Donald Neff, Artist


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Donald Neff, Artist

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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.

October-December 2003

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Picture along the beach with Ano Nuevo jutting out in the far horizon.

A lone passerby was kind enough to take my picture for me.

Up on the bluff with a painting almost finished on the easel.


Fifty-five miles south of San Francisco and the Golden Gate, and about 15 miles north of Santa Cruz, a low, rocky, windswept point juts out into the Pacific Ocean. Año Nuevo State Reserve is the site of the largest mainland breeding colony in the world for the northern elephant seal.

I had been planning today's trip to the Santa Cruz coastline for the last week. My destination was to be close to Año Nuevo State Reserve. According to the weather man, there would be two days of clear skies bracketed by storms before and after. I love painting this coast right after a storm as the surf is spectacular. Ten to twenty foot swells can pound the rocks, sea stacks and bluffs resulting in waves almost licking the top of the forty foot cliffs.

By now, packing the Harley is getting routine, and I keep refining my packing list and contents. This is my third paint trip to the Santa Cruz coast in the Harley in the last month.

It was a crisp morning with the temperatures in the 40's as I left on the Harley. I had prepared and bundled up appropriately so was plenty warm as I made my way through the Santa Cruz Mountains and up the coast.

I planned to spend most of the day at Greyhound Rock, which is several miles south of Ano Nuevo. You can click here for a neat panorama of Greyhound Rock.

By the time I arrived at Greyhound Rock, the weather was in the 60's, warm and pleasant. The weather patterns hadn't turned out as expected, so the huge waves were quite smaller.

I finished a painting down on the beach of a rock, the sea and Año Nuevo in the background. I then headed up to the bluffs, had a little lunch and commenced to do another overlooking the ocean.

I was approached by a lady from Santa Cruz who had seen me painting the coast before. Before the day was done, she purchased both paintings I had done that day. Smart collector...ha ha.

After a visit to the Santa Cruz Harley Davidson dealer, I headed home on the old San Jose/Soquel Highway. It winds up a valley in the western Santa Cruz Mountains. The valley gradually morphed from suburbia to ranches and farmlands, to a canyon brimming with redwoods and ferns. Stopping at a turnout for a moment, all was quiet and peaceful in the lush greenery of a stand of ancient redwoods. Too soon I had to head home.

Sunday, December 7, 2003

Picture of Going to the Sun Road to use as a study for the landscape portion.

Combined with a photo of my Harley in the driveway.

The painting after about 3 hours of work. Notice I changed the painting from horizontal to more vertical.


The vast majority of the paintings I have done over the last 20 years show no sign of man. There are no buildings, roads, trails, people, or anything else related to man. I generally have wanted to capture the pristine nature of the wilderness.

I decided to depart from the norm this week and combine landscape painting with my renewed passion of motorcycles. I have started a painting, primarily landscape in nature, but with a Harley in view.

I also wanted to do more paintings from a recent trip to Glacier National Park, so am using a photo I took of Going to the Sun Road as the landscape portion. For the motorcycle, I simply took a picture of my Harley in the driveway.

If this experiment works out, I will certainly do more similar, and in fact have other ideas in mind. I will let you know in a week or two how it turns out.

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

My easel with a work in progress at Bonny Doon beach.

The surfer museum through the mist.

Painting along the Santa Cruz bluffs.

A couple of shots of my ride along the cliffs.



Santa Cruz is the quintessential beach town. It was here that Hawaiian royalty first introduced surfing to the mainland--and locals and visitors alike have been riding the waves ever since.

I had many times visited the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum housed in the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse at Lighthouse Point overlooking internationally renowned surfing hotspot Steamer Lane. I decided to make this my painting destination for today.

This is the second plein air painting trip taken in my Harley-Davidson Road King. (See below about the prior trip.)

Although the forecast was for a clear day, upon leaving it was fogged in. A marine layer sometimes settles in the Bay Area, but oft times the coastline can be clear, so I wasn't too worried about a nice day. As I worked my way across Santa Clara Valley, previously known as the Valley of Hearts Delight, but more recently as Silicon Valley, the fog began to lift and by the time I reached the Santa Cruz Mountains, it was clear.

We had a late Autumn this year, and the trees were at their best. Cruising through the coastal range, the contrast of the fall leaves, cedars and redwoods were a sight to see. Wisps of fog hung in the valleys dramatizing the effect as I cruised along on the Harley.

After transversing the mountains, I rode up the coast several miles north of Santa Cruz to do a quick painting at Bonny Doon beach. I enjoy painting along this coastline just after a storm, as the waves are sometimes huge and there is usually nobody around. I set up my easel and did a painting while a trio of fisherman tried their luck from some of the rocks.

The fog was drifting lazily in and out and I would find myself bathed in warm sunshine one moment and enveloped in the gray of fog the next.

