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.

January-March 2003

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Unfinished Phelps Lake on the easel.

Unfinished Crater Lake on the easel.


I am coming down the home stretch on both the Crater Lake and Phelps Lake paintings. Both have developed rather quickly. I find most times the quicker the painting is done, the better it is.

Probably the hardest part of Phelps Lake was getting the correct atmosphere between the foreground and background. Many glazes of blue/pink haze have gone in to get it right. The blues of the lake contrasted with the oranges and reds of the marshland really makes this painting. However, I also included an Osprey in the foreground, which is the real center of interest.

My son walked in, saw the painting and said "Dad, your paintings are getting better". Some time ago, he kept telling me to put some wildlife in my paintings. Since I have followed that suggestion, maybe he is getting more biased.

Unfinished Crater Lakeon the easel.

Friday, March 21, 2003


Last night I attended a reception in downtown San Jose for Phantom Galleries. 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.

I will be showing at Phantom Galleries during the months of April and May. Details will be forthcoming on my Events Calendar.


Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Larry and Mary Hayworth


Today I was pleasantly surprised that my solo show in Mountain View was listed in the local paper's (San Jose Mercury News) Things To Do Today section...not just the run of the mill weekly arts calendar.

The Crater Lake painting, now named "Soaring Between Two Blues" is developing faster than expected. I had this painting in the back of my mind for over half a year. Frequently the best work is what happens quickest. Time to set it aside for awhile and digest what I need to do to finish it off.

Last fall, during my visit to the "Arts for the Parks" show in Jackson, Wyoming, I spent some time with old childhood friends, Larry and Mary Hayworth. Larry used to be a coach at the college I attended in East Texas. He is now a businessman in Jackson and his wife works for the Chamber of Commerce.

During my stay, Larry and I hiked up to Phelps Lake which is in Teton National Park. Along the way, we ran into one of Larry's friends, Steve Iopst, the assistant superintendent of Teton National Park. The view at the Phelps Lake overlook is breathtaking. I decided at that time to do a painting of the area, so it goes on the easel today!

Larry and Steve Iopst, the asst. superintendent of Teton Natl Park.

Phelps Lake overlook.


Sunday, March 16, 2003

Paint-out in Jackson Square.


Around this time of year I start thinking about doing several paintings for the annual "Arts for the Parks" show in Jackson, Wyoming. This is one of the richest and most prestigious juried shows for realist art in the U.S. I have been a finalist in past years.

I was a finalist in the new "Mini-50" show last year, so decided to attend the opening reception. They always have the reception at the beautiful Jackson Lake Lodge in Teton National Park. During this same time they hold the Jackson Art Festival, including a quick draw paint-out in Jackson Square.

I have always wanted to do a painting of Crater Lake in Southern Oregon. My family for the most part is from the Medford and Southern Oregon area, so I have visited Crater Lake a number of times, including flying over it in a small airplane. Soon after the Arts for the Parks show, I ran across a picture I had taken of the lake in 1972. Suddenly realized how I wanted to paint Crater Lake but put off doing it until today.


Saturday, March 8, 2003

I received an email today from an 11 year old fellow in England who wanted to do a report about my art for a school project. He had to write about an artist who had to have a main theme of water. Since virtually every painting I do is either centered around water, or at least contains water, I guess he came to the right place! He sent me a load of questions, which I answered. I also sent him some photos of my work. Let's hope he gets a good grade on the report!

Friday, March 7, 2003

Miniature "untitled" 5x5 inches.

Miniature "untitled" 5x5 inches in a frame.


I have been juried into several international "miniature" shows the last year. I hadn't done many miniatures before, and they were all lot of fun to paint.

There are different views on what a miniature painting is. The shows I was in limited the size to about an 11x14 or smaller. Others, such as the Hilliard Society states that, generally, paintings should not be larger than 5 x 7 inches [or 35 square inches, or 24 inches when dimensions are added together], inclusive of framing. A good miniature web site is the World Federation of Miniaturists. Also check out Art in Miniature.

Well, I decided to do some 'real' miniatures and am having a blast! Two are complete, and I plan to do at least a half dozen more over the next few weeks. They are all 5x5 inches, and I have found some beautiful frames for them.

Saturday, March 1, 2003

Almost finished "Bridalveil Falls" on the easel.


On the way home, stopped to do a painting of Bridalveil Falls. This falls runs year round as it drains a large area of the Sierra high country. It drops 650 feet from a "hanging valley" carved by glaciers during the last ice age.

I stopped further along the Merced River and did a quick study of the river as it begins to tumble out of the valley. It was raining off and on, but mainly on, so I huddled under the back hatch of my car to finish the paintings. Since acrylics are water soluble, you have to be careful the rain doesn't streak the painting.

Friday, February 28, 2003

Almost finished "Sentinel Rock"


Me at the Yosemite Renaissance show.


It was a nice partly cloudy day here in Yosemite. In the morning I headed back towards the west end. Found a nice spot along the Merced River with Sentinel Rock in the background. Sentinel Rock rises about 3,000 feet above the valley floor, most of it straight up! It was a "big" scene and not conducive to plein air, but went for it anyway.

The Yosemite Renaissance Reception was this evening. The Yosemite Renaissance juried show runs the gamut of art. There is everything from abstract to realistic paintings, photographs, silk screens, and fabric. It was a good show and the place was packed wall to wall, including the superintendent of Yosemite Park. The show will be in the park until May 4, then travels to various venues in the San Joaquin Valley and San Francisco Bay Area.

Along the Merced with Sentinel Rock in the background.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

It was sleeting and snowing on my easel.

Almost finished "Merced Pool " on the easel.

