Monthly Archives: January 2018

Business Goals for 2018

~ by Maria Benner

As the Business & Marketing Manager, I’m the one responsible for keeping our art business alive, and an important part of that is setting goals.  I recently reviewed our goals for 2017, and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that we accomplished all of them.  I also made a mental note to check in on our goals more often.  So, for the new year we have new goals.

  1. Create a new website to sell art directly to customers.  Currently all of our online sales are through our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.  Etsy has great SEO, and brings customers to us from all over the world, however, we have to pay a percentage fee for each sale, and potential customers can easily be distracted by other Etsy sellers while shopping for similar items.  Selling from our own website will hopefully generate more brand awareness, and we’ll pay a lower monthly flat fee.  We’ll also keep selling art through Etsy, just to keep reaching a broader audience.
  2. Design an autonomous order fulfillment system.  Right now we are fulfilling all orders.  We make prints on demand, and package all prints and originals ourselves, print the shipping labels, and drop everything off at the post office.  The drawback is that while we’re traveling, or spending time at our cabin in McCarthy, our business is on hold, because we’re not around to mail orders.  The goal is to find a company online that will print and mail our prints for us.  We will still have to mail originals ourselves, but prints make up the majority of our sales.
  3. Publish our first book How to Draw Alaska Baby Animals.  We have been working on this project for a couple years, but it always seems to take a back seat to more pressing tasks.  Scott designed how-to-draw pages for 49 different Alaska baby animals, and is in the finishing stages of designing the book cover.  He also painted several colorful oil paintings to include in the book.  I drew every single one to make sure there were no errors.  Now we just need a table of contents, a foreward, and to finish the final layout.  Then we’ll have to figure out how to publish a book, and to find buyers for it.  This task seems a bit challenging, but people publish books all the time, so I know it’s doable.

Those are our main three goals, and they will be enough for this year.  Most of the work gets accomplished in the winter time, which is already half way over!  In the summer we’re fishing, traveling, and just generally flying by the seat of our pants.  So wish us luck!


Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #123, and Homebrew Recipe for Good to the Last Drop Coffee Stout.

AK Beer Week is over, and I am thinking we need to have an Alaska Homebrew Week!  Drinking homebrew is a great way to enjoy some of the rarest, smallest, most tasty batches of beer in the word.  I brew beer, and I feel it is pretty good, but then I taste some of my homebrew club members’ offerings and I am blown away!  I am like, “You made this?!  WOW!  It is so good!”  I often learn new tips and tricks to improve my own homebrew in the process.  One of my favorite ways to share homebrew is after a bike ride.  I’ll bring a few bottles and give all my riding friends a little sample of my most recent creation.  This beer depicted in this painting of us riding our fat bikes is a coffee stout.  I started calling it “Good to the Last Drop”.  It turned out great, which is why I shared it with my friends.  Sometimes I will get a questionable brew, and I will simply drink it at home, and normally it is better than your average crappy domestic beer.  When I brewed this coffee stout, I was attempting to clone a version of Stone Brewing’s Americano Stout, a 9% coffee-infused brew.  Mine turned out a bit weaker at 7.5%, but the coffee which I procured from K-Bay roasters just shined through.  The secret to my stouts is the specialty malt from Weyermann, a malting company from Bamberg, Germany.  I will give you the recipe for a 5 gallon batch of GTTLD Coffee Stout at the bottom of this blog post.


But first, a bit about fat biking!  We just got seven inches of new snow, which to some is good news!  Skiers and fat-bikers are glowing about this recent weather change.  All beer week it was icy and getting a little dingy around the city.  The snow helps reflect the light and also cleaned up the whole city.  Driving is a disaster, but fat-biking is a joy!  On ice, studded skinny tires are faster and more efficient, although a little more squirrelly.  When there is snow on top of ice skinny tires are a dangerous proposition.  You need the stability of the fat tire (with studs) to ensure a safe ride.  On a fat bike it’s fun plowing through snowbanks and ripping around corners.  Not to mention the fat-tire-only trails!  And what better way to end a session on Anchorage’s unique single tracks, than popping the top on a delicious homebrew?!


Good to the Last Drop Coffee Stout Recipe
by Scott Clendaniel
5 gallons Anchorage Water (similar to Munich, Germany)
1056 American Ale yeast
12 lbs Maris Otter (or 7lbs malt extract)
1 lb Weyermann Bamberg type 3 malt (you can use Chocolate malt if you can’t get the imported grain)
1 lb Weyermann Bamberg type 4 malt (you can use Black Patent malt if you can’t get the imported grain)
1 oz Willamette hops (or you can substitute in any noble hop)
3/4 lbs La Amistead single source K-bay Coffee coarsely ground.


So I mash all the grains at 150 degrees for 75 minutes (or you can mini mash the dark grains for 30 minutes if using malt extract)
Boil 90 minutes, after 30 minutes add 1/2 oz Willamette hops
After 85 minutes add the other 1/2 oz Willamette hops
Cool to 65 degrees, pitch yeast, and ferment for a week, then rack to secondary
After the fermentation is complete add the coffee direct to secondary into the carboy
Wait four more days, then cold crash for 24 hours to drop all sediment and coffee to the bottom
Bottle condition, or keg.  I prefer bottles as a 5 gallon keg of coffee stout is a bit much.
Cheers, and happy brewing and biking!


This original oil painting, and 52 limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #123. Earning Your Pint. By Scott Clendaniel. 18"x9", oil on panel. Fat Biking

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #123. Earning Your Pint. By Scott Clendaniel. 18″x9″, oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #122. AK Beer Week.

