Tag Archives: anchorage artist

My Workspace is Finally Ready for Studio Visits!

Our neighbors just listed their house for sale today, which reminded me of our journey exactly a year ago of buying and moving into this house with my studio on the first floor.  We looked at over 30 houses and there was always something wrong with the room I was planning to work in, or we just didn’t make the best offer over asking price.  Lack of access for large paintings was the main problem.  Anchorage is full of split entry homes, just like the one I grew up in.  Now I live in one again, and it’s frankly comforting, yet a little bit odd at the same time.  When we first moved in, the whole studio room was four different shades of orange.  My first studio improvement project, aside from moving all my stuff in, was to return the walls to a regular shade of white.  Next, we got a new large-format printer and rolled it into place. This house has great access to the studio directly from the garage!

Then we were busy with the Christmas rush, after wrapping up the last of my public art projects, and the Arctic Valley Ski Map design. In February, I upgraded my computer set-up, and finally got a Wacom tablet hooked back up. I thought the iPad would replace the Wacom tablet, but I find that it is best to have both working, and bouncing projects back and forth between platforms.  Maria started asking when I would be ready to work on the studio to make it more presentable. There were still bins of paintings from the old studio, and heaps of frames, and studio stuff piled up. I was reluctant to start, but when she found a great deal on used cabinets and countertops from Alaska Denali Winery, I got to work.  Carefully removing cabinetry is a skill on its own. Maria was budgeting most of April on the studio re-vamp, but it only took most of a week.  I also found a new (to me) desk, and I am glad to say I no longer am using a plastic folding table for my CPU workstation.  A year after moving into our house, my work space is finally set up!

I spent four days last month brewing beer, and I love to share it with both clients and friends.  We can have small studio get-togethers now that the place is presentable.  The studio is my favorite place in the house.  I love it so much, and I am so grateful to be working and living in a place that is all our own.  I can’t wait for you to stop over to see what I have been up to and share a glass of my home-brewed: West Coast IPA, Dark Ale, Hazy IPA, or a bottle pour of the world-famous Drippy Hippy ginger honey beer.  Let me know when you can make it over.

No more plastic storage bins! Everything is organized in new (to us) cabinets.
Several oil paintings are displayed on a rack by JQA Designs
My main work station for painting.

Commissioned Paintings for the Holidays 2021

Each year people commission paintings from me for holiday gifts, and I’ve always completed them on time. As I’ve said before, my favorite part about commissions is the stories behind each painting. I also love being involved in the surprise, and try very hard not to ruin it. So, now that everyone has received the paintings, I can finally show them to you. This year I completed nine oil paintings during the holiday season in time for Christmas, or anniversaries. Each one is super unique, and meaningful to my patrons, and the recipients. Thank you to all who commissioned paintings this year, and in the past!

Memorable moments from a trip to Greece, 18″ x 36″, oil on panel
14″ x 11″, oil on panel
10″ x 8″, oil on panel
10″ x 8″, oil on panel
Fatbiking in Newfoundland, Canada, 10″ x 8″, oil on panel
20″ x 30″, oil on canvas

Sketches for Paintings, so Everyone Is on the Same Page

I’m one of few artists who accepts commissions, and completes them in an agreed-upon timeline. Some of my fellow artists have many valid reasons for not doing commissions, and one of them is fear that the client won’t like the painting. One of the ways I avoid this from happening is by making sure the patron is familiar with my style. I’m not a photographic painter, so if you want an exact likeness of your great-grandfather in oil paint, I’ll refer you to someone else. If you want a colorful, textural painting that captures the vibe of the scene, then I’m glad to work with you. An important step in the commissioning process that I never skip is providing sketches to my clients for approval. I will not start painting until a sketch is approved. Sometimes the first sketch is a go, and other times I go back to the drawing board and make changes until the client gives me the go-ahead. This way everyone is on the same page. Here are three examples of sketches, and the final product. As you can see, a sketch is used to show the patron where each object will be placed, and the proportions.