Upon finishing a quick painting, I moved on down the coast to the cliffs along the Santa Cruz coastline. After a quick lunch, I painted the point by the museum. Quite a few surfers were out on Steamer Lane, as the waves were starting to pick up since the last weather front we had.

After 90 minutes, the painting was done, so it was time to pack up and stop by the local Harley dealer. After buying a T-shirt, I cruised down the coast to Watsonville, and back over the coast range via Highway 152. Highway 152 twists through Hecker Pass, winds through the redwoods and along a variety of ranches, farms, lakes, and houses. Enjoying the fall colors of the many vineyards, it was starting to get dark as I made my way home.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Mayor Ron Gonzales, Council woman Cindy Chavez, and our group of artists. I am on the far left.

Some of the other artists busily working.


Several days ago, I was invited to do a painting demonstration today for the grand opening of a newArtist and Craftsman Supply store in downtown San Jose. Six other artists also came to do demos. Part of the deal to do the demo, was we got to use the stores supplies!

I took a number of photos as potential subject matter and while there, decided to do a painting of Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite National Park. The photo I was using to paint from was taken 25 years ago.

Soon after setting up and starting my demo, the Mayor of San Jose, Ron Gonzalez and Council woman Cindy Chavez stopped by to tour the new store. We all got together for a photo shot of the group.

I finished the painting in about 3 hours, and it turned out fairly decent.

My demo painting of Bridalveil Falls.


Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The Harley Road King with Pigeon Point Lighthouse in the background.

A passerby took a picture of me and my easel with the lighthouse in the background.

Attendees of the workshop busily at work on their masterpieces.

Stefan (far left) giving out some pointers.


Today is my first plein air painting trip on the new Harley Davidson. As I mentioned before, I am the proud new owner of a 100th Anniversary Harley-Davidson Road King.

The destination today is a plein air painting workshop conducted by Stefan Baumann. Stefan is a well known artist who has a PBS series on painting the national parks called The Grand View. Be sure to catch this series out as it begins again in January.

The workshop is the afternoon only, but I decided toleave early and make a day of it. We were to meet at Pigeon Point Lighthouse, about 27 miles north of the California coastal town of Santa Cruz. The lighthouse, sitting on a rocky bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is one of the tallest in America.

I took off on the Harley, and headed the 40 miles through the Santa Cruz mountains and then up the California coast. What a glorious day! Riding the motorcycle there was as much fun as painting at the destination. It had been rainy the last week, but today was sunny and cloudless. With the sun and sea air in my face, I was ready to get to painting on arrival!

I did one painting of Pigeon Point, ate a small sack lunch, and by that time, the workshop was ready to begin.

Over a dozen showed up for the workshop. Stefan has quite a following, greatly due to his PBS series " The Grand View". The workshop was only 3 hours long, but most attendees finished, or almost finished one painting.

By the time I left, it was nearing sundown. There was not a cloud to be seen, and the entire sky filled with the pink of the setting sun. The entire coast embraced the warm light filtered by the marine layer of mist far out to sea. The pink faded and I was slowly enveloped in darkness riding the Harley down the coast.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Pictures of me and my new Harley Road King.


In 1903 William Harley and three Davidson brothers formed a company which has become an American legend. It is one of the most recognized brand names in the world. They named their company after their last names, Harley Davidson and they built motorcycles.

The year 2003 was celebrated by Harley Davidson as their 100th Anniversary. After growing up on motorcycles and not riding for about 24 years, I decided I would fulfill a lifelong wish, and bought a 100th Anniversary Harley-Davidson Road King last August.

Although I have been riding the motorcycle for several months, tomorrow will be my first plein air painting trip on it. My favorite outdoor easel, a Soltek, would not quite fit in the side bags, so I recently purchased a 'Palm' Openbox-M pochade box. I had been wanting one of these for quite a while, and now had the excuse to buy one.

After packing the saddlebags, I found everything I needed just fit, with little room to spare. Thankfully, I didn't have to strap or bungy any bulky equipment on the back. The Harley was ready for it's first painting trip!

Monday, November 10, 2003



A friend mentioned to me last weekend they had seen an article about me in a local society paper called the Valley Scene. It was a bit of a surprise, because the paper did not mention anything to me. I have not located a copy of the paper yet, but found a blurb on the home page of their web site. Not sure how long it will stay there, but you find it by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Soaring Between Two Blues



The Art in Embassies Program was established by the United States Department of State in 1964. The Art in Embassies Program is a global museum that exhibits original works of art by U.S. citizens in the public rooms of approximately 180 American diplomatic residences worldwide.

I received official notification today that my painting, "Soaring Between Two Blues" will be placed in Ambassador Joseph LeBaron's residence in Nouakchott, Mauritania. The painting is of Crater Lake and depicts an American Bald Eagle Soaring between the deep blues of the lake and the sky.

Next: Jul-Sep 2003 Prev Jan-Mar 2004

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