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.

How to Tell If You’re Looking at Real Art, or a Reproduction

~ by Maria Benner

The name of our business is Real Art Is Better, and people often ask, “What is real art?”  Although there is no widely-accepted definition, generally people know it when they see it.  Right after buying one of Scott’s original oil paintings, customers often exclaim, “This is my first piece of real art!”  But simply put, when speaking about wall art, real art is original paintings that an artist actually created by hand.  They can be oil, acrylic, pastel, water colors, etc.  The reason I’m writing this post, is because I’ve noticed that often people have a difficult time differentiating between real works, and reproductions.  And that’s largely due to the way art reproductions are often presented by artists and galleries to look like “real art”.

Reproductions of art come in many forms, and often they are hung on walls of galleries without a proper explanation, masquerading as real art, when in fact, the piece is a reproduction.  So, pay close attention if you’re about to buy a piece, to be sure that you’re getting an original, if that’s what you want.  There’s nothing wrong with buying, or selling reproductions, just as long as the customer is aware that he/she is not getting the real thing.  The best way to tell the difference is by reading the details on the price tag.

Giclée – a high quality reproduction using an inkjet printer.  These are often printed on canvas, and look almost like the real thing.  Pay attention to the price tag, it should tell you whether the piece is a giclée, often also referred to as a “print on canvas”.  Often they are framed to make them look even more like originals.

Prints – these reproductions are easier to recognize, because they are printed on paper most of the time, but can also be printed on canvas, metal, wood, you name it.  Sometimes these are framed as well.  The price tag should say “print”.  Some prints are limited-edition, which means there’s a number under the image like 112/500.  This means that only 500 copies will be produced, and you’re looking at copy #112.  Sometimes prints are signed by the artist.  The smaller the number of total prints produced, the more valuable the print.

So, next time you’re perusing art at a gallery, pay close attention to the price tags to see how art is labeled.  If the tag says “oil on panel” or “acrylic on canvas” then you know you’re buying real art.  Sometimes artists will paint a few strokes onto a canvas print, which is a nice touch, and makes the painting look more like an original.  In this case, the tag should say “painted giclée”, or “painted canvas print”, or something similar.

Scott sells original oil paintings and limited-edition, signed prints.  You can differentiate easily between his prints and originals.  At an art show, or at the studio, the art hanging on the walls is real.  Each piece is an oil painting on panel, framed in a natural wood frame.  There is only one in all of existence, and the value of it will increase over time.  Limited-edition, signed prints are in the black print bins.  They are printed on paper with archival ink by an inkjet printer in our studio, signed by Scott, and numbered.  Prints can also increase in value, but not as much as originals.  We chose to make prints, because we realized that some people don’t have a budget for originals, but still love the images, and we want them to be able to enjoy them.

To see the latest Clendaniel originals and prints, I invite you to attend Scott’s art opening on June 7th at Midnight Sun Brewing Co. in Anchorage.  He will kick off the art show at 5pm by tapping a firkin of Sloth Belgian-style stout barrel aged in bourbon barrels and cask-conditioned with tart cherries soaked in Cabernet!  Scott’s paintings and prints will be on display at the brewery and available for sale until July 4th.  If you’re on Facebook, here’s a link to the FB event.

Black Note Stout by Bell's Brewing Oil Painting by Beer Artist Scott Clendaniel

Framed original oil painting.

Limited-edition print, numbered and hand-signed by the artist.

Limited-edition print, numbered and hand-signed by the artist.

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Beer Painting of Solid Gold Premium Lager by Founders Brewing Co.

Solid Gold — ice cold!  I don’t know if I can call this the holy grail of beers, that distinction is reserved for barrel aged brews with an ABV over 10%.  The Solid Gold Premium Lager by Founders Brewing Co. in Michigan is way better than any other beer you can buy at this price point.  When I get done doing yard work here at our log cabin in McCarthy, Alaska, I don’t want a whale of a beer to quench my thirst and ice my aching hands.  I‘m looking for a traditional American premium lager, something that is thirst-quenching and not too strong for the after workday libation.  The first one goes down in about 10 minutes and that’s if I try to sip and savor.  If I were to start with something stronger, I might have a good time, but won’t be good for much, except rolling around in the moss giggling to myself.  This lager tastes as good as any premium Mexican lager, but at a much lower price point.  