It’s AK BeEr WeEk!  Brave the cold, revere the beer!  Tonight is my favorite night of AK Beer Week, the Great Northern Brewing Club‘s industry party.  I just dropped off a keg of my home brewed Sunkissed Grapefruit IPA to the 49th State Brewing Company, the hosts of tonight’s shindig.  If you live in Alaska, and love beer, you should join the GNBC. When you join, you get 10% off ingredients at Arctic Brewing Supply, and 10% off at La Bodega, along with other benefits.  Membership is only $30 a year per household.  GNBC parties are hands down some of the best gatherings a beer lover could ever imagine!

Beer week is a great addition to Alaska’s dark, cold January. Thanks to Barb Miller, the instigator, and organizer!  Some of the best events are the many beer dinners around town, and special beer offerings at breweries throughout the State.  The full list of events is at

It all culminates in the epic weekend event, the Great Alaska Beer and Barlywine Festival, which is one of the best beer fests in the nation with more barleywine than you can drink (no that is not a challenge, it is a fact!).  I recommend the connoisseur session on Saturday afternoon, as the glass is better (real glass) and the barley wine offerings are more plentiful.  The Saturday afternoon session presents the marching bagpipe band, and the  barleywine and winter warmer contest winners are announced.  Overall, a great week to visit Alaska!  Fortunately, the airlines haven’t figured this out, so you can get some of the cheapest rates to Alaska at this time.

So why is there a rubber chicken in this painting?  Well, there’s a guy named Phil, who has been coming to Anchorage for the GABBF for decades, and he always brings a rubber chicken, and takes photos of people holding his chicken (not choking it).  If you are willing to pose for the photo, he rewards you with a bead necklace that has three chickens on it.  So, the rubber chicken has become the mascot of AK Beer Week.

Cheers to AK Beer Week, when Alaska’s craft beer takes the forefront, where it belongs!

This original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #122. Rubber Chicken of AK Beer Week. 8"x10", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #122. Rubber Chicken of AK Beer Week. 8″x10″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Aspen Trees in Fall custom oil painting. 36"x18", oil on panel.

Commissioned Paintings for Holiday Gifts 2017

Every holiday season I get many requests for commissions, and this year was no exception.  By now I know what to expect, and how to get ready for the holiday rush.  As always, each painting had a special story behind it, and I loved being in on the surprises.  My favorite painting this year was the view of looking up at aspen trees in the Fall (Maria wanted to keep it).  The best response was from a customer in Texas about the Shiner Bock painting, “OMG THIS PAINTING IS ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!! You’ve officially made me cry! Today has been an absolutely horrible day and you’ve made it so much better. Thank you doesn’t even begin to cover it!”  Messages like this make me happy about being an artist.

We take a picture of every painting that leaves the studio, so here is a slideshow of the paintings I made this holiday season (click on the pictures to view a slideshow).  They are all oil paint on wood panel, framed in a natural ash wood frame. I prime my paint supports red and gold before applying the oil paint, so you can see the gold paint shining through gaps in the oil paint.  This is my signature technique, and one way you can always recognize a Clendaniel original.

If you’d like to commission one, just let me know, or you can read Maria’s blog post about how to commission a painting.


Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #121. CBS by Founders Brewing Co.

CBS.  No, I’m not talking about your favorite network television channel.  This is an impressive maple syrup-bourbon-barrels-aged imperial stout that Founders Brewing Company concocted.  This 11.7% beer is brewed with chocolate and coffee, and has a sweet flavor that is not overpowering, without the bitterness of dark grain and coffee.  Founders is a brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan, established in 1995, that really took off during the craft beer revolution.  It has been staying current and even setting some of the trends in the craft beer industry.  Founders Breakfast Stout is the standard coffee stout, while KBS is the imperial bourbon-barrel-aged version.  When the Founders Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki procured some bourbon barrels that had previously housed maple syrup, he knew it was just right to make a Canadian version of the KBS.  Founders replaced the Kentucky from KBS and now we have Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS).  Now that Founders distributes to Alaska, I had no trouble finding a bottle of this rare beer at my local bottle shop here in Anchorage.
I’ve been brewing up some pretty tasty coffee stout, and I recently bought some bourbon barrel aged maple syrup.  I’m going to have to experiment with adding some to my coffee stout.  I bet some of the barrel would carry through.  Anytime I have had a maple bourbon barrel imperial stout, I have not regretted it.  Although rare, this is probably my favorite style of stout ever.
Cheers to CBS and to Canadians for the lovely Bourbon Barrel Maple Syrup!  A worthy brew to say the least.

This original oil painting, and 52 limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #121. CBS stout beer by Founders Brewing Co. 8"x10", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #121. CBS by Founders Brewing Co. 8″x10″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #120. Trip in the Woods by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

We spent New Year’s Eve in Talkeetna, Alaska — a real trip in the woods.  We were lucky enough to be invited to this lovely cabin that our friends built.  They brought a bottle of Trip in the Woods Cocoa Coconut Narwhal Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (as well as several other amazing brews) for a New Year’s Eve toast.  Thanks, it was delicious!  What with snow machines, a laser light show, stovetop nachos, and about two dozen mortar shells, the celebration was literally a blast!  Naturally, I brought my painting kit with me, and since all we could see out the cabin windows was snow-covered trees, I decided that a painting of Trip in the Woods would be the perfect way to commemorate the trip. What a way to end the year!  Cheers to 2018!

This original oil painting, and 52 limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #120. Trip in the Woods by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 8"x10", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #120. Trip in the Woods by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 8″x10″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.