Author Archives: realartisbetter

About realartisbetter

Real Art Is Better! Real Artist living and working in Anchorage and McCarthy, Alaska, making Real Art - colorful oil paintings and prints that brighten any space.

What’s Shakin’ (Pun Intended) at Real Art Is Better

You may have heard that we had a big earthquake here in Anchorage last Friday, but it didn’t break us down, and after two hours of cleaning, our studio is back to working condition.  Just don’t look up at the ceiling!  Our property manager will get around to replacing those ceiling tiles eventually, right?  Oh, and Maria has to buy a new laptop.  But it was 4.5 years old already, so we’re not too bummed about it.  Here are some “before and after” photos.

We’re still going to host our annual Holiday Studio Sale on First Friday this week.  We hope you’ll stop by to shop for signed holiday cards, limited-edition prints, oil paintings, and more.  You can even commission a custom oil painting!  If you spend $20+, you’ll get a FREE 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall poster, and we’ll have a drawing to win a free Clendaniel art print of your choice.  We will have a spread of tasty snacks, and complimentary beverages.  Inside the 4th Avenue Marketplace in Suite 4 (333 W 4th Avenue).  December 7th, 5:00pm – 7:30pm.

What kind of gifts can you find at Real Art Is Better?

Custom Oil Paintings

We all have at least one person on our gift list who has everything, or deserves a really special gift.  This is where I come in.  You’ll thank me for this idea later, trust me.  Think of that person’s most special place, or something they really love, like their pet, or their favorite beer/wine, or food.  Maybe you even have a great picture of them doing something remarkable.  Now you’re ready to commission an oil painting from me for that person in time for the holidays.  The deadline to order a custom painting is December 4 if it will be shipped, or December 10 if you’re picking it up at our studio.  If you’ve never commissioned a painting, I can assure you that I make the process very easy for you.  You can read the FAQ about the process on our blog.

Commissioned oil painting. 36″x18″, oil on panel.

How to Draw Alaska Baby Animals: 49 Drawing Lessons from the 49th State

Our first book is available for sale on Amazon.  Drawing is not just for kids!

Original Oil Paintings

Check out the extensive collection of original oil paintings at our Etsy shop.  You can search within our shop for specific beers, or subject matter.  If you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can order a custom oil painting.

Large oil painting for big empty wall Scott Clendaniel Susitna Poppies

Susitna Pops. 5ftx2.5ft, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Signed, Limited-Edition Prints and Art Cards

Each print is numbered, signed, and packaged with backer-board in a plastic bag.  Signed art cards are available for holiday cards, or thank you cards.

Limited-edition prints by Scott Clendaniel

You can purchase gifts at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter, or at the studio.  If you can’t make it to the Holiday Studio Sale, contact us to schedule a time to stop by the studio.

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Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #161. Beer in the Center of the Solar System.

Beer — a fermented grain beverage, brewed on the planet Terra (Earth).  Has a 5,000-year-old history of preserving grain, producing new and unique flavors, and establishing cultural identities across the blue and white planet.  A bold brew that brings flavor to the galaxy. 

Did you know that 10,000 light years from Earth there is a nebula of ethyl alcohol floating out in space?  It is huge!  About 10 gazillion liters of straight up booze.  It brings new meaning to the Universe, and at least makes me realize how insignificant and unimportant it was when I spilled that glass of beer last month.  It brings to mind the Futurama episode #52 called Godfellas, in which Bender is floating through outer space, and a tiny colony of miniature people brew beer on his chest.  It would have been easier to just stick a straw into the alcohol nebula. 

In this painting I put beer in the center of the Solar System, so this really gives new meaning to the phrase “Sip of Sunshine.”  I was looking to put beer as the center of universe, however the universe just doesn’t have a real iconographic center, and the beer would have just been floating like a nebula in the middle of, well, we don’t even really know what, we just have theories.  Even Universal Studios just has planet Earth for its classic logo.  I named this painting Beer is my Universe, because I wanted to show how beer-centric a person could be.  Sometimes I feel that my life is a bit too beer-centered, so this is a comedic painting pointing fun at that fact. Remember, it’s just beer, and if you don’t get a glass, the sun will still come up in the morning.  Beer is a luxury, while sunlight is required for life!   

