Donald Neff, Artist


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Donald Neff, Artist

Paintings of Donald Neff

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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 2004

Thursday, December 16, 2004

"Master of His Domain"

"Morning Drink"


I received a pleasant and personal letter from Ambassador John Campbell today. Two of my paintings are hanging in the Ambassador residence in Abuja, Nigeria as part of the Art in Embassies Program.. He remarked how well the paintings were received, even among some of the local art community.

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.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Pescadero creek dumping into the Pacific.

My "mini-palm" box at Pescadero.


Half Moon Bay rests on the Pacific Coast between forested hills and some of the most beautiful coastlines that California has to offer. It is located approximately 25 miles south of San Francisco and lies within San Mateo County.

I had been painting here about six weeks ago (see below) and talked with the manager of the Erikson Gallery. The gallery is the oldest in Half Moon Bay. One thing led to another, and we made an appointment to show my paintings. Today was the appointment with the Gallery. They liked what they saw, and will place some of my works starting around mid January.

I came prepared to do some plein air down the coast between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz, so headeed south and eventually decided to do a study at Pescadero Beach, right where Pescadero Creek enters the ocean. It was a beautiful day with crashing surf, lots of ocean spray and sun to go with it. The painting turned out fairly well.


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

"Morning Light"


Plein Air Magazine just published a short item on my first place in the Los Gatos Art Fest. They reproduced the winning painting, "Morning Light". For all you plein air painters, you should look into subscribing to this excellent periodical. Thanks for the publicity, Plein Air Magazine!


Thursday, October 28, 2004

NPS Director Fran Mainella speaks to the crowd of press and public.

Waiting and watching with telescopes and binoculars.

The holding pen from a third of a mile away with a 14X zoom lens. The pen is 40 by 20 feet. The little dot you see above the pen is a condor...about 4 feet high and and wingspan of 10 feet.

A view of Pinnacles National Monument.


Pinnacles National Monument, rising out of the chaparral-covered Gabilan Mountains, east of central California's Salinas Valley, are the spectacular remains of an ancient volcano. Massive monoliths, spires, sheer-walled canyons and talus passages define millions of years of erosion, faulting and tectonic plate movement.

Pinnacles National Monument is also a site where the magnificent California Condor is being re-introduced to the wild after almost complete extinction. The public was invited to view a releasing of three condor juveniles today, and I more than willingly came. During this event, part of the park which is normally off limits because of the condor habitat was opened. This is only the second time the public has been able to witness this event.

I left at 7:00 am this morning, in the cold remains of the last storm. It was about 40 outside, and a little chilly on the Harley, as I made my way south through Gilroy and Hollister. It was a great ride, watching the sun slowly poke it's orb over the Diablo Range to the east, flooding the fields, hills, and valleys around Hollister with a warm light. The full moon, just the evening before just an eclipsed shell was setting to the west.

After arriving at Pinnacles, we hiked a moderate mile and a quarter to the viewing area. The condors are kept in a pen on the side of a hill, which was about a third of a mile from where we were viewing. Although it looked just a speck across the valley, a good set of binoculars brought it close enough to see the birds.

There were plenty of rangers on hand to answer almost any question. After a brief program where Fran P. Mainella, National Park Service Director, and others spoke, we watched and waited to see of one of the condors would venture out to it's new environment. Although, I won't go into details, the condors are let out in a passive system & and it might be days before they would come out of the holding pen.

Around one o'clock, a ranger announced one of the juveniles had entered the exit pen, and a few minutes later was out. A huge cheer emerged from the crowd of about 150 watching from below as the young condor flew a few laps around the area, it's first flight in the wild. It did quite well for it's first real flight, just as a chick who first falls out of the nest gathers it's wings to first catch the wind.

More can be read about this event here, about condors here, and the Ventana Wilderness Society here.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Several pictures of the group painting on a golf cart bridge.


My Palm size Pochade box with an almost finished painting.


I have occasionally been going out plein air painting with a group from Los Gatos Art Association. This group, organized by Nick White meets every Monday at a location picked by Nick.

Today we met at Half Moon Bay, close to the new Ritz-Carlton Hotel, built right on the bluffs above the ocean. We painted on a bridge in the middle of the golf course. Every few minutes a golf cart would rush by, and an occasional mowing machine.

The view and area was spectacular. We painted the cyprus trees overlooking an inlet on the coast.

After we finished, it was time to retreat to the little coastal town of Half Moon Bay for some refreshments and stroll the local galleries.

About mid afternoon, I headed for home, down the coast on my Harley. At Pescadero Beach, I headed inland past the town of Pescadero, up Pescadero Road. What an amazing place! I have often said a landscape painter could spend a lifetime just painting the varied San Francisco peninsula.

On the road, what began as ocean front quickly melted into farmlands with fields nestled like fingers up the valleys and ravines. I soon was in the cool, damp redwood forests along a rushing stream. After winding up the side of the Santa Cruz mountains, I topped out on Skyline Drive. I could see on both sides, on one side the urban towns of the San Francisco Bay area, and on the other all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Carson Pass on the way home.


The second storm was on it's way in over the Sierras and the weatherman said it would worsen as the day went on.

