Category Archives: Scenery

Plein Air Painting on Ski Resort Mountains in the USA

When I was 11 years old, I went on my first ski trip outside of Alaska.  My aunt and uncle loved going to Sun Valley in Ketchum, Idaho.  They went there for a veterinarian conference to pursue further education, and had sessions in the mornings, so they signed me up for ski school.  I had already been skiing in Alaska plenty of times, but the Sun Valley Ski School really developed my skills to a new level.  My aunt passed almost two years ago and I wanted to keep the ski trip tradition alive, so when a group of friends from high school were planning a trip to Jackson Hole, I immediately bought the Mountain Collective pass.  The pass provides lift tickets for 2 days at 23 mountains worldwide, and half price tickets for additional days at those mountains. Since Jackson Hole lift tickets are $200+ per day, I figured the pass would pay for itself if I went to one other ski area.  You have to buy this pass before the ski season starts, and there’s a limited number of passes available. I intended to ski at Jackson Hole and also at Taos Ski Valley, as I have always wanted to check out Taos.  A McCarthy neighbor spends winters in Taos, so I figured I could crash on his couch and ski a few free days either before, or after the guys’ trip.  Maria also wanted to go on the trip, but my friends were being weirdly sexist and said, no women allowed.  I called them out on it, but they were being pretty close-minded.  I don’t get it, but I also don’t have kids, and I think Maria is a pretty cool lady on top of that.  So, I figured I would just ski with her instead.  My schedule actually made it hard to meet them when they planned to go, so I decided to do my own thing  and started planning a ski trip with Maria.  It’s funny, but the guys never made it to Jackson Hole.  They all bailed. 

Our new ski trip plan was amazing!  Maria and I flew into Albuquerque, rented a car, drove to Taos, skied two days with friends who met us there, then drove to Colorado. Skied a day at Arapahoe Basin, then drove to Basalt, and skied one day at Snowmass and then another day at Aspen.  Drove for about eight hours to Jackson, WY and skied two days at Jackson Hole with another friend. Finally drive to Bozeman, Montana and skied two days at Big Sky Resort, before dropping off our rental car and flying back to Anchorage, Alaska. 

I brought my plein air painting kit with me on the plane.  I always label the paint as “Clown Cosmetics” just to mess with TSA. The first ski day in Taos we met up with our friends: Ian, Lucas, and Denise.  We skied tough and went all over the mountain, including up to Kachina Peak at 12,500 ft altitude.  We had beers and bratwurst at the Bavarian Restaurant on-mountain dining lodge. It was a great day with friends on the mountain!  We had a nice dinner at ACEQ, right next door to the SnowMansion Taos Adventure Lodge where we were staying in Arroyo Secco — a small community about 15 minutes from the ski village.  

A beer break at the Bavarian Restaurant
Prayer flags and a memorial at the summit of Kachina Peak (12,481ft)

The next morning I mixed up some paint and transferred it to my small on-mountain palette. The yellow tube had a hole in it from rough baggage handling and I was battling to keep our room paint-free.  I carried a small backpack on the mountain and skied hard until about 1:30pm.  I broke off from the group and went to a place I found that was great for painting. About 45 minutes of frenzied, outdoor, cold-fingered painting later, I packed it up and met Maria and Denise back at the Bavarian. On route to meeting them, I toured the whole mountain, since I made a wrong turn after painting.  We all went back to Lucas’s amazing cabin about a mile from the village for Aprés Ski. He had some excellent Bosque Brewing IPA and an interesting home-brewed stout. I enjoyed them both, then we went up to the ski village for pizza and beers. The village is really new and pretty cool, but the pizza was a grease bomb, so we told Lucas he could have all the  leftovers. 

Here is the little painting I made right on the mountain at Taos Ski Valley, of Kachina Peak. The size is 7″x5″, oil on birch panel. You can purchase it at my Etsy shop. I’m selling it for the price of a lift ticket at the ski area, which is $90.

