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.

October-December 2006

Sunday, December 17, 2006


My web service provider is allowing more disk space usage these days, so I uploaded a bit of old news in the form of a video.

Back in 1998, when I owned a small computer software company, a locally produced weekly show called "Silicon Valley Business Report" decided to do a feature on me and my art. The feature aired October 11, 1998. I have since retired from that career and painting full time.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Two of the paintings I did last Monday at Natural Bridges State Park.


I just touched up a bit the two paintings I did Monday at Natural Bridges State Park and took a little better photo of them, which is shown on the left.

Monday, December 11, 2006

LGAA group painting

My easel with the first painting of the arch.

A little closer shot of the painting, although not a real good picture.

The group pausing for a photo.

My second painting of the creek and lagoon area, again not a good picture of the painting.


Natural Bridges State Beach is world-renowned for its yearly migration of monarch butterflies. This beach, with its famous natural bridge, is an excellent vantage point for viewing shore birds, migrating whales, and seals and otters playing offshore.

The Los Gatos Plein Air group was painting here today, we had a break in the winter rain, so I decided to join the group.

I arrived around 9:30 and there was already quite a group clustered in one area, everyone looking different directions to do a painting. I decided to paint a stones throw away from the group and did a painting of the beach looking out over the colorful ice plant towards the last remaining 'bridge' in the water. The sun and tide were constantly coming and going, so I had to put my 'stake in the sand' as to the general look of the painting. It turned out fairly well, probably a keeper.

The group started to break up a little after noon, but I wanted to do one more, so spent about an hour on a study of the creek and lagoon which flows into the inlet. By the time I had finished, around two o'clock, only one other in the group was left.

I packed up for the 45 minute trip home, and it soon started to sprinkle as I made my way back over the Santa Cruz mountains to Silicon Valley. The next storm was starting to come in!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"Wizard Island" * 8x10 * Oil

"Mountain Creek" * 5x5 * Oil


I didn't do much painting over the Thanksgiving Holiday, but managed to do a couple more mini's since. I did another one of Crater Lake from my motorcycle trip last summer, plus a stream from the Sierras. More can be seen in my Miniatures Gallery.

Friday, November 3, 2006

"Crater Lake" * 6x8 * Oil

"South Sister" * 6x8 * Oil


Well, finished a few more miniatures. These are a little larger than my usual miniatures at 6x8 inches. They are from a motorcycle trip I took to Oregon last summer. I plan to do many more paintings from that trip. As you can tell from my Miniatures Gallery, they usually sell fairly quickly.

Monday, November 6, 2006

A view of the bell tower.

The mission church from El Camino Real.

My easel on El Camino Real.


Last September, I joined the LGAA plein air group painting Mission San Juan Bautista. They had painted there one time since, but it was cloudy, and I didn't go. Since then, I had done a little research on the mission, and realized the San Andreas fault line ran right next to it, and along the original El Camino Real.

I had wanted to go back and do a larger study, so today was the day. I also wanted to catch the mission in the afternoon light, so took off around noon. I planned on doing only one larger painting of the mission overlooking El Camino Real. Since the sun sets around 5:00, I was going to have to work quickly! It snuck up on me though, and about 3:00, the sun was almost behind the coastal hills, but the painting was well enough along to call it a day.

"El Camino Real" * 16x20 * Oil on board

Friday, November 3, 2006



A few of this year's miniatures.


Once again, I am painting a batch of miniatures, my usual routine around this time of year. I have normally kept the size to about 5x5 or 5x7 inches, but am doing some slightly larger such as 6x8. I usually do small paintings of larger works or plein air paintings which I especially liked and/or sold quickly...which means someone else liked them! This time, I am also doing new works which I later may want to paint as large works. As you can tell from my Miniatures Gallery, they usually sell fairly quickly.

Although I am not done painting all of them, I thought I would share the first few of this years crop. You can see most of them here in my Miniatures Gallery.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The sun breaking over Pescadero.

Some of the painters enjoying the day.

My second painting of the day.

Julia Seelos working on a masterpiece, I'm sure!


The Verde Artist Guild called a paintout today at Pescadero Beach. The beach is a fun place to paint as you have the ocean with sandy and rocky areas, great vistas up and down the coastline, plus a creek and marsh area with lots of color.

I originally loaded up the Harley, but at the very last minute, I transferred everything to my SUV. My back was still bothering me a little, and I felt like just heading out in the car and sipping coffee for the 80 minute drive to the beach.

