Monthly Archives: January 2016

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #57, January 28, 2016, Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout by Epic Brewing Co.

This week the beer deemed worthy of being immortalized in an oil painting is the Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout brewed by Epic Brewing in Salt Lake City, Utah. Batch No. 57 with Blue Copper coffee, cacao nibs, and 100% aged in whiskey barrels! If you are lucky enough to get your hands on these limited edition strong ales, do it, do it now! This bottle was sent to me directly from Salt Lake City by a very good beer art patron. Thanks Christine! I have to admit that I had never heard of Epic Brewing until receiving this choice bottle in the mail. Epic Brewing brews in both Salt Lake and Denver, but the original concept spawned from Salt Lake with a game plan of making strong ale in the middle of Utah, a state with fairly harsh beer laws. You don’t have to please everybody, and I am sure some 3.2% yellow fizzy beer lovers are going to hate the serious flavor profile that the Big Bad Baptist brings to the table. The beer is big, it’s black, and it has this lacing in the dark foam that looks downright oily. Its flavor is exactly what you would expect, chocolate and coffee, fruit and black licorice, with a whiskey warming sensation and aroma with some serious oak influences. I mean, it’s complex and delicious. A major palate pleaser! Last time I was in Utah I drove straight through on my way to Colorado. Next time I will make a stop to see what’s cookin’ at Epic Brewing! And I’ll stop again when I hit Denver! This big bad brew showcases different craft coffee roasters in different batches. I had batch number 57, which had dark roast coffee from Blue Copper Roasters of Salt Lake City. New to the coffee scene, Blue Copper opened its doors in 2013. What better way to showcase their product than to collaborate with Epic Brewing?! I wish I could try this particular batch of coffee straight. Coffee is another one of my favorite beverages!

Cheers to Epic Brewing Company, brewing up epic beverages in the Crossroads of the West! May your ales stay strong, and your barrels be plentiful!

The original oil painting sold.  You can purchase a limited-edition print, or order a Custom Beer Painting at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #57 by Scott Clendaniel. January 28, 2016. Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout by Epic Brewing Co. 11"x14", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #57 by Scott Clendaniel. January 28, 2016. Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout by Epic Brewing Co. 11″x14″, oil on panel.


Our First Cease and Desist Letter

~ by Maria Benner

Well, we kind of expected this to happen sooner or later, because Scott paints portraits of beers with trademarked labels.  After painting over 400 different beers, Scott finally received his first cease and desist letter.  Lawson’s Finest Liquids from Vermont asked us to stop selling images of their flagship beer called Sip of Sunshine IPA (click on the link to see the painting).  Scott painted it because a beer art fan from NJ contacted us and offered to send a can so Scott could taste her favorite IPA and paint it.  We released the painting, and only 52 limited-edition prints on Thirsty Thursday, and received the cease and desist notice a couple weeks later.  We sent a polite response to the brewery’s owners, and immediately removed the painting from our Etsy shop.  We did explain to the owners that Scott’s art is not in direct competition with their beer, in fact, his art promotes brands, and makes beer drinkers thirstier for more beer (our customers have told us so).  Scott doesn’t ask each brewery’s permission to paint portraits of its beer, but we always contact the breweries afterwards and show them the paintings, and include a link to this blog.  Many breweries buy the original paintings, or the prints for their tap rooms, or as gifts for the brewers, or owners.  John Meier’s wife purchased the Beard Beer painting as a gift for her husband, the head brewer at Rogue Brewing.  The Trogner brothers’ father bought a painting for his sons who started Tröegs Brewing.  Several breweries not only purchased the painting, but commissioned new ones of their other beers.  Kenai Peninsula Brewing has bought every painting of their three canned beers, and Anchorage Brewing bought at least four.  Pabst contacted us and not only bought an original, but asked Scott to repaint two other paintings for them that had already sold.  Scott has painted live at more than ten breweries, and  Allagash Brewing in Maine, HooDoo Brewing in Fairbanks, Alaska and Brewery Ommegang even posted photos on their social media accounts of Scott painting in their tap rooms.  The point is, Scott’s beer art is free advertising for breweries, and also a compliment.  He doesn’t just paint any beer, only beer that’s worthy of being immortalized in oil paint.

