Announcing: “The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley, Studio Editions”


Continuing the ”Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley, seek Studio Editions”.

Subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the right sidebar>>>>>


 

The year long quest to paint “The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley” has been so well received I am going to continue it, help however in a completely different direction. Over the next year, about once a month, I will do a larger studio painting of one of the plein air paintings done in the quest. The larger paintings will be different sizes, and not necessarily the same aspect ratio as the plein air. Some will be landscape orientation, and some portrait (vertical) as the painting requires. I will expand some into panoramas, and some just details of the original plein air.

The first painting in this new endeavor is FiftySeven: Sycamore Haven, and painted fairly close to the original, including the aspect ratio. Below is the original plein air followed by the studio painting, which is 16×20, or four times as big. Click on a thumbnail to open up a larger picture and slide show***

 

FiftySeven: Sycamore Haven, Plein Air, 8x10,  oil on board
FiftySeven: Sycamore Haven, Plein Air, 8×10, oil on board

 

Sycamore Haven, Studio Edition, 16x20,  oil on board
Sycamore Haven, Studio Edition, 16×20, oil on board

These studio works will be for sale. If you are interested, just email me privately at donald@donaldneff.com . I will also entertain requests for certain paintings.
 


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.

FiftySeven: Sycamore Haven


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

Subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the right sidebar>>>>>


 
Sycamore Haven, <a href=
sickness 8×10, buy oil on board” width=”500″ height=”398″ class=”size-full wp-image-3451″ /> Sycamore Haven, medicine 8×10, oil on board

 

Platanus racemosa, commonly called the California Sycamore is native to California and ranges from Baja northwards to the Sacramento Valley and up into the Sierra Nevada foothills. It grows in riparian areas, canyons, floodplains, at springs and seeps, and along streams and rivers. The trunk generally divides into two or more large trunks splitting into many branches.

Like the Eucalyptus tree, featured in ThirtySeven: Missions, Creeks, Trees, Bubbles, and Painting artists love to paint it because the white bark reflects much of the local color.

The stream is Guadalupe Creek. Originating just east of the peak of Mount Umunhum in the California coastal range, and flows through Cañada de los Capitancillos before joining Los Alamitos Creek (painted in Fifteen: The Hard Drive Machine and Eighteen, Nineteen: Mercury Sheen). This confluence forms the Guadalupe River, painted in #2, 6 , 24, 33, 39, and 51, through downtown San Jose and enters the bay at Alviso Slough. Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) have spawned historically in Guadalupe Creek.

This painting of a California Sycamore along Guadalupe Creek was close to the corner of Coleman Rd and Meridian Ave in San Jose along the Guadalupe Creek Trail. The creek was flowing just a ways upstream, but dry here, so I indicated just a little water in the creek bed.

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.

FiftyOne: Cleanup’s Never Done


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

Subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the right sidebar>>>>>


A great cleanup crew.  Photo curtesy Steve Holmes.
A great cleanup crew. Photo curtesy Steve Holmes.

 

San Jose is the southernmost major U. S. city with known salmon spawning runs. In past years, their progress had been blocked primarily by the culverts, wide concrete channels, and other features installed by the Santa Clara Valley Water District. Much of the spawning grounds have been choked with trash from citizen dumping, human waste, and other pollutants, primarily by homeless camps (painted in FortyEight: ‘The Jungle’ Fate).

During this quest, I have been pleasantly surprised to see that in recent years many citizen volunteers and organizations are working to restore the creeks and rivers of Santa Clara Valley. Due to their efforts, the trash which for decades accumulated and clogged the creeks has slowly been cleared out to make room for salmon runs and other aquatic animals. These volunteers have also lobbied and worked with the Santa Clara Valley Water District to modify structures and policies to allow salmon to migrate. Naturally this brings in more wildlife, like wild beaver in downtown San Jose (painted in ThirtyNine: Beaver Sign!)

 

This painting is dedicated to the volunteers clearing the creeks of Silicon Valley and their tireless efforts.

 

Organizations such as The Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Group (SSRG), Friends of Los Gatos Creek, Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, Friends of Guadalupe River, Santa Clara County Creeks Coalition, and Friends of Coyote Creek Watershed have worked to restore the waterways of the “Valley of Heart’s Delight”. Many have regular cleanup days where citizens volunteer their time and sweat to keep the waterways clean.

Foremost of these citizens is Roger Castillo, dubbed “The Watchdog of the River”, who I wrote about in Twentyfour: Roger, Let’s Soar.

I especially want to thank Steve Holmes, founder of several of the above groups, who has helped me in this quest by giving some valuable ‘creek advice’, spreading the word, and his efforts in preserving our waterways.

Give it up and cheers to all the volunteers!

Painting 51 was done during one of Friends of Guadalupe River cleanup operations. Steve Holmes invited me out for the morning where I was ‘allowed’ to just sit and paint without picking up trash.

