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 2005

Sunday, March 6, 2005


Pictures from painting along the Truckee River.



Today was the final day of our trip to Lake Tahoe, and I wanted to make the most of it. After dropping the snow boarders off, I bee lined to a bridge I had painted from yesterday. Just moving about 20 feet from where I did a plein air before, I painted the exact same pool from an entirely different perspective. You would never know I was within a mile for each painting!

After lunch, I again returned to the same bridge, and from the same spot turned my easel to paint looking upstream from where I was just a few hours earlier. This final painting of the weekend was perhaps my best. I think by now I have been getting the hang of painting this area in the winter!

All too soon, it was time to pick up the snow boarders and head home.

Saturday, March 5, 2005


Pictures from painting along the Truckee River.



After the record breaking snowfall we had in the Sierras towards the end of December, the Truckee was almost completely snowed and iced over. Now, several months later, enough snow had melted to form a wonderland for the plein air artist. The patterns of the river as it wound its way from Lake Tahoe to the town of Truckee formed myriad interesting patterns and seemingly abstract forms just ripe for painting.

After dropping the boys off at Squaw Valley, I continued with more painting along this river using the private bridges to set up on. I finished one painting of a pool, then moved on to another bridge and completed another.

That evening, I rode the Squaw Valley Gondola up to the 'High Camp", met the snow boarders and had dinner. The view was spectacular as the sun slowly set over distant Lake Tahoe.


From the Squaw Valley Gondola.

Friday, March 4, 2005


On a bridge over the Truckee River.


Well, there is still a lot of snow in the Sierras, so it was time to pack up and take my son and a friend snow boarding again. Since he was out of school today, it was going to be a three day weekend. While they snowboard, I spend the day painting.

After dropping the kids off at Squaw Valley for a day of snow boarding, I headed out to the nearby Truckee River to do some painting. There was still a lot of snow since my last visit 6 weeks ago, and it was still difficult to find places to get off Highway 89 to paint. So, I ended up painting from the many private bridges which span the Truckee between Lake Tahoe and the town of Truckee. I am calling this my "Bridges of the Truckee" series, although no bridges can be found in the paintings! The point is, all the paintings were done from bridges over the Truckee.

My first bridge was just downstream from the Squaw Valley junction. Since it was already late in the day, I managed to finish one painting from this bridge.

Monday, February 28, 2005


Pictures from Elkhorn Slough.


Located at the center of the Monterey Bay coastline, Elkhorn Slough harbors the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California outside of San Francisco Bay. This ecological treasure provides habitat for plants,animals , and more than 340 species of birds, and is a major fish nursery for the region.

I had been wanting to paint this area for some time, so met up with some fellow artists from the Los Gatos Art Association. The slough is an interesting study for paintings. The tidal areas and land mass form interesting patterns of light and dark, giving the entire area an abstract look. These abstract patterns can make interesting paintings.

After finishing one painting, we all converged on the small town of Moss Landing and had lunch at a small, but great Mexican place.

My friends had to return home, but I went back out to the same spot, and did a painting in a different direction. No matter where you turn, the patterns of the water and grasses formed interesting shapes, just begging to be put on canvas. One more painting emerged, so I called it quits for the day and started the hour long trip home.

Saturday, February 26, 2005


Pictures from the CAC statewide paintout in Lafayette.


The California Art Club (CAC) was established in 1909 by the early California Impressionists or Plein Air Painters. The club sponsored a statewide paintout this Saturday. Four locations were chosen, and anybody who wanted to attend could. It was only about an hours drive to the Lafayette Reservoir, so decided to attend.

It was a fairly gloomy and cloudy day, so after doing a quick color study at Lafeyette Reservoir, I joined some of the other artists for lunch. It was a fun day of painting, conversation and artistic camaraderie!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Harley at Big Basin

The easel at Big Basin. The lighting of the scene had totally changed when I took this photo.

Redwoods on the easel.



Big Basin Redwoods State Park is California's oldest State Park, established in 1902, and is home to the largest continuous stand of ancient coast redwoods south of San Francisco. It had been quite a while since I had been out painting redwoods, so today I thought I would take a trip to Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

I hadn't taken the Harley out painting for awhile due to some low back pains, plus I had been doing larger paintings than I could not comfortably carry in the Harley side bags. Today, I also wanted to do larger format paintings, so carried my Soltek easel in a "T-Bag" on the back of the bike. This turned out so well, I will probably start doing it more in the future. With the Soltek and a panel carrier, I can do up to 12x16 size paintings on the Harley.

