Donald Neff

Light Filtering Among the Small Clouds

Sunsets on Monterey Bay by Fort Ord (now closed) are often breathtaking and captivating experiences. The reflection of the sun on the waters of Monterey Bay adds to the beauty of the scene, creating a serene and picturesque atmosphere.

Prior to moving to Marina, CA, I visited the area frequently showing in art galleries in Carmel, and at the annual Carmel Art Festival for the last couple decades. I always drove right by Marina and the massive dunes to go further south to the rocky Big Sur coast and other areas which I thought would be better subject matter for my paintings.

Now, I walk along the dunes with my wife, Josie, 3-5 times a week for daily exercise, and the ideas for painting studies there are seemingly endless. Riding my eBike along the coastal trails is also fun and great exercise! I am losing track of how many times I have painted them, but here is another one!!

What drew me to this particular sunset was the light filtering among the small clouds in the upper atmosphere. They didn’t seem to be affected by the bright yellows and oranges of the sun and clouds below. Enjoy this new piece just off the easel.

Dunes Sunset, 24×18, oil on canvas

For those who know the area, I call this Divarty Hill, just west of the Divarty Rd/Hwy 1 underpass. Some may recognize the tree, but I replaced the asphalt road with vegetation.

November 26 is Artists Sunday

I’ve joined artists, creators and makers across the country for the Artists Sunday, earth’s largest art event, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, November 26th, encouraging consumers to shop with artists. Think of it like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday but for shopping for art!

I already have my Small Works Holiday sale on, so just click here to see the bargains!


Anything is Possible

The Wright Flyer holds immense significance in American history as it marks a monumental achievement in aviation. Constructed and flown by the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright, the Flyer made its historic flight on December 17, 1903, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. This event is recognized as the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered aircraft in history.

There is a reason I keep this model of the Kitty Hawk Flyer hanging above my desk, which I look up at constantly through the day.

 I put this model together many years ago, and it was a difficult task.  I originally bought it at the NASA space museum in Washington, DC for my son to put together.  On the box, it said ‘easy assembly’, and thought he would learn something putting it together.  After bringing it home, realized it was for model experts only, and wasn’t ‘easy’ by any stretch of the imagination .  The kit was on the shelf for years, and eventually, I put it together over ten years ago.  The model is extremely  delicate and I have had to repair it many times from various accidents.

The Wright Flyer is a symbol of pioneering achievement that transformed the course of history, heralding the dawn of powered flight and leaving an indelible mark on American innovation and the world’s technological landscape.

Here is the reason I keep this model of the Kitty Hawk Flyer above my desk, especially on this Thanksgiving Day–  

It is a constant reminder we are lucky to live here and anything is possible!!

Le Trio

This time of year I usually paint a few 6×6 miniatures for Randy Higbee’s 6″ Squared Show. This year’s show will be online only, starting December 2, 2023.

I usually do pretty good in his show selling most, if not all the pieces, so just painted three new ones. Many times, I do smaller versions of some of my larger pieces, and sometimes they are small versions of a larger work I am thinking about doing. Working on all three simultaneously over the past week, I took a photo during the initial stages of painting.

Below are the three completed pieces. Click on each one for a larger version.

Stay tuned for more info on the show when it opens!

La Quete – Ten Years

The quest started 10 years ago today as a simple idea. I didn’t even know if I would, or even could finish it.  After all, it was a commitment for a year.  

I didn’t know if it would turn out worthwhile, or just a stack of sticky panels for the scrap heap.  I didn’t know if anything would be interesting or worth looking at.  

I didn’t know I would eventually paint ghost towns in Silicon Valley, or haunted springs, or wild beaver sign in a metropolitan city, or the worlds largest homeless camp, or the world’s first ‘plein air selfie’.  

I didn’t know it would snowball in scope and public interest way beyond my first simple idea.  Little did I know it would be featured on NBCTV, and other TV spots, articles by major publications, multiple showings in various venues, and a book.  

I didn’t know eventually strangers would walk up to me, give me a hug, and say I brought back their fond childhood memories of days gone by in the “Valley of Hearts Delight’.  

Ten years ago today, I started a year-long quest to paint a different “Creek and River of Silicon Valley” each week en plein air, or on location.

At the time, even finishing the year successfully was not known, but I ended up with 60 paintings of 43 different creeks all over the South San Francisco Bay area.  Discover about the quest, including a short documentary video, interactive map, and other information here.

The collection of 60 paintings is still intact and will be for the foreseeable future.  I am still seeking venues both local, national, and international for showings, so inquiries are welcome!