Cheers to Terra!  As far as we know, it’s the only planet with BEER!

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

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #161.  "Beer is my Universe".  20"x16", oil on panel.  By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #161. “Beer is my Universe”. 20″x16″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #160. Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout by North Coast Brewing Co.

I remember the first time I ever drank an Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout on Thanksgiving Day in 2002 at my friend Morgan Brown parents’ house in Corvallis, Oregon.  They have this amazing property just outside of town with several acres, and a creek running right by their big farm house.  We drank a couple of Old Rasputin’s on a walk around the property, and I don’t think I had ever had an imperial stout before — I was only 22 years old.  Needless to say, the decadence of this beer blew my mind!  

Fast forward 16 years (no I am not bringing Old Rasputin to the table today), but last week I drank the 22 oz bottle pictured in this painting with Maria in McCarthy, Alaska.  I had a flashback when I was walking around the ten acres out there that took me right back to Corvallis.  A bit different weather, as I remember blue skies and yellow leaves in Oregon, while in McCarthy we had snow and freezing rain.  I also thought about what to include in the painting to show off the Russian qualities.  Rasputin was in favor with the Czar living in St. Petersburg, but he was victim of a nasty coup and was poisoned, shot and drowned. This reminded me of this iconic cathedral known as the Church of the Savior Built on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg.  Last year I went on a tour of this building, which is spectacular inside and out.  It has a ton of history: the square it is built upon is a historic site where Alexander II was blown up in his carriage in 1881.  His son commissioned this amazing cathedral designed by architect Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, and it was built from 1883-1907.  Completed by Nicholas II.  So when Gregori Rasputin was hanging out with Nicholas II in 1916 when he was murdered, this cathedral was probably an important spot for the religious mystic.  

Russia is a fun, but dangerous place.  Watch yourself when you are hanging out in St. Petersburg.  The same level of safety consciousness we are used to here in America just doesn’t exist in Russia.  For example, the Metro car doors slam shut with no warning, and could easily break your arm. Also when crossing the street use extreme caution as a crazed driver might just be driving on the sidewalk.  You just never know what might happen in Russia!  

Cheers to Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, keeping the memory of Rasputin alive.  As the label on the bottle says in Russian, “A bosom friend is not born suddenly.”

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

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #160. Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout by North Coast Brewing Co. 11"x14", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #160. Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout by North Coast Brewing Co. 11″x14″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

We Published Our First Book! How to Draw Alaskan Baby Animals: 49 Drawing Lessons from the 49th State

~ by Maria Benner

This is a big day for us here at Real Art Is Better, the day we published our first book — How to Draw Alaskan Baby Animals: 49 Drawing Lessons from the 49th State.  The book features 49 drawing lessons, teaching any aspiring artist how to draw Alaska’s cutest baby animals.  Each easy-to-follow, step-by-step illustration shows you how to turn lines and circles into detailed drawings with a pencil and pen.  Anyone can learn to draw by practicing with a bit of direction! This book is a fun way to learn drawing skills, inspire creativity, and boost confidence for anyone who likes to draw and loves animals.

We’ve been working on this for about three years, which sounds like a long time, but when you think about the scope of the book, and the fact that we also run an art business full time, in addition to traveling occasionally, then three years doesn’t seem so long.  Scott had to draw 49 different lessons, then I had to edit the book, which means that I drew every single baby animal, at a rate of one per day.  Then summers would happen, travel, the holiday rush, and the list of excuses keeps going.  But we finally made this project a high priority, and worked on it a bit each day, with the goal of releasing the book in time for the holidays!  The book is available for sale on Amazon.  I want to make one thing clear: this book is not just for kids, adults can learn how to draw cute Alaskan baby animals too!

Click here to purchase the book.

As a small token of appreciation to our blog readers, here is a free page download.  See if you can draw this adorable polar bear cub.  And we’d love to see your drawings!  Post them in the comments.

 

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #159. La Potato Restaurant in Spenard.

