Tag Archives: Alaskan artist

How to Tell If You’re Looking at Real Art, or a Reproduction

~ by Maria Benner

The name of our business is Real Art Is Better, and people often ask, “What is real art?”  Although there is no widely-accepted definition, generally people know it when they see it.  Right after buying one of Scott’s original oil paintings, customers often exclaim, “This is my first piece of real art!”  But simply put, when speaking about wall art, real art is original paintings that an artist actually created by hand.  They can be oil, acrylic, pastel, water colors, etc.  The reason I’m writing this post, is because I’ve noticed that often people have a difficult time differentiating between real works, and reproductions.  And that’s largely due to the way art reproductions are often presented by artists and galleries to look like “real art”.

Reproductions of art come in many forms, and often they are hung on walls of galleries without a proper explanation, masquerading as real art, when in fact, the piece is a reproduction.  So, pay close attention if you’re about to buy a piece, to be sure that you’re getting an original, if that’s what you want.  There’s nothing wrong with buying, or selling reproductions, just as long as the customer is aware that he/she is not getting the real thing.  The best way to tell the difference is by reading the details on the price tag.

Giclée – a high quality reproduction using an inkjet printer.  These are often printed on canvas, and look almost like the real thing.  Pay attention to the price tag, it should tell you whether the piece is a giclée, often also referred to as a “print on canvas”.  Often they are framed to make them look even more like originals.

Prints – these reproductions are easier to recognize, because they are printed on paper most of the time, but can also be printed on canvas, metal, wood, you name it.  Sometimes these are framed as well.  The price tag should say “print”.  Some prints are limited-edition, which means there’s a number under the image like 112/500.  This means that only 500 copies will be produced, and you’re looking at copy #112.  Sometimes prints are signed by the artist.  The smaller the number of total prints produced, the more valuable the print.

So, next time you’re perusing art at a gallery, pay close attention to the price tags to see how art is labeled.  If the tag says “oil on panel” or “acrylic on canvas” then you know you’re buying real art.  Sometimes artists will paint a few strokes onto a canvas print, which is a nice touch, and makes the painting look more like an original.  In this case, the tag should say “painted giclée”, or “painted canvas print”, or something similar.

Scott sells original oil paintings and limited-edition, signed prints.  You can differentiate easily between his prints and originals.  At an art show, or at the studio, the art hanging on the walls is real.  Each piece is an oil painting on panel, framed in a natural wood frame.  There is only one in all of existence, and the value of it will increase over time.  Limited-edition, signed prints are in the black print bins.  They are printed on paper with archival ink by an inkjet printer in our studio, signed by Scott, and numbered.  Prints can also increase in value, but not as much as originals.  We chose to make prints, because we realized that some people don’t have a budget for originals, but still love the images, and we want them to be able to enjoy them.

To see the latest Clendaniel originals and prints, I invite you to attend Scott’s art opening on June 7th at Midnight Sun Brewing Co. in Anchorage.  He will kick off the art show at 5pm by tapping a firkin of Sloth Belgian-style stout barrel aged in bourbon barrels and cask-conditioned with tart cherries soaked in Cabernet!  Scott’s paintings and prints will be on display at the brewery and available for sale until July 4th.  If you’re on Facebook, here’s a link to the FB event.

Black Note Stout by Bell's Brewing Oil Painting by Beer Artist Scott Clendaniel

Framed original oil painting.

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

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

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1% for Art Project for Gladys Wood Elementary: Part I

Tomorrow is the May First Friday Art Walk, and normally we would have converted our studio into a pop-up gallery for the evening, and opened it to the public, but this month I’m working on a huge 1% for Art project for Gladys Wood Elementary that is taking up most of the space in the studio, so open studio events have to be postponed.  This is our second 1% for Art project.  The first one was in 2017 at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks.  Right about this time last year I was awarded the Gladys Wood Elementary project, and now I am finally putting oil paint on panels.

