Donald Neff, Artist


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Donald Neff, Artist

Paintings of Donald Neff

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Art Demonstrations in Oil and Acrylic, Plein Air

Harley Davidson

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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 2006

Monday,September 25, 2006

Nick White and the visitor from Italy painting.

The visitor from Italy.

My easel in front of the arch I painted.


Mission San Juan Bautista was founded 24 June 1797 (15th in order) by Padre Fermin Francisco de Lasuén. The Mission is named for Saint John the Baptist. The Indian name was Popelout, or Popeloutchom. It is known for being the largest of the mission churches, with three aisles instead of the single aisle in other mission churches. Three of the nine bells in the chapel area remain. The church is active and has been since the Mission's founding.

The mission is less than an hours drive from my house, and today the Los Gatos Plein Air Group was painting there. I don't usually do structures, but have been wanting to paint some of the missions in California.

Off I went on the Harley to join the group. I arrived about 9:30 and there was already a number of the group painting. In addition, a visitor from Italy (I didn't quite catch his name) decided to join us. Evidently he found out about the plein air group on the Los Gatos Art Association web site.

I proceeded to do one painting of a side gate and arch overlooking the old El Camino Real, which runs the length of California. The painting turned out quite well, what I call a "keeper".

"Gate to El Camino Real" 9x12


Friday,September 15, 2006

Mt Hood from Hwy 35 in the Hood River Valley.


If you don't paint what you love or want to paint, then there is no use in painting. You have to paint what you are passionate about, or it will show through to what you are trying to do.

I learned that many years ago when I was young and stopped painting from calendar photos, magazines, and other material, and started painting from my own experiences. Everything I have painted in the last 35 years is either on the spot or from my own photo studies.

I started a large painting a few days ago, frankly, just for myself. It is from a photo I snapped while sitting on my Harley pulled off the roadside in Hood River Valley. The motor was still running and the scene has been running in my mind ever since.

I was born in Portland, Oregon, so the first mountain I ever saw was Mt Hood. We left when I was about 5, but .I have been back many times since. The only painting I ever did of Mt. Hood was many years ago from a calendar photo. It was time to rectify that situation.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Painting along the Truckee river, shows what the scene looked like when I started and when I finished the painting.


It was time to do some more works of the Truckee during the summer, so I rose early and found a nice spot where the sun was just starting to fill the river valley. It was another beautiful morning, I finished one painting

After checking out of my motel, and dropping by the gallery, it was time to head home.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Working on a small painting demonstration in the gallery.

Several shots from the Gondola at Squaw Valley.


Hal, the owner of James Harold Gallery, invited me to spend Sunday painting in the gallery. David Lemon, a well know sculptor had just driven down from Montana to sculpt in the gallery all week. David gave my painting while he sculpt a second vote, so I decided why not.

After a leisurely morning, I set up in the front of the gallery. I had brought no photo studies to work with, so either had to paint something from memory (a very good exercise for all artists to try), or do something similar to what I had done plein air and currently hanging. I chose the later. I decided to to a horizontal version of a plein air painting I had done on the east side of Lake Tahoe just last July.

Since we had all afternoon, I could take my time.

Several winters ago I had taken the Squaw Valley Gondola up to High Camp just as the sun was starting to dip behind the mountains. I always wanted to do it again in summer and capture some of the same shots without all the snow. So off I went. The place was almost deserted, but the gondola was still running. I hit it just right! What a beautiful ride dancing over the rocks and light as it streamed down the mountainside. More studies for my "Above Squaw Valley" series I started last year.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Truckee River as we started to paint.

Nick White working on his painting along the Truckee.

The river as we finished our paintings. Quite a difference in lighting!

Looking into James Harold Gallery with several of my paintings in the window.

Your's truly with the 'poster painting' for the show.

Hal Slear, the gallery owner straightening one of the paintings.


Today, the special show at James Harold Gallery opens. They planned a reception beginning at 1:00 this afternoon. That left the morning some time to paint!

My good painting buddy, Nick White stayed over an extra day of his vacation in the area to see the exhibit, and maybe do a little painting. We decided to stay close and just go down the Truckee River from Tahoe City.

Nick drove, so we set out around 7:00 AM for the river. We found a beautiful spot where the sun was just beginning to light the side of the river bank as it curved into the shadow. What a beautiful morning! The river reflected the glowing, sunlit river bank like a mirror on the floor.

We set out to paint, and both of us did one piece. My work, I think was good enough as-is, so I later took it into the show.

After cleaning up at the motel, it was time for the reception.

I had not seen the gallery prior to my arriving, as Hal, the owner insists on hanging and moving other works of art himself. It's one of those..."I can do it faster and better alone". Well, he was right...everything was hung and displayed impeccably. They stayed up until about 2 in the morning to finish everything. The only problem he had was my inept wiring on the back of a couple larger pieces.

The lighting of the gallery was great. I had painted a scene of Santorini, Greece, which they hung in the front window of the gallery, and with the light really brought out the colors of the work. It almost looked like a different painting!

The reception went well, with quite a group stopping by to view my works.

One section of paintings in the show.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Thomas Hill Foster, grandson of Thomas Hill, a well known California painter.

