Category Archives: The Business of Being an Artist

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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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.

My First Last Thursday.

After college I spent a brief period in Portland, Oregon, where I began working as an artist full time.  Every first Thursday of the month art galleries downtown and in the Pearl District would be open with new exhibits.  My portfolio was not quite developed, and getting an art curator to take me seriously as an artist didn’t pan out.  I wasn’t the only artist who wanted to participate in First Thursday, there were many talented people who wanted to show and sell their art, so the “outcasts” of the established gallery scene in Portland started their own event on Alberta Street on Last Thursdays.  They displayed paintings, jewelry, sculptures and crafts on the sidewalks up and down the streets, and soon the event became quite popular.  There were live musicians, food vendors, fire dancers, and overall great times!  I joined in one time and paid for my space by trading one of my paintings to the business owner who let me display my art in front of his store.  I didn’t sell any work that night, but I made connections and had a blast!

When I moved back to Anchorage in 2002, we didn’t have as vibrant of an art scene like the one in the City of Roses.  There was no First or Last Thursday, and very few galleries.  I don’t remember how, or when First Friday started in Anchorage, but I’m very glad that it happens now.  This is the first week of October, which means that Friday is the day that all the galleries, and some coffee shops, tap rooms, and restaurants will be hosting art opening receptions.  This is your chance to shop for the newest art, and to speak with artists directly about their inspiration.

I sometimes have art shows at various venues around town, and when I don’t have one booked, we open our painting studio to the public just for a few hours during the First Friday Art Walk.  Normally, when we’re not hosting an event, our doors are closed, and we’re just working in there, but you can make an appointment to visit if you want to shop for art, or commission a painting.

This Friday we will be open to the public, and I invite you to stop by, especially if you’ve never seen where we work.  We have an incredible view of the Inlet and the Port, and I’ll bake my famous chocolate chip cookies.  This is a great opportunity to see a real painting studio, meet the artist, and see the newest paintings.  We’ll be open from 5 to 7:30pm, and the studio is inside the 4th Avenue Market Place at 333 W 4th Avenue.  We’re in Suite 4, just follow our Art Show signs.

There are three other First Friday events that I recommend you attend.  The Anchorage Museum is free and often has live music, talks and special exhibits, and is open late on First Fridays.  Williwaw Social is hosting their first First Firkin Friday event, and is celebrating the grand opening of the Midnight Sun Brewing Dining Hall.  And lastly, check out the new tiny gallery called Blank Space where my friend Justin DeWolf is having his first art show.

Supporting local artists keeps our community vibrant and creative, and First Friday is a good way to see a lot of local art in one evening.  Don’t spend your PFD in one place!

The Difference Between an Original Painting and a Print

~ by Maria Benner

What is the difference between an original oil painting, a limited-edition print, a giclee, or a regular print?  Here’s a simple answer.

Original Painting

The artist actually painted every brush stroke by hand, spending hours, or even days applying paint directly to the painting surface.  There is only one original in the entire world, and even if the artist tried to paint it again, it would be almost impossible to replicated every brush stroke exactly.  So an original painting is one of a kind — no one else in the world has it.  This is why prices of originals are much higher.

Aspen Trees in Fall custom oil painting. 36"x18", oil on panel.

Aspen Trees in Fall custom oil painting. 36″x18″, oil on panel.

Limited-Edition Print

A print is a reproduction of an original painting.  It can be printed on canvas, metal, paper, vinyl, etc.  The artist does not even have to make prints, someone else who has legal rights to the image can produce prints using a camera or a scanner, and a printer.  A giclée is a print that is printed with an ink-jet printer.  We use an Epson ink-jet printer to make prints of Scott’s oil paintings, using archival ink.

So what makes a print limited-edition?  When we release a new print, we arbitrarily decide how many copies we will make.  We print on demand, so we don’t have to store thousands of prints.  So let’s say we decide that we’ll make 80 copies of a certain print.  That means that after all 80 are sold, we won’t make any more.  That’s it.  So the smaller the release number, the more valuable the print is, because there are fewer of them.  We number each print at the bottom of the image, so it will say 12/80 for example.  Many people prefer to have the first one, so if you act quickly after we announce a new print release, you can get #1.  Each print is also hand-signed by the artist.

A regular print is not limited-edition and often is not signed.  The artist, or anyone with rights to the image, can make as many copies as they want.  Usually these prints are the cheapest, because there are so many of them, and more can be made at any time.

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

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

The artist automatically owns the copyrights to his/her painting.  A person can purchase the copyrights from the artist.  The price is set by agreeing on the number of times the painting will be reproduced for profit.  So, if someone wanted to purchase the rights to a Clendaniel original, the price would be the cost of the original oil painting plus the number of prints that will ever be made of that painting x retail value of those prints.

 

Our little log cabin.

What We Do in McCarthy

~ by Maria Benner

We bought property in McCarthy, Alaska 13 years ago, and built a log cabin on it.  We love spending time at the cabin, but the problem is that it’s 6.5 – 8 hours of driving to get there, depending on road construction and the condition of the 60-mile, mostly unpaved McCarthy Road.  So it’s not really an ideal weekend destination, and when we come here, we usually try to stay for about two weeks.  People often ask us what we do in McCarthy.  So we explain that we’re self employed; Scott is an artist, and I’m the business & marketing manager for our art business.  Now that we have access to LTE, we can work from our cabin.  Scott has a small studio in the little shack that we originally built as a place to stay warm and dry while we worked on the cabin.  I work on my laptop, and can use the Personal Hotspot feature on my iPhone to connect my laptop to the Internet.  When we first came here we had no cell phone service at all, so technology has come a long way since 2005, and now allows us to work while we’re here.

So this is how a typical day in McCarthy goes.  We drink coffee in the morning while checking e-mail, and catching up on the news and social media.  After breakfast Scott works in the studio painting commissions, or Thirsty Thursday beer paintings, or new pieces for an upcoming art show.  I work in the cabin on my laptop promoting Scott’s art, booking future art shows, working on grants and 1% for Art applications, and managing the business.  After lunch we usually work on cabin and property improvement tasks such as building a wood shed, improving the driveway, framing windows, tiling the kitchen counters, etc.  In the evenings we go for walks, burn brush in the big fire-pit, or play ping pong on the new table Scott made for his birthday, or we’ll bike or ride the 2 miles to McCarthy for a party, or to hear a band at the Golden Saloon, or at the Potato.  On weekends we try to go on an adventure like searching for an ice cave in the Kennicott Glacier, hiking up to an abandoned mine, or biking to Nizina River.

This afternoon we did some Real Art Is Better work in the morning, and then walked to town to visit a friend at the museum, and to buy a few items at the store.  Now Scott is painting while I’m writing this blog post.  Tonight we’ll probably stay home and play Yahtzee, or burn some more brush, which is never-ending around here.  We’re here for a couple more days, and our goals are to dig a deep hole for a French drain for our kitchen sink, to finish leveling the bumps in the driveway, and to cut down and cut up a couple dead trees.  The list of projects is never-ending!

During my first few trips to McCarthy I met people who had lifestyles that allowed them to spend long periods of time here, and I wanted to change things in my life so that I could also come here for longer than just a three-day weekend.  So we both quit our jobs, and started our art business, and I credit McCarthy for motivating me to change my life.  We’re still not completely location-independent, since we lease studio space in Anchorage, and have to mail orders ourselves, but we get enough time here to justify the time and money we spent on building our cabin here.

The Solstice party in McCarthy.

The Solstice party in McCarthy.

An ice cave in the Kennicott Glacier.

An ice cave in the Kennicott Glacier.

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.

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