Plein Air Painting Demo in Acrylics by Donald Neff

Artist Statement


“I paint the places I love to be. I paint the freshness of eternal nature, icy lucid streams, thunderous waterfalls, and soaring granite crests over silent lakes. I paint the descriptions of John Muir, the echoes of Ansel Adams, the American West of Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran. I paint luminosity filtering through the landscape, reaching to the foundation of a stream, bouncing off rocks, and illuminating the shadows.

Using oil and acrylic, painting realistically is merely my means to an end. I want the viewer to connect with the places I love to be. I hope the observer will want to walk right into my painting and maybe even drop a line in the water to catch a trout.

My published works include both “plein air” and studio paintings, which helps me translate the dynamic experience of the moment and communicate in a more personal way of what I am trying to say..”

- Donald Neff

Follow this link to learn more about Donald and to view more of his work.




Acrylic Landscape Painting Tutorial By Donald Neff


It was a winter day and not much light. I did however locate a nice pool at the west end of Yosemite Valley. This is a snapshot of the scene.

In the low 30′s, it was barely warm enough to do an acrylic painting. Since acrylics are water soluble, it is difficult to paint in below freezing weather!


After locating the scene I wish to paint, I pencil in a quick sketch of the scene. I want to capture the colors and reflections of the river, so set the horizon line high with the large rock towards the top of the painting.


This is a shot of my palette. When I paint outdoors in acrylic, I use a paper palette. I don’t mess with any type of ‘stay-wet’ palettes or boxes as I usually paint fast and use a spray bottle to keep the acrylics from drying.

My palette here consists of Thalo Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Quinacridone Red, Cadmium Red Medium, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Dialiryde Yellow, and Cadmium Yellow Medium. I use other colors, but for today, that is my choice.

Before I get too much into the painting, I usually mix a combination of Ultramarine Blue and Quinacridone Red to form a purple. I also sometimes mix Thalo Blue and Cadmium Red Medium to get a rich gray.

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