Monthly Archives: November 2013

Clendaniel Thanksgiving 2013!

Each year my brother’s family hosts Thanksgiving dinner.  I am fortunate to have a large family, and this year we had 24 guests!  I was personally responsible for the dinner rolls, so the previous night I made a huge batch of dough and left it on the counter to rise overnight.  In the morning the dough was prime for shaping into rolls, so the first thing I did was shape 48 dinner rolls and left them to proof on the baking sheets.  Then I went into my studio because working as an artist full time means that I work pretty much every day, even on holidays.  I was working on a painting of a Mustang and listening to NPR, which was focusing on consumerism discussions and commenting on Black Friday starting on Thursday this year.  I kind of laughed as my painting of a vintage muscle car reminded me of American consumerism.

I had to stop a few hours in as my wife needed to roast a duck as a supplementary bird (for the deconstructed turducken), which meant that I had to bake my buns first.  This took an hour as I had four sheets of rolls to bake.  Then back in the studio to finish the Mustang painting.

Mustang muscle car oil painting

Oil painting of Mustang.

Then I rolled out the yoga mat and prepared to run 5 miles, just enough to build an appetite.  Then we loaded up the old pickup and rolled to my brother’s house.  The food was awesome and I sampled some amazing beers.  We not only had duck, but also ham, and prime rib, as well as turkey!  What a feed!  Then for the entertainment!  Every year my family has a Thanksgiving ping pong doubles tournament and the winners’ names get engraved on a special plaque that my brother hangs in his rumpus room.  Maria and I had been practicing all week at home on our little end tables, which I had modified to be the height of competition pong tables.  This really helped with improving our accuracy.  Since it is a doubles tournament, I partnered with my niece and Maria partnered with my nephew.  Although my brother and sister won the tournament, I think my practicing really helped my game.  Maria and I donned our official 2014 Sochi Olympics polo shirts, just to get in the competitive spirit.  Our niece and nephew are in Russian immersion grade school and really thought that was cool.  It was truly a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Clendaniel Thanksgiving Ping Pong Tournament Plaque

Clendaniel Thanksgiving Ping Pong Tournament Plaque

Sportin' our official Sochi Olympics 2014 shirts

Sportin’ our official Sochi Olympics 2014 shirts


Beer Painting Contest for the Holidays!

I am excited to announce a contest that we started today on Facebook for one lucky person to win a custom 11″x14″ oil painting of his/her favorite beer for the holidays! The contest will run through December 13th, and I will announce a winner on December 14th.  If everything goes smoothly, the painting will be ready two weeks later.  People can earn additional entries by sharing the contest on their Facebook timeline.  I’m excited to find out who the winner will be, and wonder which beer I will be painting.  I will retain the copyright to the painting, and perhaps will release limited-edition prints of it.

Click here to enter the contest. Good luck!

Shop Local, Anchorage! I will be selling my art at the Maury Studio Sale and Open House

Get full details at the Facebook Event Page!


Winter Frame-Building

moose in winter snow storm

A moose we saw on our walk in the first snow storm.

Winter finally graced us with its presence this week here in Anchorage, Alaska.  The good news is that the bright white snow mitigates the darkness; the bad news is that it’s time to build frames for two upcoming art shows.  You see, since I live in a small condo, and my studio is in one of the bedrooms, I have to build my frames outside.  Otherwise, the sawdust gets all over our living space.  I wish I had built the frames before the first snowfall, but I was busy building a cabin, and painting.

Artist building frames outside in snow

Using my miter saw on top of the table saw behind the condo building.

First, I carry my table saw out of my small bedroom studio, through the condo, out the door, along the catwalk, and down a flight of stairs to the back area where the smokers hang out next to the barbecues, and where piles of sawdust and noise pollution are tolerated by my patient neighbors.  I use the table saw to cut an L shape along the length of the hemlock fir studs, and then I power sand and cut miters with my miter saw, which I also drag outside from my studio.  Once I finish with all the power tools I bring the wood back inside for construction.  Gluing and nailing all the frames takes all day, and then I am ready for finishing work such as filling any cracks and nail holes with wood putty.  Then comes the finish-sanding.  I do this outside as well, and I have to say, my fingers get pretty cold during the wintertime.  First I sand with the blue sand paper (80 grit), then the red sand paper (150 grit), and finally the yellow sand paper (220 grit).  Then I coat the frames with polyurethane inside my studio.  Between the first two coats, I go back outside to sand with the yellow sand paper, and then bring the frames back inside to finish with a final third coat.  Then I place the paintings into the frames and nail them in place.  The final step is screwing two eye hooks for the hanging wire, and tying the wire.

