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.

July-September 2005

September 21, 2005

Along the Rubicon Trail.

The beach and bay at DL Bliss State Park.


After the disappointing dreary day yesterday, I awoke to a wonderfully clear and sunny day. Time to head back out to DL Bliss State Park, and finish what I wanted to accomplish the previous day.

My trip to DL Bliss took me around Emerald Bay. I stopped just for a look, and decided to do a painting of the bay in the early morning. Although I was not quite getting some of the deep blues, aqua's and other colors normally seen in the water, it was such a spectacular morning, I just had to paint it.

After doing a painting there, I proceeded on to DL Bliss State Park. After hiking the Rubicon Trail again, I decided to concentrate on the beach area, the inlet and rock outcroppings. Too soon, I had to finish the painting, and head back to James Harold Galleries to drop of my new paintings, and head home for San Jose.

September 20, 2005

A view from the Rubicon Trail in DL Bliss State Park.


The second day of this Tahoe trip started with a cloudy, dreary, almost rainy sky. It did not look great for what I planned to do...paint along the Rubicon Trail at DL Bliss State Park. I had been here the previous trip, and the views, colors, and about everything else was spectacular. Anybody who visits Tahoe should spend some time hiking this trail

In spite of the overcast, I headed out to DL Bliss State Park. Water reflects whatever is around it...sometimes mostly sky. Lake Tahoe is no exception. Gone from my previous trip were the deep, dark blues, greens and other wonderful colors of the lake. It was replaced by a gray hue.

I decided to continue on, and hiked about a mile down the trail looking for some color in the lake. None was to be found, except when a tree cast a shadow in the lake, blocking out the gray reflection and allowing the deep colors of the lake to show through. I finally said, enough of this...I will wait for a sunny day.

September 19, 2005

Meeks Creek close to Hwy 89 on the west shore of Tahoe.


Lilly Lake.


We had originally scheduled a show and reception at the James Harold Galleries in Tahoe City on the 17th. However, my sister-in-law passed away, so we had to cancel it at the last minute. The funeral was on the 17th.

The gallery still wanted me to soon come up and bring some paintings, plus make a minor change to a painting sold to a local customer (at extra charge, of course). So, I decided to take another of my 3 day painting trips to the lake.

I didn't leave quite as early as normal to make the 4 hour drive to Tahoe, as I had a meeting there at 11:30, so left around 7:00. I would have loved to take the Harley, but had to haul a bunch of paintings, so resorted to the SUV. It was an uneventful drive.

After a meeting at James Harold Galleries with a customer, I was off to painting. I decided to concentrate on the west shore of the Lake. After a little exploring, I stopped to paint Meeks Creek close to the highway. It was a beautiful clear day. Lots of color and sunshine. It wasn't quite fall color season yet, but some of the foliage was acting like it was wanting to turn colors.

After checking into my motel, I headed back to a spot I had not been to in probably 20 years, and forgotten about...Lilly Lake.

Lilly Lake is nestled in a beautiful alpine setting surrounded by peaks bordering the Desolation Wilderness just southwest of Lake Tahoe. To get there, take the Fallen Leaf Road off Hwy 89, and basically drive to the end. The last mile or so is dirt, and almost 4 wheel drive territory, but if you are careful, most any vehicle can get there.

Upon arriving, the sun was starting to dip low thus lengthening the shadows and warming the colors all around. What a wonderful setting! After walking around a bit, I decided to do a more intimate study of the lake. I had to work somewhat quickly as the shadows were constantly changing. The painting turned out quite well, and is now at James Harold Galleries. All too soon the sun was setting, and time to pack it in for the day.

(PS. I found out later the Lily Lake painting sold fairly quickly.)


September 5-10, 2005

Painting along Old Winery Road.

"Giants on Old Winery Road"

Armond Cabrara painting during the exhibit.

Kim Fancher Lordier won the Artists Choice award. This was the only award given for the show.

Your's Truly in front of my exhibit panel.


The annual Sonoma Plein Air event is a presentation of the Sonoma Plein Air Foundation - a charitable organization established in 2002 to promote outdoor painting, and encourage and support art education programs in the community. Every year, a portion of the proceeds of the Sonoma Plein Air will be donated to support a local art education program in the schools or through a community-based organization.

I had been juried into this event, which took place this week. After checking in Monday morning to have my panels stamped, I headed to some locations I had scouted out in a prior motorcycle trip. It was somewhat foggy and cloudy, so not the most ideal conditions to paint a light filled landscape. I crisscrossed all over Sonoma county for several days, from the mountains to the coastline, and then had to head home as my wife's sister was in ICU in the hospital. I headed back up Friday, and did one more painting.

Friday evening was a silent auction of one work we did that week, plus a dinner/reception. It was quite a posh affair located at the beautiful Vadasz winery chateau. This event was not judged, however the artists voted for one painting to win an artists' choice award, which went to Kim Fancher Lordier of a beautiful painting overlooking the Sonoma Valley.

Saturday was the exhibit and sale day in the downtown Sonoma square. Although the event went quite well, I was anxious to hurry home as my wife's sister had passed away the night before.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005




Every once in awhile, I 'google' my name on the internet to see what may pop up. (Doesn't everyone do this?) Anyway, I discovered "Yours Truly" mentioned in a press release from Nigeria relating to the Art in Embassies Program. where several of my paintings (shown at left) are hanging.