Signing the contract and receiving the first payment installment took about a month.  In the meantime I started working on design concepts for four large ellipse paintings for walls in two different hallways, themed Spring and Fall, and six circles for the ceilings in those hallways.  The committee of ten people approved the designs immediately, which was so much faster and easier than I expected.  Then we left the country for a month, but when we returned we started looking for contractors to help us install the panels securely, especially since six of them are going to be on the ceiling.  I decided to hire the same crew that remodeled the school, since they know the admin staff, and everything about those walls they built.  Luckily Cornerstone General Contractors agreed to work with me, even-though this project is small potatoes for them.  About a week after my conversation with the contractor, that 7.1 earthquake hit, and I didn’t hear back from those guys for about two months, which was totally understandable.  I didn’t really mind, because the holiday season was in full swing, and we were busy mailing orders, and selling art at craft fairs around town.  So finally, in January, I ordered all the panels from Hardware Specialties, a great wood store, and arranged with the property manager of the building where we lease our studio to get some extra working space.  Luckily, there’s a huge room downstairs that is vacant at the moment, with a garage door for easy unloading from the truck!  So we unloaded all the wood panels, and then Maria and I went to the school and made templates out of paper and tape of the four ellipses, so I could trace the templates onto the panels.  That took us two evenings.

Maria helping to make a template of the ellipse shape, with an opening for an outlet.

The next step was to trace and cut the panels, which I accomplished with a skilsaw and my trusty sander.  I finished that step right before we left on a two-week ski trip to Idaho and Utah.

All the panels cut for four ellipses, and six circles.

So now the contractors finally came into the picture.  We hired two strong guys to help us pre-install the panels.  I really wanted to make sure they would fit, before I started painting, and also, to figure out where all the screw holes would be, so I could try to camouflage them in the design.  The pre-install took two evenings.  Those guys were great to work with!

Next, I sanded the surface of the panels to remove any wood texture, and coated them with two coats of white primer.  Then we coated them with gold paint.  The gold shines through small gaps in the oil paint, making my paintings glow when light hits them at certain angles.  Before I could start painting the design with oils, I had to figure out where I could work on such large pieces.  One option was to lay them out on the floor, but I’ve worked on the floor before, and it’s painful after many hours of crouching.  So I modified my existing easel with 1x3s so it would hold an entire ellipse at once.  The whole set up barely fits in my studio!

At this point I have finished one ellipse for the Spring hallway, and am now working on the second one.  Progress is steady, and I’m expecting to finish on time and on budget.  The deadline is October 2019.

The first ellipse completed for the Spring hallway.

Work in progress on the second ellipse for the Spring hallway.

First Friday at Turnagain Brewing Company and Iditarod Start

Iditarod oil painting by Alaskan artist Scott Clendaniel

The saying goes, “Strike while the iron is hot!”  That’s exactly what we’ll be doing this weekend, as thousands of people arrive to Anchorage for the Iditarod start this Saturday.  The ceremonial start of the race will begin at 10am sharp, on 4th Avenue, right in front of the building where out studio is located.  So we decided this would be a good time to turn the studio into a pop-up gallery for the day, and invite people to visit.  There will also be a craft fair inside the building, making it an amusing place to warm up.  After the Iditarod start, one of the most popular Fur Rondy events is happening — Running of the Reindeer at 4pm.  Our studio will be open 10 – 5pm.  Stop by for a home-baked cookie, and check out my art, not to mention our great view of the carnival (and maybe Denali).

This week is First Friday, and I’m having an art opening at Turnagain Brewing Company, which is a new-to-me venue.  I created four large splatter beer paintings inspired by Jackson Pollock for this art show.  I’ll be there 5 – 8pm this Friday, March 1.  If you haven’t been to this brewery yet, I highly recommend it, especially if you like sour beer.  If that’s not your thing, the brewery also offers traditional beer styles in a cozy atmosphere.  Click here to see the Facebook event.

