Valle Del Sur

Pacific Calm, 24x12, oil on canvas
Pacific Calm, 24×12, oil on canvas

I was invited by a long time painting friend, Steve Wise, to do a demo at the Valle Del Sur Art Guild in Morgan Hill, a town about 10 miles south of San Jose. I have painted this area many times including during the Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley.

Steve asked me to do either a seascape or lake scene, so I chose a seascape. Recently, I have been doing a series of vertical water paintings, so picked a seascape to start for the scene. As usual with these demos, there is not enough time to do a finished painting, but I tried to finish off certain portions to demonstrate various techniques in painting seascapes.

It was a small, but lively group, and seemed like questions were coming once a minute as I tried to paint. Steve is quite the art historian, and kept things lively with his historical quips.

The painting is the tenth ‘vertical water’ painting series and from the same general area as the fourth in the series found here. The narrow inlet is along the California Coast in Garrapata State Park just south of Carmel, and close to Big Sur.

I forgot about taking pictures until almost the end of the demo, so here are a few–

Getting into the painting
Getting into the painting
Getting intense
Getting intense
The painting as far as I got during the demo.
The painting as far as I got during the demo.

Thanks, Trudie, for some of the photos!

I later spent a few hours in the home studio finishing the piece.

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!

First Light, Garrapata

"First Light, Garrapata", 12x24, oil on canvas
“First Light, Garrapata”, 12×24, oil on canvas

Here is the final version of the painting I started as a demo at the San Leandro Art Association last week. At the time it was less than half done, and I spent another couple hours on it in my studio.

You can read more about the demo and see how much I did in the 90 minutes or so during the meeting here —

http://www.donaldneff.com/blog/painting-seascapes-in-san-leandro/

Painting Seascapes in San Leandro

I was invited to paint a demo for the San Leandro Art Association last night. I do these association demos about once a year or so. San Leandro is a suburban community on the east shore of San Francisco Bay. It’s home to many corporate businesses such as JanSport, The North Face, and to all you chocolate aficionados, Ghirardelli!

San Leandro is normally about an hours drive from my house, but in late afternoon traffic, took over 90 minutes in stop and go traffic. I went a little early, so-as to get a bit of dinner before the meeting. Luke’s Grill jumped out at me as I love Greek and Mediterranean food, so tried it out. I wasn’t disappointed!

The meeting was attended by about 30 members, and went well. I had about 90 minutes to work on a 12×24 seascape, but really only had about an hour of paint time. The group was lively, fun, and full of questions. I was having so much fun, I forgot about pictures until the evening was almost over, but below are a few pictures towards the end of the session — (Note, click on each picture to view a larger version. Email subscribers may not see all pictures, and can click on the title to see online.)



Here is a photo of the painting where I left it, which is probably only a third done. I’ll try to finish it in the next few days, and post the results back here.


San Leandro Demo in progress
San Leandro Demo in progress

Painting the Rubicon, Lake Tahoe


Enjoy this short painting expedition video at Lake Tahoe, California. This is a time lapse video of an 8×10 oil painting from the Rubicon Trail in DL Bliss State Park by artist Donald Neff.



 
The time lapse was filmed by a GoPro camera, and other photos taken with an iPhone. 4113 separate photographs were used in making the time lapse portion.

Edited with Final Cut Pro on a MacPro cylinder.
Music courtesy of freeplay.com.

You can find out more about painting Lake Tahoe that and other days in my last weblog here — http://www.donaldneff.com/blog/across-the-rubicon/

Across the Rubicon

From the introduction to my book “Plein Tahoe“…

A masterpiece of nature and the crown jewel of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Lake Tahoe is one of the most spectacular in the world. From the Native American word meaning “big water”, Tahoe is the second deepest lake in North America, known for the clarity of its water. The pristine deep blue water against the panorama of the surrounding mountains is unequaled in the world.

I have been showing at the James-Harold Galleries in Tahoe City for around 15 years, and make regular trips to the area to paint and drop off new paintings. I have even driven my Harley-Davidson Road King there, painted for a number of days, and dropped the newly created works off at the gallery.

Hal Slear, the gallery owner, and I have been talking about a little show of miniatures for a number of months, but schedules hadn’t worked out, but finally I just had to do a fall color trip in the area, so here we go!

