FortySix: Don’s Sunrise Pix

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

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The nation’s first urban national wildlife refuge wraps around the southern end of San Francisco Bay, and with over 23,000 acres, proclaims itself the largest urban wildlife refuge in the country. The refuge, created in 1974, was largely the result of grassroots efforts by the local community to protect the San Francisco Bay ecosystem.   Located along the Pacific Flyway, the Refuge hosts over 280 species of birds each year.

Following the California gold rush in 1849, a population boom created explosive development on sensitive lands in the the San Francisco Bay Area.  As I mentioned in Twentyone: Baylands Fun, the salt industry converted tens of thousands of acres of salt marsh into commercial salt ponds.  Nearly 85% of the bay’s original marshes and shorelines have been altered.  The San Francisco Bay Area still hosts one of only two sea salt works in the entire United States, as some still remain.

Spearheaded by local citizens, Congressman Don Edwards, worked with Congress to create the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge which was later renamed to Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Its mission, is to preserve and enhance wildlife habitat; protect migratory birds and threatened and endangered species; and provide opportunities for wildlife-oriented recreation and nature study for the surrounding communities. More info can be found here.


Leaving before the crack of dawn to beat the bay area traffic, the skies were partly cloudy. Soon after I left the house, the sun peeked over the eastern hills and the sunrise was wonderful. Not knowing what kind of skies there would be after the 45 minute drive to the refuge, I stopped and made some color notes. When I got to the refuge, it was somewhat overcast, so took some artistic license to combine the mornings sunrise with the view of the marsh.

Click on a thumbnail to open up a larger picture and slide show***


I painted 46 close to the refuge’s headquarters located at the edge of industrial Newark of La Riviere Marsh, named after Florence La Riviere who was instrumental in forming the refuge. There are so many cross channels in this area, it is hard to identify which creek feeds these marshlands, but it is part of the Sanjon de los Alisos Creek watershed, and close to that creek, so will record it as such. Historically, this creek would carry off waters when Alameda Creek flooded out of its banks. It now carries urban runoff into Newark Slough.

Don's Sunrise Pix, 8x10, oil on board
Don’s Sunrise Pix, 8×10, oil on board

I was almost finished with the piece when a friendly ranger told me I was illegally parked and should move, even though I carefully checked that there weren’t any ‘No Parking’ signs along the road there. So I quickly packed up and forgot to take a picture of the painting on the easel.



What a great place to paint! I could spend a week just in the area around the headquarters as it is full of great scenes… besides the marshes, estuaries, wildlife, and bay views, there are plenty of old buildings and historical structures. My next blog entry will be another painting that morning in the same area. I had a short conversation with the Public Affairs Officer, and he liked the idea of seeing more artists in the area painting…so all you bay area artists, check it out!

Here’s a few more scenes of the area to wet your appetite—
Click on a thumbnail to open up a larger picture and slide show***

Stay tuned for more about that last picture in the next weblog…



Click this link for a map of all painting locations along with each painting.
Click on this link for a Pinterest catalog of all paintings so far.

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2 thoughts on “FortySix: Don’s Sunrise Pix”

  1. Pingback: Donald Neff Weblog » Blog Archive » FortySeven: Hunter’s Heaven

  2. Pingback: Donald Neff Weblog » Blog Archive » Fifty: Ghost City

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