Eight Days on a Bike

Zion Lodge View, 8x10, acrylic, plein air
Zion Lodge View, 8×10, acrylic, plein air

Here I was riding my Harley around the Southwest again. I recently did an eight day trip on my 2003 Road King, traveling around parts of the Southwest. We visited Yosemite NP, Cedar Breaks, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Grand Canyon NP, Zion NP, and points in between. I also took my drone, and captured some aerial footage.

I won’t go into a travelogue here, but if interested, here is a short video of the trip–

Although painting was not a priority on this trip, I brought my acrylic travel kit just in case. We spent several nights near Zion National Park, and I had the opportunity do a couple painting studies.

It was quite hot, getting up around 100. We caught the shuttle bus at the Zion visitors center, and rode to the end of the line in the spectacular canyon at a place called Temple of Sinawava for my first painting. After scouting around, I found a scene and a rock I could sit on, then sat down to paint.

Yikes! I left my canvas pad and palette back at my motorcycle! So, it was all the way back on the shuttle to the visitors center and retrieve my materials, wasting about an hour.

I then decided to just stay around the Zion Lodge and do a painting, as I was going to meet my biker buddy there for lunch. To capture the scene I wanted, I had to stand in the hot sun to do the painting, and it was a chore to keep the acrylics wet on my palette as my misting spray bottle wasn’t working. It took a little more than an hour and managed to do a pretty good study, which is shown above.

After lunch, I rode the shuttle back to a stop called Big Bend and started another study. The shuttle stop had enough benches and shade to spread out and paint out of the sun. It was getting mid-afternoon, the hottest part of the day and even though I was in the shade, the acrylics were ‘skinning over’ as soon as I squeezed some out of the tube, which made it even more challenging.

Big Bend View, 10x8, acrylic, plein air
Big Bend View, 10×8, acrylic, plein air

This one wasn’t as complete as the first, but I stopped because of the heat and challenging conditions. It turned out an OK study. Regardless, any day spent in Zion is a wonderful day, especially when you can sit and paint!

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!

ThirtyFive: A Harley Ride


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

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Tularcitos Creek flows for just a few miles from the eastern foothills above Milpitas, California, and as soon as it hits suburbia, is channeled into an underground culvert, and not seen again. It’s dry most of the year, as is most of the streams coming out of the eastern foothills of Silicon Valley and only runs when it rains. (I wrote a little bit about Milpitas in my last blog post.)

I frequently take my Harley-Davidson Road King out to paint. When I do, I am not sure what I like more…riding the Harley, or painting! Combining both is heaven! Growing up in East Texas, I owned several Cushman motor scooters, and went through a couple Hondas, but always wanted a Harley, so bought one in 2003, a Hundred Year Anniversary Edition. My website details what I take on the Harley as I ride and paint. For you bikers, heres a bit about my bike and accessories.

Click on the below thumbnails for larger pictures***

A Harley Ride, 8x10,oil on board
A Harley Ride, 8×10,oil on board

My goal, was to show a glimpse of Silicon Valley from the eastern foothills. This painting is from Old Calavaras Road along the southern tributary of Tularcitos Creek. It was difficult to find a parking spot to get a good composition and view along the narrow road, so I took elements from up and down the road near me to do the painting. I also eliminated the road! The creek was not flowing, but had a few puddles along the way. The painting shows the southern end of San Francisco Bay. In the distant left is Moffett Field and Hanger 1 which I portrayed in painting TwentySix: Home of the Airships. Just to the left of that would be Alviso portrayed in ThirtyThree: Sin City. Also in view are where I painted TwentyOne: Baylands Fun and ThirtyOne: Setting Sun, all along the bay shore.

I plan on doing more paintings on two wheels, however a bicycle. Some of the places on the agenda, although in or near suburbia take awhile to get to, but there is usually a bike trail nearby.


For those following my rhyming titles, I considered “ThirtyFive: A Harley Drive” which may have been a better rhyme, but you just don’t drive a motorcycle…you ride it!


Click this link for a map of all painting locations along with each painting.


***Email subscribers may not see all pictures. Just click on the title for a link to the online version.

TwentyEight: The Tollgate


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

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The Pacific Congress Springs Resort Hotel around 1900
The Pacific Congress Springs Resort Hotel around 1900

Starting in 1847, the little pioneer town nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains of Santa Clara Valley had been called Arroyo Quito, Campbell Creek, Campbell’s Gap, Tollgate, McCartysville, and Bank Mills over the years. In the middle of the Civil War, the townspeople came together to decide a permanent name. Just upstream from their town was a spring which had almost the same chemical content as Congress Springs, of Saratoga Springs, New York, so they named their small town Saratoga, and it remains today.

