Tag Archives: anchorage artist

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.

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Zip Kombucha Taproom Review

~ by Maria Benner

I try to find places to hang out before they get discovered by everyone else, and become too crowded for my comfort.  Mostly because I dislike waiting in line (like a typical Alaskan), and prefer less noisy environments where I can easily communicate with my friends.  The Zip Kombucha tap room is one of those places that is still mostly under the radar.  I shouldn’t even tell you about it, but at the same time, I want it to prosper.

I prefer brewery taprooms over bars, because they offer a comfortable setting without the meat-market/sketchy vibe that most bars have.  This taproom is unique in that it offers draft beer in a brewery-taproom setting, but can stay open past 8pm.  It can also have live music and games.  The craft beer selection is really top-notch.  Last week it was the only place in Anchorage that had No Woman No Cryo IPA by Girdwood Brewing on tap.  The price is a very reasonable $5 per pint!  For those who don’t want to drink alcohol, or are gluten-free, kombucha is on tap in several delightful flavors like blueberry, ginger, or mint.  Wine is also on the menu.  Delicious and healthy food is available as well.  Recently, Glacier Bowl teamed up with Zip to offer poke bowls.  Several nights a week there is live entertainment including open-mic night, and music by local musicians.  The large space in the brewery even has enough room for dance lessons.  The taproom also exhibits art by local artists.  In April the featured artist is Scott.  His oil paintings and limited-edition prints are on display and available for sale through Zip until May 2nd.  This place has it all!

What is kombucha?  It’s a beverage produced by fermenting sweet tea with a culture of yeast and bacteria.  It tastes sweet and sour at the same time, but the flavors are not overwhelming.  The yeast eats most of the sugar, so this beverage won’t rot your teeth, and it’s loaded with probiotics.  Added flavors like ginger, berries and mint really shine in this clear and fizzy drink.

So next time you’re looking for a quiet, yet hip space to meet your friends where you can get food, craft beer, and non-alcoholic, gluten-free beverages, along with entertainment, and art, check out the Zip Kombucha taproom at 3404 Arctic Blvd.  The location in midtown is convenient, with plenty of parking.  Open every day 4-9pm.

Kombucha and draft beer menu.

Live music in the Zip Kombucha taproom.

Ahi poke bowl by Glacier Bowl.

Mint kombucha.

Are you Ready to Rondy?!

Let’s Rondy! 36″x18″, oil on panel.

February 15th 1935, 24 years before Alaska was even a state, Anchorage local Vern Johnson started the first ever Anchorage Fur Rendezvous!  Miners and trappers were already in town awakening from the hibernation months of December and January with the hopes of restocking supplies and selling some of their recent harvest.  Only three days long, the original Fur Rondy hosted hockey, basketball, skiing, boxing and children’s sled dog races, and not much else.  

The event has grown over the last 84 years and people have come to expect a grand time during this traditional Alaskan celebration.  I remember Rondys of the past — the festival used to last three whole weeks and we got a day off from school just to enjoy the festivities.  My mom would bundle us all up in our snow gear and we would trudge off to downtown Anchorage to ride the Ferris wheel, eat elephant ears, and watch super cool events.  I remember the party kicking off with the amazing fireworks extravaganza!  Some of my favorite classic events as a kid were the Grand Prix Auto Race, World Championship Sled Dog Races, the blanket toss, snowshoe softball, the amazing Rondy Grand Parade, and one not to be missed — the snow sculptures. 

The festival was shortened from three weeks to ten days in 2008 due to budget constraints.  We don’t have the Grand Prix anymore, but we still race sled dogs down 4th Avenue and slam beers at every base during snowshoe softball.  Another popular event is the Miners and Trappers Ball, with a beard contest and many costumes made from blue tarps, duct tape and Carhartts.  The outhouse races are always a highlight, and of course the new favorite is the Running of the Reindeer.  A bunch of Rondy participants dress in costumes and brave running with a pack of horned reindeer.  I always wonder if the reindeer are infuriated by the hotdog stands lining the street, selling famous reindeer dogs.  Another new tradition is Anchorage Brewing Company’s Rondy Brew. This year it is a delicious NEIPA brewed with 100% Strata hops, which taste like passion fruit!  

Real Art is Better is strategically located in the 4th Avenue Marketplace, across the street from Rondy Headquarters, in the NW corner of the building.  We clean it up and convert it to a small retail space for the weekend.  There is also a craft fair inside the building.  I invite you to stop in and check out my newest work and take in the view of the Rondy Carnival from our amazing Inlet view window.  We’ll be open Saturday and Sunday, 11am – 6pm.  I have several new art cards never before released, and many new paintings.  I bake cookies for the event and there are great snacks to be found at the craft fair.  The studio is a great place to warm up after watching the mushers, or making the trek down the hill to 2nd Avenue to see the snow sculptures.  The blanket toss and fur auction are right across the street in the 3rd Avenue parking lot.  