The dock at Chambers Landing.


James Harold Galleries scheduled an exhibit for me beginning tomorrow, August 26. I had wanted to head up to the lake several day's early to do some more fresh paintings for the show, but jury duty tied me down until noon today. I had everything loaded in the truck ready to go, including about 17 new paintings for the show.

I arrived at the gallery about mid afternoon, and proceeded to unload all the paintings for the show. Nick White , one of my painting buddies had coincidently been at Tahoe all week, so he stayed over for the show. After we unloaded the paintings and checked into the hotel, it was off to Chambers Landing to do some painting.

When we arrived, a man was sitting by the beach with a large painting on an easel. We struck up a conversation, and found out he is Thomas Hill Foster, grandson of the famous painter of Yosemite, Thomas Hill.

After painting for several hours, the sun was so low it was time to pack it in for the day.

August 4-12, 2006


As most of you know, I own and ride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. I frequently take it on plein air trips.

We had planned a motorcycle trip to the Pacific Northwest for some time, and now was the time. Although this is mostly an art adventures weblog, I am making note of it because I plan to do some paintings from the area.

I was born in Portland, Oregon, most of my relatives live in southern Oregon, so the area is a little special. I have a painting hanging "Soaring Between Two Blues" at Ambassador Joseph LeBaron's residence in Nouakchott, Mauritania. The painting is of Crater Lake in southern Oregon, and depicts an American Bald Eagle Soaring between the deep blues of the lake and the sky.

Anyway, after this trip, look for more works from Oregon in the future.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Secret Cove.


After the failed attempt to find Secret Cove yesterday, I was determined to locate it today. It was actually quite easy, as there is a large paved parking lot right by the trail head!

I preceded to do two paintings in the morning, and then headed over to James Harold Galleries to drop off my work from the last couple of days.

Whenever I drop off my newly painted, and still wet works, it gives the gallery a slight odor of oil paints. Hal and Madalyn, who own and run the gallery don't seem to mind. Not sure if it helps or hinders business.

Then it was time for the long Harley ride home. Hal, the owner of the gallery has a Harley, also, so he rode part way with me. Although coming out of the Sierras on the motorcycle is loads of fun, I do not look forward to the long hot drive across the San Joaquin Valley in late afternoon.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Small cove by Thunderbird Lodge.

The painting on my easel.



Most of my painting trips to Tahoe always seem to concentrate on the west shore of the the lake. It is hard to beat Emerald Bay, DL Bliss State Park and the Rubicon Trail. It was time to concentrate on the eastern shore today!

My destination was Secret Harbor, which has a parking area and trail down to the beach area. Being less familiar with this side of the lake, I pulled off on a dirt pullout which had a trail leading towards the lake. This must be the place!

I got my gear and headed down the trail. and soon the going got pretty rough and steep, so I decided this was definitely not Secret Harbor! After further hiking down a steep narrow trail, encountering a barbed wire fence, and turning back, I ended up in a small cove just north of Thunderbird Lodge. It was a beautiful cove with the morning sun streaking across the aqua's, blues and shallow sienna's of the inlet. Just about anywhere you go on this lake you can find a wonderful spot to paint.

I set my easel right on a narrow stretch of sand, and started to paint. After two or three visiting families and their wonderful dogs, plus working on the painting for a couple hours, I headed over to James Harold Galleries for a visit. After Lunch, I headed back to the west side of the lake to gather some studies for studio paintings.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Silver Lake by Kay's Resort.

My easel set up close to one of Kay's Resort's boathouses.

Mt Tallac towering over Fallen Leaf Lake.

My painting showing the snow cross Mt Tallac is known for.



Sales for my work had been a little slow early in the year at James Harold Galleries in Tahoe City. Recently it picked up quite a bit, so they needed more paintings. It was off to Tahoe again for several days of painting! I certainly have a difficult time complaining about that!!

Since it was summer, it was time to take the Harley. Leaving early in the morning, I decided to drive up Highway 88 and over Carson Pass. I had always wanted to paint some of the wonderful lakes along Highway 88, specifically Silver and Caples Lake. For this trip, it would be Silver Lake.

What a great morning! Riding in the cool of the early morning while the sun is still struggling to awaken the landscape is a wonderful experience. Climbing Highway 88 up the Sierra foothills, I left behind the warming San Joaquin central valley to the coolness of the high Sierras.

I arrived at Silver Lake around 9:30 while the sun was still low enough to give some depth of shadows and character to the landscape. I stopped at Kays Resort, on the highway and close to the small dam and spillway which helps regulate the lake.

The view right there was great, and after spending several hours painting the lake with Thunder Mountain casting a shadow at its feet, it was time to head on into Tahoe.

After checking into my motel on the south part of the lake, I wanted to head to Lily Lake and do a painting. I had painted Lily Lake before, and the painting sold rather quickly, so why not do another one!!

Lily Lake is on the western tip of Fallen Leaf Lake. As I was cruising along on my Harley, Fallen Leaf Lake came into view, and above it, Mt Tallac was towering and showing off it's famous 'snow cross' which can be seen only certain times of the year. It beckoned me to stop and paint it, so I found a spot along Fallen Leaf Lake, and finished a painting there.



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