Once an industrial town, producing lumber from the nearby hills, flour mills, paper, cardboard, furniture, tanneries, much of the power was derived from Saratoga Creek. A large resort was constructed at Pacific Congress Springs, , which burned down in 1903. More history can be found here.

Today, Saratoga is one of the upscale communities in Silicon Valley, with its small town feel of tony boutiques, little shops and high-end restaurants. In it’s short downtown of about 5 blocks it is, in my opinion, the highest concentration of the best rated restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area. The winding roads in the surrounding hills reveal estates with personal vineyards, horse stables, and other indications of affluence.

Riding through Saratoga on my Harley-Davidson Road King every few months into the Santa Cruz Mountains, I always love to see Saratoga Creek as it runs year round…even through all the recent droughts.

It would have been nice to paint the Congress Springs area, but it is now grown over, and access is limited. (Based on my observations from the road, with it’s chain link fence, it is probably used as a water source for Saratoga.) I painted Saratoga Creek downstream from there as it flows through Wildwood Park in the middle of town.

Below is the finished piece, an intimate scene of Saratoga Creek—

The Tollgate, 8x10, oil on board
The Tollgate, 8×10, oil on board

Click this link for a map of all painting locations.


San Mateo Coast

My nephew, Jeff was spending a few nights in a tent cabin at Costanoa, so I decided to ride the Harley up the coast and paint, spend a night, then paint back down the coast. I left around noon Monday, and my first stop was Greyhound Rock. It was nice painting there as I could sit on a park bench with my easel.

First stop was Greyhound Rock state park.
A fellow from Frankfort, Germany stopped by. After chatting a bit, he took a photo of me painting.
Here is a quick snapshot of the painting at Greyhound Rock. I left the lower right a little unfinished as it was time to move up the coast.
Next stop was Pigeon Point lighthouse. I have been planning on doing a large work of this coastal landmark, so decided to practice.

It was blowing so much, my canvas was shaking all over the place, so I didn’t even attempt to paint the lighthouse, but rather all the surroundings.

The tent cabin for the overnight stay. After a nice bbq steak dinner, and some campfire philosophizing, it was off to bed.
The next morning, I decided to stop at Greyhound Rock state park on the way back down the coast as the park benches were very welcoming.
A quick snapshot of the second painting by Greyhound Rock.

A Harley, Highway 25, and a Painting

One of my favorite motorcycle rides in the bay area is Highway 25 south of Hollister, California. It is a great motorcycle road out in the middle of nowhere with wide sweeping curves and long straightaways. We usually do it 3 or 4 times a year. I have actually done several short videos on the ride you can find on youTube HERE and HERE.

The area is a constant terrain of farmlands, barns, old ranch houses, abandoned buildings and wide open spaces…a painters paradise. When we ride, it is usually a group affair and very few stops. Every time I go, I tell myself I am going to bring the RV down sometime and just paint for a few days.

On a ride we did several weeks ago, it was just Pete and me, so we stopped quite a bit so I could take pictures along the way. My pastoral scenes are becoming more popular, and I wanted to do a big California Hills type scene. Today, I started a 30×40 which is a composite of several photo studies I did on the ride. I won’t give you a day-by-day account like the last big Yosemite painting, but below are a few pictures from the ride, and the sketch in of the painting.

hollister2.jpg

hollister3.jpg

hollister1.jpg

Painting with the California Art Club at Lake Chabot

The California Art Club was founded in 1909 with a primary purpose to promote the fine arts in the fields of painting, drawing and sculpture referred to as traditional and representational art. In recent years, every quarter year, they have a “paintout”, and today I attended at Lake Chabot, in the eastern foothills of San Francisco Bay.

After seeming weeks of rain, I rode my Harley to the paint-out today. Hadn’t been on the bike much lately so the fresh breeze and clean air deposited by the recent rain was intoxicating as I made my way to Lake Chabot.

A number of familiar faces and art friends were there, Paul Kratter, Larry Cannon; and I met a few artists with familiar names…Eric Rhodes editor of Artist Advocate and Fine Art Connoisseur, Doug Dunlop, to name just a few. I got so involved in talking and painting, my camera was left in my back pocket. Towards the end of the day, it was out, and below are some shots of the day.

