The Tuolumne

From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

“The Tuolumne”, 24×12, oil on canvas 

A rolling, open meadow set in Yosemite’s high country, Tuolumne Meadows embodies the high-country of the Sierra Nevada. The largest subalpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada, it is surrounded by soaring granite domes set off by stands of Western White pine, Mountain hemlock, and Lodgepole pine.  

The Lyell Fork, and Dana Fork flow out of the surrounding peaks and merge in the colorful meadows forming the Tuolumne River. After the confluence of the forks in Tuolumne Meadows, the river meanders calmly for the first few miles, then quickly changes as the river leaves the meadows and drops over Tuolumne Falls and White Cascades. 

Visiting and camping in and near the wonderful meadow many times, it is one of my favorite places in the high Sierra. From the “nowe wi?zienie studyjne” is a painting in the fall of the mighty river during the low water season, another one of the ‘Vertical Water” series I add to from time to time.

Hear Me Roar!

From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

“Hear Me Roar”, 24×12, oil on canvas 

Winter storms bring a lot of water action to the California Coastline. The huge swells created many miles out to sea come crashing against the shoreline rocks creating a constant roar, crashing waves, frothy surf, and great painting subjects.

From the “nouvelle prison de studio” is one of the ‘Vertical Water” series I add to from time to time. This scene is from Pacific Grove looking due west out to sea as a storm on the horizon is breaking.

Tahoe Snow

From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

[Posted November 11, 2020]

As the Sierra Nevada mountain range starts to settle in for winter, let’s visit Lake Tahoe, at least virtually! As the snow settles on the large boulders which line the lake, interesting abstract patterns start to form which are fun to paint. The lake is too deep to freeze, so the myriad blues and greens of the water contrast against the whiteness of the snow and the dark evergreens. Soon the winter wonderland attracts skiers, snowboarders, and winter enthusiasts from around the world visiting the many ski resorts.

Showing in a gallery (now closed) in Tahoe City for many years, the lake is probably my most often painted subject. Visiting frequently in my car, motorcycle and RV, I painted it in all seasons, both plein air and studio versions. From the “quarantena dello studio”, today’s brief virus diversion is a studio painting of the east shore of the lake deeply blanketed in snow.

Endicott Arm

From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

“Endicott Arm”, 24×12, oil on canvas

The towering cliffs surrounded us effused with waterfalls tumbling down to the glacial carved inlet. Advances and declines of the massive Ice Age glaciers had scoured this area dozens of times. Waterfalls plunged from astonishing heights down steep fjord walls and into the azure water. The fresh air, enhanced by the fizzing and popping of the glacial ice in the salty sea as it slowly melts, was all around. Harbor seals eyed us as our cruise ship made it’s way up Endicott Arm.

We visited Endicott Arm on our 4th cruise to Alaska in 2017, hopping the boat in San Francisco for a 10 day round trip.

Today’s offering from the “Coraintín Stiúideo” is one of my “Vertical Water” series of the azure sea in Endicott Arm. 

Along Going to the Sun

From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

“Along Going to the Sun”, 28×22, oil over acrylic on canvas

[Nov 4, 2020]

While the nation impatiently waits for the results of the national election, how about a brief diversion from all the news! Let’s fly off to Montana…

One of the spectacular drives in the world is Going to the Sun road in Glacier Park Montana, It’s a spectacular 52-mile road that winds over passes, crosses the Continental Divide and travels through incredibly varied terrain—from glacial lakes to jagged cliffs. The views are spectacular at every turn, and for some, the steep terrain and hairpin turns can cause a bit of vertigo! From the “vinnustofu sóttkví” is a painting of one of the landmarks along this amazing road. Right at Logan Pass sits Reynolds Mountain. With an elevation of over 9000 feet, it towers over the pass like a citadel guarding the treasures of the high mountain terrain.

This painting of the iconic peak was actually an experiment. Most of the underpainting is in acrylic, and then finished off with oils. 

May Lake II

From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

“May Lake II”, 9×12, oil on panel

Yesterday [sic] I posted a painting done at May Lake, in the Yosemite high country. If you missed that story, you can read it here — http://www.donaldneff.com/blog/yosemite-high-country/
Like I said, I originally wasn’t very pleased with these works, but they grew on me over the years, and especially now are reminiscent of my many visits to the area. From the “Studio Kwarantanna”, here is another rock study completed that same day.