Founders opened its doors in 1997 right about the time craft beer was still called microbrew, and discerning Americans were still drinking wine.  In 1997 ice beer was all the rage, and thank the heavens that Founders started to show the world that beer can be classy, should be drank from a glass, and should be valued rather than looked down upon.  I say if you are a macro domestic lager fan and are tired of supporting the Clydesdale of brewing, give Solid Gold a try.  A win-win — stay a bit less drunk and keep some extra money in your pocket.  Your friends will thank you at the next backyard bbq, when you show up with a case of the SG when they can still drive home after dominating the corn hole pitch.  A perfect brew for pong or any game that requires dexterity.  Try new beers, but keep drinking this premium lager as new brews are silver but this one is Solid Gold!

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

Solid Gold Premium Lager by Founders Brewing Co. Oil on panel, 8"x10", by Scott Clendaniel.

Solid Gold Premium Lager by Founders Brewing Co. Oil on panel, 8″x10″, by Scott Clendaniel.

 

1% for Art Project for Gladys Wood Elementary: Part I

Tomorrow is the May First Friday Art Walk, and normally we would have converted our studio into a pop-up gallery for the evening, and opened it to the public, but this month I’m working on a huge 1% for Art project for Gladys Wood Elementary that is taking up most of the space in the studio, so open studio events have to be postponed.  This is our second 1% for Art project.  The first one was in 2017 at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks.  Right about this time last year I was awarded the Gladys Wood Elementary project, and now I am finally putting oil paint on panels.

Signing the contract and receiving the first payment installment took about a month.  In the meantime I started working on design concepts for four large ellipse paintings for walls in two different hallways, themed Spring and Fall, and six circles for the ceilings in those hallways.  The committee of ten people approved the designs immediately, which was so much faster and easier than I expected.  Then we left the country for a month, but when we returned we started looking for contractors to help us install the panels securely, especially since six of them are going to be on the ceiling.  I decided to hire the same crew that remodeled the school, since they know the admin staff, and everything about those walls they built.  Luckily Cornerstone General Contractors agreed to work with me, even-though this project is small potatoes for them.  About a week after my conversation with the contractor, that 7.1 earthquake hit, and I didn’t hear back from those guys for about two months, which was totally understandable.  I didn’t really mind, because the holiday season was in full swing, and we were busy mailing orders, and selling art at craft fairs around town.  So finally, in January, I ordered all the panels from Hardware Specialties, a great wood store, and arranged with the property manager of the building where we lease our studio to get some extra working space.  Luckily, there’s a huge room downstairs that is vacant at the moment, with a garage door for easy unloading from the truck!  So we unloaded all the wood panels, and then Maria and I went to the school and made templates out of paper and tape of the four ellipses, so I could trace the templates onto the panels.  That took us two evenings.

Maria helping to make a template of the ellipse shape, with an opening for an outlet.

The next step was to trace and cut the panels, which I accomplished with a skilsaw and my trusty sander.  I finished that step right before we left on a two-week ski trip to Idaho and Utah.

All the panels cut for four ellipses, and six circles.

So now the contractors finally came into the picture.  We hired two strong guys to help us pre-install the panels.  I really wanted to make sure they would fit, before I started painting, and also, to figure out where all the screw holes would be, so I could try to camouflage them in the design.  The pre-install took two evenings.  Those guys were great to work with!

Next, I sanded the surface of the panels to remove any wood texture, and coated them with two coats of white primer.  Then we coated them with gold paint.  The gold shines through small gaps in the oil paint, making my paintings glow when light hits them at certain angles.  Before I could start painting the design with oils, I had to figure out where I could work on such large pieces.  One option was to lay them out on the floor, but I’ve worked on the floor before, and it’s painful after many hours of crouching.  So I modified my existing easel with 1x3s so it would hold an entire ellipse at once.  The whole set up barely fits in my studio!

At this point I have finished one ellipse for the Spring hallway, and am now working on the second one.  Progress is steady, and I’m expecting to finish on time and on budget.  The deadline is October 2019.