We’ve been taking a week-long break at our cabin in McCarthy, and this morning I rose before daylight at 7:30 AM here in the Wrangell Mountains.  We have been doing some fat biking around the roads and trails that connect key places in the Kennicott Valley.  On our ride from our cabin south of McCarthy to the town of Kennicott, the glaciers and mountains were spectacular, Mt. Blackburn looming in the evaporating clouds, and the Root and Gates glaciers glistening in the distance like diamond encrusted jewels.  Our route took us past the new and ever popular The Potato Restaurant in McCarthy.  It is slumbering like all the bears out here with a “Closed for the Season” sign and all the picnic tables put away for the winter.  Meanwhile in the big city of (Los) Anchorage, a new hipster hangout has popped up like a mushroom in the sun after a fall rain shower.  La Bodega teamed up with McCarthy’s Potato crew to make a pop-up restaurant called La Potato, located in Mr. Whitekey’s old haunt, the Fly By Night Club.  If you are newer to town you might know this place as the Taproot, or the most recent, and briefest occupant, Route 33. 

Pamela Hatzis, the proprietor of La Bodega, the cool liquor store where you can get boutique wines and by-the-bottle beers, wanted to have a place of her own where she could host tasting events.  She has been doing a righteous job running the ever popular liquor store with two new locations springing up in the last four years, one in Girdwood and a second Anchorage location at the Northern Lights Center Mall.  Rebecca Bard, one of the owners of the McCarthy and Valdez Potato restaurants has been wintering in Anchorage and working for Pamela at La Bodega for a while.  She has endeavored to school the Bodega team on how to run a successful restaurant.  The end result is a spectacular success with the pop up restaurant everyone is raging about, La Potato.  Raging is the word.  Maria and I attempted to go there on Saturday late afternoon, on the second day in business, and the parking lot was overflowing like Moose’s Tooth during a First Tap event.  We came back when we thought it would be less busy Thursday last week.  We easily found parking and came in to find a lovely draft menu, as well as great canned and bottled beer offerings.  I am sure there was some good wine and saké offerings as well, I just neglected to search them out.  I ordered some rosemary garlic fries and the duck egg kimchi plate, and I recommend both.  Watch out though, the garlic fries are a litmus test for how much your date really likes you…  Better if you both consume that much garlic in one sitting.  I ordered My 85th Rodeo IPA from Woodland Empire Ale Craft in Idaho (pictured in this painting in front of the iconic Spenard sign that hangs next to the stage) and a Solid Gold from Founder’s Brewing Co.  I exited right before a secret show began featuring The Lucky Chops, because I didn’t bring hearing protection, and I’m just too old to handle loud music at this point.  The place went from being modestly busy to teeming with people for the music.  It’s like Anchorage has been starved for a hangout that isn’t a bar and people are finally finding their fix.  We have Koot’s and Van’s Dive Bar, and even the newly revamped Carousel Lounge, but La Potato is different because it is a restaurant first. 

As I pack up my bags tonight and make the grueling drive back to the big city tomorrow, I am not sorry to leave, because the fun is in Spenard where the spirit of McCarthy is alive and well.  I will pass the slumbering Roadside Potato as I drive out and will look forward to its glory in the summer months, but this winter is all about Ancho“RAGE,”!

Cheers to Pamela and Rebecca’s brainchild that is rocking the socks off the block in Spenard!

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

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #159.  My 85th Rodeo by Woodland Empire Ale Craft, pictured at La Potato in Spenard, Anchorage, AK. 6"x12", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #159. My 85th Rodeo by Woodland Empire Ale Craft, pictured at La Potato in Spenard, Anchorage, AK. 6″x12″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

   

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Commission a Painting

Commissioned oil painting. Oil on panel, 36″x18″. By Scott Clendaniel.

I noticed that many of my customers who order a custom oil painting have never commissioned a painting from an artist before.  A custom painting is a very thoughtful and unique gift, especially for a person who has everything.  So, to make the process easier, I have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about commissioning a painting from me.  *This may not apply to all artists.

1. How much does it cost?  Here is a list of prices for my standard sizes:

6”x12” $180

8”x10” $195

11”x14” $275

9”x18” $295

12”x24” $450

16”x20” $525

2. Can I get any size I want?  Yes, I can make custom sizes.  You can contact me for a price quote, but expect an average of about $200 per square foot.

3. Is a frame included?  Yes, every painting that leaves my studio is framed in a natural wood frame with hanging hardware installed, so it’s ready to hang.

