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.
~ by Maria Benner
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
After college I spent a brief period in Portland, Oregon, where I began working as an artist full time. Every first Thursday of the month art galleries downtown and in the Pearl District would be open with new exhibits. My portfolio was not quite developed, and getting an art curator to take me seriously as an artist didn’t pan out. I wasn’t the only artist who wanted to participate in First Thursday, there were many talented people who wanted to show and sell their art, so the “outcasts” of the established gallery scene in Portland started their own event on Alberta Street on Last Thursdays. They displayed paintings, jewelry, sculptures and crafts on the sidewalks up and down the streets, and soon the event became quite popular. There were live musicians, food vendors, fire dancers, and overall great times! I joined in one time and paid for my space by trading one of my paintings to the business owner who let me display my art in front of his store. I didn’t sell any work that night, but I made connections and had a blast!
When I moved back to Anchorage in 2002, we didn’t have as vibrant of an art scene like the one in the City of Roses. There was no First or Last Thursday, and very few galleries. I don’t remember how, or when First Friday started in Anchorage, but I’m very glad that it happens now. This is the first week of October, which means that Friday is the day that all the galleries, and some coffee shops, tap rooms, and restaurants will be hosting art opening receptions. This is your chance to shop for the newest art, and to speak with artists directly about their inspiration.
I sometimes have art shows at various venues around town, and when I don’t have one booked, we open our painting studio to the public just for a few hours during the First Friday Art Walk. Normally, when we’re not hosting an event, our doors are closed, and we’re just working in there, but you can make an appointment to visit if you want to shop for art, or commission a painting.
This Friday we will be open to the public, and I invite you to stop by, especially if you’ve never seen where we work. We have an incredible view of the Inlet and the Port, and I’ll bake my famous chocolate chip cookies. This is a great opportunity to see a real painting studio, meet the artist, and see the newest paintings. We’ll be open from 5 to 7:30pm, and the studio is inside the 4th Avenue Market Place at 333 W 4th Avenue. We’re in Suite 4, just follow our Art Show signs.
There are three other First Friday events that I recommend you attend. The Anchorage Museum is free and often has live music, talks and special exhibits, and is open late on First Fridays. Williwaw Social is hosting their first First Firkin Friday event, and is celebrating the grand opening of the Midnight Sun Brewing Dining Hall. And lastly, check out the new tiny gallery called Blank Space where my friend Justin DeWolf is having his first art show.
Supporting local artists keeps our community vibrant and creative, and First Friday is a good way to see a lot of local art in one evening. Don’t spend your PFD in one place!
Let’s take it EZ today with a bottle of Session EZ IPA by Full Sail Brewing Co. in beautiful Hood River, Oregon. I painted the Hood River-White Salmon Bridge, with Mt. Hood in this composition to put a local spin on this painting. Brewed with Citra, Equinox, and Cascade hops, this unfiltered 4.8% ABV brew is just the ticket to avoid the afternoon brew coma. A lazy day in the sun sipping IPA all day can lead to an early evening, unless you stick to low ABV sessionable versions of this highly hopped American style of beer. IPA normally brings the buzz right to your brain, but when it has a lower ABV, it reminds me of a supped up version of light beer. The taste is right, and the body is there thanks to the unfiltered process, but it just doesn’t goat-kick you to the head. DIPA and imperial IPA still have their place, but if you want more than one or two, EZ IPA is your go to! Have the conversation last a bit longer and the afternoon extend ’til twilight with this beverage. Way to go Full Sail, you did it again!
I won’t be releasing new beer paintings for five weeks, because we’ll be traveling in Russia and Europe, and we’re not bringing oil paint, or a laptop. But we will be sampling local beers whenever we find notable breweries and pubs, and we’ll post about our adventures on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds.
This original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter. Domestic shipping is free.
~ 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.
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.
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.
4. Birch on Birch. Oil on birch panel, 4ft x 5ft, 2018. Contact us to view this painting in person at our studio.
~ by Maria Benner
This Friday, May 4 is the first Friday of the month, which means that most local art galleries will have new art shows and will be hosting receptions. The artists are normally present at these events, and often there is live music and complimentary refreshments. Most of the action happens downtown, but there are many venues around town that host First Friday events. The Anchorage Press is a good source for event listings. Scott and I usually open our studio to the public for First Friday Art Walk, but not every month. This one in May will be the last one we’ll host at the studio until October. Scott will have an art opening in June, but it will be at Midnight Sun Brewing Company. In preparation for an open studio event, we always have to do quite a bit of cleaning and rearranging of paintings and studio equipment. Work mode and open studio mode are very different. We completely clear my desk to make room for prints and greeting cards, put away all the painting stuff and scrub the floor. Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what the studio looks like in work mode, versus how we make it look for visitors during open studio events. We hope you’ll stop by this First Friday from 5:00 – 7:30 pm. We’ll have cookies that Scott will bake from scratch, and new paintings that have never been shown before. The address is 333 W 4th Avenue, Suite 4 (inside the 4th Avenue Market Place).
Did you know that after a male octopus slings its sperm with a specially affected arm (not a tentacle, they are called arms) it then withers and dies? The female receives the gametes in her mantle cavity then finds a protected spot to deposit the fertilized eggs, after which she also withers and dies. Pretty depressing that right after achieving your reproductive goals in life, to simply sit back and die, never to see your offspring. This octopus is not even thinking about reproduction though, he is only thinking about how he still has six arms left without beer! That is like only having 1/4 of a beer in your human hands. It also might be a problem that this guy is underwater and I am sure that this beverage is leaking out into the sea. Better get on it you suffering cephalopod, and slurp the suds down your beak before it dissolves faster than you can say octopus ink. Octopoda are smart, and this guy proves it by choosing beer as his beverage of choice. Cheers to intelligent decisions! Drink beer! Be merry! Don’t spawn out too early!