Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #160. Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout by North Coast Brewing Co.

I remember the first time I ever drank an Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout on Thanksgiving Day in 2002 at my friend Morgan Brown parents’ house in Corvallis, Oregon.  They have this amazing property just outside of town with several acres, and a creek running right by their big farm house.  We drank a couple of Old Rasputin’s on a walk around the property, and I don’t think I had ever had an imperial stout before — I was only 22 years old.  Needless to say, the decadence of this beer blew my mind!  

Fast forward 16 years (no I am not bringing Old Rasputin to the table today), but last week I drank the 22 oz bottle pictured in this painting with Maria in McCarthy, Alaska.  I had a flashback when I was walking around the ten acres out there that took me right back to Corvallis.  A bit different weather, as I remember blue skies and yellow leaves in Oregon, while in McCarthy we had snow and freezing rain.  I also thought about what to include in the painting to show off the Russian qualities.  Rasputin was in favor with the Czar living in St. Petersburg, but he was victim of a nasty coup and was poisoned, shot and drowned. This reminded me of this iconic cathedral known as the Church of the Savior Built on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg.  Last year I went on a tour of this building, which is spectacular inside and out.  It has a ton of history: the square it is built upon is a historic site where Alexander II was blown up in his carriage in 1881.  His son commissioned this amazing cathedral designed by architect Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, and it was built from 1883-1907.  Completed by Nicholas II.  So when Gregori Rasputin was hanging out with Nicholas II in 1916 when he was murdered, this cathedral was probably an important spot for the religious mystic.  

Russia is a fun, but dangerous place.  Watch yourself when you are hanging out in St. Petersburg.  The same level of safety consciousness we are used to here in America just doesn’t exist in Russia.  For example, the Metro car doors slam shut with no warning, and could easily break your arm. Also when crossing the street use extreme caution as a crazed driver might just be driving on the sidewalk.  You just never know what might happen in Russia!  

Cheers to Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, keeping the memory of Rasputin alive.  As the label on the bottle says in Russian, “A bosom friend is not born suddenly.”

The original oil painting sold.  Limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #160. Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout by North Coast Brewing Co. 11"x14", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #160. Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout by North Coast Brewing Co. 11″x14″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

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We Published Our First Book! How to Draw Alaskan Baby Animals: 49 Drawing Lessons from the 49th State

~ by Maria Benner

This is a big day for us here at Real Art Is Better, the day we published our first book — How to Draw Alaskan Baby Animals: 49 Drawing Lessons from the 49th State.  The book features 49 drawing lessons, teaching any aspiring artist how to draw Alaska’s cutest baby animals.  Each easy-to-follow, step-by-step illustration shows you how to turn lines and circles into detailed drawings with a pencil and pen.  Anyone can learn to draw by practicing with a bit of direction! This book is a fun way to learn drawing skills, inspire creativity, and boost confidence for anyone who likes to draw and loves animals.

We’ve been working on this for about three years, which sounds like a long time, but when you think about the scope of the book, and the fact that we also run an art business full time, in addition to traveling occasionally, then three years doesn’t seem so long.  Scott had to draw 49 different lessons, then I had to edit the book, which means that I drew every single baby animal, at a rate of one per day.  Then summers would happen, travel, the holiday rush, and the list of excuses keeps going.  But we finally made this project a high priority, and worked on it a bit each day, with the goal of releasing the book in time for the holidays!  The book is available for sale on Amazon.  I want to make one thing clear: this book is not just for kids, adults can learn how to draw cute Alaskan baby animals too!

Click here to purchase the book.

As a small token of appreciation to our blog readers, here is a free page download.  See if you can draw this adorable polar bear cub.  And we’d love to see your drawings!  Post them in the comments.

 

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #159. La Potato Restaurant in Spenard.

We’ve been taking a week-long break at our cabin in McCarthy, and this morning I rose before daylight at 7:30 AM here in the Wrangell Mountains.  We have been doing some fat biking around the roads and trails that connect key places in the Kennicott Valley.  On our ride from our cabin south of McCarthy to the town of Kennicott, the glaciers and mountains were spectacular, Mt. Blackburn looming in the evaporating clouds, and the Root and Gates glaciers glistening in the distance like diamond encrusted jewels.  Our route took us past the new and ever popular The Potato Restaurant in McCarthy.  It is slumbering like all the bears out here with a “Closed for the Season” sign and all the picnic tables put away for the winter.  Meanwhile in the big city of (Los) Anchorage, a new hipster hangout has popped up like a mushroom in the sun after a fall rain shower.  La Bodega teamed up with McCarthy’s Potato crew to make a pop-up restaurant called La Potato, located in Mr. Whitekey’s old haunt, the Fly By Night Club.  If you are newer to town you might know this place as the Taproot, or the most recent, and briefest occupant, Route 33. 