35 volunteers showed for the cleanup, one of several scheduled that day in the valley. The Guadalupe was completely dry which made it easier to clean and get trash from areas that normally might be under water or mud. One Boy Scout leader, whose troup had adopted this stretch of the river, brought special tools just to get an old TV and 6 cylinder car engine block out of the dry riverbed which normally would be impossible if the river was running. The area was not quite as trashy as other places I have seen along the waterways, but there was plenty to clean up, and there were 115 large trash bags collected!

 

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

 

 

This is the first time I have painted beyond the ubiquitous chain link fence and “no trespassing” signs which guards much of the waterways of Silicon Valley from the abuse of humanity. The river stretch beyond the fence by Guadalupe is just wonderful, and as I painted, imagined a time in the future when many of these areas might be opened up to be enjoyed by the public without being ruined. These volunteers, I think are working towards that goal..

 

 

Cleanup's Never Done, 8x10, oil on board
Cleanup’s Never Done, 8×10, oil on board

 

About the painting…
Overall, I wanted to portray one thought about the volunteers cleaning up the area, but there are a number of points of interest in the piece. In the back is Capital Expressway as it crosses the Guadalupe River in south San Jose (Capitol Auto Mall) close to the intersection of Almaden Expressway. On the left are a few volunteers picking up trash in the riverbed, and on the right are the large accumulated trash bags. In the forefront, I painted a homeless pad (which was actually under the bridge), plus the usual trash you see in these areas. It indicates the job is not yet done. The riverbed is dry reflecting the drought California is experiencing this year.

Despite many efforts by many entities to improve Silicon Valley’s streams, their health still remains in in the balance, but greatly improving. As in the title, it seems their cleanup is never done.

 

If you want to volunteer, go to the above mentioned websites. Detailed information about some cleanup events are 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.


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

ThirtyNine: Beaver Sign!


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

Subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the right sidebar>>>>>


California Golden Beaver
California Golden Beaver

Thar’s beaver in that thar valley! so the pioneer mountain men used to say. Yes, there are wild beaver right downtown San Jose, the “Capital of Silicon Valley”. First discovered in March 2013 by Roger Castillo, who I wrote about in Twentyfour: Roger, Let’s Soar, the downtown San Jose area is now locally called Beavertown.

The beaver is the largest rodent in North America and the second or third largest rodent in the world. Castor Canadensis Subauratus, or the California Golden Beaver was last seen in this area 150 years ago. The beavers are believed to have originated from the Lexington Reservoir above Los Gatos, where they were re-introduced in the early 1990s.

Turns out now they are all over the Guadalupe Watershed. Multiple families of beavers are living from Lexington Reservoir down to Alviso, which I painted in ThirtyThree: Sin City, This includes Los Gatos Creek painted in Twelve: With the Los Gatos Elves and Fourteen: The Los Gatos Stream; and the Guadalupe River painted in Two, Three: Woz Way, Six: The Downtown Sticks, and Twentyfour: Roger, Let’s Soar. They have not yet built any dams as much of the habitat has deep enough pools for their purposes. However, during this drought, they are being watched as the water reaches low levels.

Last summer a beaver was seen injured from trash in the river which wrapped around it’s body. It was captured, the trash removed, and returned to the wild.

There are some videos of the beaver you can watch here and here, plus some of the above links have more pictures and videos. BTW, the picture above of the beaver is not one of those in San Jose.

Here are some pictures of the day. Click on the below thumbnails for larger pictures***

I did the painting where the first beaver sign was discovered, right downtown San Jose in Guadalupe Park, next to SAP Arena where all the big venues in the area are held. This area is also locally called the confluence, as it is where the Los Gatos Creek joins the Guadalupe River. The beaver sign was still there, although it looked like it had been awhile since there was any gnawing on the trees. Of course I didn’t see any as they mainly come out at night. I did use a little artistic license and painted a beaver “V” in the water as if one was swimming by. I also indicated a downtown building in the background, and one of the concrete river channel walls.

Beaver Sign, 8x10, oil on board
Beaver Sign, 8×10, oil on board

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.

ThirtyThree: Sin City


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

Subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the right sidebar>>>>>


Alviso, the Port of San Jose
Alviso, the Port of San Jose

Well, ok, I am not talking about that Sin City. I’m talking about an all but forgotten settlement on San Francisco Bay in Silicon Valley, a little town called Alviso. (If you live in Alviso, apologies for the title, just making a rhyme about the past…read on.)

Settled in the early 1800’s, started in 1836, and incorporated as a town in 1852, it was once the bustling Port of San Jose. Steamships regularly plowed their way between San Francisco and Alviso carrying passengers, shipping agricultural products from Santa Clara Valley, the “Valley of Hearts Delight’, hides, tallow, grains, redwood timber, and mercury from the New Almaden mines. (I did paintings Eighteen and Nineteen near the old Almaden mines).

