Flooded!

All of you have by now heard about the flooding in my hometown of San Jose around Coyote Creek, the largest watershed in Silicon Valley. During my year long quest to paint “The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley” I did 18 paintings in the Coyote watershed, and 5 of Coyote Creek itself. That was also during one of the worst droughts California experienced in years. Now Coyote Creek is above flood stage.

Today, during a break between storms, the creek has subsided a bit, so I did a mini-tour of some of the locations I painted from San Jose down to Anderson Dam in Morgan Hill. Below are pictures before, now, plus the painting I did at the time. I also included a couple videos and a link to the original weblog at the time of the original painting.


Christmas Day – Coyote Creek in Hellyer Park
The original blog post — http://www.donaldneff.com/blog/eleven-christmas-day/

 
Then:

My easel painting Coyote Creek by Hellyer Park

 
Now:
This is a picture from the bridge, the creek is up to the top of the banks…way over my head from where I originally painted…

Coyote Creek at flood stage
Coyote Creek at flood stage

 
Now:
A short video from the bridge…

 
The original painting:

Christmas Day, 8×10, oil on panel


Thompson Creek
The weblog entry is here — http://www.donaldneff.com/blog/two-three-woz-way/

 
Then:

Along the banks of Thompson Creek

 
Now:
Thompson Creek was much fuller, but not overflowing.

Thompson Creek
Thompson Creek

 
The original painting:

Thompson Creek 8×10 oil on board


Evergreen – Fowler Creek confluence
The original blog post about man’s first controlled flight — http://www.donaldneff.com/blog/sixteen-the-evergreen/

 
Then:
You can’t see much of the creek as it was just a trickle–

My easel towards the end of the painting.
My easel towards the end of the painting.

 
Now:
Not flooding, but lots of flow–

 
The original painting:

The Evergreen, 8x10,oil on panel
The Evergreen, 8×10,oil on panel


El Toro – Coyote Creek Below Anderson Dam
I wasn’t able to get to the original painting location as it was roped off and guarded by park officials. I was able to get fairly close, though.
The original blog post — http://www.donaldneff.com/blog/thirtysix-el-toro/

 
Then:

 
Now:
Water from the spillway is flowing into the Coyote Creek channel

Water from the spillway flowing into the Coyote Creek channel
Water from the spillway flowing into the Coyote Creek channel

 
Now:
A short video just downstream from the original painting location…

 
The original painting:

El Toro, 8x10, oil on board
El Toro, 8×10, oil on board

 
 
For those concerned, I live in the Coyote Creek watershed, but up in the hills enough to avoid flooding!

Drenched

Most of you know California is getting drenched, and much of the rest of the US is getting heavy snow. I ventured out today to check a spot I painted three years ago Christmas morning, along Coyote Creek, to see what it looked like. You can read more about when I painted it December 25, 2013, on my weblog here. The creek was low, but flowing nicely, and looked like this–

My easel painting Coyote Creek by Hellyer Park
Painting Coyote Creek under the Hellyer Road Bridge

Here is the plein air painting I did that day–

Christmas Day, 8×10, oil on panel

A year later it was bone dry (This photo was taken just a few miles upstream November 1, 2014)

Coyote Creek
Coyote Creek

Today it looked like this…

Coyote Creek 1/9/16
Coyote Creek 1/9/16

    
You can still see some of the fall color I painted in the upper left, and the trees on the right are in about 3-4 feet of water.

More rain is on the way, so hopefully I can check out some of the other creeks which were dry just a year ago!


Soaring in the Sierras

Tenaya Outlet, 24x12, oil on gallery wrap canvas
Tenaya Outlet, 24×12, oil on gallery wrap canvas

“Up and away to Lake Tenaya, another big day, enough for a lifetime.  The rocks, the air, everything speaking with audible voice or silent; joyful, wonderful, everlasting, banishing weariness and sense of time.  No longing for anything now or hereafter as we go home into the mountain’s heart.”