Pamela Hatzis, the proprietor of La Bodega, the cool liquor store where you can get boutique wines and by-the-bottle beers, wanted to have a place of her own where she could host tasting events.  She has been doing a righteous job running the ever popular liquor store with two new locations springing up in the last four years, one in Girdwood and a second Anchorage location at the Northern Lights Center Mall.  Rebecca Bard, one of the owners of the McCarthy and Valdez Potato restaurants has been wintering in Anchorage and working for Pamela at La Bodega for a while.  She has endeavored to school the Bodega team on how to run a successful restaurant.  The end result is a spectacular success with the pop up restaurant everyone is raging about, La Potato.  Raging is the word.  Maria and I attempted to go there on Saturday late afternoon, on the second day in business, and the parking lot was overflowing like Moose’s Tooth during a First Tap event.  We came back when we thought it would be less busy Thursday last week.  We easily found parking and came in to find a lovely draft menu, as well as great canned and bottled beer offerings.  I am sure there was some good wine and saké offerings as well, I just neglected to search them out.  I ordered some rosemary garlic fries and the duck egg kimchi plate, and I recommend both.  Watch out though, the garlic fries are a litmus test for how much your date really likes you…  Better if you both consume that much garlic in one sitting.  I ordered My 85th Rodeo IPA from Woodland Empire Ale Craft in Idaho (pictured in this painting in front of the iconic Spenard sign that hangs next to the stage) and a Solid Gold from Founder’s Brewing Co.  I exited right before a secret show began featuring The Lucky Chops, because I didn’t bring hearing protection, and I’m just too old to handle loud music at this point.  The place went from being modestly busy to teeming with people for the music.  It’s like Anchorage has been starved for a hangout that isn’t a bar and people are finally finding their fix.  We have Koot’s and Van’s Dive Bar, and even the newly revamped Carousel Lounge, but La Potato is different because it is a restaurant first. 

As I pack up my bags tonight and make the grueling drive back to the big city tomorrow, I am not sorry to leave, because the fun is in Spenard where the spirit of McCarthy is alive and well.  I will pass the slumbering Roadside Potato as I drive out and will look forward to its glory in the summer months, but this winter is all about Ancho“RAGE,”!

Cheers to Pamela and Rebecca’s brainchild that is rocking the socks off the block in Spenard!

Only one original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #159.  My 85th Rodeo by Woodland Empire Ale Craft, pictured at La Potato in Spenard, Anchorage, AK. 6"x12", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #159. My 85th Rodeo by Woodland Empire Ale Craft, pictured at La Potato in Spenard, Anchorage, AK. 6″x12″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

   

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.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #158. Beer Glass Styles.

How many beer glasses do you need?  As many as you can possibly fit into your cabinet, that is how we do it here at Real Art is Better!  I found that having the right glass for the beverage you are consuming makes the whole experience that much better.  When I was looking for subject matter for this week’s Thirsty Thursday beer painting I thought about a series of different beers with different glasses.  I remembered how fun it was to paint the Kandinsky-inspired Teku glasses painting, and bada bing, bada boom I arrived at this composition.  This one took a lot longer than usual, due to all the details, and the larger size (24″x12″).  Let’s name the glasses and types of beer I would put in them for fun.  Left to right:

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #158. Beer Glass Styles. 24"x12", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #158. Beer Glass Styles. 24″x12″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

  • The classic beer mug.  Good for any style of normal beer, pilsner, lager, stout, amber, or Irish Red.  Mostly a 5% alcohol by volume type of beer.
  • Next is a snifter.  I would put a high ABV brew in this type of glass, a Belgian double or triple, an imperial stout, a barleywine, or something barrel aged would be perfect.
  • The next one is obviously for hefeweizen, or maybe a Belgian witbier.
  • The Teku tulip glass is good for just about anything, but I would put sour, or funky beers at the top of the list.
  • The Shaker pint is an all-around crowd pleaser, a jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none type of glass.  I would not pour anything over 8% alcohol in this glass as it will just get you too drunk too fast.
  • The Spiegelau IPA glass is obviously for India Pale Ales.  Might you wonder why I put a rainbow in this glass?  It is to show the diversity that IPA as a style represents from English, Black, West-Coast, Belgian, NEIPA, DIPA, Imperial, Milkshake, coffee-infused IPA, and on and on.  Really, there are so many styles of IPA.
  • The last glass on the right is a Speigelau Stout glass.  I didn’t mention how these glasses are made from really amazing quality of crystal.  My Aunt Barbara in California won’t drink wine from anything but fine crystal.  Maybe you should do the same for your beer?  Anyway put a stout in it.

Whatever your glass and whatever your style, remember to love it, or leave it.  Don’t drink all 7 in one night, it is way better to enjoy beer moderately.  There are diminishing returns when it come to fine ales!