Thursday
Took off in the morning to drive to the Lake and of course, the worst traffic was just getting out of Silicon Valley! After arriving at the Lake and driving around a bit to check out the fall color, I headed to DL Bliss State Park and one of my favorite places to paint on the lake, along the Rubicon Trail. My plan was to do a time-lapse video of the painting process. I have done these before, most notably “The Painting of TwentyFive: Where Redwoods Thrive” which you can see here. I used the same home made GoPro camera setup, so look for a video soon of the event.

Below are a few pictures of the afternoon. (Click on any thumbnail to see a larger picture.)

Much of painting plein air is deciding what to put in, but more importantly, what to leave out! At the time, I was undecided on including the larger tree on the right so didn’t put it in. Later on, I touched the painting up on Saturday while in the gallery, so put the tree in. Here is the final piece, which I finished a couple days later in the gallery —

Across the Rubicon, 8x10, oil on board, plein air
Across the Rubicon, 8×10, oil on board, plein air

Note this isn’t the greatest depiction of the painting as it was taken with my cellphone camera, but hopefully you get the impression.

After checking into my motel in South Lake Tahoe, I was so exhausted, it was a very early bedtime for me!

Friday
Friday we were expecting rain almost all day, and it did, so outdoor painting was not in the plan. I drove around the lake, enjoying the stormy weather and stopped by the gallery to drop off the batch of new miniature paintings for the show. I took a few pictures, and here is a panorama from the Sand Harbor Boat Launch

Stormy Tahoe
Stormy Tahoe

Saturday
We advertised my presence from 12-5pm to paint in the gallery. There was a break in the storm on my hour drive there, so just had to stop and take pictures of the next storm front coming in—

Storms a comin'
Storms a comin’

I liked a little 5×7 nocturne I did of Lake Tahoe for the show, so decided to do another larger one for my demo in the gallery. I almost finished it between talking to customers and other passers by, and well, just taking my time!

Harvest Moon over Tahoe, 8x16, oil on board
Harvest Moon over Tahoe, 8×16, oil on board

Long time friends, Clark & Elaine Hockwald are full time RV-ers and they had been staying at Lake Tahoe for the last 6 months so we arranged to meet at the gallery, and then have an early dinner. I have known Clarke since I was about 11, and Elaine from college days. They have a wonderful weblog about their travels which you can find here.

It was their choice for the dinner location, so they picked an excellent nearby place, Christy Hill, which was right on the lake. It was a fabulous dinner and we sat for several hours just watching the stormy lake, dining, but mainly telling stories from old times, and a few recent happenings! The Moroccan Lamb I had was just delicious…and I will be looking for a similar recipe!

Dinner with Clarke and Elaine
Dinner with Clarke and Elaine

It was a long drive home at night through the pouring rain, but we all made it safely!

Sunday
I was scheduled to be in the gallery from 12-3pm, so drove back through the rain around the lake. I finished yesterdays nocturne painting and had enough time to do another small one, so started a 5×7. Another stormy Tahoe scene was in my mind, so I used a picture I had taken just the day before as a study. With a palette of already mixed colors, everything ‘clicked’, and I knocked it out in no-time.

Storms a comin!, 7x5, oil on board
Storms a comin!, 7×5, oil on board

Around 3:30, I headed home in pouring rain, taking over an hour longer than normal.

So, if you are in Tahoe the next month or two, stop by and see some new Donald Neff miniatures! All the paintings depicted in this weblog entry are now on sale in the James Harold Gallery. I have priced these to sell over the holiday season, and a number are already gone, so it might be time to add one or two to your collection!

Cambrian Art League Demo

Yesterday, I did a demonstration at the Cambrian Art League. They are a lively group and meet in the Willow Glen area of San Jose. I did a painting of the Truckee River in the snow, and with all the talking, etc., only got about 2/3rds complete.

Here’s a few pictures from the demo (Click on a thumbnail picture for a larger slideshow)–

Today I spent another hour or so to complete it, at least for now. Here is the complete piece–

Truckee Thaw, 12x16, oil on panel
Truckee Thaw, 12×16, oil on panel

The Painting of TwentyFive: Where Redwoods Thrive


Continuing the ‘Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley’ year long project.

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I recently bought a GoPro camera and used it to take some time lapse photography of painting number TwentyFive.