Plein Air painting of Kachina Peak at Taos Ski Valley, painted on the mountain. 7″x5″, oil on panel.

Stay tuned next week for the following segment in the exciting adventures of plein air painting on ski resort mountains in the USA, when I talk about painting at Arapahoe Basin in Colorado!   


Oil Paintings for People Who Have BIG Empty Walls

~ by Maria Benner

We are looking for people who have big empty walls.  If that’s you, or if you know someone who fits that description, let us know.  We can help them fill that space with large oil paintings by Alaskan artist Scott Clendaniel.  Art for your office space is tax deductible!

Here are four large oil paintings currently available.  The edges are finished with oak, so they are already framed, and ready to hang.  Shipping cost will depend on location.

1. Susitna Pops. Oil on panel, 5ft x 2.5ft, 2016. Click here to purchase, or contact us to view this painting in person at our studio.

Large oil painting for big empty wall Scott Clendaniel Susitna Poppies

2. Bluebird Day at Alyeska. Oil on panel, 5ft x 2.5ft, 2017.  Click here to purchase, or contact us to view this painting in person at our studio.Alyeska Resort large oil painting Alaskan artist Scott Clendaniel

3. Athena’s Owl. Oil on panel, 8ft x 4ft, 2015.  Click here to purchase, or contact us to view this painting in person at our studio.Athena's Owl. 8ft 4ft. Oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

4. Birch on Birch. Oil on birch panel, 4ft x 5ft, 2018.  Contact us to view this painting in person at our studio.

large oil painting of a birch by scott clendaniel

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.



PFD Sale on Custom Oil Paintings!

Skiing in Alaska painting

Everyone is having a PFD sale this time of year, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Alaska Airlines will offer for fares to Hawaii.  So I decided to have my own PFD sale!  I’m offering a 10% discount on custom oil paintings.  The offer expires on October 21st.  So look through your photos from your summer adventures, and send me the one that you’d like me to turn into an oil painting.  Think of where you’ll hang it, and that will help you decide on the size.  My prices start at $150, which includes a frame with hanging hardware installed.  You can contact me via e-mail at  I’ll post some of my favorite paintings from this promotion on Facebook and Instagram.  Keep your PFD dollars in Alaska by spending on local goods and services!

Why I Paint Tandem Bicycles

tandem bicycle art painting

Yellow Schwinn Tandem Bicycle. Oil on panel, 24″x12″.

Yesterday I finished another oil painting of a tandem bicycle.  I’ve lost track of how many tandem bike paintings I’ve done, but I think it’s around ten.  They are very special to me, because I think my green 1964 Schwinn tandem helped me get a girlfriend, who is now my wife.  When I graduated from high school, my grandmother sent me a nice graduation present, and the cash was burning a hole in my pocket.  One day I was walking down Spenard Road and saw a beautiful green Schwinn tandem parked next to a house.  So I knocked on the door and a man answered.  I asked him if the bike was for sale, but he said no, and slammed the door in my face.  A couple weeks later, I saw the bike, and decided to ask again.  This time a woman answered the door.  I asked her if she’d sell me the bike, and she said yes!  I can’t remember exactly how much money I gave her, but it was not much, considering how valuable that bike has been.  So I was riding it around with my pals, until a friend told me to find a girl who would ride the tandem with me, because he didn’t think I was sending the right message to the ladies by riding that bike around with guys all the time.  So one night, my friends came over to watch a movie, and one of them started looking through my high school year book, and saw that one girl had written a really nice message along with her phone number.  So he told me I’d be stupid not to call her.  I went upstairs right away and called her, and asked if she would like to go for a tandem bike ride.  She said she had always wanted to ride a tandem!  So we set up a date, and I came to get her on the tandem, riding solo.  We went for a nice long ride to the beach, and I smooched her there, and then let her drive the tandem on the ride back.  Apparently, that sealed the deal, because we got married five years later.  Six years ago we bought a new Cannondale tandem, and we rode it all the way from Canada to Mexico along the Pacific Coast.  It was one of the best experiences of our lives!  We still have that green Schwinn, and we still take it out on short trips.  We’ll probably never get rid of it.  So that’s why I paint so many tandem bicycles.  They are just way too special!  Contact me if you’d like me to paint your tandem bike, or any bike for that matter.

