In 2016 I was inspired by a news story to paint one of my most popular beer paintings, called Rainier Bear. In addition to selling the original oil painting, I had also released 52 limited-edition prints of the image. I sold the original, and all 52 prints. This is only the second time I’ve sold out of a limited-edition run! Now that all 52 are sold, I won’t sell that image as a signed print again (stickers are available though). So, I decided to paint a new version of this bear, because I just really like him, and Rainier beer is so iconic to me, since I was born in Washington. So, here you have it, Rainier Bear 2.0!
Lighting can change the appearance of paintings more than you might expect. Not just paintings, but any surface color can be shifted by changing light. I am reminded of a time I was picking colors for a sticker design and I chose a red-orange instead of the cherry-red the client wanted. The evening light through my old apartment drapes affected my choice. Little to say, I had to make a quick reorder of stickers for that client. When I moved into this new house, the room designated for the studio was painted garishly orange. I decided to take a week to repaint the whole room, about 420 square feet of space, because I wanted to have a neutral color experience.
I have two lamps that I have been using for photography that I started using to supplement light in the middle of the studio. I have about as many windows as the rental studio on 4th Ave had, but the room is bigger, and the windows are spread around both sides of the room, so it is nice to have a supplemental lamp in the center. The lamp has a toggle control that switches it from warm to cool light, and you can see how the painting shifts in color. I have added a video to this blog for you to see this effect. It makes you realize how important correct lighting is for displaying paintings, and is something that should be considered when creating and installing art.
Last year at the end of December I purchased a drone. This is my second one — Maria got me a “starter” drone for my birthday a year ago, which I didn’t crash, but caused to quit working due to a software malfunction that I could not fix. It was a cool present, but it didn’t have the camera I was looking for. I was glad to pick up a DJI Mavic Mini from Costco. It’s really easy to use, and small enough that you can easily put it into a backpack to take places. It connects to your smartphone, and uses a joystick control that I had already became familiar with on the first drone, and a previous toy helicopter I used to crash into the ceiling and floor a lot. The drone is great, because it allows me to take pretty high quality aerial photography and videos that I would never be able to get otherwise. Drones are like ATV’s — they are annoying to people who do not have them, but are incredibly useful. Everyone is imagining that they are being surveilled, with highly detailed photos captured of them, but you have to push the shutter button to take a picture, or to record a video. This particular drone does not have a zoom lens, so seeing who is in the photographs is actually difficult, unless I fly the drone up really, really close. I use it mostly to take pictures of people’s cabins in McCarthy (with their permission) and to get cool shots from angles impossible to get otherwise.
I had a great time at my friend Bob Cook’s cabin when he invited a group of people over on a hot day for a swimming party in his pond. The shots from the air turned out really neat, and I had a good time chasing kids around the pond.
The DJI Mavic Mini has a pretty short range — about 200 meters. I think it would be a lot cooler to get one that can go a bit farther. My next drone will definitely have a longer range, but for now I am having a blast getting aerial shots with the one I have. I took a bunch of pics of Arctic Valley Ski Area, which I am going to reference while creating a new trail map of the mountain.
I had always wanted to get into flying drones, and I love flying this one. I’m sure it is just one of many I will own in the future. A drone is a great tool for an artist to have in his/her quiver of image-gathering devices. Cheers to flying remotely! I hope you enjoy the pics and videos I made with my flying camera.
As you may have read in the previous post, we bought a house, and combined our living and working space, so we moved out of the studio on 4th Ave. As you can imagine, I haven’t been able to get much work done, because I’ve been spending all my time moving, shopping for furniture, and spending three relaxing days in Cordova to celebrate Maria’s birthday. One of our friends came over to check out the new house, and when she saw my studio downstairs, she said, “The first thing you’re going to paint is the walls!” The previous owner had quite a festive taste, and painted the large room downstairs in three different shades of orange. So, yesterday I began the long process of covering up the orange paint. I worked on one painting right when I moved in, because it had to be done by a deadline, and the light in that room was really screwed up because of the bright orange. I felt like the greens in the painting turned out weird, because the room was playing tricks on my eyes. So, before I do any more painting, I’m covering the walls with pure white primer. I’m on the second coat, and I think it will take three coats!!! So, if you need me, you know where I’ll be for the next few days — painting the walls in my new studio.