When I first arrived at Lake Chabot, the water was clear and still—

chabot1.jpg

Charles White and Julia (didn’t get her last name, sorry)

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Artists were spread out all over Lake Chabot, this far shot incliudes Doug Dunlap, whom I had met earlier–

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A shot of my easel with the two paintings of the day–

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Closeup of one painting–

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I had to leave a little early, but am sure the artists who stayed for the afternoon pot-luck had a great time.

On to Yellowstone

I am blogging from Wells, Nevada, a tiny town at the crossroads of Interstate 80 and Highway 93 in the Northeast corner of Nevada.  I have been on the road for two days on the Harley with the destination of Yellowstone and the Tetons.  I’m travelling with a couple of couples, one on a Honda Goldwing, the other on a Yamaha FJR.  Needless to say we are having a great time riding!

Tomorrow we will travel up 93 into Idaho and then across to West Yellowstone where we will stay for a few days and tour the park.

I brought my paints, and plan to let my fellow motorcycle riders tour the park while I pick out places to paint.  I’m travelling with a unique set of painting equipment (at least for me) as I have to carry 11 days worth of living on my bike.  If it works out, I’ll give details later.   I have been to the Yellowstone a number of times, so am more anxious to paint than see every geyser! 

After that, we are off to the Tetons for a couple days.  Below is a plein air I did of Mt Moran the last time I visited this area….hope to do more!!

 

 

 

Digital Art

An article came across the news wires the other day about the growth of digital art, it’s acceptance, and growing prices. Thomas Kostigen writes:

But the agent of change may be the product of change itself: Virtual art is becoming big business, with artworks created online fetching thousands of dollars, and pixel space selling for millions.

You can find the article here. I am not going to comment on the merits of this form of art, but rather answer a question many of my friends have often asked me.

First a little background. For years I worked in the computer industry, starting around 1969 when the only computers were huge mainframes tucked away in large corporate vaults processing vast amounts of data. In the early 90’s, I started my own company and we made Macintosh and PC/Windows software. All those years I painted on the side. So the question leads to:

“Why don’t you do digital or computer art? It would be so natural since you are a computer guy”

Yes, it might be natural, but I need balance! Everyone needs or should have balance in their life! I worked so many years in the “virtual world”, aka typing on a keyboard, that working with something tactile was always an outlet. Producing old and traditional paintings was a counterpoint to producing new and cutting edge software. The local newspaper wrote an article about me several years ago and entitled it “From High Tech to High Touch”. They nailed it just right! You can read the entire article here.

Another case in point is my Harley-Davidson motorcycle which I purchased after retiring from the computer business some years ago. It has been lots of fun just getting my hands greasy changing the oil, doing maintenance, etc.

Well, I always like to include some form of graphic in my blog entries, so here is another miniature of Yosemite in the series I am currently working on.

yosemite, merced river

Prepping for the Carmel Art Festival

The Carmel Plein Air show is next week, so I decided to take a trip there to paint and look for places to paint. When you do a plein air show, preparation is key. When you have two days to come up with two great paintings, you better have a plan! I usually plan 3-4 works to do, and then decide which ones to actually paint based on the weather at the time. This time of year, Carmel weather is very unpredictable. It can be sunny one moment, shrouded in fog the next, and maybe even start raining.

The night before, the forecast for the Carmel area was morning fog clearing during the day. It was clear in San Jose when I took off on the Harley around 6:30 AM. I wanted to be at Point Lobos State Preserve when it opened at 9:00. When I got within 10 miles of the ocean, the fog was just thick as can be. Driving through Carmel, and down the Big Sur coastline, it was the same. I stopped at Pt Lobos for about an hour, took a short hike, and the fog was still thick. So, I decided to head back to Carmel, have some breakfast and see if the fog would lift. It didn’t.

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Along the North Shore Trail at Point Lobos

Time to go gallery hopping in Carmel!! I visited a number of my favorite galleries, and during that time, walked into an unfamiliar gallery which I found out had been open for about 6 months. One thing led to another, it it looks fairly certain I will start showing my work there very soon. I won’t mention the gallery name, or when my works might be on display until we get things settled.

The fog was starting to lift slightly, so, time to head to Big Sur. I got to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and it was nice and clear, so checked out the river, then headed back up to Pt Lobos for the second time. Still foggy! Oh well, I’ll do a painting anyway! So, I hiked the North Shore Trail a ways, and did a small 8×10.

carmel0508b.jpg

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The scene and my painting at Point Lobos.

It took me about an hour, finishing around 5:00 and the fog never lifted. I was hoping to catch a nice sunset, but it just wasn’t going to happen today. So, I loaded up the Harley and headed home. It turned out to be a drab day, but I will have to be prepared if we get two drab days when we have to paint next week for the festival.