I’m working on two sketches today for commissioned paintings, so I’m going to get back to that now. Until next time!

First Friday Art Show at Turnagain Brewing Co.

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!

Click on the image to see the event on Facebook.

Virtual Art Show at Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

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.

Octo-Schuss, 16″ x 20″, oil on panel, $650
Battle of Denali, 20″x16″, oil on panel, $650
Grogu, 7″ x 5″, oil on panel, $85
Let’s Rondy!, 24″ x 12″, oil on panel, $450
Chugach Session, 9″ x 18″, oil on panel, $290
Cherry Funk, 8″ x 10″, oil on panel, $180
Solstice in McCarthy, 14″x11″, oil on panel, $245
Solid Gold, 8″ x 10″, oil on panel, $180
Flightseeing in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, 14″ x 11″, oil on panel, $245
Bar Fly, 8″ x 10″, oil on panel, $180
The Tree of Life, 16″x20″, oil on panel, $850
Abominable Winter Ale, 8″ x 10″, oil on panel, $180
Future Champions, 20″x16″, oil on panel, $550
Moscow, 8″ x 10″, oil on panel, $180
Earning Your Pint, 24″x12″, oil on panel, $450
Maudite, 8″ x 10″, oil on panel, $180
Polar Biker, 14″x11″, oil on panel, $245
Rondy Brew, 14″ x 11″, oil on panel, $245
Duchesse De Bourgogne, 8″ x 10″, oil on panel, $180
Whale Dance, 36″x18″, oil on panel, $875
San Tan Brewing, 8″ x 10″, oil on panel, $180
MSBC Growler, 8″ x 10″, oil on panel, $180
Autumn, 36″ x 18″, oil on panel, $875
Winter, 36″ x 18″, oil on panel, $875
Sleeping Lady Brewing, 48″ x 24″, oil on panel, $1,200
MSBC Chillin, 12″x24″, oil on panel, $395
Pabst, 6″x12″, oil on panel, $120
Leyland Tractor, 20″x16″, oil on canvas, $925
Bitte ein Bit, 14″x11″, oil on panel, $245

How to Support All Your Favorite Local Small Businesses and Artists Without Going Broke

During these crazy times we all need each other’s support.  Everyone is saying we should support our local restaurants, small businesses, independent artists, but when times are this uncertain, saving money is also a good idea.  Maybe you don’t need art, or certain services at the moment, but you may need them in the future, and that’s why we want our local businesses to get through this lean period.  So, how can you support all your favorite businesses without going broke?

• Follow your favorite businesses and artists on social media, and sign up for their e-newsletters.  Do you love a picture they posted?  Then like it, share it, comment on it.  The more engagement a post has, the more likely other people will see it, and then the small business won’t have to spend as much on advertising to be seen.

• When you need to buy something, don’t just automatically go online to look for it, take a few seconds, and try to think of a local place that may have what you need.  They already spent the time and money to get products delivered to their store, so give them a call, or go to their website and see if they have what you’re looking for, or maybe they can order it for you.  Amazon will definitely survive through this, but isn’t it nice to have local brick-and-mortar stores around, in case you need something immediately?

• Post pictures of the food you are about to enjoy, or your favorite piece of art by an artist you follow.  Tell people why you love what they do.

• If you can’t afford to spend money at every business you want to support, then tell your friends in real life about why you love a certain shop, or restaurant, and maybe they will try it for the first time.  Attracting new customers is much more difficult than keeping existing ones.

• If you hear of an opportunity for artists, don’t assume that all artists know about it, forward that e-mail, or text the info directly to the artist.  I have had several friends text me about opportunities that they thought are a good fit for me.  Most of the time I find out about them eventually, but it’s nice to know that I am top-of-mind for some people, and I also appreciate having the extra few days head start on the application process.

• If you have a blog, or are a freelance writer, feature a small business in your next blog post, or article.

• Write a review on Facebook, Google, Yelp, etc.

