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!

Flying in History

This blog is mainly about my paintings and painting adventures. However, I am also an avid videographer and editor, which is certainly an art also. Over the years, I have done official video’s for my son’s marching band, my class reunions, and almost too many trips and cruises to count, but it’s over fifty!

Here is my latest video to take you back with me to 1928 as we take a “Flight in History”. Especially for all you aviation buffs, pilots, and well, everyone who likes airplanes. Enjoy and share this short video…

FiftyTwo: Valley View


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

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I thought it might be appropriate to do an expansive painting of Santa Clara Valley for painting #52. Although I have reached the total count of one painting a week for a year, help I am not finished, but more about that later.

Yesterday, a small storm front arrived late in the day, and the first clouds arriving in the bay area produced a nice sunset shown above. The camera really distorts the color as the bare sky was not nearly as yellow as depicted. Once again, as in most the sunsets I have done for this quest, I painted in several sessions. During and after the sunset, I made color notes, then went out the next day and finished the painting.

The view is from Mt Hamilton Road. Mt Hamilton Road, was built in 1875 in anticipation of carrying materials to build Lick Observatory which I wrote about in ThirtyEight: Late. The road offers stunning vistas of the entire Santa Clara Valley, AKA Silicon Valley. You can see all the way from San Francisco down to Gilroy…the extent of all the paintings in this quest. It was just wonderful sitting there watching the sun go down over the valley. Sounds of horses, cows, wild turkeys, and an occasional motorcycle wafted up from miles away. I am surprised I actually got any painting done!

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

 

 

Here is a panorama of my painting location on Mt Hamilton Rd. The sunset was a little different than the evening before which I used in the painting. Click to open up the full picture.

A panorama of my painting location.
A panorama of my painting location.

 

The scene would be better treated with a larger, wider canvas, but kept with the 8×10 format for the quest. Perhaps I will do a large canvas at a later date. At least half of the painting locations done in this quest is in view, although I used a little artistic license in squeezing in some of geography on the small canvas. In the distance is the Santa Cruz Mountains. You can see downtown San Jose in the middle. On the left is Lake Cunningham where Painting Number One was done at the start of this quest. On the right is the southern tip of San Francisco Bay where I painted Alviso in ThirtyThree:Sin City.

The creek is North Branch South Babb Creek. Although it is dry, I indicated just a pool of water in the lower valley.

 

Valley View, 8x10, oil on board
Valley View, 8×10, oil on board

 


 

The original goal of this quest was to do one painting a week for a year. I am now at painting 52, but there are still several months on the calendar to complete the year. Some times when I had to drive a distance, I did two in the same area. Even with traveling and other commitments, have stayed about 8 paintings ahead for the last several months. I am going to continue for the full year as I want to bring it full circle to fall time. At the end, I will probably have around 56-60 paintings. So far I have painted 36 out of the 60 creeks listed on my website here. Due to the dry year, many creeks never actually ran. I might slow down a bit, and wait to see if we get any rain which might run some of the smaller creeks I have not yet painted.

I am now starting to seek venues in which to show the entire collection, preferably a local public venue, museum, or other major space. If anybody reading this has suggestions, please send me an email to: donald@donaldneff.com .


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.

FortyEight: ‘The Jungle’ Fate


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

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The largest homeless camp in the United States is right in the heart of affluent Silicon Valley*. Situated just south and less than a mile away of downtown San Jose, there are up to 350 residents living in “The Jungle”, as it is locally called. Just a few yards away, across Story Road, is the beloved kiddie amusement park and zoo, Happy Hollow, and is one long block from the city’s municipal ballpark and San Jose State University’s stadium. The Japanese Friendship garden painted in TwentySeven: Koraken is less than a block away.

The Jungle in essence is a city for the homeless on the banks of Coyote Creek. (Coyote Creek was previously painted in this quest at other stretches in Eleven: Christmas Day, Twelve: With the Los Gatos Elves, and ThirtySix: El Toro.) Driving by on Story Road, you would never notice the despair below under the trees as cars, buses, and minivans of families head to Happy Hollow Park and Zoo.

Most of the residents are San Jose locals. Snaking trails wind through trees and bushes, with Spanish-speaking sections and neighborhoods like Little Saigon, where Vietnamese residents have dug large rooms into steep hillsides. There are makeshift shelters, tents, hand-dug latrines, tree houses, piles of human waste, cast-off clothing, lots of shopping carts, car parts, and discarded food rots. There are cats and kittens, dogs large and small, chickens, ducks, even a bunny. There is a large drug culture in parts of the camp.

There are numerous other camps all over Santa Clara County, some at times get cleared and cleaned out, but The Jungle is entrenched. Santa Clara County has the dubious honor of having the fifth-highest homeless population in the nation. A report, released by the city of San Jose, found 7,361 homeless individuals around the county with 4,770 people identified in San Jose.

Many more news and other articles are available about The Jungle, a few are here, here, and here.

A number of government and private groups are helping. You can read about a few here, and here.

 

Here are some of my personal photos of The Jungle, albeit mainly around the perimeter–
Click on a thumbnail to open up a larger picture and slide show***

 

To see more inside and closeup click this link, for some better photos right in The Jungle. It is startling.