On April 11, 1853, a boiler on the steamboat, the Jenny Lind exploded, killing 31 passengers. Soon a railroad was built between San Jose and San Francisco, being much cheaper to operate soon doomed the Port of San Jose.

Over the years a number of notable industries were built here, including the third largest cannery in the world, the Otay Watch Company, flour mills, and more. AP Giannini, the founder of Bank of America, grew up and attended a one-room schoolhouse there.

However, in the Roaring Twenties and then the Great Depression (the 1920’s and 30’s for you youngsters), Alviso became sin city with saloons, dog tracks, bordellos, Filipino taxi-dance halls, and casinos. More history can be found here, and here. here. Well, it made a catchy title.

Listed as a National Historic District, Alviso is now part of the city of San Jose. High tech companies are being built right up to the town, and the residents don’t really like it. TiVo, Foundry Networks, and others are now listed under Alviso.

The old harbor fell into disuse except for a few boats, has mostly silted in, and filled with rushes and other natural vegetation. It is still used today for a few small boats. However, it is the mecca for naturalists who want to kayak, hike, and otherwise enjoy the nature of the southern tip of San Francisco Bay.

The Guadalupe River terminates here and empties into San Francisco Bay. Click on the below thumbnails for larger pictures***

Below are a couple panorama photos I took with my iPhone. Click on each photo to get the entire view—

The old Port of San Jose (Alviso Marina) now silted in and choked with vegetation.
The old Port of San Jose (Alviso Marina) now silted in and choked with vegetation.
A 180 view of the dock where I was painting.
A 180 view of the dock where I was painting.

I haven’t painted many boats, but for variety’s sake, did one today. It was an old shrimper boat called the Sea Dive. Although there is a ‘do not enter gate’ on the boardwalk/pier, a path right around it on the grass let me get on the dock to do the painting.

Sin City, 8x10, oil on board
Sin City, 8×10, oil on board

For the artists, a word about technique and brushes. I painted the entire boat with a #8 bright brush, which is about 2/3 inch across. The brand was Rosemary, which I have been trying out since purchasing a few at the Plein Air Convention, but my normal Silver Ruby Satin brushes would have worked just as well. You don’t need tiny brushes to paint details…in fact, the larger the brush you use the better.


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.

Twentyfour: Roger, Let’s Soar


Continuing the ‘Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley’ year long project. (Click here for complete info.)

Subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the right sidebar>>>>>


Roger Let's Soar!, 8x10, oil on board
Roger Let’s Soar!, 8×10, oil on board

I had been planning this painting location for quite some time and this is the original lead in to this weblog entry which I was just about to publish…

What was once the 1800’s Rancho Potrero de Santa Clara and later onion fields, gradually became a landing strip for the budding aviation industry after World War I. In the late 1940’s the city of San Jose turned the private airfield into a municipal airport and in 1948 Southwest Airlines was the first to commercially fly passengers.

The Guadalupe River originates in the Santa Cruz Mountains, flows north right through downtown San Jose, continues by and forms the northeastern border of what is now called the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airportalso known as SJC. The river continues on north and empties into San Francisco Bay. It is the southernmost major U.S. river with a King salmon run.

After writing the above prelude, I googled “King Salmon Guadalupe” and the name Roger Castillo kept popping up. He is tirelessly dedicated to cleaning up the Guadalupe River to enable the King Salmon to spawn. My goal in this project is to make everyone, everywhere appreciate the little spots of nature around us whether in a big city, the suburbs or even the countryside. What better way to do that than dedicating this blog entry to Roger, the “Watchdog” of the Guadalupe, who appreciates this waterway for more than just the scenery. You can read about him here, and check their website out here. Incidently, Roger is the one who discovered mammoth bones along the river some years ago.

Anyway, about the painting–I wanted to paint the Guadalupe close to the airport, so walked across a field to the northeast corner of SJC. Click this link for a map of all painting locations. Since it was an airport, I also wanted to make this a sky painting as we have had some beautiful skies with the series of Pacific storms hitting the bay area. We had a wonderful sunset the evening before I did this painting, and I wasn’t sure what skies the next day would bring, so just in case made some color notes. Painting sunsets en plein air is tricky as right after the best part, it becomes too dark to paint! You usually have to make color notes, and then finish the painting another day. I ended up basically combining the prior day’s sunset with the location today.

Looking at the painting above, the overpass in the background is Highway 101 (AKA Bayshore Freeway), and the airport is immediately behind that. It was hard to see much of the airport from my vantage point so just indicated a few buildings, the one on the left being the parking garage for terminal A. I set up on the Guadalupe River Trail & right behind me was the office complex for some company called eBay. The airplanes were taking off toward the south, a little unusual for this airport, so I put one soaring in the distance.