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 2006

Saturday, June 24, 2006



Although we continued the cruise for some time (it was an 11 day cruise), I had no other opportunities to paint. The days in port were filled with tours and other activities. Usually on a cruise, it should be a relaxing time. This cruise was so full of walking, tours, and other activities, I was exhausted at the end. However, wouldn't have missed a thing. Next time, maybe I will take it a little easier and spend more time painting!

Friday, June 16, 2006

View overlooking Fira on the island of Santorini.

A closer look at Fira hanging from the cliffs of the ancient caldera.

My paintings and palette on the walkway.

First painting of Santorini.

Second painting of Santorini. The same scene from a different perspective.


Our third island stop was Santorini. This is really the island I had been waiting for, as I heard it was spectacular. I wasn't disappointed!

The island of Santorini Greece or Thera is located in the Cyclades islands, in the Aegean Sea, Mediterranean. It is a small group of volcanic islands and its name was given by the Venetians in reference to Saint Irene. The island was also called Strongili and Kalisti and was the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history, but what remains today is a submerged volcano and a caldera.

Our ship entered the caldera of the island, and tendered us to the base of a 800 foot cliff. There are three ways to get to the top and the town of Fira: walk, take a donkey, or ride a gondola. We chose the gondola.

Arriving early in the morning, the sun had backlit the town of Fira with the cliffs in shadow and the magnificent blue of the Mediterranean all around. What a spectacular view! I couldn't wait to start painting! Rather than walk around and do the tourist routine, I decided I wanted to paint first thing while the sun was still low. I would visit the shops later in the day.

I walked up a path along the cliff and found a spot I could sit and paint the magnificent scenery. The first painting took me about an hour and a half. As the sun rose, more of the cliff side became lit, but much of it still in shadow.

After looking around, I decided there wasn't a better viewpoint from which to paint than where I was, so decided to do a little different perspective with more of the town of Fira in the painting. I was starting to run out of time, as I agreed to meet my fellow travelers, so didn't quite finish the cliff part of the painting. Even then, it really showed off the magnificent view below me.

I could spend months just painting this island. Hopefully I can visit again in the future and spend more time.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The ancient ruins, including the arch I painted.

My painting propped up against an ancient wall.

My second Greek isle painting of an ancient arch in Rhodes.


Our second island stop on the cruise was Rhodes. Rhodes, Greece is the biggest island of the archipelago called Dodecanese and is the capital of the group. The superb capital of Rhodes lies outside and within the walls of a very well preserved Venetian castle, built by the Knights of Saint John, which is one of the finest examples of medieval architecture. The beauty of its capital, its interesting sites and its many Byzantine churches make Rhodes one of the most popular islands of Greece.

After walking around inside the castle walls of the ancient city and visiting it's many tourist shops, it was time to do my next painting. I settled on one of the first places we visited within the ancient walls, which was an arch that was once part of an old building.

Unlike Mykonos, I could sit in a sheltered area to do the painting. The sun backlit the arch which made for an interesting study. However, it was moving pretty fast and by the time I finished the painting, much of the scene had changed.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My mini acrylic painting kit.

I sat on this terraced area to do the painting.

"Little Venice" at Mykonos.

My first painting on a Greek Island!


Mykonos is an island of Greece and one of the top tourism destinations in Europe. It is the most famous and popular island of the Cyclades and attracts thousands of visitors every year. Mykonos island is famous for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, its exciting nightlife, its picturesque Cycladic capital full of whitewashed houses and blue domed churches and its lively sandy beaches.

While the others were walking around exploring, I wanted to do at least one small painting. I found a spot overlooking a part of town called "Little Venice" due to it's picturesque buildings built right up to the water.

Behind me were a row of old windmills, which gave tribute to the fact that it is often windy on this little island. And, it was quite windy today! I had to use my water bottle, and whatever else I had to hold down the paper palette to keep it from blowing all the way across the island.

Since I don't paint buildings often, it was a refreshing challenge to paint the row of buildings overlooking the Mediterranean. I worked quickly as I didn't want to prolong the time spent trying to keep everything "battened down" in the blustery breeze.

My first Greek island painting turned out OK, but I thought I could do better on the next isle.

Friday, June 9, 2006



We arrived in Rome today to start a cruise to the Eastern Mediterranean. We had planned this trip for over a year and I am accompanied by my wife, son, and 5 others from my wife's side of the family.

We had tours booked on many of our ports of call, and although this was not specifically a painting trip, I could not pass up bringing a special paint set if time permitted. During the cruise we had not planned any tours on three of the Greek islands, so I figured I could fit some time in to paint there.

