Studio Open House – Save the Date!

I will be participating in my first ever Artists Studio Tour Open house. Save the date to stop by my new studio in Marina, CA. October 16, 17, 23, & 24.

Besides visiting the studio, I need to clear it out! I’ll have many older but still great paintings on discount, some deep discount, both framed and unframed. I will also have my books “Plein Tahoe”, and “The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley” for sale on discount.

2020 Magnificent Miniatures Holiday Sale

“Truckee Blue”, 6×8, oil on panel

Looking for a totally unique custom gift for the holiday season which will last a lifetime? These little paintings make great holiday gifts. Many times they are small versions of larger pieces I have done, and some maybe an experiment for a large piece. The Sunday after Thanksgiving will be celebrated as the first #ArtistsSunday. This is the biggest discount I ever sell my paintings, up to 70% off. Price is for unframed original, unless otherwise noted. Shipping is free in the continental US. If you are interested, just email me at Click on the picture or the link below to see all the paintings, including pricing. #shopart

Adventures in Fairyland


Watch this:

Once again, I was honored to have a painting in the Yosemite Renaissance Exhibition. This juried art show opens at the Yosemite Museum, and then travels around California for a year.  The show also starts around the time of year for the annual Firefall event in Yosemite Valley, and I don’t need much of an excuse to visit!

The opening reception was Friday, February 22 this year, so I arrived a day early, Thursday afternoon.  Lodging prices in Yosemite were quite high for winter season (possibly because the Firefall is getting ever more popular), so for the first time, I elected to stay outside the park in El Portal, which is right at the entrance. 

After checking into my motel, I headed into the park.  A series of recent snowstorms had hit the area, and it was like driving around in a winter fairyland.  I wouldn’t have much time to paint, so just drove around for a few pictures, then headed to the Firefall.  I won’t go into that experience  here, as I posted a weblog entry you can read here.  If you haven’t seen my short Firefall video, you should watch it:

I won’t go into detail on my visit, but it was very cold, barely getting above freezing most days, so my painting activities were a bit limited.  Plus, with all the recent heavy snow, many pullouts and parking lots were unavailable, and those available quickly taken up by the unusually large winter crowds.  

Here are a few pictures from the trip.  Click on the thumbnails to get a larger picture and description.

Yosemite Renaissance 34 will be on display at the Yosemite Museum from February 23rd through May 5th, 2019.  The Museum Gallery is open daily 10 am to Noon, and 1 pm to 4 pm. The 2019 Traveling Exhibit will be displayed at the following venues. We will confirm specific dates and times as they become available.

Kings Art Center, Hanford, CA. (June through July)

Carnegie Art Center, Turlock, CA. (August through October)

Gallery 5 at Gallery Row, Oakhurst, CA (October through November)

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!

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 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

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!

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!

Elkhorn, Carmel, Galerie Julianne, Big Sur, and Elkhorn

I traditionally make a visit to the Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur area about a week before the Carmel Art Festival, to get fresh ideas for the competition. The Carmel Art Festival is like many plein air events in that the artist has a few days to complete a number of paintings, and then the works are shown and auctioned. I generally like to have an idea of what I may paint. Although very familiar with about every nook and cranny from Santa Cruz to Big Sur, am always looking for fresh ideas.

Took off today, and I mainly wanted to explore the Elkhorn Slough area (which I have painted a number of times before), and then move down the coast to the Big Sur area. I went via the “back way” to Elkhorn, and ended up doing a small painting of one of the tributary areas. I had great company, a flock of Great Egrets were close by. What a magnificent bird!!


Below is the spot I painted…



And the small painting, a 6×8 in about an hour…


I then drove down to Carmel and visited the new gallery showing my work, Gallerie Julianne. I had dropped some works off several months ago when they were just getting going, and now, they are in full swing. Dave, the owner, manages a beautiful space, one of the best in Carmel, in my opinion.


Driving down the coast, I had planned to do another painting, but the winds were at hurricane force, so just drove, hiked, and explored…


The late afternoon sun urged me back to Elkhorn to see how the light looked, and the Great Egrets were in the same lagoon to welcome me back.


Time to go home.

Galerie Julianne and Big Sur

Several weeks ago I received an email from a new opening gallery in Carmel, CA, wanting to show my work. I had been showing in Carmel up until a year or so ago, but that gallery became a victim of the poor economy. To make a long story short, I drove the 90 minutes to Carmel today and dropped off about a dozen paintings. The new gallery, Galerie Julianne, is still in the process of ramping up, but they are open & the gallery looks like a wonderful space in an ideal location. Carmel does not have street addresses, so, you can find them on Dolores Street between 6th and Ocean.

After finalizing everything with the gallery, I took off down the coast to paint and enjoy Big Sur. Below are a few shots from the day.

I stopped to do a painting at the below spot. I have been fighting a cold and congestion, so I tried to stay out of the brisk wind, but only lasted about 45 minutes painting, getting about half done…

I decided to just drive, hike, explore, snooze, and generally hang out until sunset. It was worth the wait.

There are a few more photos on flickr, which you can find here.