San Juan Cemetery

From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

“San Juan Cemetery”, 16×20, oil on board

And now for something totally different.

Mission San Juan Bautista is a Spanish mission in the small town of San Juan Bautista, California. Founded in 1797, the mission was the fifteenth of the Spanish missions established in present-day California. Named for Saint John the Baptist, the mission has served mass daily since 1797, and today functions as a parish church of the Diocese of Monterey.

I have painted the mission a number of times, usually with a group of fellow plein air painters. During one visit, I wandered back behind the mission and found an old graveyard adjacent to the structure. The cemetery holds the remains of over 4,000 Christian Native Americans and Europeans in thousands of unmarked graves who have died over the centuries. It’s not my usual subject matter, but the pattern of old weathered walls along with the eerie foggy mist had an intriguing abstract pattern, so I later did a studio painting of it.  
From the “Studio Ndebe Iche”.

Morning Drink

From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

“Morning Drink”, 28×22, acrylic on canvas

For the 201st day of virus diversions [sic], from the “Studio Coraintin”, is another acrylic painted in the early 2000’s. One of my few paintings with wildlife, this painting hung in a US Embassy overseas for a number of years as part of the “Art in Embassies” program. You can see more about the program here —
https://art.state.gov/personnel/donald_neff/

The Accidental Environmentalist

From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

Thunderbird Cove, 8×10, oil on panel, plein air

Yesterday [sic] I told two stories, one of a place and person, the other of my painting of it. Today I’ll also tell two stories, of the same place and person, but a different painting.

Yesterday my story of George Whittle Jr was not very complimentary, but that is just part of it. Whittell’s life was not all tawdry intrigue, ceaseless orgies and torrid love affairs. His enormous assets allowed him to purchase most of the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe where he built the Thunderbird Lodge in the 1930s. He resisted a formal education, traveling instead with the Barnum and Bailey Circus where he developed a lifelong love for wild animals. Whittell was made a Knight of the Order of Leopold by the King of Belgium for his distinguished service as an ambulance driver in World War I.

Increasingly reclusive, Whittell refused to develop his Lake Tahoe holdings. He donated land to the University of Nevada and Zephyr Cove, where a high school bears his name. When George Whittell died he left a legacy of pristine shoreline along with a large share of his fortune to the National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Much of the east shore of Lake Tahoe is still undeveloped and now enjoyed in it’s original natural condition because of George.

I hiked down that steep east shore embankment to paint this plein air. Although I thought there was a trail, I ended up scrambling over logs, rocks, and brush to reach the shoreline. Just around the corner of the painting is Thunderbird Lodge, but not visible here. If you look at yesterday’s painting, this is from the shore along the peninsula. I originally didn’t think it was that great a painting, as it was mainly meant to capture the colors and values. When I took it to the local gallery, they thought it was wonderful. I now think it is one of my best and most accurate captures of the colors of the Lake Tahoe shoreline, and used it as the title page in my book “Plein Tahoe”.

You can read more about George Whittell here– https://tahoequarterly.com/best-of-tahoe-2016/george-whittell-jr-the-accidental-conservationist

Thunderbird Overlook

From April 2020, for a year, I posted on Facebook a painting each day as a brief diversion from the lockdowns and other bad news this year. Neglecting my weblog, I’ll post in the coming days some of my better posts. Some of these paintings are still available.

“Thunderbird Overlook”, 12×16, oil on panel, plein air

“When men stop boozing, womanizing and gambling, the bloom is off the rose.”

George Whittell Jr.

My have times changed! A little backstory….

The first art gallery that accepted my work after going full time as an artist was in Tahoe City. They have since closed down, but in the 2000’s sold a lot of my work. I used to visit Lake Tahoe every few months, do new paintings, and drop off both plein air and studio works. This is one of the plein air pieces I did on those trips.

This painting is an overlook of Thunderbird Lodge, which I have written about before in these posts. Built in 1939, it was designed to blend harmoniously with its surroundings. But, the guy who built it might have been more interesting. George Whittell Jr. was born in San Francisco in 1881, an heir to one of San Francisco’s wealthiest families. His father was the founder of PG&E, the Northern California utility corporation, and Jr eventually became one of California’s richest people then at age 49. He built the lodge in 1935 to escape California’s higher income taxes. Yes, even back then, people left California to escape taxes!

There is a lot more to the story, and you can read more about it here… https://en.wikipedia.org/…/Thunderbird_Lodge_(Lake…
From the Studio Karanten”