Although I had been painting in oils for the last several years, I decided to assemble a special mini kit of acrylic paints. It consisted of:

  • About 8 tubes of acrylic colors
  • A set of unstretched canvas pieces cut to 8x10
  • One 8x10 wooden panel & a couple large paper clips.
  • One paint brush - #8 Silver Ruby Satin Bright
  • Disposable paper palette
  • A small water spray bottle.

All this fit in a large baggy, so was easy to pack. I would improvise on a water cup or bottle. (I actually ended up just carrying a small plastic water bottle)

We were sailing on the Celebrity cruise ship Galaxy for 11 nights visitng Mykonos, Greece; Rhodes, Greece; Santorini, Greece; Istanbul, Turkey; Ephesus, Turkey; Athens, Greece; and Naples, Italy.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Painting in the quick-draw contest along Carmel Beach.


It was another gloomy day, with some sprinkles overnight and the early morning. Today was a quick draw contest which all the award winners are requested to participate in. Once again, I made my way to the festival area, got my canvas stamped, then headed down to Carmel beach to do a painting.

We had two hours to complete a painting, then return to the festival area with it framed and ready to be auctioned off. Clouds were rolling in and out, and I managed to finish a painting of Carmel Beach with Pebble Beach, and the Monterey Peninsula in the background. Just about as soon as I was packing it in, it started to pour!

I made my way back to the festival area & most of the other artists were there with their paintings set up outside in the pouring rain. Thankfully, I had brought my easel umbrella to protect the wet painting. There was also quite a crowd of onlookers bidding on the paintings under their umbrellas. What hardy art aficionados!! In spit of the rain, my quick draw painting sold, with a couple of bids.

It was time to head home. It was pouring rain most of the way, but by the time I returned to San Jose, it was starting to clear.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Sculptor in the park.

Yours Truly in front of my exhibit.

My two paintings waiting for a bid!

The festival was held outdoors this year on the streets of Carmel.


Today is the main event for the festival. The paintings were put on display this morning, the judging occurred, and the festival opened at 10:30. I decided to have an easy morning with a leisurely brunch, and then head over to the festival in the early afternoon.

Parking was hard to find...not unusual for a busy day at Carmel. I finally circled around and found a spot, then walked to the festival. Much to my surprise, I was awarded "Best in Oil or Acrylic". The winning painting already had several bids on it. As the day wore on, more bids were added to each painting.

Although my wife and son couldn't make it due to school activities, a couple of old friends showed up, Nancy Green and Bob Sexton. Bob is a collector of mine, and has 3 paintings from my earlier days.

The awards ceremony started around 5:00 with the arrival of artist and actor, Tony Curtis. He gave out the first, second and third awards. By the time they got to my award, he had left, so didn't get a chance to shake his hand.

Both my paintings were bid up well above my normal gallery prices. Quite a lucky day!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Along the North Shore Trail of Point Lobos.


Another foggy morning. I decided to wait awhile to see if the sun broke, so spent a little time in the motel room touching up the two paintings from the day before. They both turned out to my satisfaction (of course they can always be better in an artists eye), so I knew I had at least something for the show, and was not under any pressure to do another painting.

Late morning, I returned to Point Lobos, and found a place along the North Shore Trail I had spotted on Wednesday. The light wasn't quite what I wished, but the scene was spectacular! I finished the painting in about 3 hours. Towards the end, I decided it was not quite as good as the two I had done the previous day, so headed back to the motel.

After photographing and framing the two paintings for the show, it was back to the festival site to turn in the two paintings. The deadline to submit the works was eight o'clock, and it made it in plenty of time, around 6:30.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My easel at Garrapata State Park.

"Garrapata Colors" 16x12

"Cypress Cove" 20x16


Well, as predicted, it was socked in and foggy. The forecast was for clearing by afternoon, but around Monterey, this can be somewhat spotty. I decided to wait awhile to see if the fog would clear, so headed out around mid morning.

My first stop was a spot I had painted during the Tour of California bicycle race last February. The fog was starting to lift, in places which made for some great lighting. I painted for about 3 hours to where the painting was just about complete but decided to finish it later. Sometimes you can over paint a plein air painting, and I wanted to wait awhile to see if it needed anything else.

My next stop was at Point Lobos. I wanted to do a painting of Cypress Cove in the afternoon sun. Fog and clouds seemed to still be rolling in and out with the sun peeking around every once in awhile. Never the less it was a great afternoon, and after about 3 hours the painting was almost complete.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A few pictures while scouting out places to paint.