Above El Capitan VI

Continued work yesterday and today. I put in the rest of the valley floor, with the lower right very roughly painted as much of it will be covered with foreground trees. I continued to work on the foreground, and also all over the painting, making minor adjustments, adding some scattered clouds and other details.

Normally I can do 90% of a painting this size in 3-4 days, then let it sit and occasionally make adjustments here and there over several weeks . It is also good to put it aside for awhile and then look at it with fresh eyes. This phase will start in the next day or so.

Below are two shots, one of the entire painting, and one closeup of part of the sky which shows some of the color better.


Painting in the Gallery

James Harold Gallery in Tahoe City, CA, invited me to paint in their gallery this weekend and to show new paintings. They have been carrying my work for many years and I usually do some kind of summer show. I decided to go up to Lake Tahoe on the prior Thursday, drop of some paintings, then paint in the area on Friday. My wife wanted to go and when I checked motels, found out Reno (about an hour away) was at least half the cost of staying at Lake Tahoe. My wife’s brother was planning on going to Reno that weekend, so we all booked rooms at the El Dorado. Roger, a family friend decided to join us.

After dropping several new paintings at the gallery, we all met in Reno. That evening we had a great birthday dinner for my sister-in-law at Roxy’s right in the hotel.

Friday, I drove to Virginia City which is only about a 45 minute drive from our hotel. I had painted here last year, but didn’t finish it. Virginia City is the site of the famous Comstock Lode, at one time, one of the richest mines in the world. For a time, it was also the home to Mark Twain who worked for the local newspaper. If you are ever in the area, it is a wonderful place to visit as the historic old buildings have been restored.

I don’t paint architecture much, but needed to practice. After driving around town for awhile, I found some old un-restored buildings downhill from the main drag. Below is my easel and the scene–

virginia city

It was so dry and hot, the oil paints, which usually stay wet for days, were drying right on my palette! The painting didn’t turn out great, but I am learning.

Saturday, I painted in the gallery all afternoon. Rather than paint something from scratch, I brought a larger studio painting I was almost done with and finished it. The painting actually started out as an acrylic painting from years ago and was only half complete. After sanding it down and re-prepping it, I recently painted completely over the acrylic in oils, and then finished the rest in the gallery.

The scene is from a hike I did years ago down Four Mile Trail in Yosemite Park. The trail starts at Glacier Point and steeply winds down into Yosemite Valley. The views all the way down are spectacular, and is a ‘must do’ if you ever get the chance.

yosemite painting

yosemite painting

Here’s a picture of Your’s Truly with some of my work on display.

donald neff gallery

That evening, we enjoyed the “Le Grand Cirque” show at the El Dorado.

Sunday, I headed back to the gallery, and painted an 11×14 from scratch. Since fall was coming, I did a fall color scene from the Eastern Sierras, around the Virginia Lake area. My iPad came in handy as I could flip through hundreds of photo studies until I found one both me and the gallery owners liked.

painting in the gallery

fall aspense

After the demo, it was a long drive home, arriving late Sunday night.

James Harold Gallery Show

Just returned from 4 days at Lake Tahoe. James Harold Gallery kicked off a solo show which will last most of the summer. The theme for this show is gallery wrap paintings. Gallery wrap means the canvas wraps around the support frame and has a 1 inch side. This side is painted so a frame is not required. I did a number of miniatures, diptychs, and one large painting for the show.

I won’t go into a blow by blow of my trip, but will include just a few snapshots below. The best news is as I arrived Sunday, a collector was already purchasing one of my paintings!

Sunday afternoon was a reception, and I painted in the gallery. Below is me with some of the new paintings. This was actually taken today just before I left and I had on my painting garb–


It was sunny and warm the entire time. Monday, I hung around the east shore doing a little painting, but mostly just taking snapshots for future painting studies. Although a bit windy, Lake Tahoe colors were in their splendor–


Tuesday, I drove to Virginia City for possibly a change of scenery to paint. Virginia City is the site of the famous Comstock Lode, at one time, one of the richest mines in the world. For a time, it was also the home to Mark Twain who worked for the local newspaper. If you are ever in the area, it is a wonderful place to visit as the historic old buildings have been restored–


Here is the scene I decided to paint looking down on part of Virginia City–


The sun was so bright, I had to huddle in the shade behind my car rear door in order to judge colors correctly–


After an easy morning & one last visit to the gallery, I headed home this afternoon.

Out and Back In at Sandy-by-the-Sea

During my visit to Carmel today, the bad economy was certainly showing. It seemed every block had at least one or two empty spaces with “For Lease” signs. Thirty year old businesses had shut down. Those I talked to, however said business has been picking up the last month or so. Let’s hope that trend continues!

Late last year, Sandy-by-the-Sea Gallery I was showing in Carmel was closing it’s doors. So, I took a trip to Carmel to retrieve my paintings. During my visit to Carmel today, I found they were still open! They originally were going to close, but couldn’t get out of the lease, one thing led to another, so they decided to stick it out. To make a long story short, they took some of my paintings back, and I will be delivering some new works next week. Below is one of the paintings which will soon be on display–

quiet waters, mosquito lake