Andy Warhol’s famous Campbell Soup can paintings come to mind, which set a precedence for artists painting portraits of trademarked logos.  I wondered how Campbell reacted to Warhol’s paintings, and found this letter online from Campbell Soup Company’s Product Marketing Manager to Andy.

Campbell Soup Company letter to Andy Warhol

In contrast, here is the e-mail we received from Lawson’s Finest Liquids.

Cease and desist letter from Lawson's Finest Liquids

They were very polite, but we were a bit upset when we read it.  Wouldn’t it have been great if Lawson’s sent us cases of beer instead, like Campbell’s offer to Andy?  We would never want to harm a brewery’s brand.  Scott’s art does quite the opposite.  Unfortunately, this particular brewery is very protective of its brand, to the point of losing out on free advertising.

What should we do with the painting now that we can’t sell it?  We don’t really want to keep it, because it reminds us of this uncomfortable confrontation.  I’m hoping that Lawson’s will offer to trade beer for it, but that’s probably a long shot.

By the way, we’re offering a 15% Valentine’s Day sale at our Etsy shop.  Enter coupon code VALENTINE2016 at checkout.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #56, January 21, 2016, Parabola Imperial Stout by Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Deep black mahogany, as black as soot, with a flavor that won’t quit, but makes you want to come back for more. Barrel aged in whiskey barrels, nothing has quite the same flavor as a whiskey barrel-aged imperial stout. Firestone Walker’s Parabola is not one to be missed if you get lucky enough to find one. I was at Brown Jug Liquor Store in Anchorage, Alaska and I saw the fancy FW box being handed over to a gentleman. I inquired where I might also find the special liquid from the back basement cellar storage room. He went and brought me up a special bottle and I was surprised to find that the FW barrel aged ales were only $15 a bottle! For 14% beer that has been barrel-aged, that’s a good deal! Especially when it tastes as good as this one does! I opened this bottle on New Year’s Eve, and I believe it was a good choice.

I painted it with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, because the landmark is between Firestone Walker’s two restaurants and tasting rooms. The Golden Gate Bridge is also the largest parabola that I have ever seen. The Eiffel Tower also has a sweet parabola at the base of it, but I figured it wasn’t Californian enough, and also much smaller. If you ever get a chance to buy a bottle of Parabola, I would highly recommend enjoying it as a picnic item on the rocks overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Cheers to Firestone Walker! An award winning, stellar brewery that distributes to Alaska!

The original oil painting sold. Limited-edition prints are available at my Etsy shop, RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #56 by Scott Clendaniel. January 21, 2016. Parabola Imperial Stout by Firestone Walker Brewing Co. 11"x14", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #56 by Scott Clendaniel. January 21, 2016. Parabola Imperial Stout by Firestone Walker Brewing Co. 11″x14″, oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #55, January 14, 2016, Deal with the Devil Barley Wine by Anchorage Brewing Co.

For this week’s Thirsty Thursday beer painting, I decided to immortalize the Deal with the Devil Barley Wine by Anchorage Brewing Company.  In 2015 Gabe Fletcher opened his new brewing facility in South Anchorage after slaving away in the underbelly of the now defunct Sleeping Lady Brewing Co. for over five years.  He worked like a crazed monk building up his amazing collection of awesome brews.  After years of hard labor, and slowly building up his forest of foudres, Gabe unveiled his new building in South Anchorage last year.  Due to the unknown events and delays that happen when a new building is in construction, Gabe didn’t find time to brew his signature brew, the Deal with the Devil Barley Wine.  Here we are again at the time of year when everyone pops open their favorite barley wine from the cellar the week before the Great Alaska Beer and Barleywine Festival.  Luckily, Gabe thought ahead a few years ago when he laid down the original batch.  One solo whiskey barrel was saved from the original batch of DWD, and he left it there for three whole years.  So last Sunday Gabe released 200 bottles from this lone single barrel.