Almost finished "El Capitan " on the easel.


On the way to Yosemite this morning to attend the Yosemite Renaissance Reception on Friday and do some painting. I usually take the motor home but decided at the last minute to stay at Yosemite Lodge instead. Arrived around noon and decided to do a painting of the Merced River at the west end of the valley. I have always loved the deep greens, yellows, and sienna's of some of the deep pools as the Merced flows through Yosemite Valley. The colors stand in sharp contrast to the grayish walls of Yosemite Valley. So it was about time I did a plein air of it!

A front had come through the night before and it was partly cloudy. About half an hour into the painting, the clouds moved in and it began to sprinkle. As I was painting with water soluble acrylic paints, I was worried it might ruin the painting. I stuck it out and then it began to sleet and snow! It wasn't too heavy and passed fairly quickly, so the painting was finished. I wanted to put a demo on the web site, so for the first time, took photos of each step of the painting.

After checking into Yosemite Lodge, I was off to do another painting before the sun got too low. I headed back towards the west end of the valley, because that was where the sun was.

I ended up in a meadow below El Capitan. El Capitan is one of the largest exposed pieces of granite in the world. It attracts rock climbers from all over and is considered one of the best rock climbs in the world.

There were good scenes to paint in every direction, I ended up painting the top of El Capitan as the storm clouds swirled and the sun hit the edge. The clouds started moving in again, I lost much of the light, started raining, and getting colder. So, I finished the painting and headed for the Lodge.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Unfinished "Morning Drink" on the easel.

I am off to Yosemite tomorrow and finishing up the painting I started on the 13th. It won't get quite done, so will put the finishing touches on it with a fresh view next week. I decided to add some wildlife in the form of a deer. Even though this development took place later in the painting, I did not want the deer to necessarily be the immediate center of interest. If you have ever hiked in the backwoods, glimpses of wild deer are fleeting and usually from afar. I followed this rational in the painting.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003


We hung a small show of my works at the Mountain View City Hall today. Mountain View, California, has a nice arts program where they select a small number of artists to exhibit in their City Hall and Performing Arts Center each year. The show runs through April 14. If you are in the area, be sure to stop by and see the paintings. 500 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA. (650) 903-6300.

Saturday, February 25, 2003

I recently swapped web links with an artist named Robert Genn. He is a well known Canadian artist. Besides being an excellent artist, he is an excellent writer. He publishes a twice weekly email to all who subscribe called "The Painter's Keys". I highly recommend it. To subscribe just go to "The Painter's Keys" website and follow the instructions.

Saturday, February 15, 2003

From Kingsbury Grade


It's off to Lake Tahoe, California, with the family for Presidents Day weekend. I managed to find a little quiet spot close to our rental cabin for a quick plein air. There was lots of snow around, and the view from up Kingsbury Grade was spectacular. The sun was getting low and to the southwest. It cast a slight pink color on the lake which was quite different than the deep blues you normally see in Lake Tahoe.

Well, it had to be quicker that I hoped as I started losing my light about 15 minutes into the painting. A snow storm was starting to blow in. So, I had to make it a fairly rough color study and leave it at that.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Much of late January and early February was spent out of the studio catching up on other things such as office work, filing photos, editing videos, cleaning up, etc.

During my cleaning, I ran across an old Polaroid picture I took probably 20 years ago. I don't remember exactly where it was, but knew it was from the high Sierra country around Yosemite. The photo was faded and barely recognizable. However, it suddenly struck a chord with me. It was a simple stream scene, but the way the water flowed over the rocks, with an early morning sunlit background grabbed me. I instantly visualized what the final painting would look like.

Immediately a fresh canvas was on the easel.

Friday, January 17, 2003

At the Ice Park


Set up my easel close to the annual Ouray Ice Festival. I figured a little plein air painting at the festival might draw a few to the solo show and reception that evening. (It worked a little.) I painted the part of the ice canyon where sheets of ice hung over the edge like curtains on a stage. Ice climbers were all around trying to scale the 50 foot walls of ice.

The reception for the show was this evening. Probably 30-40 came to the show.

Thursday, January 16, 2003


Along the Uncompahgre

Portrait of Sneffells.


I had scouted places to paint the previous day, so knew exactly where I wanted to go to start the day.

Early morning found me painting on a bridge over the Uncompahgre River. Although it was already 9 o'clock, it was least freezing or below! I brought my acrylics for this trip as they are easier to travel with. My water spray bottle started freezing up so I couldn't keep the paint wet enough. I had to work fast before everything, including me froze! I think I captured the moment, though.

Drove to Telluride and took some photos along the way. On the way, I decided to come back to do a painting along Dallas Divide which has a spectacular view of the San Juan Mountain Range.

After lunch in Telluride, as earlier planned, I stopped and did a plein air of Mount Sneffells as seen from Dallas Divide.

Well, since it is so cold, I don't have to get up too early next morning to paint!

Wednesday, January 15, 2003


Well, we hung the Ago Gallery show today. Late in the day, I drove over the Million Dollar Highway, Red Mountain Pass and around Ouray to scout out places to paint during my four day stay.

The portion of Highway 550 between Ouray and Silverton, 24 miles to the south, has been named The Million Dollar Highway and is part of the San Juan Skyway, one of the most scenic and spectacular mountain drives in North America. I had done paintings of this area previously and wanted to visit it again.

It was cold and snowy!

Tuesday, January 14, 2003


Flew into Montrose and arrived late in Ouray, Colorado to kick off my solo show at the Ago Gallery. I also wanted to spend some time doing some plein air and gather studies for future paintings of the beautiful San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado.

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