What other ways can you think of to support your favorite businesses?  

People say it takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a community to have a thriving local economy.  We can get through this if we are creative about how we do it.  Lastly, I want to thank my patrons who have continued to purchase my art online and in person.  You make my art career possible!

Time to Start Thinking about Commissions for the Holidays

Today is already the middle October!  I’m so sad that I haven’t been able to have open studio gatherings to see you all.  We’re going to figure something out for the December party we normally have.  Since, I think we can only have about 5-7 people in the studio safely at once, we may schedule visits if you want to come in to sample a little homemade brew and shop for holiday gifts.  I will announce that possibility as we get a bit closer, and depending on the status of C-19 cases as winter weather sets in.  We haven’t even gotten through Halloween yet, so I assume most of you aren’t in the right mindset for that as of yet. 

What I do want to talk about right now is COMMISSIONED artwork.  I have had a nearly perfect record with successful commissions.  I just finished a piece for a local fire fighter who works just down the street from my studio.  He wanted a painting to commemorate a trip with his girlfriend to Orca Island in Resurrection Bay.  The painting was supposed to be a surprise, but he told his girlfriend about it when she was having a bad day, and she cried!  The only problem with commissioning a painting for a holiday gift is I run out of time to get them all painted, so getting in early is better.  In 2016 I completed 24 individual paintings that my patrons commissioned for holiday gifts.  I felt like an elf that year, and my beard started to twinkle with a bit of varnish by December 15, the last day possible for paintings to dry in time for the 25th.  I suggest you look through the pictures of your favorite trip this year, or last year (considering a lot of us have been hunkering down and not going anywhere since March).  It always brings a smile to see people so excited to give the gift of a special painting!  Cheers, and I look forward to seeing what you bring for me to paint! 

Back to Canvas

Recently I started painting on canvas again.  Last year I had to build a giant painting (12ft x 6ft) for a clinic in Bethel, and decided it would be best to paint it on canvas, roll it up, then fly there to rebuild and re-stretch it.  I was pleased with the results.  The end product was quite different from the hardwood plywood panels, but I found it to be easier to put certain details into the painting.  The finishing work required to put a painting on the wall — framing or painting the sides, has always been a hurdle for me, and I remember one of my college professors praising my paintings, but criticizing my shoddy frames.  I often see paintings framed poorly, and I have striven since those early college failures to produce professional looking pieces.  I still have some of those old canvases rolled up, but fortunately I did away with the garish frames.  In my defense, I was framing them on the catwalk balcony at my dorm room, because the sculpture professor wouldn’t let me make frames in the state-of-the-art sculpture lab.

A finished canvas without a frame needs to have a full wrap so the edges may be painted.  I didn’t make canvases that way until I was taught how to do so in class.  Frames need to have a lip that covers the front edge of the painting so you don’t have a distracting gap.  Previously, I used to laminate a piece of hardwood to the edges of a painting and sand the edge back to make a finished looking box, which is impossible with canvas.  That also takes a ton of work, since I am without a wood-shop, just like in the old dorm-room days.  Operating a table saw and a chop saw outside in the snow and 10 degrees is not my idea of fun.  Nobody ever told me being an artist was going to be easy.  In fact, I was told a successful artist works harder than most people.  I don’t know how hard I actually work, but I do seem to always be out of time.  I don’t really like power sanding, so I ordered a case of professional grade canvases.  I’ll give them a try and maybe I can just paint the edges and skip that snowy outdoor time with the annoying power-tools.

Painting on a canvas is completely different than the techniques I have been using on the hardwood panels.  My gold and red underpainting doesn’t work the same, so I have gone back to a traditional painting technique I haven’t used in a decade.  I was always about getting the colors to scream on the surface, but I am now more interested in getting a more accurate depiction.  I am now making an underpainting that represents the grayscale values, and not the primary colors I always used previously, which makes me like using canvas way more.  Canvas paintings reproduce better as canvas prints, since it is the same material used to begin with.  The gold and red painting surface that I have been using, looks great as an original, but always misses a bit as a reproduction.  I am switching over for completely practical reasons.  It seems very few people purchase original paintings.  I sell 20, or more prints and then maybe one original.  Even though my originals are pretty affordable, and I price my prints a bit higher than average.