When we moved into my studio space at the 4th Avenue Marketplace, we were ecstatic to be downtown, and to have extra work space! I loved the view, and I loved working there. Having people come by for open studio events during First Fridays, Fur Rondy, and the Iditarod was always a great experience, and we usually made enough money during those events to cover our lease payments. Making the move to 4th Ave really cemented that I am a professional artist. However, I missed working at home. Packing a lunch was a drag, the bicycle commute across downtown was annoying (especially in winter), and the local street people seemed to always be present to greet me at the door to the building (when they were awake). I always seemed to have left this tool here, or that tool there, right when I needed it, and I was making another traffic-heavy bike trip back to one of the two locations.
I am happy to say that last weekend we moved out of the studio, and I am setting up my new studio on the first floor of our new house! It is a huge mess right now! I need permanent storage for tools, supplies, and paintings. I hope to be back to work by Monday, taking a week to move the condo and studio to our new house, and to get the condo ready for sale! The house is “not perfect,” as my father told me, but to us it is so amazing! It is quiet at night, there is more space for living and for the studio, and best of all, it has an oversized two car garage! No more carrying the table saw down stairs to work in blizzards for me! I can park my truck inside when it is cold out! Not to mention, the obvious home-brewing improvement! I brought my big smoker grill home from my parents’ house, and I’m going to smoke a brisket when I have everything set up. When brew day rolls around in the new garage, I’ll brew a big batch for a big housewarming celebration.
Until then there is a lot of work… Anybody want a cute little apartment-style condo in West Fairview? It would make a great Airbnb rental!
Cheers to making life better! May your day be brighter today than yesterday, and tomorrow be even better than that!
Sad the downtown studio is closed? You can still meet me for a beer at Midnight Sun Brewing. My art is there until the end of June! I will be having more out-of-the studio shows, so keep following Real Art Is Better on this blog, or on social media and we will keep you informed where and when we will be having in-person events!
Sometimes making oil paintings is quick, exciting, and requires a ton of attention to specific actions. Then there are times I am painting blades of grass, or needles on spruce trees for hours. Planning and making compositional sketches for paintings, or researching reference material and historical documents requires my complete attention, and I actually prefer silence, like at a library. When I am applying hundreds of brush strokes to a large area on a painting, I need something to help make the job more interesting. Sometimes I listen to music, which I think is a pretty common thing for an artist to do while painting. I think people imagine artists sitting back, working late into the evening, listening to music and sipping on wine while we work. I actually listen to Learn in Your Car Russian language lessons for an hour, and then normally switch to audiobooks that I check out from the Alaska Digital Library. Also, most of the time I drink water at work.
If you have a library card from UAA, or the Anchorage Public Library, you just have to download the Overdrive app for your phone, or computer. I spend hours a day painting, and I tear through books series. My genre of choice is science fiction and fantasy. Sometimes I discover a book series that I love, and I listen to the books over and over, up to as many as five times before I am through. Since I am painting while I listen to the books, I tend to miss important parts while concentrating on the painting more than the book.
I have compiled a list of books series I consider worth listening to more than once:
JK Rowling – Harry Potter series
Lois McMaster Bujold – Vorkosigan series
Lois McMaster Bujold – World of the 5 Gods series
Lois McMaster Bujold – Penric and Desdemona series
Patricia C Wrede – The Enchanted Forest Chronicles
Jim C. Hines – Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series
Christopher Paolini – Inheritance Cycle
Marissa Meyer – The Lunar Chronicles
Becky Chambers – Wayfarer’s series
Alex White – The Salvager’s series
James S. A. Corey – The Expanse series
I started listening to Harry Potter, and although I have read the books many times, having them read to you is special. If you haven’t done that, you should really get on the waiting list and listen to them–it’s really great.
If you have kids, and you want to entertain them in the car on a long drive, Patricia C Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles is amazing. Although, this series is designed for children, it is really entertaining and super fun to listen to. I like the full cast audio production.
An author I really love is Lois McCaster Bujold. Nobody I know has read her books, but there are over 30 of these highly enjoyable tales. I absolutely love the 17.5 books that make up the Vorkosigan Space Opera. I have been wanting to discuss the stories with someone, but nobody else has read, er…listened to them. Please spend the next six months reading these books, so you and I can have a conversation about them!!!
Most recently I have been reading James S. A. Corey’s Expanse series. There is also a TV series that is based on the books on Amazon Prime. I like both the books and the TV series. The TV series is like watching a really long movie that just keeps going from one cliffhanger to another.