Looking for a totally unique custom gift for the holiday season which will last a lifetime? These little paintings make great holiday gifts. Just click on the link below.

This year I am also including notecards and books on sale. This is the biggest discount I ever sell my paintings, 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. If you are interested, just email me at


Point Lobos, located along the ruggedly picturesque California coastline, is a natural wonder that enchants visitors with its breathtaking beauty. Often referred to as the “crown jewel” of California’s state parks, the protected state reserve boasts a landscape of dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and lush forests. Its crystal-clear waters reveal a mesmerizing underwater world, making it a popular destination for divers and snorkelers.

Monterey Bay Plein Air Painters weekly printout was at the preserve, and I joined them. The last time they were, there, I painted a scene looking south down the coast. The sea has been unusually calm much of the past several weeks, so this time, I painted a quiet cove. Below are some pictures from the day. Although quite a few showed up, limited parking spread us out over a wide area.

Below is my painting after about two hours. With a little touchup, I think it is a keeper.

Lobos Cove, 12×16, oil on panel, plein air

Morning@The Dunes

Fort Ord Dunes State Park, located on the scenic California coastline near our home in Marina, offers a captivating blend of natural beauty and historical significance. Once a military training ground, I frequently walk this coastal gem which boasts pristine sandy shores, rolling dunes, and native grasslands. I have also painted it many times, the last being for the Carmel Art Festival which won the People’s Choice Award.

Monterey Bay Plein Air Painters were painting there yesterday morning, so joined them. Most of my paintings of the area have been late in the day, and I have never painted it in the morning.

It turned out to be a beautiful Wednesday morning, and about half a dozen painters showed up. I painted a small 5×7 scene of the dunes and Monterey Bay which will be included in my upcoming Holiday Sale in November.

Below are a few pictures of the day.

Here is the final painting. It seems as much effort is made in these miniature pieces as larger works!

Morning@The Dunes, 5x7, oil on board
Morning@The Dunes, 5×7, oil on board, plein air

Painting with the Knights

The Knights of the Vine Association is a prestigious and exclusive organization dedicated to the appreciation and cultivation of the art of winemaking and oenology. Founded centuries ago in the heart of wine country, this illustrious group of wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs gathers to celebrate the rich history and intricate craftsmanship behind the world’s finest wines. Their members, often referred to as “Knights,” participate in wine tastings, vineyard tours, and educational seminars, all while upholding a deep commitment to the preservation of wine culture and traditions. With a passion for the grape and a shared dedication to the exquisite art of winemaking, the Knights of the Vine Association continues to be a beacon of excellence and knowledge in the world of wine.


The Knights of the Vine chapter in Monterey for the past 30 years have had a party on the Sheltered Cove pier by the Beach & Tennis Club in Pebble Beach, CA.  I was invited last year to paint during the event, and was invited back this year!

It was a sunny and warm day…well almost hot!   Here are few pictures of the day. 

Although it is unpredictable how a plein air painting might turn out, I spent about 3 hours on the piece and once again, this one turned out rather well. 

The painting was auctioned off, and went to a couple from Pebble Beach. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a great picture of the painting, but here is a snapshot.

Small Canvases, Big Ideas

After our recent trip to Iceland, Norway, England and other points, I couldn’t wait to do a few studio paintings from the trip. Since it was time to do a few new pieces for my annual Small Works Holiday Sale, I decided what better subject matter! Some of these I might paint in larger format in the future. The Holiday Sale starts early November, but if interested in a presale purchase, just email or private message me

Godafoss in Iceland, often referred to as the “Waterfall of the Gods,” is a majestic and powerful cascade situated in the country’s northern region, offering a captivating display of nature’s beauty and an important place in Icelandic history and folklore.

Godafosse, 6×12, oil on canvas

Gudbrandsjuvet in Norway is a breathtaking natural chasm, where the rushing waters of the Valldola River have carved a stunning, narrow gorge through the rock formations, making it a must-see attraction for nature enthusiasts and photographers.

Gudbrandsjuvet, 8×6, oil on panel

Geirangerfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Norway, is renowned for its dramatic, glacier-carved landscapes, pristine waters, and picturesque waterfalls, making it one of the most iconic and breathtaking fjords in the world.

Geiranger, 12×9, oil on panel

Stigfossen waterfall in Norway is a mesmerizing natural wonder, known for its steep, cascading descent of water down a rugged mountainside, creating a spectacle of both beauty and awe for those who visit.

Stigfossen, 12×4, oil on gallery wrap canvas

That’s all for now, but stay tuned for more in the works!!

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