The Carmel Art Festival is considered to be one of the top plein air events on the west coast. I am joining about 60 other artists juried into the show this year, which takes place May 18-21. The artists will paint "en plein air" for two days, and the resulting works will be auctioned off on Saturday, May 20. There will also be a quick draw competition on Sunday, May 21. Celebrity artist and actor, Tony Curtis will appear at the auction.

I drove down today from San Jose, a little over an hours drive. I decided to spend the afternoon driving around looking for places to paint, check into my motel room, and then attend the artists reception in the evening and have my canvases stamped for the competition.

I had ridden the Harley down about a week ago scouting out new places to paint. Although I am fairly familiar with the area, I wanted to explore some places I had not been. Fog was forecast for most of the mornings, so it was important to find out where and how long it would stick around.

Even though I was about an hour and a half from home, I decided to stay in a motel. I didn't really want to drive back and forth everyday, especially in the early morning to catch the first light of the day. After checking into the motel, I headed for the Opening Artists Reception where they stamp the back of the canvases you will be painting on. This is so no one is tempted to use any work not done during the two days of contest painting.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A few pictures of the exhibit at the Toll House in Los Gatos, CA.



We had as mall reception at the Toll House in Los Gatos, CA, which is hosting a showing of 26 of my paintings. Everything from plein air to studio, miniature to large paintings are represented. Both oil and acrylic paintings are sprinkled throughout.

I had no idea how many would turn out. The date was set only last Monday, so I only was able to email invitations. Anywhere from zero on up would be my guest. As an enticement, we raffled off a miniature painting. The winner could pick any of the 5x5 or 5x7 miniatures in the show.

As it turned out, we had a crowd of about 20. The raffle was won by my brother-in-law. He probably deserved it as he drove two hours just to be there!

I forgot to bring the camera, so don't have any pictures of the reception. On the left are some pictures of a few of the displays right after we hung them.

The paintings will be up for around 3 months, so there is still time to stop by and see the collection.


Monday-Tuesday, May 1-2, 2006


Pictures from painting in Pinnacles National Monument.

Site of my first painting several hundred years from the parking lot.

The first painting.

A little closer view of the work.

It was starting to get a little hot, so Nick White found about the only shade close to the parking area.

Second painting of the day of some of the magnificent spires.


Rising out of the chaparral-covered Gabilan Mountains, east of central California's Salinas Valley, are the spectacular remains of an ancient volcano. Massive monoliths, spires, sheer-walled canyons and talus passages define millions of years of erosion, faulting and tectonic plate movement.

The monument is less than two hours south of my home, and I had often wanted to come down and paint the area. The last time I had been here was to watch the condors on the the east side of the monument. You can read about that here.

Nick White of the Los Gatos plein air painters had scheduled a trip about a month ago, but it was rained out. This time it was a nice sunny day, with more in the forecast.

I rode the Harley down, and arrived in the park around 9:30. Nick had just arrived with his wife, and as it turned out, we were the only ones in the group for the duration. We walked around for awhile, and then settled down to paint. We all painted in the same general area.

After a lunch break, Nick decided to start another painting, and I took a hike further down the Balconies trail. Upon returning, Nick had come a long way in his second painting, so I set up next to him in the shade and did another work.

Unfortunately, the park gate closes at 6:00, so we had to leave earlier than we would have wanted. We definitely wouldn't be catching the sunset in the park!

Since this was a bit of a drive, we had decided to stay in the nearby town of Soledad, and paint the next morning. After a bite to eat, it was off to the motel room for a relaxing evening. For some reason, I could not sleep that night...must have been the chinese in the morning decided to head home.

Nick was at the park gate when it opened at 7:30, did one more painting before heading home. This is a definite 'must-do' trip again in the future!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Pictures from painting in Hakone Gardens.

My easel by a little stream which I painted.

Some of the other artists painting.


As the oldest surviving Japanese-style residential gardens in the Western Hemisphere, Hakone's tranquility and elegance is nestled in the hills above Saratoga, CA, close to San Jose.

The Peninsula Outdoor Painters were meeting here today, so I decided to join them. I had never been to the gardens, and had wanted to for some time. I rode the 30 minute ride over on the Harley, paid the entrance fee, and we painted for the morning. Although the garden was a little smaller than I expected, it was still beautiful, and a wonderful place to be. After one painting of a little stream, I realized I had not brought a lunch, so just decided to head home.



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