Cheers to books on “tape”! They have been keeping me sane and at work for about seven years now!
Tomorrow we’ll be hanging an art show at Turnagain Brewing Co. before the brewery opens. We’ll also get to hang out at the brewery and drink beer during the First Friday art opening from 5pm – 8pm. If you can stop by, I’ll be happy to see you! I can’t believe I get to drink beer and talk to friends for my job! I have had dozens of art shows, but for some reason I still get a bit of an adrenaline rush every time I walk in.
Turnagain Brewing is one of our favorite small craft breweries here in Anchorage. Dr. Ted Rosenzweig has done an amazing job with some of his unique beers from the sour side of the brewery. I really love drinking the Framb Was, a raspberry sour. I pretty much order a glass of it every time I visit. Turnagain also does a really good job in the “clean” side of the brewery, or the “non wild yeast” side. The Blanca, a Belgian wit beer, is really well brewed, and I think it is the best example of the style in Alaska. It’s Maria’s go-to beer when we go to the brewery together.
Some of the paintings have been shown before, but never in this specific grouping. I really like the way Ted built the hanging system on the walls, it makes putting a show together really straightforward and easy. There will be 14 original oil paintings in total, as well as a selection of limited-edition prints, a few of which are about to become sold out!
I look forward to seeing you, if you can make it! The city has lifted all restrictions, so there is more capacity inside the brewery, but there is also an outdoor beer garden. Bring your masks, they are still mandatory indoors in Anchorage! Cheers!
I have yet another pandemic art show in full swing! I’m the featured artist at the Loft at Midnight Sun Brewing Co. for the month of January! Indoor seating capacity is limited to 25% until who-knows-when, so I’ve created a virtual art show for those of you who don’t feel comfortable going to the venue in person right now. If you’re interested in any of these pieces, give the Loft a call at (907) 344-6653. Even if you live outside of Anchorage, you can still nab a piece, and I will personally mail it to you within the U.S. at no charge. All of these are one-of-a-kind, original oil paintings. They are all framed in natural wood frames, except Winter and Autumn, which have dark brown frames. More paintings and prints are available at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.
Each holiday season I receive many requests for commissions that need to be done and delivered in time for Christmas. One of my favorite parts about working on these custom pieces is hearing people’s stories behind the painting concepts. Usually they send me a photo of a special beer they enjoyed with a best friend, or loved one, along with another photo of a place that is significant to both people, and then I combine the photos into one composition. Each detail has a meaning, and I am always glad to be part of creating a one-of-a-kind piece for a person who is caring enough to order a custom painting for a friend, spouse, or significant other. So, each year I publish a blog post to show you all the commissioned paintings I completed during the holiday season. Signed prints are available of Bourbon Paradise, and A Deal with the Devil paintings at my Etsy shop.
Can you think of anything unique, and significant to you that you’d like me to paint?
I’m currently having my second art show during a pandemic! The first one was in June at Midnight Sun Brewing Co., right after the brewery was allowed to open for on-site, indoor dining/drinking following the first shutdown. Right after that show ended, the Mayor limited restaurants and breweries to outdoor on-site consumption only. So I got pretty lucky on my timing. The show was surprisingly successful given the circumstances!
Fast forward six months, and I’m doing another art show during this pandemic, this time at Turnagain Brewing Co. I didn’t get as lucky on my timing for this one, because during December, we’re only allowed to drink beer outside per the latest hunker down order. Despite this obstacle, we decided to go ahead with the art show, but scaled it down just to the downstairs wall of the taproom, because people can still see the art while they go inside to order their beers. I hung original, one-of-a-kind oil paintings on the wall, and brought limited-edition prints and Beer Art Coloring Books to sell at the brewery. So far, I’ve actually sold some books, and prints, which is more than I was expecting.
I could have used this new hunker down order as an excuse to cancel the show, but I decided to push through this thing, and keep doing what I do, because I still can. Drinking beer outside by a fire pit is nothing new for Alaskans. Most of the breweries adapted quickly to the new restrictions, and put several fire pits outside, in festive beer gardens. I’m about to have my third pandemic art show, back at Midnight Sun Brewing Co., but in January I expect everything to open back up at reduced capacity, so maybe everyone can admire my art while eating and drinking inside.