I got there around 8:30 and was the first on the scene. It was still cloudy, but the sun was breaking through over the Santa Cruz Mountains, and starting to light up the little town of Pescadero. What a great study!! Pescadero creek and estuary was reflecting the distant breaking sunlight, with all the myriad colors of the marshland scattered all over. I proceeded to set up and paint as the other artists rolled in over the next couple hours.

The first painting turned out good, so I changed location, as the beach area was now flushed with sunlight as the overcast slowly faded out to sea. The next painting turned out fairly well. I had two 'keepers' and it was not even lunchtime yet.

After visiting with some of the other artists, we decided to head into Pescadero and have lunch at Duarte's, a historical tavern and restaurant.

In the afternoon, it was back to painting. I did another quick study of the cliffs, and decided to call it a day.

"Pescadero Cove" * 12X16 * Oil on board

Friday, October 27, 2006

"Harris Beach" * 2436 * Oil on canvas


About a week ago, I received an inquiry from a curator at the Art in Embassies Program. They wanted to know if I had a painting of the Pacific Coast which I wouldn't mind lending to show at the embassy in Hamilton, Barbados.

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 emailed them a number of photos of my works, and today received word Ambassador Mary Ourisman chose "Harris Beach" to show at the embassy!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"Hood River Valley" * 30x40 * Oil on canvas


Today was the art reception for the Los Gatos Art Association Annual Members Show. I had entered a painting of Mt Hood, Oregon, and Hood River Valley. I originally painted it mainly because I wanted to have a painting of Mt Hood in my living room.

The painting had 'traditional' and 'cliche' written all over it...a dirt road leading into quaint farmhouses with a looming mountain overhead...not something art jurors usually like. With this in mind, I was not sure how the juror would see it. As it turns out, she recognized all the traditional aspects, but still thought it was a well executed work, and awarded me a third place.


Friday, October 13, 2006



I received an email today inviting me to show on a new web site, It is being run by Mark Gudmundsen, an excellent painter of Yosemite and other National Parks. The web site shows an open invitation to be juried into their web site. Check it out!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Painting Leavitt Meadows.

Along Sonora Pass.

Nick painting along Sonora Pass.

My easel alongside Hwy 108.


We were expecting clear skies in the morning, but were disappointed with a still gloomy day. In addition, most of the mountain passes towards home were now closed, so it was necessary to make alternate plans, We reasoned the passes might open later in the day as it had snowed only 2-3 inches and a warming trend was in the forecast.

So, we drove north on Hwy 395 towards some of the passes which are open year round. After brunch in Bridgeport, I called the Caltrans hotline, and it sounded like the nearest pass, Sonora Pass on Hwy 108 was open. Away we went, and soon came upon a road sign indicating the pass was still closed. Well, we decided to see for ourselves, and drove up to where the gate closed the road!

Just prior to the gate, we had come across a wonderful scene of Leavitt Meadows with the West Walker River meandering through. It was a high vantage point, and we could see groves of aspen dotted over the entire area nestled in the foothills of the eastern Sierras all beneath a changing canopy of snow clouds. Another breathtaking view we just had to paint!

Around the time we were about finished with the paintings, lo and behold, a Caltrans truck came rambling down the mountain. We flagged him down, and he told us Sonora Pass was now open. Wonderful news as we didn't have to travel any further north to try to catch an open pass.

Meandering over Sonora Pass on 108, we stopped to take lots of pictures, and then came on a scene we had to paint. I am not sure the exact location, but I think it was Leavitt Peak, or at least in that area.

My back wasn't doing so well, and the painting wasn't fairing much better, so after about an hour, called it quits. I at least got the values and colors I wanted of the peak and the foreground hills. The rest can be done later.

We continued on down Hwy 108, eventually winding our way back to 'civilization' and the San Jose area.

It was a great trip. I think we hit the fall color peak maybe a week or two early, but there was still plenty of color. I wanted to finish more paintings, but with the snow and my aching back, it just wasn't "in the cards". However with about 180 digital photos, I could spend the next year doing studio paintings from the trip.

Hat's off to Nick White for being such a great travel companion and painting buddy!


My almost complete work of Leavitt Meadow and the West Walker River.



Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My SUV braving the snow outside my motel room.

Colors in Lee Vining Canyon

Mining equipment at Bodie

The film crew of "Eye on the Bay" around Bodie.

Bodie's Main Street.