The first ellipse completed for the Spring hallway.

Work in progress on the second ellipse for the Spring hallway.

Zip Kombucha Taproom Review

~ by Maria Benner

I try to find places to hang out before they get discovered by everyone else, and become too crowded for my comfort.  Mostly because I dislike waiting in line (like a typical Alaskan), and prefer less noisy environments where I can easily communicate with my friends.  The Zip Kombucha tap room is one of those places that is still mostly under the radar.  I shouldn’t even tell you about it, but at the same time, I want it to prosper.

I prefer brewery taprooms over bars, because they offer a comfortable setting without the meat-market/sketchy vibe that most bars have.  This taproom is unique in that it offers draft beer in a brewery-taproom setting, but can stay open past 8pm.  It can also have live music and games.  The craft beer selection is really top-notch.  Last week it was the only place in Anchorage that had No Woman No Cryo IPA by Girdwood Brewing on tap.  The price is a very reasonable $5 per pint!  For those who don’t want to drink alcohol, or are gluten-free, kombucha is on tap in several delightful flavors like blueberry, ginger, or mint.  Wine is also on the menu.  Delicious and healthy food is available as well.  Recently, Glacier Bowl teamed up with Zip to offer poke bowls.  Several nights a week there is live entertainment including open-mic night, and music by local musicians.  The large space in the brewery even has enough room for dance lessons.  The taproom also exhibits art by local artists.  In April the featured artist is Scott.  His oil paintings and limited-edition prints are on display and available for sale through Zip until May 2nd.  This place has it all!

What is kombucha?  It’s a beverage produced by fermenting sweet tea with a culture of yeast and bacteria.  It tastes sweet and sour at the same time, but the flavors are not overwhelming.  The yeast eats most of the sugar, so this beverage won’t rot your teeth, and it’s loaded with probiotics.  Added flavors like ginger, berries and mint really shine in this clear and fizzy drink.

So next time you’re looking for a quiet, yet hip space to meet your friends where you can get food, craft beer, and non-alcoholic, gluten-free beverages, along with entertainment, and art, check out the Zip Kombucha taproom at 3404 Arctic Blvd.  The location in midtown is convenient, with plenty of parking.  Open every day 4-9pm.

Kombucha and draft beer menu.

Live music in the Zip Kombucha taproom.

Ahi poke bowl by Glacier Bowl.

Mint kombucha.

“A Pray Ski” – Beer and Ski Trippin’

Après ski means “after ski” in French, and refers to fun social activities after a day of skiing.  The phrase stems from ski resort night life culture in the Alps, and is pronounced “a pray ski”.  I always thought it was pronounced ski apree, which is totally wrong.  On a recent ski trip to Idaho and Utah, I finally learned how to say it correctly, thanks to my brother-in-law, Kevin.  Two weeks ago Maria and I flew out of Alaska, rented a car in Seattle and started our ski/beer trip in Yakima, where 77% of the nation’s hops are grown.  Our first stop was the local homebrew supply store called Yakima Valley Hops and Brew Supply, where we bought small packages of four different hops, and got great tips for places to sample local IPAs.  We visited Bale Breaker Brewing, situated on a 41-acre hop field, and sampled several IPAs, right at the source.  In the evening we visited a great little beer bar called Public House of Yakima, where we sampled numerous types of fresh IPA from several breweries around the region.

The color of IPA at the Public House of Yakima.

The next day we drove to Walla Walla (to visit Grandma), and Pullman where my Aunt and Uncle live.  I hear they are engineering new varieties of barley at Washington State University in Pullman, specifically for malting.  We stayed the night there, and then drove to McCall, Idaho on a scenic road along the Salmon River.  The drive was very beautiful through the natural river canyon.  We skied at Brundage Mountain and had some Salmon River Brewing beer for après ski.  We also made a trip to McCall Brewing, but neglected to visit Broken Horn.  The Salmon River IPA was spot on, and I loved the hip brewery vibe at McCall Brewing.  Maria and I enjoyed McCall and were sad to see this leg of the trip end.  Excited to see what was next, we headed east to see what was happening in Boise.

Skiing at Brundage Mountain near McCall, ID.

Aprés ski at Brundage Mountain.