5627 individual photos were taken at one per second for a total duration of 94 minutes. The photos were then sped up to 10 per second to produce the video. The camera was never stopped the entire time, no rx even when I was talking with passersby.

2nd Annual Plein Air Convention

The 2nd Annual Plein Air Convention was held in Monterey, CA this year. I missed the first convention last year in Las Vegas, but since Monterey is only 90 minutes from my home, certainly couldn’t miss this one!

I registered for the convention quite awhile ago, but then a month ago they added me to the ‘faculty’ to do an acrylic painting demonstration on the Expo Hall Demo Stage. Although I do most of my finished paintings in oil, I do take acrylics on travel trips, especially international excursions. Plein Air magazine had published an article about it last year, so I decided to just expand on the concept. At any rate, it was quite an honor to be in the same venue with some of the top plein air and traditional artists in the country.

Arriving Wednesday, the convention got off to a great start that afternoon, and didn’t slow down the entire time. It was non-stop lectures, demos, eating, meeting, vendors, and just fun. I won’t go into all the events and demos, as you can find them here, but every demo and lecture was top notch.

There seemed to be so many things going on, it was difficult to pick and choose which to attend. A few that stood out in my mind was James Gurney’s (Dinotopia author) totally entertaining lecture on opening night, where he gave about a semesters’s worth of art lessons in an hour. Also, demos by Gil Dellinger, CS Mundy, were a hoot. Brian Blood gave away his secrets on painting fog, and Ken Auster did a 52×52 inch painting in 90 minutes. The portraits painted by Michelle Dunaway and Jeremy Lipking were amazing.

My demo time slot on Saturday morning was only 45 minutes, but the prior special event went 15 minutes over, so I only had about 35 total minutes. I didn’t get far in the actual demo, but mainly answered lots of questions from the audience. I did finish the painting later in the Expo Hall, so those interested could watch and then see the finished product.

Here are a few pictures during the demo. You can click on any picture to see a larger version (Thanks, Sam for providing the photos!)–

Below is the finished painting–

Akaroa Lighthouse 12x16 Acrylic
Akaroa Lighthouse 12×16 Acrylic

That afternoon, the entire group went to Asilomar for lunch then painted in the area, mostly on Asilomar Beach. It was quite a ‘trippy’ experience to see hundreds of artists painting together on the same beach! If there were a Guiness World Record category for this, we certainly would hold the record!

A few shots of the crowd–

I was a little tired from standing, painting, and answering dozens of questions most of the morning, so took my chair, semi-relaxed, and did a small 8×10 oil of the beach. It was quite windy, which put a chill in the area, but everyone toughed it out like good plein air artists–

Asilomar Beach 8x10 Oil
Asilomar Beach 8×10 Oil

The next day, Sunday morning, many also met along the wharf in Monterey, where in places they stood shoulder to shoulder painting. Here are a few shots of the crowd. The first picture shows James Gurney, author of the Dinotopia books sitting and sketching–

I did another painting of the Monterey Wharf area. Here is me by the easel–

Yours truly out painting with the group
Yours truly out painting with the group

And the painting–

Monterey Wharf 12x24 Oil
Monterey Wharf 12×24 Oil

I soon had to head home. April 15 was the next day, and time to finish up the tax returns!

The producer of the show, Eric Rhoads (publisher, Plein Air Magazine) mentioned afterwards they are still looking for a venue next year. I’d recommend going for anyone interested in Plein Air painting. It was absolutely wonderful to meet and talk with some of my art ‘heros’, all of whom were very generous with their time and advice. Hope to see everyone there next year!

Millbrae Arts Association Demo

I was invited to do a demo at the Millbrae Arts Association in Millbrae California last night. I demoed for them several years ago a snow scene along the Truckee River near Lake Tahoe. They asked me to do a water scene, sildenafil so I decided to paint the Merced River in Yosemite Valley with Sentinel Rock in the background using a study painted several years ago for a commission piece. Allotted about 90 minutes actual painting time, ailment covering a 16×20 panel is a challenge! We did manage to get the basics down of how to paint reflections and other water subject techniques.

Below are a few pictures of the event…

The Millbrae association is a small, but friendly group, and it was a fun and great opportunity to spend an evening with them!