Los Gatos Plein Air 2015

I have been participating in the Los Gatos Plein Air almost every year since it’s inception. Since it is close to my house, I can stay home and paint the local area without worrying about all the travel expense and time.

During plein air competitions, artists have several days to paint and present for sale finished and framed paintings. The festival coordinators stamp the back of the canvas to ensure all work is done in the days allotted. We had our panels stamped on Tuesday morning, and had until Friday afternoon to produce the paintings.

I already posted some of these on Facebook, but for those who are not on social media, here are a few pictures from the show. Click on a thumbnail to view a larger picture Note: Email subscribers may not see all pictures. Just click on the title for a link to the online version.

Tuesday
After getting my canvas stamped, I headed out to Guadalupe Creek to paint a California Sycamore as I had been doing a series of these—

Wednesday
The next morning, it was out to Metcalf Road about 10 miles from my house. I drove around a bit and settled on this scene—

After lunch, I drove over to McKean road, south of San Jose, and after a little exploring decided to do a vista of Almaden Valley. I almost had to talk myself in tackling this painting as there is quite a bit to paint in a short time for a competition.

I only got about half way through the painting, so called it a day and would return tomorrow afternoon to finish it.

Thursday,
I was up early for the drive over to Almaden Reservoir. I had checked it on Tuesday, and even in this drought, it was close to full.

The Los Gatos Rotary Association was putting on a lunch for the artists, so I drove into Los Gatos, and had a pleasant meal with some of the other artists. I then headed to Los Gatos Creek. I knew in the hot midday it would be shady and cool…just right for a creek painting!

It was then back to McKean and Country View Dr to finish the Almaden Valley vista painting.

Friday,
I spent in touchup and framing. That evening was a ticketed reception, and I sold the California Sycamore painting.

Saturday
The next day was the main sale day to the public. I sold all but one of the five painted for the show.

My panel at the show.
My panel at the show.

Below are the five paintings I did for the show–

The Creeks Collection


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


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


 

After a little touchup, varnishing, 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.

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


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.


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


"...and Evening",  8x10, oil on boardMorning…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.

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


"...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.


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


Morning... ,  8x10, oil on boardMorning…, 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.

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,   8x10,   oil on boardPlatanus 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.

FiftySix: “But I Go On Forever”


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

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


"But I Go On Forever", 8x10, oil on board
“But I Go On Forever”, 8×10, oil on board

 

The Babbling Brook
Lord Alfred Tennyson

I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally,
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.

By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorps, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.

Till last by Philip’s farm I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I chatter over stony ways,
In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying bays,
I babble on the pebbles.

With many a curve my banks I fret
By many a field and fallow,
And many a fairy foreland set
With willow-weed and mallow.

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling,

And here and there a foamy flake
Upon me, as I travel
With many a silvery waterbreak
Above the golden gravel,

And draw them all along, and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I steal by lawns and grassy plots,
I slide by hazel covers;
I move the sweet forget-me-nots
That grow for happy lovers.

I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
Against my sandy shallows.

I murmur under moon and stars
In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars;
I loiter round my cresses;

And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

 


 

Evergreen Creek.

 


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.

FiftyFive: The Shrek Donkey, Live


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

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


The Shrek Donkey, Live, 8x10, oil on board
The Shrek Donkey, Live, 8×10, oil on board

 

OK, so there is no donkey in the painting, but here is the story…

When Dreamworks Animation was looking for a real life model for the irrepressible and quirky donkey in their upcoming animated movie Shrek, they did not have to go far. A miniature donkey named Pericles, better known as Perry, was in the nearby Palo Alto neighborhood of Barron Park. The Dreamworks animators fell in love with him.

The donkeys at Barron Park.
The donkeys at Barron Park.

Barron Park has been home to donkeys since the 1930s, when this pasture was part of the Bol farm. Generations of donkeys have been visited here by their friends for nearly 80 years. The tradition has been continued through the generosity of local landowners James Witt and John Klimp, over 25 volunteers who oversee their feeding and welfare, and gifts from the donkeys’ many supporters. There are currently two donkeys, Perry, and Miner 49er. They are taken to Bol Park each Sunday morning, where they can be visited by children while they graze on the lawn. You can watch a video of them here.

Just a few blocks away is Barron Creek which originates in the lower foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains in Los Altos Hills, and courses northerly through the cities of Los Altos Hills, Los Altos, and Palo Alto, before joining Adobe Creek (painted in TwentyFive: Where Redwoods Thrive). It is the most modified creek in the Lower Peninsula Watershed, with 67% of its course classified as “hardened”, meaning that most of it is a concrete channel or underground culvert.

There is a stretch where it emerges from underground just east of Gunn High School in a little more natural, earthen channel. It provides a nice little setting and here I painted #55, about 3 miles from Stanford University. The creek had water in it, but I don’t think was really running much.

Just a couple pictures of the day–
Click on a thumbnail to open up a larger picture and slide show***

 

A panorama of the area–

Gunn HS is on the left, my easel in the middle, and car on the right.
Gunn HS is on the left, my easel in the middle, and car on the right.

 

You can volunteer or donate to the donkeys welfare with more information on their website 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.

FiftyFour: Pope/Chaucer


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


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


Pope/Chaucer,   8x10, oil on board
San Francisquito Creek (Spanish for “Little San Francisco”) was previously painted in Twentytwo: The Tall Stick. The creek is quite historic, and in that blog post concentrated more on the history of the area, and wanted to paint it again.

The creek courses through the towns of Portola Valley and Woodside, as well as the cities of Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and East Palo Alto. The “Little San Francisco” and its Los Trancos Creek tributary (painted in Eight: Venture Capital State) define the boundary between San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, plus much of it forms the boundary between Palo Alto and Menlo Park. It is one of the few creeks in Silicon Valley which has remained largely in it’s original state with few channels and other man made structures.

in 1948, the wooden Pope-Chaucer bridge was replaced by the present concrete bridge. A number of similar bridges have also been built across the creek. The bridge itself is a choke point along the creek. During periods of heavy rains, the water level easily reaches to the top of the tunnel. In addition, with heavy water flow in the creek, debris tends to collect in front of the bridge, effectively creating a dam, which can result in flooding. In the 1998 El Niño storms, the creek burst its banks; resulting in an estimated $28 million flood damage in the cities of Palo Alto, Menlo Park and East Palo Alto. You can watch a video of the flood here. It also flooded in December 2012.

[caption id="attachment_3380" align="aligncenter" width="300"]San Francisquito Creek near flood stage. San Francisquito Creek near flood stage.

Early on in this project I was contacted by volunteer citizens working to conserve the areas around the creek. There are plans to demolish the bridge and replace it with something more modern, and ugly. Several citizen groups such as Save the Oaks, and Actera are lobbying to replace the bridge with something that maintains the beauty of the arch such as an arch bridge in the shape and size of the original pre-1948 bridge.

This is the second bridge I have painted before it is potentially torn down. The first was the Willow Glen Trestle (Twenty: The Trestle Charity) which has now been, at least for the time being saved!

The creek was pretty dry when I painted it, but used a little artistic license to add a puddle.

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

 


 

Here is a panorama shot in the middle of the underpass. I did not realize until I was there the tunnel makes a slight turn under the bridge.

A panorama from in the middle of the bridge.
A panorama from in the middle of the bridge.

 


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.