Donald Neff, Artist


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Donald Neff, Artist

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WebLog History:

Oct-Dec 2005

Jul-Sep 2006

Apr-Jun 2006

Jan-Mar 2006

Oct-Dec 2005

Jul-Sep 2005

Apr-Jun 2005

Jan-Mar 2005

Oct-Dec 2004

Jul-Sep 2004

Apr-Jun 2004

Jan-Mar 2004

Oct-Dec 2003

Jul-Sep 2003

Apr-Jun 2003

Jan-Mar 2003





A Personal Journal of Art

This WebLog or "Blog" is a journal of my personal experience with creating, observing, research, musing and other information about art. Note that dates are in reverse order.

April-June 2003

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Yours truly with my son, Justin in front of a painting.

The crowd in the lobby of the Trianon Theatre.

Another crowd shot in the lobby of the Trianon Theatre.



The Le Petit Trianon Theatre in downtown San Jose was built in 1923 as an adaptation of the oft-replicated Petit Trianon in Versailles. The building today is home for many of San Jose’s arts groups.

I was invited to do a one night show there in conjunction with a concert by the Saringhimig Singers. The Saringhimig Singers, founded by George Hernandez is a choir composed primarily of Filipino descendants. Their mission is promoting goodwill and understanding through music and sharing the heritage of the Filipino culture.

This was a fundraising event, and 10% of any proceeds I receive from sales from the show will go to the Saringhimig Singers.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Ellery Lake bathed in the morning sun.

My easel with a painting in progress along Ellery Lake.

I did a quick color study along Tenaya Lake.



It was time to start heading home today, but with some painting along the way. I found a perfect view on Ellery Lake, right close to the top of Tioga Pass. The backlit cliffs hanging over the sun drenched lake was too inviting to pass up.

After doing about a one hour color study there, I moved on. I eventually stopped along Tenaya Lake. I had done a studio painting from last years trip, entitled Tenaya Outlet, and wanted to see if I got the colors right. Well, I think I did, but decided to do a color study in the same area.

Eventually, it was time to head back to San Jose. Upon arrival, I found out the painting, Tenaya Outlet, had just sold at the Yosemite Renaissance Show. What a coincidence! The day I go back to visit a spot I painted, the actual painting sells.

Monday, June 9, 2003

Painting a beaver pond in Lundy Canyon.

Virginia Lake. It was too gusty to paint! However, what a view!

Along the lower part of Lee Vining Creek. This 'creek' was a raging torrent!


I decided to stay on the eastern escarpment of the Sierras for the day. The eastern escarpment is one of the spectacular areas of America, but other than the film site of many a western, doesn't get much press. It is reminiscent of the Tetons, without the crowds.

My first stop was Lundy Canyon, known for it's wildflowers, aspen and numerous waterfalls.

I set up and started a painting of a beaver pond. There was plenty of beaver sign, but they actually never showed themselves.

It was a dry, gusty day and my acrylic paints were drying as soon as they hit my palette. So, mid stream in the painting, I switched to oils. Being so gusty, I didn't completely finish the work, but at least got the colors down.

The next canyon over was Virginia Lakes. These beautiful lakes are nestled below Dunderberg Peak. Lots of fishermen were on hand, but I don't think they were catching much due to the wind!

Later in the day, I drove up Lee Vining Canyon. It was more sheltered here and Lee Vining Creek was a raging torrent. I found a nice spot and did a quick study of the roaring rapids.

Sunday, June 8, 2003

Rainbow Pool Falls on the south fork of the Tuolumne River.


Painting along Cathedral Creek.

A work in progress of Cathedral Creek.

Along Lee Vining Creek. Notice the late afternoon sun bathing the Sierra crest in light.



Highway 120 winds through Yosemite National Park, over the Sierra crest and through Tioga Pass. It just opened for the season, so it was time for a painting trip! I had done a similar trip at the same time last year and many paintings resulted!

We had most of our winter in April, so I was expecting lots of lingering snow in the peaks, and many a full stream.

After leaving in the wee hours this morning, I stopped at Rainbow Pool Falls along the way. This falls has to be the best natural swimming hole in the world. A large fall drops into a deep pool. Just right for diving and swimming. I decided to do a painting but after about 30 minutes into it, realized it was a mistake! There were so many screaming kids around, I decided to quit and move on. I have nothing against screaming kids having fun...I just couldn't concentrate on painting!

My next stop was a spot along Cathedral Creek where the water rushes over solid granite. The painting was going well when a thunderhead moved over and completely changed the light. To add insult to injury, it started raining! Thankfully, it wasn't a hard rain, so the painting was finished.

Moving on, I eventually made my way to Lee Vining, on the Eastern Sierra escarpment. After checking into my motel, it was time to head back up Tioga Pass.

I remember going over Tioga Pass in the 1950's when it was barely a one lane road during a downpour. With thousand foot drop offs, it was a tense experience! Since then, the road has been substantially improved with plenty of pavement.

