, presented it to the principal as a gift to the school.

Asahi River, 8x10, acrylic on canvas
Asahi River, 8×10, acrylic on canvas

School was soon over, and all the school kids lined up to be dismissed to go home. The principal wanted me to stand with Justin as he spoke to the student body eager to go home. I had no idea what he said for about 10 minutes as he held that little 8×10 acrylic painting up over his head for all to see. Occasionally there were oohs, and aaahs from the kids, with everyone looking at me, and I just grinned and nodded not knowing at all what was being said.

Justin later told me what the principal said, in summary and paraphrasing —

Art is a universal language which we all can see and appreciate, and even though Mr. Neff can’t speak our language, and we can’t speak much of his, Mr. Neff brought an expression which we all can relate, enjoy, share, and bring us together.

I kinda like that principal!


The school framed the painting, and it now hangs in the entrance by the shoe racks.

Kusakabe School Entrance
Kusakabe School Entrance

Kusakabe School Entrance
Kusakabe School Entrance

Celebrating Monterey County

These paintings will be in the year long show at the Monterey County Administration Building, 168 W. Alisal,  Salinas,  CA.  The show celebrates the beauty of Monterey County, with 63 paintings from 38 artists represented of locations all over the county.  Although exact dates are a little in flux, the show will open Thanksgiving week, and run for approximately a year.   An artists reception will probably occur in January 2022 depending on covid status, so stay tuned!

Perkins Park, 16×20, oil on panel.  I have painted this beautiful little park many times, especially in the spring when the ice plant is blooming.
Elkhorn, 16×20, oil on panel.  I painted this a few years back during the Carmel Art Festival.  I won an honorable mention.
Redwood Mist, 8×4, oil on panel.  Palo Colorado Canyon on the Big Sur coastline has a number of redwood groves.


From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

“Downtown”, 16×20, oil on panel, plein air

Here is another one in the foothills above my old place in San Jose. For those familiar with the area, Quimby Road went by near the house and then up the hills, to Mt Hamilton and Lick Observatory, and then eventually to the central San Joaquin Valley. It’s a very windy road with some 15mph hairpin turns, but what views!

From the “uus stuudiokarantiin”, this view is a few minutes drive up Quimby looking back to downtown San Jose. Once you get past the city’s edge, it turns very pastoral immediately with old barns, cows, horses, and wildlife. Painting this for the Los Gatos Plein Air Art Festival back in 2013, you can read more about those adventures here—

Mt Pleasant

From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

“Mt Pleasant”, 8×16, oil on panel, plein air, finished in the studio

I used to live right near the edge of San Jose, close to the east side foothills. Occasionally I would go up in the hills and paint, especially during winter months when the skies were more interesting.

From the “nije studiokarantene”, this piece was sixth in a plein air series of winter cloud studies from the hills above my home about about 5 years ago. The view is from Mt. Pleasant Rd looking west over San Jose and Silicon Valley. The round hill in the middle is Groesbeck Hill Park where I used to walk our Golden Retriever, and our son used to play when he was a kid. In the distant left is downtown San Jose. A few stadium lights were on, probably the PAL Sports Centre, which I indicated.

It is practically impossible to paint a sunset entirely en plein air (on location). The moment you want to capture lasts for only a few minutes. In this instance, I started the painting about an hour before the moment I was expecting, putting in as much as possible based on prior observations from the same location. When the sun hit the right spot, I furiously put down color and value notes, and minutes later the sun was down. I then finished some of the detail in the studio.

High Sierra Lake

From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

“High Sierra Lake”, 28×22, acrylic on canvas

From the “kwarantina ?dida fl-istudjo, I have been posting older paintings the last few days as I learned how to paint water with it’s multidimensional layers. Here is another acrylic I did back in the day. It’s a studio painting from studies I did on a backpacking trip into the high Sierra back in 1978.  

I used different techniques when painting water with acrylic as opposed to oils. With acrylic, I would paint the bottom substrate first. Since acrylics dry in a few minutes, I could then keep glazing with a clear medium and add thin layers of paint until I reached the surface. Separating these layers with the glossy medium would give the water depth and a wet look.

Beneath Half Dome

From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

“Beneath Half Dome”, 30×24, acrylic on canvas

From the “ny studiokarantene” continuing a series of paintings as I learned to paint water [sic], here is another piece from my acrylic days, painted in the early 2000’s. A quite large piece, the center of interest in the painting is Half Dome in Yosemite Valley CA, with the perspective somewhat unique as the view is from practically underneath the great monolith. This also includes a fairly detailed representation of Tenaya Creek and it’s multiple layers from the creek bottom to reflected light in the ripples at the surface.

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