splatter beer paintings by Alaskan beer artist Scott Clendaniel

Paintings Commissioned during the Holidays

Every year during the holidays I get a surge of requests for commissioned paintings by customers who are very thoughtful gift givers.  Arguably, a custom oil painting is one of the most unique, personal, and thoughtful gifts one can receive.  My favorite part about working with people on commissions is hearing the stories behind each painting concept.  This year I didn’t get as many commissions as in previous years, because after the earthquake on November 30th people had other things on their minds like cleaning up trashed homes, broken glass, and fixing cracks.  Earth picked a bad time to shake us all up, and I think many retailers and artists felt the economic impact of decreased sales during that time.  Nevertheless, I completed seven paintings in time for Christmas, and they were all gratefully accepted by their recipients.  Now that they are no longer surprises, I can show them to you.  Click on each one to see it in more detail.  All paintings are framed in a natural wood frame, with hanging hardware installed.  The turnaround time is 2-3 weeks.  You can order a custom oil painting at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter, or by contacting me at info [at] realartisbetter [dot] com.

2018 Accomplishments and One Big Goal for 2019

~ by Maria Benner

Keith Haring Beer Parody by Scott Clendaniel.

On the last day of the year, we always reflect on our accomplishments and struggles, close calls, notable events, and lessons learned.  We also set one big goal, because one goal sounds much more doable than many little ones.

So, our top three accomplishments and notable events for 2018 were (drumroll please):

  1. Trip to Lake Baikal, Kamchatka Peninsula, and Germany.
  2. Publishing our first book How to Draw Alaska Baby Animals: 49 Lessons from the 49th State
  3. Our second 1% for Arts project at Gladys Wood Elementary School in Anchorage, Alaska.

For 2019 our one big goal is to pivot from beer-centric art to outdoor sports themed art such as alpine skiing and fat biking.  Although the beer niche is very fun and profitable, and Scott will continue making beer paintings, he also wants to focus on outdoor scenery that promotes a healthy life style and a sense of adventure.

A couple smaller goals are to publish a second book (this one will be a beer-themed coloring book for adults), and to apply for international artist residency programs.

A non-work goal is to build a sauna on our property in McCarthy!

Cheers to 2019!

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #143. Homebrew in Humpy Cove, Alaska.

“Life is Short, Drink Good Beer.” That’s quality advice printed on my steel pint cup.  You might not always get a great beer, but the least you can do is try.  This little painting tells a story.  For three years now I have been trying to correlate a time to go with my collectors and friends, the Kirkpatricks, to their cabin in Humpy Cove on Resurrection Bay.  After totally missing it for two summers in a row I finally nailed down a time when I wouldn’t be in McCarthy, dip-netting, or flying to a wedding somewhere out of State.  Alaska summers are nuts, but also a blast.  I try to just relax and let the insanity flow around me without letting it disturb my inner peace.  This is hard to do when the midnight sun is pulling you to do more and rest less.

Our trip to the cove was amazing!  After loading up the boat we stopped right outside Seward’s boat harbor to watch a pod of Humpback whales.  We actually saw whales every day on this adventure.  Then after arriving to the cove in the fast red boat we hung out on the dock and sipped delicious keg beer from our steel pints, while soaking in the sun.  After Taiya the Siberian Husky attacked a porcupine, and had to have a dozen quills pulled out of her paw and snout (could have been much worse), we went for a hike up the hill where the bay vistas were unbelievable.  Then Taiya went swimming and I got to play lifeguard, and got an armful of shivering wet husky.  Good thing I didn’t spill my beer!  I had to be careful around that pooch, because she likes to drink beer, so if I set my pint on the deck, it was likely to get the dog tax.

We went fishing and caught a halibut about the size of a chicken.  Maria got one that was so small, we all agreed it was the size of a large keychain.  After fishing I sat on the dock and made this painting while the boat took guests back to Seward, and Maria and Colleen went kayaking.  Yes, I drank some beer while I painted.  Overall a very noteworthy trip!  Whales, waterfalls, bluebird skies and three draft beer options made for a very exciting weekend!  Resurrection Bay is one of those places in Alaska that is definitely beautiful!  I left this painting at the cabin as a gift to our hosts for being so gracious!

Plein air oil painting of Humpy Cove in Resurrection Bay, Alaska.

Plein air oil painting of Humpy Cove in Resurrection Bay, Alaska. 8″x10″, oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

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