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.

Flight Around Denali with K2 Aviation

~ by Maria Benner

One of my side gigs is working as a freelance guide for a local tour company, guiding only 2-3 trips per year.  This allows me to see many different places in Alaska, and to do the fun things that mostly tourists get to do.  I get to meet interesting people from around the world, and the extra income is a bonus.  So a couple years ago I guided four different groups that all had an identical itinerary.  That may seem redundant, but the tour included a train ride to Spencer Glacier, and a flight around Denali with a glacier landing.  So in a span of less than two weeks, I got to land on Ruth Glacier on Denali three times!  The fourth group got to fly around Knik Glacier, because Denali was unapproachable by plane due to a storm.  We flew with K2 Aviation.  One of the guests exclaimed as she stepped down from the De Havilland Otter onto the glacier on Denali, “If I had known about this, it would have been on my Bucket List!”  That really sums up the whole experience.

One of the fun parts of my job as the Business and Marketing Manager for Real Art Is Better is brainstorming with Scott about ideas for new paintings.  So, a couple months ago, I remembered that summer that I got to fly around Denali three times with K2 Aviation, and I suggested that he paint one of the the iconic red airplanes flying in front of Denali.  He painted this piece, which is 20 inches x 30 inches, oil on panel.  The painting was on display at Scott’s solo art show at Midnight Sun Brewing Company this month, and it sold on opening night.  Scott allows customers to take the paintings right when they buy them, so the painting is now hanging in its new home.

If you haven’t taken this flight, I highly recommend it.  Put it on your Bucket List!

Limited-edition art prints of this painting are for sale at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Flight Around Denali. Oil on panel. 20″ x 30″. Scott Clendaniel

The person who bought this painting posted a picture of it on Instagram hanging in its new home, along with another one of Scott’s paintings that he bought at the same time of the Coastal Trail in winter time.

“New art makes me happy #alaskanart #art #mountainart #anchorage #oilpainting #beautifulart @realartisbetter

Black and White Photos Painted in Color

Part of my duties as the Vice President of the McCarthy – Kennicott Historical Museum is to volunteer for a couple hours a week at the museum.  So, over the years, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in that building, looking at artifacts and at black and white photos from the late 1890s – early 1900s.  One day I decided to make an oil painting from two black and white train photos that I saw at the museum.  As anyone can tell by looking at my paintings, I like to use bright colors, so I went to work trying to recreate the photos in color.  There was no way for me to know what color things should be, but being in the same setting where many of these photos were taken, gave me a pretty good idea.

Recently, the museum asked me to design a new sticker, so I looked through many photographs of the Kennicott mining town back in its hayday, and put together the painting below that I named First “Lode”.  This depicts the first train load of copper pulling out of Kennicott, on its way down to Cordova and onto a steamship headed to Tacoma.  I worked from several different black and white photos to put together this scene.  Seeing today’s ruins of Kennicott was very helpful in helping me decide what colors things should be.  In the future, I plan to make several more paintings like this based on those photos hanging at the museum.  Creating large, colorful oil paintings from small black and white photographs highlights those historical moments, bringing more attention to them.  In any case, I’ve stumbled onto an interesting new genre that I’ll be experimenting with.

Here’s one example of a train oil painting that I did based on a black and white photo.  Prints of this painting are for sale at my Etsy shop.

Another example of a train painting.  Prints of this painting are for sale at my Etsy shop.

And this is the latest piece that I painted from a combination of photographs and my imagination called First “Lode”.  Prints of this painting are for sale at my Etsy shop.

 

 

No Woman No Cryo IPA by Girdwood Brewing Company

Finally, the little ski town of Girdwood has a brewery!  My prayers have been answered by Girdwood Brewing Company!  Beer and skiing go together like bread and butter, and now, at the end of a day on the slopes, we can stop for pints of fresh brew.  Last week I visited the tasting room for the first time.  I sampled 3 of the 4 options, and all were solid.  The coffee stout with K-Bay Coffee from Homer, Hippie Speedball, was noteworthy, as was the East-Coast-style IPA, No Woman No Cryo.  I chose to paint the IPA because it showed off the printing on the glassware better.  This place has some serious Girdwood-Alyeska ski culture as well as the yeasty variety.  The walls have some cool skis on them, the menu board is made up of old skis and there’s a ski fence forming outside, as well.  They even have an old red ski-lift chair hanging from the ceiling.  For a brand new brewery, this place is going strong already.  The only thing missing is food, but occasionally a food truck stops by.  Cheers to local breweries!  Be sure to visit this place next time you’re in Girdwood.

This painting will be on display, and available for sale at my art show at Midnight Sun Brewing Co. during the month of June.  The art show kicks off on First Firkin Friday, June 2, 5-8PM.  I’ll be tapping a firkin of Panty Peeler cask-conditioned with pineapple at 5PM.  Hope to see you there!

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

Painted live at Girdwood Brewing Company. Oil on panel. 8"x10". By Scott Clendaniel.

Painted live at Girdwood Brewing Company. Oil on panel. 8″x10″. By Scott Clendaniel.