You can see the press release here.

Sunday, August 7, 2005

Some snapshots of the paintout.


The Verde Artist's Guild was formed by a group of Northern California plein air artists who enjoy painting together. Verde was formed to paint in company and to share experiences and resources with each other.

Verde Artist's Guild hosted a "paint-out" today at Fitzgerald Marine Preserve (in the Half Moon Bay area). I decided to join, so rode the Harley up.

The day was clear over most of the San Francisco bay area, but the coast was foggy in certain areas, and wouldn't you know...right where we were painting. Great paintings can be made on foggy, mysterious, moody days, so it really wasn't a bad painting day at all.

The tide was out, and the patterns of the rocky tide pools was a great study in grays and abstract color patterns. I started a painting based on the abstract qualities of the rocks and tidepools. By the time I was done, the tide was in, the rocky bottom was covered, and some of it was finished from memory.

Most the other artists painted around the same general area...but from all directions, giving onlookers a mosaic of interpretations of one spot. Many passed by oogling and googling (pun intended), and I think more than one intended to try plein air in the future.

After doing a quick painting of another scene, only moving the direction of my easel, we all retreated to a park bench for lunch, a little camaraderie, exchanging of painting stories, talking art world personalities, we headed our separate ways.

I chose to ride the long way down the coast to Santa Cruz, and then over the coastal range to home in San Jose. The trip was longer, but the ride on the Harley with the coastline weaving in and out of the fog, the lazy afternoon sun alternately turning the sea from gray to pink to a wonderful aqua, the colors of the mustards and poppies still in bloom, plus the purr of the bike, was too much to pass up.

Friday, July 29, 2005


Pictures the red rocks of Sedona.



Ever since the early days of movies, when Hollywood has wanted to show the unique beauty of the West, it has gone to Sedona, a place that looks like nowhere else. The area's telegenic canyons, wind-shaped buttes and dramatic sandstone towers embody the rugged character of the West

We were in Sedona for a week long family reunion, which had become a tradition the last several years. I rarely get time to paint during these activities, but on the last full day we were there the time presented itself.

At first I was going to do a quiet, intimate scene of Oak Creek, which ran through our campground. With thunderheads dancing around all day, I took a short jaunt up the road to view the red rocks, and the sight was magnificent. With red rock buttes dancing in and out of light, rain and clouds, the lighting was fantastic.

I hurried back to get my paints, and went at it. After about 10 minutes, the light changed on the rocky peak I was doing, so had to do some of the highlights from memory. It turned out pretty good anyway.

July 19-23, 2005


Pictures from "Painting Sherwood Forest" event.



Bidwell Park in Chico, California, is one of the largest municipal parks in the country. One of the park's longest-lasting claims to fame is that the original Adventures of Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn and company, was filmed there among the majestic oaks and sycamores in 1938. To honor the 100th anniversary of the founding of the park, I was in Chico to participate in the event.

We had two days to produce two paintings, a day of silent auction and reception, then a final day of silent auction, and then a live auction. The area is quite diverse. The park ranges from semi arid mesas to lush forests. Over the two days, I completed 2 paintings, almost finished another, and false started one.

During the auction, my works were probably the hottest bids, which was a pleasant surprise.

Monday, July 11, 2005


Pictures from painting along the Rubicon Trail In DL Bliss State Park.



D. L. Bliss State Park includes some six miles of magnificent Lake Tahoe shoreline. The grandeur of the parks and their setting is a product of successive upheavals of the mountain-building processes that raised the Sierra Nevada.
From promontories such as Rubicon Point in D.L. Bliss State Park you can see over one hundred feet into the depths of Lake Tahoe.

Although I have been to Tahoe countless times over the decades, I never ventured into the park. Having heard so much about it, I decided to spend the day at D. L. Bliss State Park . I wasn't disappointed. Rubicon Trail wraps around cliffs towering fifty feet above the incredibly deep blue waters. From now on, any visit to Tahoe will seem empty without a visit to the park!

I started a painting from Rubicon trail as it looks down into the waters of Tahoe. In fact all my paintings that day were from Rubicon trail. Normally painting during the high sun of the day is not desired as it washes out the colors and there are fewer shadows. Here along the trail the height of the sun made it better as the blues were bluer, and the cliffs produced plenty of shadow and drama along the landscape.

I finished three paintings from the trail, then wearily navigated my Harley back to the motel.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


Pictures from painting above Lake Tahoe.



Several months ago, I did a series of winter scenes of the Truckee River called "Bridges over the Truckee". My gallery in Tahoe City, James Harold Galleries put up about a dozen of them.

Well, they called several weeks ago, and said they are selling quite fast, but people are also asking for some summer scenes. So, I rearranged my schedule to come to Tahoe and do some plein air paintings of summer scenes.

I decided to take the Harley along with my large outdoor easel. This would be my first multi-day trip on the Harley with my larger outdoor easel. So, was anxious to see how it went.

It was a great ride up. I left the bay area around 6:00 AM. The early morning ride across the normally hot San Joaquin Valley was cool and pleasant with very little traffic.

After breakfast with my nephew who lives close to Sacramento, I headed into the Sierras. My first stop was from a place I remembered during the winter, close to Emerald Bay and D.L. Bliss State Park.

It was a great, sunny cloudless day. Just right for capturing some of the deep blues of Lake Tahoe. I spent several hours painting the lake from the vantage point.



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