Here’s the history of the Deal with the Devil batches that have been brewed so far.  First batch I will call Batch O (for original), which won first place at The Great Alaska Beer and Barleywine Festival (GABBF) in 2013, and was not bottled.  The next year, Batch #1 won third place at GABBF in 2014 and was released in champagne-corked bottles.  Finally, Batch #2 was a larger release and came out in bottles with a black bottle cap.  Gabe brewed Batch #2 night and day for two weeks at Sleeping Lady Brewing Co. while Greg Mills (Sleeping Lady’s Head Brewer) was in an ultra-marathon ski-race in the Wrangell Mountains.  Since they were sharing the brew kettles, this was a clutch, to get a longer brew session to make enough DWD!  I remember going in there and just breathing the aroma from the kettles.  It was amazing!  So when we talk about which beer is in the latest limited release, it is actually batch O, the original batch, the one that won first place in 2013, but it was aged longer in a different barrel, whiskey not cognac!  The bottles are labeled Batch #2 though, which is a little confusing.  Who knows how many barrels of DWD are out there.  My wife spotted one at the brewery that is aging with Brett, but we don’t know which batch that is.  In any case, that should be interesting.

When I heard there was going to be a limited release of only 200 bottles, one $50 bottle per person, I knew the Alaskan beer nerds would not hesitate to get there early.  Sure enough, there was a contingency of barleywine buffs staking their claim on this liquid gold, some die-hards even got there four hours early.  Luckily it was a warmer-than usual January day (thanks to climate change… about 36 degrees).  Bringing in camp chairs and tables, they set up a game of cards and had propane heaters going.  I got there 45 minutes early and was about the 100th person in line.  There were still plenty of bottles left for people behind me!  Unfortunately we didn’t get in the moment the line started moving.  About 45 more minutes until we made it to the front to buy the bottles.  I also bought a $12 glass of Batch O (labeled at the brewery as Batch #1) that Gabe just happened to find for this event.  That was a good deal for 10 ounces, considering the bottle I had just bought had 22 oz for $50!  $1.20 per oz, verses $2.27 per oz. That’s nearly half off!  The glass I had was fabulous.  The live band was loud and jazzy, and Delicious Dave was making sandwiches.  Overall, a well thought-out and well-executed event.  A unique line for a special release of an exquisite barley wine! Cheers to Gabe Fletcher and his family!  

The original oil painting sold. Limited-edition prints are available at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #55 by Scott Clendaniel. January 14, 2016. The Deal with the Devil Barley Wine by Anchorage Brewing Co. 11"x14", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #55 by Scott Clendaniel. January 14, 2016. The Deal with the Devil Barley Wine by Anchorage Brewing Co. 11″x14″, oil on panel.


Income Sources of an Alaskan Artist

~ by Maria Benner

At the end of 2015, we entered the last income and expenses transactions into QuickBooks, feeling proud of every penny we earned with our own business.  So then the big question is, how do we manage to achieve growth in 2016?  As the business manager for our little operation, I decided to take a look at our income sources.  So here’s the break down for 2015.

Etsy sales: 50%. Clearly, our Etsy shop Real Art Is Better is the main sales engine, and we’ll keep optimizing listings, and promoting the shop.  The goal is to increase traffic to the shop, and to increase the conversion rate from views to sales.  There are many ways to do that, and the key is to devote more time to these tasks.

Commissions: 15%.  There were more commissions in 2015 than ever before.  Having a studio where clients can come meet with Scott about their painting concept has been very useful.  We hope to do more commissioned work in the future, so spread the word!

Sales at craft fairs and at our studio: 12.5%. 2015 was the first time we did craft fairs, and had a studio where clients could purchase art.  We’ll probably try to do at least two craft fairs in 2016, and will host a couple events at the studio.

Art shows: 11.6%. We had five art shows in 2015.  Three of them were in breweries in Anchorage, one at a chocolate lounge, and one at a coffee shop in Juneau.  We already have four shows booked for 2016 (check out the one at Midnight Sun Brewing on display until February 4th), and plan on booking at least one more.  We’re still trying out new venues in Anchorage, and have thought about having art shows in the Lower 48, but haven’t found an opportunity that would generate enough income to justify the cost.