Painting on canvas takes more time as I am forced to work with layering techniques.  The alla-prima technique looks lackluster without the red and gold underpainting.  It is necessary to build up layers to completely cover the canvas and fill in the little white spots that form around painted objects.  This takes more time and requires mixing mediums.  I will probably have to charge more for originals, since it takes way longer to make canvas paintings.  I originally started painting on the red and gold panels because it worked so well in a Plein Air (outdoors painting) environment.  I could start and finish a painting before it started to rain, or the sun moved too far, changing the shadows.  I was also making smaller pieces.  Are the red and gold panels to be retired forever?  Of course not!  I will still make some pieces using my signature technique, but I also have bought two large canvases and want to see where these traditional materials lead me.

The underpainting with grayscale values.

Close to being finished, just needs a few more details.

The large 5ft x 4ft canvas that I’ll be painting soon. Just need to figure out what to paint. I have two of these.

An Art Show During a Pandemic. The show will go on!

First Firkin Friday with Scott Clendaniel at Midnight Sun Brewing

We recently returned from our cabin in McCarthy to the metropolis known as Anchorage.  Maria and I both experienced small culture shock from the peaceful surroundings of our ten acres near Wrangell – St. Elias National Park compared to the industrialized buzz of the Anchorage city scene.  At the end of a two week stay all the treats we stockpiled to bring to the cabin start to run out and pretty soon you are making a lentil casserole from leftover ingredients.  At the cabin the birds were chirping and the loudest noise in the area was ourselves.  In Anchorage, the place where supplies are plentiful, we ordered sushi the night we arrived to our condo.  It was crazy to hear sirens, neighbors’ doors opening and closing, and the garbage truck.

We returned because I have an art show at Midnight Sun Brewing Co. starting this Friday, June 5th, and lasting for the whole month.  I have been working hard to get a new group of paintings together for this show.  The new pieces represent the four seasons of nature in Alaska’s Boreal forest, and I think they turned out pretty well.  Alaska is still experiencing over a dozen new cases of the Covies each day, but the Governor said we can start socializing again, so the show will go on, but don’t forget your mask.  I’ll tap the firkin at 5pm, and last call will be at 8pm.

Upon returning to Anchorage I was pretty stoked to go into MSBC and have a beer with my friends again.  MSBC didn’t get to celebrate its 25th birthday on the 5th of May the way it normally does, so this week the brewery is having a small celebration by offering some serious barrel aged beauties on draft.  Yesterday I stopped in and they had Arctic Devil barleywine, Sloth imperial stout, Bar Fly smoked imperial stout, the 25th anniversary barrel aged quad, and the Grand Crew Brew all on draft.  The walls at the Loft were bare when I got back Sunday, so I hung some paintings Monday.  I will hang the remaining 33 paintings tonight, and I will see if those barrel aged beers are still on draft.

Tomorrow is one of my favorite nights of the summer when I get to host the First Firkin Friday for June.  If the barrel aged delights are no longer on the menu, never fear, because there will be a special cask of Sloth aged on blackberries!  I will be bringing my craft fair table and will be selling art cards and stickers while sipping the tasty brews around my face mask.  It has been since 2013 that I have been enjoying MSBC’s hospitality in June, and I can’t think of a better way to spend the beginning of summer than sharing a small glass of Sloth with you!   So don’t go hiking at 5PM tomorrow, because you won’t get back in time, the brewery still closes at 8pm.  This isn’t a problem in the winter, but during summer, sometimes you have to set an alarm to make sure it doesn’t get too late for fresh beer at the tasting rooms!  I look forward to seeing all your sparkling eyes, if I miss being able to see your big smiles under your masks tomorrow!  Cheers to summer!