I never knew Boise was such a hipsters’ hangout, but I have never really given it a chance — always flying in, and driving straight to Sun Valley Ski Resort from the airport.  I was dead wrong thinking it was just an industrial hub — Boise is teeming with fun!  Upon arriving we drove the 18 mile, 45 minute drive up to Bogus Basin.  This ski area is pretty big, with 1,800 vertical feet and 2,200 skiable acres, featuring three high speed quad chair lifts and a very low ticket price ($39.99 when purchased in advance).  We were already sunburned from skiing at Brundage, but Bogus nailed me right in the nose.  There is a special little brew pub right at the base of the Bogus Basin Road called Highlands Hollow Brewhouse where people traditionally drink beer after skiing.  We sampled a couple brews there (only $3/pint) and then ditched the car at the hotel.  Highlands had a great skier vibe, and a festive rubber chicken dangling above the bartender.  

Decor at Highlands Hollow Brewhouse.

We walked from our hotel down a lovely paved path along the river to downtown where our first stop was Woodland Empire Brewing.  I sampled all the IPAs at the brewery, and the So Juicy was my favorite.  We also visited Barbarian Brewing, which specializes in odd and barrel aged beers.  I tried the IPAs, and a few extremely strong malt beverages.  All were very good.  We finished up the evening at Payette Brewing where I could only try one IPA, as I was pretty much done from sun, skiing and probably too much beer at that point.  We awoke the next morning to search out delicious beers to take to Utah with us, which we found at the Boise Co-op.  A great variety and really cool silver-can offerings were to be found.  We also went to Whole Foods and grabbed a sandwich, some sushi and a nice salad.  The drive to Ogden from Boise isn’t that long, but going the speed limit at 80mph on a windy day was stressful, and I was white-knuckled as we pulled into my sister’s driveway!

In Utah we skied at Snowbird, Alta and Snowbasin.  I am not sure which was my favorite.  All of these places are huge, and I think I could ski them all endlessly.  All good things come to an end, and what’s better for after skiing than beer?  The Church of Latter Day Saints has a large influence in Utah, and the current alcohol restrictions are pretty harsh.  All draft beer has to be less that 4% ABV, but bottled beer can be served at higher alcohol content. While we were in Utah the local government raised the limit by 1%, but the change doesn’t take effect for a few months.  The strict rules and alcohol repression isn’t really working, as we tried a thing at Alta called the “Alta Bomb.”  It’s like an Irish Car Bomb, but instead of dropping the shooter of whiskey and Baileys, you drop a double-shot of espresso into a pint of PBR.  Note that coffee is also not approved by Mormons.  It was a gut-wrencher, but sure did help the afternoon fatigue.  After Alta we went to a very new brewery called SaltFire Brewing, serving beer with high point ABV in bottles.  The SMASH Citra IPA was on point, and the place was nicely decorated, with barrel tables and a light show on the brewery equipment.  Our day at Snowbasin was epic with rain, snow, and sun all in the same day!  We didn’t drink on the mountain, but did stop at a little place called the Shooting Star Saloon in Hunstville, UT.  It was a western, last-frontier style saloon that served 4% draft beers and had a strange collection of taxidermy animal heads on the walls, including the head of a giant St. Bernard.  I can only imagine how much slobber that dog must have generated!  The ceiling was covered with $1 bills.  We all split a pitcher of very session-able 4% IPA by Epic Brewing.  

The decor at Shooting Star Saloon.

The last day of our trip we didn’t ski.  Instead, we visited Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City, and Antelope Island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake.  The LDS headquarters were very interesting and quite impressive.  I felt like I was in a different country, somewhere in Europe, while we explored the vast campus of religious buildings.  The Lake has a lot of birds, flies and…salty water, as well as awesome views of the surrounding mountains.  We checked into our Air BnB in the afternoon only a mile from Epic Brewing!  Epic is a really spectacular brewery with some really creative beers.  Yes, they only served from bottles (so wasteful).  I enjoyed a 9% West Coast Style IPA, which was spot on, and Maria had a lot of little barrel aged beer samples ranging from a coffee imperial stout to a rose sour brew.  While in the tasting room I met a guy who was wearing a Templin Family Brewing hat, and he gave us a ride there next.  On the way, he pointed out Fisher Brewing (we specifically picked our Air BnB location based on proximity to breweries).  We drank a robust imperial stout at TF (served in a can).  Then wrapped up the evening at Fisher Brewing — a historic name in Utah beer.  We just tried a couple session IPAs on tap, and walked back to our room as we had to catch a flight back to Alaska at 5am!  