 

Painting The Jungle has been on my list almost from the beginning of this quest. Besides showing the beauty of the creeks in Santa Clara Valley, I wanted to show some of the grit along the waterways. I have reconnoitered the area several times, but never actually gone in. While doing research, a knowledgable friend strongly advised me not to go into it and do a painting by the creek. The area is lawless and not safe, including a lot of drug trafficking. Although groups of aid and other workers visit, I didn’t really want to bother anyone to form a posse of bodyguards, so put on my scraggiest clothes (actually my normal plein air garb) and walked around parts of the perimeter and in a little ways to get a feel for the place, take pictures, and color notes, etc.

I spent as much as I could on-site gathering information, but this painting is not plein air, and is the first, and hopefully only non-plein air painting in this quest. I would have liked to paint right on the creek, and wanted to include it in my quest, so painted it alla prima (all at once) in my normal plein air style in the studio.

 

"The Jungle" Fate, 8x10, oil on board
“The Jungle” Fate, 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.



*Considered by most as the largest, but the population varies.
***Email subscribers may not see all pictures. Just click on the title for a link to the online version.

ThirtyEight: Late


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

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Later, 8x10,oil on board
Later, 8×10,oil on board

Well, the title of the last painting was so long, I decided to shorten this one! We are having a full moon this week, so what better time to paint a nocturne! This is the first nocturne I have ever painted, but more about that later.

Quimby Creek starts in the eastern foothills of San Jose, flows out of the mountains, joins Thompson Creek which empties into Silver Creek, then Coyote Creek, and on to the San Francisco Bay. Quimby Road (about two blocks from my home) roughly parallels the creek climbing the eastern foothills of Silicon Valley, eventually joining Mt Hamilton Road which winds it way up to the Lick Observatory.

Lick Observatory, built in 1888 by James Lick from gold rush and other money, was the worlds first permanently occupied mountain-top observatory. In that day, materials had to be hauled via horse and mule-drawn wagons via a winding dirt road to the top of the 4200 ft high Mount Hamilton. Lick is buried beneath the main telescope and the observatory is still used today.

I frequently ride my Harley up to the observatory. Here are a few pictures—
Click on the below thumbnails for larger pictures***

This takes us back to the valley, and the painting… Many wonder why the street lights in San Jose (aka Silicon Valley) are amber in color, and depicted as such in the painting. City light ‘pollution’ can interfere with the night skies, so the city of San Jose and the observatory cooperated to install special LPS lights which does not interfere with the astronomical activities.

I painted this scene just a few miles from my home, just up the hills on Chaboya Road right after sunset. Quimby Creek was not running, but there were a few puddles, so I put just a hint of the creek in the lower left with a little reflected moonlight. Here are a few picts painting in the dark…
Click on the below thumbnails for larger pictures***

As previously mentioned, this is my first nocturne. I promised myself at the start of this quest I would challenge myself to try new things. Nocturnes are a little difficult for those who haven’t done them, primarily because it is hard to judge values and colors in the dark with just small lights, so I did this in two sessions. I first scoped out the place, and then painted most of the sky and the general values in the land part. After taking it back to the studio and checking it under normal lighting to make sure the values were OK, I then went out the next evening and finished the rest of the piece. Using a LED headband for light worked out pretty well.

After painting this, during my research, I found out about the Quimby Road Jogger, a ghost that appears on the road at midnight. Maybe I’ll paint somewhere else for my next nocturne!

Next week is the Los Gatos Art Festival in which I am participating, so there will not be a Creeks painting. Look for some posts on Facebook or this weblog for my adventures there.


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.

Twentythree: Fi-na-lee! Quimby!!


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

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Finally! More streams are running! We are in the midst of another series of storms bringing rain to much of parched California.

I have been patiently waiting for this particular creek to start running, as it is very special. The creek is dry much of the year, but flows once we start getting winter rains. Since moving to my home of 30 years in the Evergreen area of San Jose, I have driven by this spot near my house thousands of times (by calculations, easily over 9 thousand times). Each time I tell myself it would make a great little painting…but never painted it. I was too busy painting the Sierras, Lake Tahoe, Big Sur, Yosemite, and other ‘scenic places’ to sell in the art galleries who represent me.

This spot was the genesis of the idea to start this project to paint the Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley. Right at the corner of bustling Capitol Expressway and Quimby road, across the street from a major shopping mall, surrounded by tract homes, smack dab in Silicon Valley suburbia, is this little scene. It’s not spectacular, but with proper treatment, as good as scene as you can find to paint. Click this link for a map of all painting locations.

It’s Thompson Creek, and about half a mile from painting number One: It Begins. I painted it between two major storms hitting San Jose. The skies were gorgeous and again, besides painting the creek, wanted to include the stormy skies.

As soon as I started painting, a young Chinese couple came by inquiring about my painting, so they accommodated me by taking a few pictures.

You might notice some pictures have water running, and some don’t. Thompson Creek was a raging torrent for a few days, then the day I went out to paint, was dry again. I had to use my recollections from the day before to paint the water. While I was painting, a maintenance crew was walking the creek checking for what I don’t know. My guess is there is some flow control upstream, but not sure where.

Finalee, Quimby, 8x10, oil on board
Finalee, Quimby, 8×10, oil on board

As I was painting, it looked like the next front was coming in, loaded with rain, so I finished the last part in the studio. The next day, writing this, I drove by Quimby and Capitol, and Thompson Creek was again a raging torrent.