It had been cold and rainy much of the night, and we awoke to a drizzling rain. My lower back had started bothering me the day before, for no other reason that I know of than just a change in weather.

We decided to hang around the motel for awhile and around 11:00 AM, it started snowing heavily. I actually enjoy "cocooning" in a room (or my motorhome) while the snow is floating down outside.

In spite of the snow, after lunch, we decided to drive up Lee Vining Canyon. We got a special treat seeing the changing Aspens with all their colors in contrast to the white canvas on the ground. Looking up, we could occasionally see the canyon walls reaching ever further in the clouds as they caught the white powder drifting down.

After a 'back rest' in the motel room, it was off to see Bodie. Bodie State Historic Park is a genuine California gold-mining ghost town and is one of the best preserved ghost towns in the west. Visitors can walk down the deserted streets of a town that once had a population of 10,000 people and for a time was the second largest town in California.

The town was about a 40 minute drive from Lee Vining, the last three miles being dirt road. Only a small part of the town survives, preserved in a state of "arrested decay."

We walked the streets and realized why it is such a photographed place. Old buildings were everywhere. Interiors remain as they were left and stocked with goods. With the several inches of snow, it especially set the colors of the buildings apart.

While walking around, we ran into a film crew, and found out they were filming a local San Francisco TV show called "Eye on the Bay".

Monday, October 9, 2006

Beaver pond and meadow in Lundy Canyon.

Nick White busily paintings along the dirt road in Lundy Canyon.

My almost finished work on the easel.

View of the Minarets.


The forecast was for a cold front to come in later today, so it was time to get out and paint while we still had sun! We headed up to Lundy Canyon, which has some magnificent stands of Aspen, a string of beaver ponds and meadows with towering peaks all around.

Driving past numerous photographers, we finally settled on painting by one of the upper beaver ponds. The scene was very layered. with several peaks in the background; the canyon walls framing the scene; the yellow, green, red, and brown aspens; then the colors of the grass and water in the beaver ponds gave it a magical quality.

We could have spent all day in the area, but after finishing one painting, decided it was time to move on. The clouds were starting to roll in, so we weren't sure how much painting and photography time we would have.

After lunch, we decided to head down to Mammoth Lakes area. I had not been in this area since the early 80's. Been close many times, but not to the lakes. It was clouding up, so we decided to just take the scenic loop and take photo studies for later paintings. We drove up to an overlook of the Minarets and other Sierra peaks. I don't think I had ever been up to see the Minarets, and what a spectacular view. If it had not been so cloudy, I would probably have stopped there and done a painting. We went further on and cruised around the lake area, then it was time to head back to the motel.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Mt. Dana hovering over the colorful meadow.

Painting along Saddlebag Creek in the high Sierras.

Carson Mountain above the turning fall colors around June Lakes.


Once again the fall colors are coming out and it is time to take a trip to the eastern Sierras to catch the aspen and other trees in their magnificent colors. For those of you in California, an excellent resource to track when and where the fall colors are peaking, check out

Last year, due to a recent death in the family (my wife's sister), I limited my trip to just an overnight up to Hope Valley, south of Lake Tahoe. We planned this year's trip for four days and three nights, headquartered out of Lee Vining, California. A good painting partner of mine, Nick White was going along for the trip.

We got an early but uneventful start at 6:30 AM, and headed for Tioga Pass in the Yosemite High Country. We stopped to take a few pictures here and there, and finally arrived around 11:00 AM at our first painting location of the day, along Saddlebag Creek, close to Ellery Lake. The weather and view was spectacular. The bushes along the creek were in full fall color. As we looked south, we could see Mount Dana hovering over the landscape like a king ruling his subjects. With the blues, grays, and light sienna's of the mountains contrasting with the brilliant yellows, oranges, reds, and ochre's of the meadow, it was a wonderful place to paint, let alone just being there!

We both did one painting. Mine turned out fairly well, what I call a 'keeper' to hang in a gallery, however I left a little of the foreground to be completed later. We needed to go down the mountain to Lee Vining to get a motel, as we did not have reservations.

What a bustling and busy surprise Lee Vining was! I am normally here when the town is deserted, but today, we had a hard time finding a room. Nick and I finally had to split up in separate motels for the night.

After checking in to our motels, we decided to head to June Lake and other nearby areas. It was starting to get late in the afternoon, and the sun disappears early behind the eastern Sierra escarpment, so we decided to just poke around and take photos for later studio paintings.

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