The Temple.

Templin Family Brewing

The coolest beer fridge at Fisher Brewing.

Overall, we were impressed with the sunny weather in Idaho, the hip nature of Boise, and the awesome ski areas in Utah.  We’ll have to make ski/beer trippin’ an annual tradition, but next year we’d like to visit Colorado.

Trio Fatbike World Championships 2019

We spent the weekend in Talkeetna for the 7th annual Trio Fatbike World Championships.  I’m not sure why it’s called the Trio, but I’m going to say it refers to fast, friendly, and fun!  Unlike during the Susitna 100 race, this time I wasn’t concerned about getting a fast time — I was more interested in having a good time in the backwoods of Talkeetna.  I got to hang out on the 21-mile trail, and enjoy the spirit of trail camaraderie!   I swore off racing after the Susitna 100, but I had already paid and registered for the short version of the Trio.  So I raced without trying to go too fast.  This was not a problem, as the first 12 miles were a mix of biking and walking.  I think I was on my bike 50% of the time due to soft, squishy snow from higher than normal temps.  It sure was nice not to carry that emergency gear the Susitna 100 requires.  I arrived to the trail party nicknamed “Shangri-La” about 3 hours into the event.  I spent about an hour enjoying the sweet bonfire, and the company of beer-loving cyclists.  I avoided the whisky and drank an Anchorage Brewing Rondy Brew, and then refilled my 16 oz water bottle from the keg of Denali Brewing’s pilsner, which was very refreshing during the last 9 miles.  The second half of the trail was a dream!  I felt like I was riding on clouds all the way back to Talkeetna on a hard-packed trail.  Hard to imagine, but the temps hovered around the high 30s all day!  I love that ridge-line trail, and if I lived in Talkeetna I would make it my regular ride. 

The afterparty was a blast as usual.  This year Denali Brewing brewed a Brut IPA for the official Trio race beer.  After the awards ceremony the Last Train (featuring Ted Rosenzweig of Turnagain Brewing on base) rocked the party and I danced until my rubbery legs had to stroll on home!  Overall this is a quality event and I would encourage anybody who likes group riding, with a bit of a racing edge, to sign up next year.  Good job everybody who went and participated!  A huge thanks to Greg Matyas, from Speedway Cycles (home of the Fatback), Shawn Thelan from North Shore Cyclery in Talkeetna, and Sassan from Denali Brewing for the immaculate trail grooming and great hosting of this super fun event!!!

First Friday at Turnagain Brewing Company and Iditarod Start

Iditarod oil painting by Alaskan artist Scott Clendaniel

The saying goes, “Strike while the iron is hot!”  That’s exactly what we’ll be doing this weekend, as thousands of people arrive to Anchorage for the Iditarod start this Saturday.  The ceremonial start of the race will begin at 10am sharp, on 4th Avenue, right in front of the building where out studio is located.  So we decided this would be a good time to turn the studio into a pop-up gallery for the day, and invite people to visit.  There will also be a craft fair inside the building, making it an amusing place to warm up.  After the Iditarod start, one of the most popular Fur Rondy events is happening — Running of the Reindeer at 4pm.  Our studio will be open 10 – 5pm.  Stop by for a home-baked cookie, and check out my art, not to mention our great view of the carnival (and maybe Denali).

This week is First Friday, and I’m having an art opening at Turnagain Brewing Company, which is a new-to-me venue.  I created four large splatter beer paintings inspired by Jackson Pollock for this art show.  I’ll be there 5 – 8pm this Friday, March 1.  If you haven’t been to this brewery yet, I highly recommend it, especially if you like sour beer.  If that’s not your thing, the brewery also offers traditional beer styles in a cozy atmosphere.  Click here to see the Facebook event.

splatter beer paintings by Alaskan beer artist Scott Clendaniel