Cheers to your favorite beer!  May you always have the correct glass for your enjoyment!

The original oil painting sold.  Limited-edition prints of this painting are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter. 

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #157. Patterns DIPA by Anchorage Brewing Company.

     NovemBEER is here!  And what would I like to drink this November?  Hazy IPA!  This painting depicts Patterns DIPA at Anchorage Brewing Company, served up in a Teku glass just like you would receive if you were to show up to Gabe Fletcher’s tasting room right there at the brewery.
     My friend Sam is a huge fan of Anchorage Brewing, and when he was here for AK Beer Week in 2015 we went over to the new brewery before it was even open and peeked through the windows.  We weren’t the only ones, because Greg Koch, the owner of Stone Brewing also showed up hoping to get a tour of the new facility.  Somebody called Gabe to see if he would come let us in, but it was his wife’s birthday, so we were out of luck.  Sam was telling me in the parking lot that he was really excited to see what ABC would be doing with IPAs because he heard that there were going to be steel tanks at the new facility.  Sam is from Philadelphia and he had tasted some ABC collaboration IPAs at Tired Hands Brewing, so he knew something I didn’t, because up to that point ABC had only made delicious funky sours, imperial stout, and barleywine.  Well, now the word is out that Gabe makes redankulous IPA.  Averaging $18-$20 for a 4 pack of 16 oz limited edition cans.  I would argue it’s well worth the cost and is right on par with what Tired Hands is putting out in Philly.  I personally love the KUIU, Lines, Crazy Rays, all the Patterns (IPA, DIPA, and TIPA versions), and the Anchorage version of Alien Church is excellent.  So if you love hazy East coast style IPA get over to ABC to get some of the steel tank goodness available in the limited edition cans and on draft.  Of course it is limited quantities and you can pretty much only get it at the source!
     I love that ABC uses the Teku glass.  Your beer lasts longer as you drink it rather than a standard shaker pint which tapers at the bottom.  It looks classy as well, like a special wine glass for beer fans.  And it holds 14 oz to the top.  These glasses enhance the aroma of the beer and funnel the flavor right into your nose, which is especially important for these fresh IPAs!
     Cheers to hazy East coast IPAs, a style that just keeps evolving!  Although I would call Gabe’s version Anchorage style IPA!

Only one original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #157. Patterns DIPA by Anchorage Brewing Co. 6"x12", oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #157. Patterns DIPA by Anchorage Brewing Co. 6″x12″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Life Changes on the First Day of Snow

~ by Maria Benner

First Day of Snow

Today is the first day of snow!  This is a very exciting day for most people, and this year it happened on a Monday, making the dreaded first day of the week a bit interesting.  We all know the first day of snow is coming, but for some reason most of us choose not to do anything about it.  But this morning we quickly realized that we’d have to add some extra chores to our list today if we want to continue with our regular daily tasks, like driving.

  1. Change tires on our vehicles to winter tires.  Preferably studded ones, which have the best performance on ice versus the ones that claim to be studd-less winter tires.  Some stores, like Costco, stopped carrying studded tires, because they cause so much road damage, but we found a place just a couple blocks from our studio that still sells them, and tomorrow we’re dropping off our truck so it can get brand new studded tires put on it.
  2. Switch to our fat bikes that also have studded tires.  We ride bikes to the studio from our condo, because the studio is only 1 mile away, and we have to pay for parking.  So today we had to air up the tires on those bad boys, and get them ridable again for the first time since last March.
  3. Put the big brushes that we use to clean the snow off our truck back into the truck.  We took them out for the summer to have more space in the back seat.
  4. Pull out winter boots, and put away summer shoes.  Same goes for winter jackets, hats, gloves, etc.  Good luck finding all that stuff after several months.
  5. We live in a condo, so we don’t have to worry about snow removal, but most people had to clear their driveways on top of all the other snow-related chores.

We still have to wash our summer bikes to make the transition to winter complete.  Right now we’re excited for winter, and all the activities we’ll get to do like ice skating, skiing, and fat biking.  Ask me again in a few months how I feel about it.

In case you’re looking for some indoor activities now that it’s cold outside, this Friday we’re hosting a First Friday Open Studio event.  Stop by and see the newest oil paintings for the first time, enjoy some complimentary refreshments (Scott always bakes fresh cookies), and meet the artist if you haven’t already.  Click here to see the event on Facebook.  If you’re not on FB, here are the deets: November 2nd, 5 – 7:30pm, Suite 4 inside the 4th Avenue Market Place on 333 W 4th Avenue.

Talkeetna Air Taxi flight over Denali

One of the newest oil paintings never seen by anyone in person yet, except the artist and his Business Manager. 36″x18″, oil on panel.