Category Archives: The Business of Being an Artist

First Firkin Friday Art Show at Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Twice a year I get to have art shows at Midnight Sun Brewing Company in Anchorage.  Once in January, and also in June.  There are a couple perks to showing my oil paintings at this venue.  First, I get to tap a firkin (a small keg) at 5pm of opening day to kick off the month-long show.  Usually the firkin is filled with one of MSBC’s delicious brews cask-conditioned with special ingredients.  For example, at my upcoming art opening this Friday, June 1st, the firkin will be Panty Peeler Belgian-style ale cask-conditioned with tequila-soaked oak spirals and lime!  That sounds festive and refreshing!  Another benefit of having an art show at a brewery is that every time I go there to check on the show, I order a beer, which is tax deductible!

I’ve been working on several new pieces for this show, including paintings of the Homer Harbor, a K2 plane flying by Broken Tooth Mountain, a tandem bicycle, and a 5ft x 4ft piece of birch trees that is for people who have big empty walls.  I’ll be posting pictures of these paintings each day for the rest of the week on my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds.

Click here for details about the event, and please invite your friends!  I hope you can be there at 5pm on June 1st to watch me tap the firkin, but if not, we’ll be there until 8pm on Friday, and my art will be on display and available for sale until July 5th.

I hope that when I tap the firkin, this happens, because a beer shower is always fun, although I don’t want to waste too much beer.

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May First Friday Art Walk | Open Studio Mode vs. Work Mode

~ by Maria Benner

This Friday, May 4 is the first Friday of the month, which means that most local art galleries will have new art shows and will be hosting receptions.  The artists are normally present at these events, and often there is live music and complimentary refreshments.  Most of the action happens downtown, but there are many venues around town that host First Friday events.  The Anchorage Press is a good source for event listings.  Scott and I usually open our studio to the public for First Friday Art Walk, but not every month.  This one in May will be the last one we’ll host at the studio until October.  Scott will have an art opening in June, but it will be at Midnight Sun Brewing Company.  In preparation for an open studio event, we always have to do quite a bit of cleaning and rearranging of paintings and studio equipment.  Work mode and open studio mode are very different.  We completely clear my desk to make room for prints and greeting cards, put away all the painting stuff and scrub the floor.  Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what the studio looks like in work mode, versus how we make it look for visitors during open studio events.  We hope you’ll stop by this First Friday from 5:00 – 7:30 pm.  We’ll have cookies that Scott will bake from scratch, and new paintings that have never been shown before.  The address is 333 W 4th Avenue, Suite 4 (inside the 4th Avenue Market Place).

Work mode

Work mode

Work mode

Open studio mode

Open studio mode

BREAKING: President Trump Threatens to Bring Back Prohibition if Congress Doesn’t Approve Mexican Wall

WASHINGTON — Congress has rejected Trump’s demand for $25 billion for construction of the Mexico border wall that he promised during his campaign. The budget that Trump reluctantly signed a week ago includes $1.6 billion for border security, enough for just about 33 miles of new barrier plus about twice that much of replacement fencing.  However, that was not enough for the President.  On April 1st, President Trump tweeted, “Enough is enough. If Congress doesn’t fund the Mexican wall, I’m going to bring back Prohibition. That will teach them!”

Only 69 of 292 Republicans on Capitol Hill supported the wall project, but after Sunday’s tweet, 100% percent of Congress agreed to fund it, rather than risk losing easy access to alcohol.  Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) had concerns about paying for the project, but is now in full support, saying, “I don’t care how much it costs, we just can’t have Prohibition again!”  That was a common sentiment among members of Congress on Sunday, as many consider the threat of Prohibition real, and are afraid that it would significantly harm America’s economy, not to mention increase crime rates, and inflict significant damage on citizens’ morale.  Members of the House were especially concerned about a huge public outcry, and large demonstrations if President Trump followed through with his ultimatum.  Congress scheduled an emergency session on Easter Sunday, which also happens to be April Fool’s Day to pass a bill that would appease the President, and eliminate the possibility of Prohibition.  Many Democrats were seen shaking their heads in disbelief that one tweet could have so much impact on the country’s leaders.

This story is developing.  Check back soon for more updates.

Maria Benner is the Business & Marketing Manager for Real Art Is Better, and has no journalistic credentials, but she did want to prank blog followers on April Fool’s Day.

Fur Rondy and Iditarod Open Studio Events

In less than a week, our favorite events begin just in time to help us get through the toughest part of winter — Fur Rondezvous winter festival and Iditarod Sled Dog Race.  Fur Rondezvous has been an annual tradition in Anchorage since the mid 1930s when the town started organizing fun activities to coincide with the miners and trappers coming to town with their yield.  Iditarod is the most famous sled dog race in the world, attracting mushers and spectators from around the globe.  Downtown Anchorage will be transformed into a playground with a carnival, contests, snow sculptures, and a sled dog trail running down 4th Avenue.  Our studio happens to be on 4th Avenue, and we will be open during the busiest times of the festivities.  There will also be a craft fair inside our building — the 4th Avenue Market Place.  Stop by and check out the view of the carnival (hopefully Denali will be visible as well), to see the newest oil paintings and prints, and to have some home-baked cookies while you warm up between events.  We are located in Suite 4 of the 4th Avenue Market Place, which is in the NW corner inside the building.

When: February 24-25, Saturday and Sunday, 11-6pm AND March 3, Saturday, 10-5pm.

Where: 4th Avenue Market Place, 333 W 4th Avenue, Suite 4.  Inside the building in the NW corner.

Iditarod sled dogs racing downtown anchorage alaska

artist studio Scott Clendaniel Alyeska Resort girdwood painting

 

Custom Beer Label Design

One of my goals is to do more beer label designs, because seeing my art on cans, or bottles that are filled with delicious beer, and distributed to thousands of people around the country, and possibly the world, is the most amazing thing for a beer artist.  The hurdle is being selected as the label artist by a brewery out of many other artists who happen to also want the honor.  So far I’ve designed several home-brew labels, and one commercial label for Midnight Sun BrewingCheck out my blog post about that awesome project!

At my Etsy shop I have a listing for a Custom Beer Label Design, and a few months ago, a couple who are in the process of starting a new brewery in New Mexico bought the label design package, which includes a design for your label, and an oil painting of that design.  So we got to work.  They sent me pictures of things they wanted to be included in the label design, and I put together sketches for their consideration.  Here are a couple examples of the sketches.

Once a sketch was approved, I started painting the main image.  Here is how the painting turned out.  I also made a smaller bonus painting that I used for the image on the collar around the bottle neck.

custom beer label design beer painting by artist Scott Clendaniel

Then I put together the beer label in Photoshop.  Here’s the final result.

custom beer label design by artist scott clendaniel in anchorage alaska

The Piedra Blanca Brewing Company is not open yet, but I am very excited about getting the chance to design its logo and beer label!  Best of luck to them, and I look forward to visiting one day!  If you own a brewery, or are thinking about starting one, contact me about designing your logo, or labels.

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!

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.