 

Jason Lobo’s Dodge Power Wagon

We spent two weeks in McCarthy earlier this month, and while at a great BBQ on the West side, I invited myself over to my neighbor Jason Lobo’s place to paint one of his many interesting vehicles.  Although we live in the same subdivision, his lot is about a mile away.  I walked, as I felt it would be easier to pack the painting home walking than biking.  Also, the road is a mud swamp due to spring meltdown, so driving was less than desirable.  I arrived to find Jason working in his yard.  After a few minutes he gave me a tour of his new water truck, which is a F-750 Ford.  Parked right next to it was this beauty, a vintage Dodge Power Wagon.  A great truck, and it still runs!  I love how it has not been restored, but has all the scars and patina of a working machine.  I guess the fuel pump is out, because Jason has connected a gravity fed fuel tank.  I had a great time painting this cool old McCarthy truck, stopping every hour, or so, to chat with Lobo.  He was working in the garden planting onions, garlic, and potatoes.  I walked home in the afternoon to have a late lunch, and then got some of my own yard work done.  Overall, a pretty productive day.  By the way, this isn’t the first time I’ve painted one of Jason’s trucks.  Check out the painting of his red Ford.

Contact me if you’re interested in purchasing this original oil painting ($245, framed), or a limited-edition print ($25 – $55).

Jason Lobo's Dodge Truck

Jason Lobo’s Dodge Power Wagon. Oil on panel painted en plein air. 11″x14″. © Scott Clendaniel 2017

Incarnation IPA by 4 Hands Brewing Company

When Sam, Jerry and I were road tripping across the USA, on the way to Sam’s son’s wedding, we stopped briefly at an amazing beer store in St. Louis, MO.  I loaded up with a case of unique beers including a six-pack of Incarnation IPA by 4 Hands Brewing Co.  This beer was fresh and loaded with Mosaic hop goodness!  I had a hard time keeping one for Maria to try, but I was successful in getting it home to Alaska despite its delicious nature.  Since the beer is dry hopped with Mosaic, I made a hop mosaic for the  backdrop of this composition.  There are about three types of hops I like the most for a great IPA: Mosaic, Simcoe, and Citra.  I think that if you have one, or a combination of the three you have a recipe for success!  Incarnation IPA is not the only great beer from St. Louis.  The town is known for beer (ahem, Budweiser).  I feel lucky to have gotten to sample some great St. Louis offerings despite the fact that I am in a completely different distribution zone.  Cheers to the Incarnation IPA, may your beer be enlightening!    

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

Incarnation IPA by 4 Hands Brewing Co.  Oil painting by Scott Clendaniel. 8"x10", oil on panel.

Incarnation IPA by 4 Hands Brewing Co. Oil painting by Scott Clendaniel. 8″x10″, oil on panel.

 

Icy Bay IPA by Alaskan Brewing Company

During the Year of Beer Paintings (2014), I posted Pacifico Clara as the beer painting of the day for Cinco De Mayo.  Oy, happy 5th of May!  Pacifico got me thinking of surfing.  As I sat with an Icy Bay IPA in my hands, I realized I hadn’t painted it in the can.  I also realized that Icy Bay IPA by Alaskan Brewing Co. has become a go-to beverage for me when I want a reasonably priced IPA.  I was going to buy a half rack of PBR, but when I saw for 3 bucks more I could bring home the green cans, I just couldn’t buy PBR.  Not to mention that Icy Bay IPA is definitely tastier than PBR (even-though I do have a soft spot for the hipster red, white and blue can).

For an Alaskan beach party Icy Bay IPA from Juneau, Alaska is a perfect choice, just watch your intake as a 6.2% IPA is not that sessionable.  Consider having your beer after riding the waves, as nothing is a worse buzz kill than getting the US Coast Guard to save you.  Keep your head as clear as the crisp refreshing taste of this IPA when you are rocking the icy waves on your longboard!  Cheers to an Alaskan May 5th!  Get out and celebrate the end of winter, by hitting the beach with a cooler full!

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

Icy Bay IPA by Alaskan Brewing Co. Oil on panel, 8"x10", by Scott Clendaniel

Icy Bay IPA by Alaskan Brewing Co. Oil on panel, 8″x10″, by Scott Clendaniel

2×4 DIPA by Melvin Brewing Co.

2×4 is a great DIPA that will knock your hat in the creek with a 2×4.  I’m glad Melvin Brewing canned this strong beer.  Easier to pack on adventures that way, and more bang for your buck!  It has so much hop bitterness and floral aroma, you’ll feel more manly after drinking it.  There’s even National 2×4 Day, which I missed, because I didn’t know about it, but apparently it happened on 2.4.2017.  Oh well, next year.  I see that one bar in Alaska is supposed to have this beer on 2×4 Day, Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse, of course.  Better put it on my calendar.  This beer from Wyoming is one I was lucky enough to try when I drove across the country last fall with my buddy Sam.  We bought beer from four different distribution areas, and Melvin was one I was lucky enough to procure while stopping briefly in Colorado.  Brewed near Jackson Hole, this beer is making me feel like I want to plan a ski trip to Wyoming!  Maybe I will head there next year!  Cheers to strong bold DIPAs, this one is tremendous!

This original oil painting, and 24 limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

2x4 DIPA by Melvin Brewing Co. Oil painting by Scott Clendaniel. 8"x10", oil on panel.

2×4 DIPA by Melvin Brewing Co. Oil painting by Scott Clendaniel. 8″x10″, oil on panel.