4. Can you paint on canvas?  I normally paint on wood panel, because it’s more durable than canvas, which can sag, and rip.  However, if you are really set on canvas, I will accommodate your request for an additional fee of $150.

5. What is the turn-around time?  Depending on my work load, turn-around time is 2-3 weeks (oil paint takes 7-10 days to dry), plus 3-5 days for shipping.

6. How do I know what my painting will look like?  You can expect your painting to be in the same style as the rest of my artwork.  I will ask you to send me photos of your subject matter, and I will compose a sketch for your review.  This is your chance to make any changes you’d like, and we’ll keep working on a sketch until we get it just right.  Once the painting is finished, I will send you a picture of it, and you’ll have one more chance to make small edits before the oil paint starts to dry.

7. How do I order the painting?  You can order a Custom Beer Painting, a Custom Airplane Painting, or a Custom Bike Painting online directly from my Etsy shop.  You can also just call me, send me an e-mail, or a direct message through social media, or this blog.  My contact information is available on my website.

8. Do I need to come by the studio in person?  You are welcome to make an appointment to meet at my studio to discuss your painting, or to pick up the finished piece.  But if that’s not possible, the whole process can be accomplished online, and I will mail the painting to you, or directly to the recipient.

9. When do I pay?  Full payment is due upfront, before I begin working on the first sketch.

10. What payment methods do you accept?  I accept all common payment methods, including cash, check, credit card, PayPal.

11. What if I can’t find photos for the painting I want?  You can look through my existing paintings and select one that you really like, and I can paint a similar one for you.  I can also look for reference photos online that have no copyright restrictions, and through my extensive photo library.

12. Can you make prints of my painting?  The artist retains copyrights to the image.  You can purchase copyrights for a negotiated fee, otherwise you can order prints from me if/when you need them.  Standard prints pricing applies ranging from $25 – $55 for a signed, and numbered limited-edition print.

If you have additional questions that I didn’t cover here, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section below.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #158. Beer Glass Styles.

How many beer glasses do you need?  As many as you can possibly fit into your cabinet, that is how we do it here at Real Art is Better!  I found that having the right glass for the beverage you are consuming makes the whole experience that much better.  When I was looking for subject matter for this week’s Thirsty Thursday beer painting I thought about a series of different beers with different glasses.  I remembered how fun it was to paint the Kandinsky-inspired Teku glasses painting, and bada bing, bada boom I arrived at this composition.  This one took a lot longer than usual, due to all the details, and the larger size (24″x12″).  Let’s name the glasses and types of beer I would put in them for fun.  Left to right:

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #158. Beer Glass Styles. 24"x12", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #158. Beer Glass Styles. 24″x12″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

  • The classic beer mug.  Good for any style of normal beer, pilsner, lager, stout, amber, or Irish Red.  Mostly a 5% alcohol by volume type of beer.
  • Next is a snifter.  I would put a high ABV brew in this type of glass, a Belgian double or triple, an imperial stout, a barleywine, or something barrel aged would be perfect.
  • The next one is obviously for hefeweizen, or maybe a Belgian witbier.
  • The Teku tulip glass is good for just about anything, but I would put sour, or funky beers at the top of the list.
  • The Shaker pint is an all-around crowd pleaser, a jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none type of glass.  I would not pour anything over 8% alcohol in this glass as it will just get you too drunk too fast.
  • The Spiegelau IPA glass is obviously for India Pale Ales.  Might you wonder why I put a rainbow in this glass?  It is to show the diversity that IPA as a style represents from English, Black, West-Coast, Belgian, NEIPA, DIPA, Imperial, Milkshake, coffee-infused IPA, and on and on.  Really, there are so many styles of IPA.
  • The last glass on the right is a Speigelau Stout glass.  I didn’t mention how these glasses are made from really amazing quality of crystal.  My Aunt Barbara in California won’t drink wine from anything but fine crystal.  Maybe you should do the same for your beer?  Anyway put a stout in it.

Whatever your glass and whatever your style, remember to love it, or leave it.  Don’t drink all 7 in one night, it is way better to enjoy beer moderately.  There are diminishing returns when it come to fine ales!

Cheers to your favorite beer!  May you always have the correct glass for your enjoyment!

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