If you are getting fed up with Alaska style cabin fever, Rondy is the remedy.  This is the biggest social event of the winter!  Celebrate the end of hibernation season and get ready to PARTY!  Dust off those styling furs and show off Anchorage style!

Wear your Rondy pin, or risk jail time!

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.

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

Commissioned Paintings for Holiday Gifts 2017

Every holiday season I get many requests for commissions, and this year was no exception.  By now I know what to expect, and how to get ready for the holiday rush.  As always, each painting had a special story behind it, and I loved being in on the surprises.  My favorite painting this year was the view of looking up at aspen trees in the Fall (Maria wanted to keep it).  The best response was from a customer in Texas about the Shiner Bock painting, “OMG THIS PAINTING IS ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!! You’ve officially made me cry! Today has been an absolutely horrible day and you’ve made it so much better. Thank you doesn’t even begin to cover it!”  Messages like this make me happy about being an artist.

We take a picture of every painting that leaves the studio, so here is a slideshow of the paintings I made this holiday season (click on the pictures to view a slideshow).  They are all oil paint on wood panel, framed in a natural ash wood frame. I prime my paint supports red and gold before applying the oil paint, so you can see the gold paint shining through gaps in the oil paint.  This is my signature technique, and one way you can always recognize a Clendaniel original.

If you’d like to commission one, just let me know, or you can read Maria’s blog post about how to commission a painting.

 

Important Dates for Real Art Is Better this Holiday Season

~ by Maria Benner

For those of you who are considering ordering gifts from Real Art Is Better this holiday season, here are some important dates to keep in mind.

HOLIDAY SALES EVENTS

  1. First Friday Annual Holiday Open Studio Event
    1. What: we will transform our studio into a pop-up shop for the evening. Complimentary refreshments included.  Receive a free 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall poster with every purchase of $20 or higher!  Enter a drawing for a Clendaniel art print of your choice.
    2. When: December 1st, 5:30pm – 7:30pm.
    3. Where: Real Art Is Better Studio. Inside the 4th Avenue Market Place in Suite 4. 333 W 4th Avenue.
  2. Winter Maker’s Market
    1. What: 30 of Alaska’s most talented artists and crafters will set up shop at the Church of Love in beautiful downtown Spenard. Complete your holiday shopping all in one place.
    2. When: December 2nd, 12pm – 5pm.
    3. Where: Church of Love Spenard, 3502 Spenard Rd.

DEADLINE TO COMMISSION OIL PAINTINGS

The last day to order a custom painting is Friday, December 8th if the painting needs to be mailed, and December 14th if you’re picking it up at the studio.

IMPORTANT SHIPPING DEADLINES

When you order from us online, your order will be shipped within one business day.  Here are the last days that your package can be shipped in order for it to arrive by December 25th.

 

 

How to Commission a Painting

~ by Maria Benner

There are few gifts more unique and personal than a commissioned oil painting.  If you’re considering giving one as a gift this holiday season, but don’t know how to commission a painting, here’s a step-by-step guide.

Step 1. Decide on the subject matter for the painting: a place, person, or thing (or all of the above).

Step 2. Contact us at least two weeks before you need the painting.  During busy times, like the holiday season, the earlier you place the order, the better.  Now is actually a great time.  We will need to know the size, and when you need the painting.  Then we’ll send you a price quote.

Step 3. Send us photos.  The more, the better.  Don’t be shy.  You can either e-mail them to us, or stop by the studio to discuss the concept in person.

Step 4. Scott will create sketches of different options, or just one sketch (if the concept is straight forward), and send it to you for approval.  This is the time to make changes, and dial in the painting concept.

Step 5. After the sketch is good to go, Scott will start painting.  When the painting is done, he’ll send you a photo.  Then you’ll have a very short window to make any small, last-minute tweaks, if necessary, before the paint dries.

Step 6.  The oil paint will take about 10 days to dry.  Then Scott will coat it with a clear protective varnish, and frame it.  Then you can pick it up, or we can mail it to you, or to the recipient.

You can order a custom beer painting, or a custom bike painting online at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter, or just send us an e-mail, call or text.

Another option is to give someone the experience of commissioning a painting, by giving them a Gift Certificate.

Here are a few examples of recent commissions.