Although each frame takes hours to complete, the actual materials are inexpensive, so I save money in the end.  My frames are far from perfect, but they make the paintings look uniform in a show and protect them from damage.  One day I hope to have a larger indoor studio with proper ventilation so I don’t have to build frames outside in the winter.

Last year I used my 1964 Schwinn tandem bike as a drying rack for my frames.

Last year I used my 1964 Schwinn tandem bike as a drying rack for my frames.

How I Found My Style

painting support

An example of my red and gold painting surface.

An artist’s style is like Austin Power’s mojo – without it an artist is lost and has difficulty cultivating a steady client base.  Another analogy is the menu at your favorite restaurant – if the menu changes and your “usual” is no longer available, you would probably be dissatisfied and find a place that is more consistent.  Basically, an artist’s style is a consistency that his/her patrons come to expect.

I found my style after several years of trying different techniques.  I knew I liked color, painterly brush strokes, and texture.  I built a portable folding palette so I could transport fully mixed colors with me when I was painting en plein air – a French painting term meaning “in the open air”, a. k. a. painting on location.  This allowed me to always have a consistent group of colors.  Not until my third time in college (yes, I took a wandering path to my art degree) was I working on an advanced painting project that required me to paint on different grounds (the painting surface is called a ground).  I prepared a blue ground, a textured ground, and then tried something new — I painted the third ground red with gold over the top.  I was inspired by icons, which are some of the oldest paintings that have survived to this day.  To keep costs reasonable I used gold paint instead of gold leaf.  I painted on the three grounds and when I put them next to each other, I noticed that the one with the red golden ground stood out from the others, and I knew that my style was born!  I don’t always paint en plein-air, but I utilize the ali-prima style in my studio.  This streamlines my process and generates reliable results that keep my patrons coming back, and makes commissions easier for everyone, because people know what to expect out of my studio.

So if you are an artist still looking for your style remember you are like a violinist learning vibrato — once you feel it, you will know it.  Your style should feel like a part of you, and make your work feel complete.  Don’t worry if you haven’t found your style.  People used to always ask me what my style was and I couldn’t tell them, except that I liked color and texture.  But I kept making paintings and my style just evolved.  I have no intention of changing my style, but maybe I will do a few experiments here and there and incorporate a few new tricks I might learn!

A Day in the Life of an Artist

Artist Scott Clendaniel working in his studio

People often ask my wife and me what we do all day, because we both work at home on our art business.  I work as an artist full time, and my wife, Maria, is the business and marketing manager.  She also spends about an hour every morning trading stocks.

We wake up around 6 AM, excited to start the day.  First thing every morning is Coffee Time, during which we spend an hour reading the news, checking e-mail and social media, and perusing Craigslist ads while we drink espresso and smoothies.

After Coffee Time I take care of any graphic design work on the iMac, while Maria manages her stock portfolio on the PC laptop.  One of the facets of our art business is being distributors for a custom stickers manufacturer, so some days I prepare bid requests for stickers at this time.  When I am done with graphics/stickers work, I change into my painting clothes and head into my studio.  I check my paint palette to see if the paint is too old, and if it is, I mix a new palette.  While I’m working in the studio I listen to the radio, music, books on tape, or Russian language learning CD’s.  I work for about 90-minute stretches, and take 15-30 minute breaks in between.  Around 9:30 AM, when the sun finally rises, both of us stop working to take time for our health.  We stretch, do push-ups and go jogging.  This takes about an hour and a half.

After lunch, I return to the studio and work for a couple 90-minute sessions.  I try not to rush, so usually I only complete part of a painting, but on days when I’m on fire, I can start and finish a couple small paintings.  While I’m painting in the studio, Maria works on the computer in the living room.  She searches for companies that license art and contacts them if she thinks my art is a good fit.  She also manages my Etsy shop, and my website, contacts bloggers asking them to feature my art, and follows up about potential art sales.  

During my 15-30 minute breaks from painting in the studio I make phone calls to patrons, and reply to e-mails.  Other tasks include photographing my work, checking on my paintings and prints at galleries and shops, packaging and shipping art work, and shopping for supplies.

We stop working around 5 PM, unless I have an art opening, in which case, our work day is much longer because we usually have to hang the art in the evenings, and art openings the next day last until about 9 PM.  We rarely take a whole day off, and try to keep our schedule flexible so we can take advantage of fun opportunities.  Everyday I go to bed feeling satisfied about my work.