Paintings and prints of tandem bicycles are for sale at my Etsy shop.

12th Man, Seattle Seahawks Porsche

Here we are celebrating another colossal sporting event, one so important that we stop everything we are doing and crowd around the TV for over three hours. If you are not into football, the commercials and snacks are worth your time, not to mention the halftime show! I was in Sun Valley, Idaho the day after the Seahawks won the conference game. I was surprised to see a very shiny Porsche Turbo in the parking lot decked out with Seahawks colors and the 12th Man logo! I took photos of it, because I like painting cars, and when I got back to Anchorage, I searched for this car on the Internet and found out that it belongs to Seahawks fan J. DeBruler. He owns Accutint Bellevue, a company that tints windows and customizes and details high-end car finishes. So he dressed his $80,000 turbo Porsche out in the 12th Man digs. He wins as the biggest Hawks fan I’ve ever heard of. He plans to drive the car to several rival stadiums and take photos of it there. I painted it right in CenturyLink Field. For all you Patriots fans, if you have a sweet red, white, and blue auto you want to bring to my attention, I will paint it too! I’m an equal opportunity sports fan, although, I think there will be a 90% Hawks crowd at the party I am attending later today… We don’t have a football team in Alaska, and Washington is the closest state (I was also born there).

Cheers to the 12th Man, and may the best team win!

You can purchase this painting, or a limited-edition print at my Etsy shop.

12th Man Seattle Seahawks CenturyLink Field Porsche

12th Man, Seattle Seahawks Porsche. 8″x10″, oil on panel.

Saguaro Painting at Rita and Jack’s House in Pheonix

This painting is of a saguaro cactus that lives in the front yard of Rita and Jack’s house in Phoenix, Arizona.  After working on South-West art for Arctic Circle Enterprises, it was a joy to do some fine art that exemplified the South-West theme.  I love the desert, especially in the winter.  It was a joy to go out golfing after painting this painting and feel the extreme warmth on the day before Thanksgiving.  I hope all of you have as much to be thankful for this year.  I know I am very thankful for my life and for the successful end of this leg of my tandem trip.  I think that life is good and hope yours is going as well as mine!



Kissed by an Acorn! One of the Oldest Oak Trees in the San Jose Area

Saint Andrew’s Episcopal School, landmark and icon of the San Jose Area. This Oak Tree is a great example of old growth oak trees in the San Jose Valley. This painting will be up for auction at a fundraiser November 14th.  Since everyone loves this tree it should make for a pretty cool item at the auction.  I had mixed up a new palette of paint, and I feel that it made for a fairly strong painting because of that fact.  I love working on the acrylic sheeting (Plexiglass-Lucite)  because It allows the transparency to show and I can look backwards into the history of the layering. It also has this nice reflective aura due to the coating on the sheets.  Best of luck, and happy bidding, if you are in the Bay Area stop by St. Andrew’s for the Auction!

Old Oak Tree Painting in San Jose


A few days ago I painted this in Blodgett on my way to the Oregon coast on my tandem tour with Maria.  It was a good ol’ time, and saw this amazing view!  Love the trees, but hate the clear-cuts. I am enjoying my trip and hope everyone is enjoying the paintings!!  Cheers!

Blodget Oregon hills with clear cuts painting

10-01-2009 Amity Hills Vineyard

I visited my friends Jared Orosco and Moriah Schalock at their workplace, a vineyard in Amity, Oregon. It is right in the middle of the Willamette Valley wine country.  I had fun arriving on my tandem bike with my wife Maria. We climbed to the top of the hill in Jared’s Toyota pickup where we had stunning views and munched on the fresh Pinot grapes. They are ripening in the sun, and are almost ready for harvest.

oregon vineyard painting