John Muir – “My First Summer in the Sierra”

One of the easily accessible alpine lakes in the high Sierra, Tenaya Lake is also one of the most spectacular. Named after Yosemite Ahwahneechee Chief Tenaya, it is nestled in a granite basin surrounded by soaring granite domes, peaks, and lodgepole forests. Along Hwy 120 (Tioga Pass Road), it is also a sports destination with hiking, swimming, and boating.

What a magnificent scene! I regularly return to it both physically, and in my art doing plein air and studio paintings of the area. My last painting of the Tuolumne River is not far away. Of course one of the main attractions is the unique Polly Dome which dips into the eastern part of the lake, and a controversy of the 1958 Tioga Road realigning. It is considered one of the most scenic routes in all California and one of the most outstanding park roads in the entire National Park System.

This scene is where Tenaya Lake starts to empty on it’s western side into Tenaya Creek, and eventually flows into Yosemite Valley where it joins with the Merced River.

This is the third recently done, of what I am dubbing my “vertical water scenes”. I resurrected an old technique used often when painting acrylics, of painting the water from ground up, and then glazing over the top until you get to the surface. Of course it takes longer with oils as they have to dry between coats. Acrylics dry within minutes but oils can take up to a week to dry to the touch. I used Liquin in this instance as a glazing medium and to speed up the drying time, and also to put a glossy glaze on the water. A space heater in my studio also helped!

Here’s a few pictures as the painting progressed in the gallery below. Click on each photo to see a larger version. Email subscribers may have to click on the above title to see them.



Here’s a couple of photos of me on a recent trip trip there doing a plein air piece…Click on each photo to see a larger version. Email subscribers may have to click on the above title to see them.


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Don Edwards SF Bay NWR Center Reception


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

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Technically, it’s Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Education Center, which is quite a mouthful. There are selected paintings from “The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley” currently on display at the center. Today, they sponsored a reception and ‘meet the artist’. It turned out to be quite fun! We had some nice refreshments, then I talked for awhile, visited, and answered a wide range of questions. Some took a guided nature hike through part of the Refuge. I talked about art, indian legends, magic, ghosts, history, flight, conservation, the environment, but mostly about the creeks and waterways in Silicon Valley. My goal was for everyone to look ‘under the surface’ of what is around them in Silicon Valley to appreciate what used to be called “The Valley of Heart’s Delight”. From what I could tell no one fell asleep, and everyone seemed to have a good time!

Just a few pictures of the afternoon courtesy of my friend, past work associate, and great photographer, Scott Loftesness. If you haven’t seen some of Scott’s photos, you should check them out here and here.

The exhibit will be up until the late fall and we don’t really have an end date yet. If you haven’t seen it, or been out to the center, it is certainly worth the trip!

Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge Exhibit

During my quest of painting the creeks of Silicon Valley, stuff I painted in many places, medicine but almost all the creeks end up in the marshes of the San Francisco Bay in what is now called the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge encompasses most of the southern portions of the bay, generic and is a wonderful reclamation of land once used for industrial purposes.

I wrote a number of times about the area in FortySix: Don’s Sunrise Pix, FortySeven: Hunter’s Heaven, and Fifty: Ghost City

We put up 18 paintings specifically from the Coyote Creek Watershed in their Education Center today. The paintings will be on display now until the fall. A special event is scheduled for September 5, which is free, but you must sign up here.

More info can be found here.

The Creeks Collection


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

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After a little touchup, sales varnishing, salve and re-shooting all the paintings in “The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley” quest, I made this short video of the entire collection. Enjoy it along with a little Celtic music! Click on the picture above or if not shown, this link to view the video.

 

Plein Air Magazine also wrote a short article for their weekly electronic newsletter and Plein Air Collector web site. Click here to read.

San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society posted an article about my painting of Drawbridge, an actual ghost town in Silicon Valley here.

 


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.


The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley, the Movie


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

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My year long quest to paint “The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley” is over! 60 paintings of 43 creeks and waterways were produced.

Please enjoy and share this short video celebration of the hidden beautiful spaces in our metropolitan areas with art.

More information can be found at:
http://www.donaldneff.com/creeks.html


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.


