Donald Neff

Point Lobos Foundation Art Appreciation Day

Headland Cove, Point Lobos, 8×16, oil on panel $600 unframed

I was invited along with the Monterey Bay Plein Air Painters to participate in the inaugural Point Lobos Foundation Art Appreciation Day  yesterday, June 11. The Foundation’s mission is to protect and nurture Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, to educate and inspire visitors to preserve its unique natural and cultural resources, and to strengthen the network of Carmel Area State Parks. We have had a warming trend in the area, and promised to be a great day for weather…and it was!

We needed to be in line at Point Lobos State Preserve by the 8am opening time as parking is always tight to non-existence there.  They graciously waived the $10 preserve entry fee for us artists.  Prior to the event, they asked us to pick a place to paint so they could advertise where we all were.  I chose Cypress Grove Trail as I had never painted there, and would probably have a lot of foot traffic.

I spent most the morning working on an 8×16 piece of Headland Cove.  The painting turned out pretty good, shown above, and is a keeper, although as always, will touch it up a bit. Below are a few pictures of the day…

After lunch, and a quick power nap in the car, I painted another piece, 8×10, from the same spot, but a more intimate, closer view of the rocks.  My objective was to capture the ever changing colors and value of the ocean as it crashes agains the headlands.  I accomplished that, but totally messed up the compositional aspect of the painting.  I ended up with 5 evenly spaced rocks of equal size.  I will modify it some for a more pleasing composition, hopefully without taking away the colors of the pounding surf!

Pt Lobos Surf, 8×10, oil on panel, $380 unframed.

I rarely put prices on my paintings online, but in this case I will.  Proceeds from the paintings will go to the Foundation.  Free shipping in the continental US. If interested, please email me .

Art Appreciation Day at Pt. Lobos

"China Cove Panorama", 12x36, oil on canvas
“China Cove Panorama”, 12×36, oil on canvas

Come join us at Point Lobos State Preserve this Saturday, June 11. I’ll be participating in their Art Appreciation Day by painting en plein air most the day. Any paintings I do that day, or a few I bring from the studio will be on sale with part of the proceeds going to charity. Come early, as parking fills up quickly.

More info can be found here.


I have five paintings entered in the May Plein Air Salon Art competition. They have a peoples choice award which you can vote for online. Below are the five paintings, and if you click on each one, will take you to a page to vote. If you have time, and willing, please vote for each painting. The deadline is June 10, 2022.

Misty Sentinel,16x20,oil on board
Misty Sentinel,16×20,oil on board
“Thunderbird Lodge”, 24×12, oil on gallery wrap canvas
“Thunderbird Lodge”, 24×12, oil on gallery wrap canvas

Whales, Whales, and More Whales!

At Ft Ord Dunes State Beach near our home in California, earlier this week, was an amazing display of nature.  For several days, dozens of Humpback whales were frolicking close to shore, feeding, breaching, slapping, spy hopping, and other activities.  Enjoy this short video I took mainly from shore with my iPhone 13, but also a few shots from my drone of some stragglers after most were gone.  Be sure to turn the sound on.


Well, I originally didn’t plan on telling anybody about this, but just for the record, last Wednesday’s painting was a total dud.  It happens. Frequently with artists.

I went out with the Monterey Bay Plein Air Painters again.  The venue was the Monterey Wharf.  We painted there last February, and while everyone else was painting Del Monte Beach, I painted a boat in the wharf.  This time, I was going to paint the beach.   Only one other painter showed up, Al Shamble, who picks and coordinates all the venues for the group.

Generally, I consider these paint-outs more artist social events, and don’t try to produce a great painting, but this time, my piece was a total dud.  I kept painting and scraping it for a few hours, and then, since I had to attend to other things that day, packed it up and left.

The best part of the morning was just sitting on the wharf, hearing the waves, listening to the seagulls, watching a little kid learning to surf, and viewing the sea lions playing around the sailboats.  Actually, it was a pretty good morning!!

Here’s a few pictures…

141 Feet Above Garrapata

141 Feet Above Garrapata, 14×18, oil on canvas

One of the spectacular coastlines in the world, the Big Sur coastline runs for 90 miles on the west central coast of California.  California Highway One winds along its length and is flanked on one side by the majestic Santa Lucia Mountains and on the other by the rocky Pacific Coast.   Garrapata State Park extends along the coast on the northern part of the coastline and I am fortunate to live just half an hour away from this spectacular area. 

Out painting with the California Art Club last January, I flew my drone for a quick flight.  You can read about that excursion here, plus a short video I made, shown below.

This painting is a frame from the drone video I took that day, and can actually be seen around the midpoint of the video below.  I have occasionally been doing paintings from a drone’s eye perspective, the first being “The World’s First Plein Air Drone Selfie” here.

Natividad, “A Time to Heal”

I am honored to have two paintings in the Natividad “A Time to Heal” MBPAPA show. Natividad Medical Center, 1441 Constitution Blvd., Salinas, CA. The show runs for an entire year, May 30, 2022 – May 30, 2023. At this point they are not sure if an artists reception will be scheduled, depending on current covid condition.

A Beautiful Day

Lover’s Point, 8×16, oil on panel, plein air

In the spring, the ice plant blooms in Perkins Park, Pacific Grove, CA, covering much of the park in a blanket of reds, pinks, and purples. I had been meaning to make the short drive there to paint, and a group paint-out by the Monterey Bay Plein Air Association gave me an excuse.

Generally, I consider these outings as more social events than trying to produce a sellable painting.  This time though, I wanted to spend a little more time trying to get a good piece, so arrived early to catch the morning light.  

I settled in painting a backlit view of Lover’s Point.  It was a wonderful day!  It was difficult painting looking directly into the sun as I am still trying to find a good pair of outdoor spectacles since my cataract surgery a year ago. The painting was turning into a muddy mess. I kept at it though, and got it back on track.

After an hour or so, I didn’t see any other fellow painters, so walked around, and found just a few on the other side of the point.  There were only about 4 of us total, as far as I can tell.  

The painting turned out good…a keeper!  The above is a little over two hours work.  I will touch it up just a bit in the studio, but could stand as-is.

Here are a few more pictures of the day…

Wilder Hogs

aka Hollister/Carmel Run

Enjoy this short video of a ride on April 13, 2022. Be sure to turn the volume up!

Route was Hollister Hwy 25 South; Hwy 198 West; Hwy 101 North;Greenfield to Arroyo Seco; to Carmel Valley; Laurels Grade; Hwy 68 East.

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