Since what little sunshine was rapidly fleeting, I decided it best to head home. I had to drive about 3 hours further north to find an open pass over the Sierras. Highway 88 was open, but chains or four wheel drive required. This is a time when I really appreciate my 4WD Ford Explorer. Through the blizzard I went, over the pass, and eventually home.

Although the weather prevented me from finishing many paintings, I accomplished my goal. I now have some color studies, plus over 100 photo studies to keep me happily painting the fall colors of the Eastern Sierras for some time to come.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Lundy Canyon.

More Lundy Canyon, along Lundy Lake.

Painting in Lundy Canyon.


There was a lull between the two winter storms today, and although it was partly cloudy with occasional drizzle, still the sun was prevalent.

Since I didn't know how long the sun would last until the next storm, I decided to mainly drive around and take as many photos as I could of the area.

I drove down to the June Lake area and the colors were great around Silver Lake. Like fire in the ground, the aspens were aglow all over the valley and hillsides. Snow clouds danced around the peaks giving the glow in the valley even more brilliance as the gold below contrasted with the gray above.

Next stop was Lee Vining Canyon. The colors were not quite as good here, so I decided to head back up to Lundy Canyon.

The sun seemed to want to stay out for awhile, so once again, I set up where I had gotten rained out the day before. I managed to get enough of the color and scene in before the drizzle started.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

I started a painting just off the highway, south of Lee Vining.

Along June Lake loop road.

The river between Silver and Grant Lakes on the June Lake loop road.

Color along Silver Lake.


One of my traditional yearly trips is over Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park right after it opens for the season. This last summer, too many other activities prevented me from that journey, so I decided to wait, and do it later in the year to try to catch the fall colors in the Eastern Sierras.

An excellent website which posts information on how the fall colors are developing is . I referred to this web site almost daily so as to time my trip during the peak of the color.

Two back to back winter storms were coming in right during my planned trip. I could put it off till the end of the week, but more than likely, the storms will kill most of the color. So, I decided to go in spite of the inclement weather. I might end up doing snow scenes, but it was better than staying home!

I rose early, around 5 AM, and discovered Tioga Pass had just closed due to snow. So as an alternate route, I came over Highway 108 and Sonora Pass. It was drizzly, sleeting, and snowing as I made my way over the windy trail they call a road. Imagine my surprise when out of the fog and mist of the storm came several dozen brave souls on motorcycles! There were sport riders as well as big Harley Touring bikes. I didn't feel sorry for them, as they must really love riding to brave this weather!

Once on the eastern slope of the Sierras, I set up to do a painting in Lundy Canyon, but as soon as I was set up, it began to pour and the wind gusted through. Oh well...I'll just go on and check into my motel, and come back later.

After checking in the motel at Lee Vining, I wandered around some of the canyons, and ended up starting a painting just south of town up a utility road close to the highway. The weather got me again, but I managed to at least get the color of the trees down before I had to pack in to escape the rain.

Friday, October 2, 2004

"Morning Light", First Place winner, painted in Vasona Park.


The silent auction for the paintings opened today at 11 AM. My wife and I arrived around 3:30 for the reception and awards ceremony. The quality of the work in the show was very good. It astounds me sometimes how much an artist can accomplish in just a few days. There were varied interpretations of the surrounding area from downtown scenes to vistas overlooking San Jose.

I was pleasantly surprised to find all three of my paintings had already had silent bids, so I knew they all would go to a different home.

The awards ceremony started with some words from Elke Groves, the chairperson of the show, and then the mayor of Los Gatos spoke. When the awards started, I was honored with first place, and an honorable mention. "Morning Light", the smallest and the quickest I did won first place. I had a few brief words with the juror, Bob Gerbracht, a well known instructor and artist. His comment was he liked the impressionistic look of the piece and it reminded him of the old impressionist masters.

Friday, October 1, 2004

Other artists out painting in Vasona Park, Los Gatos.



It was a little overcast today, but I knew it would clear up by mid morning. My smallest painting would be a group of trees behind Los Gatos Creek in Vasona Park. I had seen this area before, and it had a beautiful backlit quality. I spent about 2 1/2 to three hours on this painting, and it turned out quite well.

It was then back to the Eucalyptus by the lake to finish off the painting I had started the day before. All paintings had to be turned in by 8 o'clock that evening to qualify for the show. I actually finished around 5. It had been a tiring two days, and I felt if I worked on the paintings anymore, could start overworking and possibly ruining them. I ended up turning in 3 paintings for the show.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

A couple shots along Kennedy Road where I did my first painting.

My easel by the Eucalyptus tree.


Today was the first day of painting for the Los Gatos Art Fest. 32 artists converged on the town to paint for two days. The paintings will be displayed on Saturday for jurying and auction. I had been scouting around Los Gatos for the last week or so, and had my two days well planned for what I wanted to paint.

After checking in and having my canvas and panels stamped, I headed up Kennedy Road to a hairpin turn which also had a beautiful tree growing by the side of the road. It is quite dark along the road here, but in the late morning, the sun streaks down like a spotlight on the beautiful branches of the tree.

After spending about 3 hours, I determined it was complete enough for just a little touch up later in the studio.

I then headed to Vasona Park, where I had spotted a beautiful Eucalyptus tree beside the lake. It captured the afternoon and evening sun beautifully, and I spent the rest of the afternoon working on that canvas.


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