Sixty: …and Evening


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

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"...and Evening", <a href=
online 8×10, oil on board” width=”500″ height=”403″ class=”size-full wp-image-3504″ /> “…and Evening”, 8×10, oil on board

 

We come to the final painting in the year long quest. Since the very beginning, I have had various ideas on what to paint as the last one, but just a couple weeks ago came up with the “trio”, Morning…Afternoon…and Evening. We had an almost full moon rising around dusk today, so what better way to end this quest with a view of Silicon Valley with a full moon rising over the eastern foothills. I am not as familiar with the western foothills of Santa Clara County where I wanted to paint this, so took me quite a bit of time on Google Earth, and just driving around, to find this scene. I also wanted it to be by a creek I had not painted yet.

I settled on a view from Peacock Court in the foothills above Cupertino. In the distant valley you can see downtown San Jose. The creek is Swiss Creek and is a tributary of Stevens Creek, which I have painted several times in this quest. We were above Permanente Quarry and I could hear the equipment in the distance below. As soon as I turned onto Peacock Court, guess what I saw….a peacock!

The rising moon was spectacular. In the pictures, it almost looks like a rising sun. I stayed until it was too dark to paint, and touched the painting up in the studio.

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

 

This ends the year long quest, but there is much more coming up! Just the painting part is over!

I have a special surprise coming in a few days, and there is much more after that, so stay tuned!

 


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.


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

FiftyNine: …Afternoon…


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

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"...Afternoon...", 8x10, oil on board
“…Afternoon…”, 8×10, oil on board

 

I am releasing the final three paintings in this quest as a trio, and here is number two. “…Afternoon…” was painted late in the day and since we just went off daylight savings time, the sun sets early around 5 o’clock.

Most of you know I own and ride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Metcalf Road, as a backroads way going home, is a favorite ride. It’s a country road, and the first part, painted here, is steep and full of hairpin turns. You can see just a hint of the road on the right side. At the top of the hill, behind me, is the Metcalf Motorcycle Park for motocross dirt bikers.

Metcalf Creek empties into Coyote Creek, one I have painted multiple times in this quest. The far hills are the coastal range of California, and you can barely make out the iconic radar building at the top of Mt Unumhum.

Down below, you can see settlement ponds which is part of the Coyote Creek engineered system. You can also barely make out Hwy 101. I showed just a glimpse of Metcalf Creek at the bottom of the hill. Just to the right in the valley glare, you can barely make out the southernmost suburban area of San Jose. It seems every year, this line creeps further south as new neighborhoods are built. Just to the left in the valley, but not shown, is the Metcalf Transmission Substation which made national news awhile back with a sophisticated sniper assault.

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

 

 

An artists note: I painted almost the entirety with a #10 filbert brush, Silver Ruby Satin brand, about 3/4 of an inch wide. Since the entire painting is in the distance and late in the day, I wanted a soft look throughout. The larger the brush you can use, the better! Also, some of the brightest parts on the hillsides are ‘take-aways’. I tone my canvas with Transparent Red Oxide, and lifting the paint reveals part of the undertoned canvas.

This is quite an expansive view, and a little hard to fit on a small 8×10 canvas. It’s on my list for a large painting later on!


Just one more painting to go, and…

I have a special surprise coming next week when the quest is over. Stay tuned!


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.


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

FiftyEight: Morning…


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

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Morning... , <a href=
sickness 8×10, oil on board” width=”500″ height=”400″ class=”size-full wp-image-3466″ /> Morning… , 8×10, oil on board

 

We are down to the final three paintings of the quest, and I will be releasing them as a trio series the next couple days.

First, is Morning…, a view of Randol Creek in the Almaden Valley area. I previously painted in this area with Fifteen: The Hard Drive Machine and Eighteen, Nineteen: Mercury Sheen and you can read a bit of the local history by clicking on those links. The creek has been dry all summer, but with a good downpour, it is now running just a bit, and I was out painting this right when the morning storm started to clear. Randol is a tributary of Alamitos Creek, which flows into the Guadalupe and on to San Francisco Bay, right in the middle of a newer suburban neighborhood at the southwestern edge of San Jose.

Trees are starting their fall color in the valley, as they did when I started this quest almost a year ago. Unlike last year, though, the creeks are much drier and some which normally run year round are completely dry.

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

 

 


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.


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