I hiked up the closed road to Saddlebag Lake along Lee Vining Creek. The view was astonishing. The thunderstorms had cleared enough to let the late afternoon sun through to illuminate the crest of the Sierras. I can feel a definite studio painting of this sometime in the near future!


Monday, May 19, 2003

Keith piloting the Cessna.


Coming in for a landing at Reid-Hillview Airport.


Keith and his Cessna returning home.



Sometimes an extra treat can accompany the sale of a painting. Keith and Christine of Livermore, CA, recently purchased a painting. Keith is a noted nuclear physicist, professor, and airplane pilot, along with a host of other accomplishments. Christine is my mother's cousin.

Since we live fairly close, and I live close to a small municipal airport, Keith decided to fly down to pick up the painting. While he was at it, invited me for a ride in his Cessna 210.

So, we went for about a 45 minute ride around the San Francisco Bay East Bay hills.

Although I have many times flown in and out of San Jose on commercial jets, the perspective you get from a small airplane is quite different. I saw lots of little nooks and crannies in the hills behind my house which I will now have to go explore for painting possibilities.

Thanks to Keith for a special treat!


Saturday, May 17, 2003

Armand Cabrera painting in the Craghead Gallery.

Brian Blood painting on the street in front of Pitzer's Gallery.

Laurie Kersey painting on the street in front of Pitzer's Gallery.


Mike Shields touching up a painting.


I visited Carmel today to attend the Carmel Art Festival which started Thursday and runs until Sunday.

The "quiet haven" of Carmel has been one of the foremost artist colonies in America for years. Strangely, they had no annual event or Festival . Well, they changed that 9 years ago.

The festival is primarily centered around plein air art, which has been a major force of representational art on the west coast in the recent decades.

Strolling around town, I met Brian Blood, Laurie Kersey (first place winner in the 2002 Artists Magazine) on the street in front of their gallery, As a husband and wife team, they are both represented by Pitzer's Gallery. Armand Cabrera was painting at at Craghead Gallery. Mike Shields was doing a wonderful still life from memory.

The reception and awards ceremony were from 4:00 to 6:00 the place was packed! I didn't stay for the final auction, so can't say at this time what some of the pieces were selling for. However, it looked like many were going for multiple thousands of dollars. Not bad for a day's work!

The Carmel Art Association, central station for the Carmel Art Festival.


Sunday, May 4, 2003

A park ranger stops to chat.

Painting China Cove. There is an 80 foot drop off right in front of my easel!

Brian and I at China Cove.



The second day of the workshop was at Point Lobos State Reserve. This reserve has been called "the greatest meeting of land and water in the world". Point Lobos is outstanding for sightseeing, photography, painting, nature study, picnicking, SCUBA diving, and jogging. More information about the reserve can be found here and here.

Brian's wife, Laurie Kersey, accompanied us for the day. Laurie is also an accomplished painter and was the first place winner in the 2002 Artists Magazine annual competition. Her painting can be viewed here.

We started the day with a short hike along the Bird Island/China Cove trail. I had been on this trail a number of times. What a glorious morning stroll! Against the ocean, crashing waves, and hardened rocks were brilliant orange California Poppys and other colorful flowers.

During Brian's morning demo, a park ranger stopped by to chat. He pointed out a humpback whale cavorting not too far off the coastline. We could occasionally see a plume of water rising as the great beast would rise for a breath of fresh sea air. The whale stayed for much of the day.

Although it threatened to rain a bit, the day turned out to be quite nice. I did two paintings, one of a rock outcropping, and one of China Cove.

Saturday, May 3, 2003

Brian Blood painting in a Monterey oceanside park.

A beautiful cloud filled day in which to paint!


We met at 10:00 to start the workshop conducted by Brian Blood. Brian is a well known California plein air artist and lives right in Monterey. He also instructs at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco. After some introductory remarks, we went straight to the Monterey coast to paint.

Brian first did a demo, and then we painted the rest of the afternoon. It turned out to be a wonderful day. The sky was full of thunderheads and distant storm clouds. It is unusual to see these sort of formations in this part of California.

Friday, May 2, 2003

Painting in the pouring rain.

Big Sur was "socked in"..

McWay Falls.

Painting at McWay Falls.

Unfinished painting of McWay Falls.


I left for the Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur area this morning. I was attending a workshop by Brian Blood on Saturday and Sunday, so decided to come down a day early and paint along the Big Sur Coast.

A major storm front was coming, but since I had planned this trip well in advance, decided to go anyway. I stopped in Carmel to visit some of the galleries & the weather was beautiful and sunny. After an hour or two, I started south towards Big Sur.

My first stop was Garapata State Park. Garapata State Park is a favorite among local artists for its amazing cliffs, rock formations, and pounding surf.