How to Transport and Install a 12ft x 6ft Oil Painting from Anchorage to Bethel

If you have stopped by our studio in the last three months you saw the enormous oil painting filling my work space, or stashed in the hall in order to make room for people during open studio events.  The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation built a new clinic in Bethel, and released a call for art in early 2019.  We applied for several wall spaces, and were awarded a contract to create a 12ft x 6ft oil painting on canvas for a large area high on the wall above a stairway.  This is the largest canvas I have ever painted!  Last week I delivered, assembled and helped install this piece at its location in Bethel. 

So, how do you take such a large painting on a jet-plane?  I designed the canvas from the start so that transporting it on an Alaska Airlines flight would be possible.  However, we all know that while some things seem easy conceptually, they can gain complexity as they progress.  The stretcher support was made up of 45 individual ash and birchwood pieces, and no piece was longer than 6ft, because I wanted them all to fit into a ski bag.  The canvas was rolled up and the stretcher support dis-assembled for its journey.  I waited until the day before departure to break it down, and pack it up. 

I awoke at 3:30 AM to catch a 6AM flight to Bethel.  I brought two checked ski bags, and a carry-on backpack.  No extra luggage fees for me with Club 49 thanks to Alaska Airlines!  I could have brought another checked bag, since it was an in-state flight!  Alaska Air and TSA were gentle enough with my precious cargo, and everything arrived in good shape and on-time.  I was picked up by the YKHC maintenance foreman, Pat, at the airport.  He and his team have been installing all the newly-acquired art pieces at the clinic.  I got to see some of the art while I was there, and I must say that the committee chose some incredible art!  We drove to the maintenance building and picked up two more staffers to help lift the painting onto the wall.  Re-assembly took me a couple of hours and I had a conference room to myself.  The extra help was great, and I don’t think I could have stretched it back to its original tightness without the extra muscle.  

The maintenance crew was clutch, as I had planned to hang this colossal piece the same way I hang smaller pieces — on a heavy-duty wire.  There is only an inch of clearance on either side of this piece so getting it straight on the wall was the real problem.  Pat suggested I use a French cleat, and I agreed that would be better, if only I had thought to bring one.  Pat was a superhero and produced the hardware from his storeroom!  This made hanging the piece much easier.  Four guys and two ladders later the 90lb painting slid into place.  This took us right up to lunchtime, and I was a little disappointed I had taken the early flight, as now I had 8 hours to kill until I could catch the return flight to Anchorage.  Pat had to check on his dog, and I had packed a lunch, so I chilled out at the hospital for an hour and breathed a sigh of relief.  

After lunch Pat took me on an amazing driving tour of Bethel and the Kuskokwim River.  I got to go to the grocery store to replenish my snacks for the return trip to Anchorage.  Pretty expensive to buy food and gas in Bethel.  $4.49 a gallon for gasoline, and $8.49 a gallon for milk! The area is beautiful tundra with mountains glistening in the distance.  I got so see a pretty nice chunk of the town, which is much larger than I had expected — about 10,000 residents.  The area around Bethel is very interesting, but the people are where the real beauty exists, everyone is so friendly and helpful.  Bethel is a hub, but it felt like a really welcoming village. 

I was dropped off at the airport with my drop cloths in my ski-bag, and I was feeling really fatigued by this time.  I hunkered down at the airport and worked on my beer coloring book pages for a couple of hours before catching my flight home at 10PM.  I met a fellow who was so happy to pick up his crate from Alaska Airlines.  He said he had snow-machined for two hours from his camp to pick it up!  This was right at twilight, so it was going to be a dark return trip for him.  Adventurous people live in the Delta and I was happy to get a glimpse of this culture.  Thank you YKHC for this superb opportunity!  Maybe next time I can come in the summer and do a little fishing.  

Here is a slideshow of some pictures I took during this whole process.  Below you’ll also find three timelapse videos of my painting, and the last one is of us taking apart the painting and rolling up the canvas.

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