Custom stickers and graphic design: 8.3%. Currently we’re trying to figure out how to promote our graphic design and custom stickers business. So far we’ve been relying on word-of-mouth.  If you know of someone in need of these services, please send them our way.

Galleries: 2.7%. Selling art at galleries accounted for the smallest percentage of income, because galleries take a 40% commission, so we only sell prints there.  We prefer to sell directly to clients, not only because we avoid paying the high commission, but also because galleries try not to connect clients directly with artists, and we like staying in contact with our clients.  That’s one of the funnest parts of our business!

In addition to working towards increasing revenue from each source, we’re also working on adding new sources, such as public art projects, beer label designs, and publishing a book.  The possibilities are endless, and we’re looking forward to seeing what 2016 will bring.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #54, January 7, 2016, Conshohocken Brewing IPA

Today is the first Thirsty Thursday of 2016!  I know I said I wouldn’t promise to release a new beer painting every week this year, but I have some great beers lined up that I just have to immortalize in oil paint.  So, without further ado, the first Thirsty Thursday beer painting of 2016 is of Conshohocken Brewing IPA from Pennsylvania.  This can was mailed to me all the way from PA (thanks again Rich)!  Conshohocken is a borough of Pennsylvania that was a developing industrial district during the 19th century, a time when Velocipedes (bikes with the front wheel as the drive wheel) ruled the day.  A time when bowler hats were the “fizzing”, and to “crook the elbow” meant to drink from a pint.  Conshohocken Brewing is keeping the days of old young and putting out a mean “heavy wet.”  A good IPA is difficult to make, requiring the precision that only American ingenuity is capable of creating, and CB is doing a good job of it!  I hope to get to try a few more of their delectable liquids.  Be careful when donning your velocipede, as everyone who rides a fixed geared bike knows the brakes are directly related to destroying your knees.

Cheers to Conshohocken IPA, the beer in the lime green can with the cool bike on the label.  The beer that speaks of a time that was more elegant than today.  An era when local breweries were normal, and boxing happened in the streets. 

The original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #54 by Scott Clendaniel. January 7, 2016. Conshohocken Brewing IPA. 11"x14", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #54 by Scott Clendaniel. January 7, 2016. Conshohocken Brewing IPA. 11″x14″, oil on panel.

Putting Together an Art Show

~ by Maria Benner

Last night Scott and I hung an art show at Midnight Sun Brewing, which was a culmination of planning, painting, and getting everything ready for the venue.  We’ve done this many times, so we’re getting pretty efficient at it.  The process begins several months in advance when I book a venue.  Then Scott and I brainstorm about a theme, decide how many new paintings he needs to paint, and what they should look like, and which existing paintings to hang.  About two weeks in advance, I submit event information to the venue, ADN, and the Anchorage Press, and a couple days later, create a FB event, and schedule on my calendar the e-mail blast, and social media posts promoting the art show.  A day before we hang the art, we work for about five hours making prints, framing paintings, pricing everything, creating an inventory sheet, and signage.  Normally we have to wait until the venue is closed to the public to set up.  Midnight Sun Brewing closes at 8 PM.  So we packed everything up and loaded it into our truck from the studio around 7:30 PM, and arrived at the brewery with just enough time to order a beer before last call.  Setting up took about two hours this time.  We always have a great time at MSBC after hours, because the employees have a lot of charisma, and they appreciate Scott’s art.  They get first dibs, because they’re the first ones who get to see all the paintings, and sometimes, someone buys their favorite piece.  Last night the Banksy beer parody sold.  The theme for this art show is Beer Art History, and it features many of the beer parodies of famous paintings that Scott released in 2015 on Thirsty Thursdays.  We are also unveiling the new Pops series, which is several bright oil paintings of poppies in front of Anchorage scenery.

Scott’s art will be at the brewery until February 4th.  We hope you stop by and check it out.  You can take the paintings and prints home with you right away.  Scott will be tapping a firkin on January 8th at 5 PM, since First Friday was on January 1st this year.  Click here for more event info.

Hopefully the firkin will do this again.

Here are some pictures from last night.

We put together this list of things to do to get ready for the art show.

We put together this list of things to do to get ready for the art show.