At the edge of the Pacific coast, you can generally see what weather is coming in. It looked pretty safe to do a painting for an hour or two. However, after about 15 minutes it started to sprinkle and then pour. Sometimes I paint under the back of my Explorer hatch, but the wind was whipping the rain sideways, so had to abandon it. Time to pack up and keep heading south.

Through constant downpour, I arrived at my goal, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park has one of the most photographed waterfalls in California, second only to Yosemite.

The weather was clearing, so I set up to paint. The weather didn't cooperate. The wind came up in gusts I would guess over 40 miles per hour. I spent much of the time just holding my easel and hat so it would not fly off the 80 foot cliff in the blustering wind! In spite of it all, I finished the painting,

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Demonstration at the Phantom Galleries reception.


This evening was the reception for the Phantom Galleries artists in downtown San Jose. The event is scheduled for every third Thursday.

I was invited to do a painting demonstration for the event. I decided to do a painting similar to my plein air paintings recently done in Monterey. It was fresh in my mind, and I just couldn't pass up painting the colors of the ice plant again.

A good crowd showed up. My guess is there were 70-80 in attendance. There was live music, lots of refreshments, and great cheesecake!

I had two hours to do the painting, which is about the maximum amount of time I usually allow to do a plein air. I brought a printout from my digital camera plus a plein air painting as reference to paint by. Referring to the digital photo was a handicap. The Monterey coast and the brilliant colors were fresh on my mind. So, I just painted from memory. The only time I refereed to color was from the plein air painting done on location.

The painting turned out quite well for the time allotted.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Today I received an unexpected email from an old grade school acquaintance of mine, Todd Rockhold. His older brother, Scott was in my grade school class. I had not seen either of them for probably forty years.

Todd had stumbled upon my web site and was looking for an artist to do a commissioned work. Sadly, I found out his brother Scott had died in a tragic hiking accident in 1987.

We negotiated the commissioned work, and it is in progress as I write.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Julia & her daughter; proud new owners of a Neff original.


Monday, I stole away again in the afternoon to paint the ice plant. I picked a slightly different spot which caught more of the coast as the carpet of ice plant disappeared around the shoreline. It was a slightly overcast day, but did not seem to diminish the brilliance of the colors.

As I was finishing up the painting, an art admirer, Julie from Fresno, stopped. She bought the painting on the spot.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Blooming ice plant in Monterey.

Plein air painting of the ice plant


We took a short trip to Monterey, California. My parents usually come out during spring break and we usually take them on a short trip.

This time of year, the ice plant around the coast is in full bloom, and was absolutely breathtaking. The little flowers form bright rainbow carpets of magentas, blues, greens, and yellows.

I snuck away from the family to do a plein air late in the afternoon. Of course, I wanted to capture the color of the ice plant, so stopped by one of the oceanside parks and started painting.

Thursday, April 10, 2003


We hung my show at "Phantom Galleries" today. Phantom Galleries is sponsored by the City of San Jose and are temporary art exhibits occupying vacant storefronts in downtown San Jose. The project aims to provide opportunity for local artists to exhibit their work while fostering economic development by focusing attention on available retail space.

Phantom Galleries is produced by Two Fish Design Group, part of POPULUS Presents, a public space activation collective coordinated by the San Jose Downtown Association in partnership with the San Jose Redevelopment Agency.

My exhibit is at 70 S First Street, in downtown San Jose, California. It is within walking distance of most of the downtown venues, including the Fairmont Hotel, the Convention Center, San Jose Museum of Art, the Tech Museum, and others. If you are downtown, please be sure and visit.

In addition, Phantom Galleries has invited me to do a painting demonstration during their "Third Thursday" reception, Thursday 17th of April. The reception takes place at 55 S. First Street from 7:00 to 9:00 PM. Be sure and attend!


Monday, April 7, 2003

My easel in Uvas Canyon Park.

Unfinished painting on the easel.

Granuja Falls.


We had a week of off and on rain, so I decided to take a painting trip to Uvas Canyon Park. Uvas Canyon Park is nestled in upper Uvas Canyon on the eastern side of the Santa Cruz Mountains several miles south of San Jose. Swanson Creek cascades through the canyon and creates many waterfalls and cataracts. With the recent rains, I figured the water would be flowing nicely.

One thing about the San Francisco Bay area is, if you do not like the weather or terrain, just go ten miles in any direction and it will be completely different! Just a couple miles from suburban sprawl, and you are immersed in the hilly countryside.

The drive to the park is mainly along winding and hilly back country roads filled with spring wildflowers, cows, horses, barns, and an occasional country estate. And, oh yeah, the IBM Research Center in the middle of nowhere! Fields of California Poppies, Mustard, and Lupine gave a rainbow of color to the landscape. The road to the park was almost as pretty as the park itself!

After arriving at the park, I ended up painting a small waterfall called Granuja Falls, not far up the trail. I didn't have time to hike around much, so will save that for another day.

For those who live in the southern San Francisco Bay area and enjoy the out of doors, this park is a pleasant trip.


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