It took about an hour and half to get to the park. After leaving the congestion of rush hour in Silicon Valley, it was refreshing to cruise through the cool Santa Cruz mountains along the winding curves of Hwy 9 and 236.

I spent about half an hour walking around the redwood trails looking for places to paint, but as fate would have it, the best spot was right by the restroom close to the parking lot! The sun was illuminating perfectly the base of a large redwood right by the trail.

After walking some of the redwood trails again, I ended up doing the next painting about 10 yards from where I set up for the first painting. The second painting was of a meadow with the stately redwoods backlit in the background.


Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Painting in the Rocky Point restaurant parking lot.

One of the cliffs along Soberanes Point.

Painting at Garrapata.


The next day, I headed back up the coast and stopped at Rocky Point again. After a nice lunch at the Rocky Point Restaurant, I did a painting right from their parking lot.

Next stop was Garrapata again. I wanted to catch the area in the afternoon light. After finishing another painting of the rocks and pounding surf, it was getting too late to start another one. So, it was hiking and relaxation time. I walked out on Sobranes Point and watched the surf as the sun went down. As the sun set, the sky was filled with brilliant oranges, and the surf glowed with a golden aura. Too soon it was dark and time to head home.

Monday, January 31, 2005

At Garrapata

Carmel Foundation out painting.

Lucia Lodge

My easel at Lucia Lodge


Big Sur is one of the greatest meetings of land and ocean. I had been planning to take a trip down the Big Sur coast ever since riding the Harley up the coast last September. I wanted to wait just after a winter storm where the surf would be high, the air clear, and lots of cumulus clouds. It had been about a week since the last storm, but weather, family, and schedule was right, so I decided to take the trip this week. I planned to paint down the coast one day, stop for the night where ever I found myself, and paint up the coast the following day.

Although I would have loved to take the Harley, I wanted to paint bigger works this trip, so the Ford Explorer would have to do.

After an early drive of about an hour and a half, I arrived at my first stop, Garrapata State Park. Garrapata is a four mile stretch of rocky coast, beaches, inlets, and cliffs along the Pacific. I could have spent the entire two days just painting here. It was a beautiful day and I spent several hours by the pounding surf painting, watching for whales, and generally enjoying the day.

The next stop was Rocky Point. There is a restaurant here. When I arrived, I was surprised to see about 20 artists all out painting! Turns out they are from the Carmel Foundation and out painting for a day. Well, I unloaded my gear and painted right along side them.

After finishing the painting there, I headed on down the coast and stopped at the Lucia Lodge. Located on the ocean side of Highway One midway between the Monterey Bay and Cambria. Lucia Lodge offers a stunning view of the Big Sur coastline and rugged Santa Lucia Mountains. I decided to stay here, and did a painting right outside the door to my room.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Painting 'over' the Truckee River.

On the easel is the painting over the Truckee.

One the bridge over Eagle Creek.

Painting of Eagle Creek.


The last several weeks saw record snowfall in the Sierra Mountain Range. Over 20 feet of new powder fell within a matter of weeks breaking 70 year old records. Needless to say, my son was chomping at the bit to go snow boarding. So, we have spent that last couple weekends at Lake Tahoe.

It is sometimes difficult to steal away to paint while on vacation with family, but I managed to do a few paintings around Tahoe. The snow at Tahoe was so deep, it was hard to find places the paint. Yes, there were potential paintings everywhere, but the snow was packed so high above the road, anywhere you could pull off, it was impossible to set up or get to a scene. One solution, was to paint on or by private bridges where there was little traffic.

My first painting was on a private bridge over the Truckee River, close to Squaw Valley. "No Trespassing" signs were everywhere, so I did not venture too far on the bridge to paint! There had been so much snow, the Truckee River was completely covered in ice and snow for 15 miles or so as it flowed out of Lake Tahoe and towards the town of Truckee.

Painting snow can be very tricky. It is never white, and can sometimes be very dark in value.

On our second weekend visit, Lake Tahoe was fogged in most of the time I was there! I eventually found a place to paint by Emerald Bay on the bridge that spans Eagle Creek, over Eagle Falls.

I also found one of the best spots right in the town of Truckee, along the Truckee River. I was far enough from Lake Tahoe the fog melted into steady sunshine!

Painting in progress along the Truckee River.

Yours Truly along the Truckee River.


Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Plein Air of Pescadero

My easel along Pescadero Beach.


I delivered a number of paintings today to the Eriksen Gallery. They will be hanging them this weekend. After visiting the gallery, I did my usual trip down the coast to work on some plein air.

Post Script: I later found out one of my plein air paintings sold within several hours of hanging my works!!


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