Tag Archives: real art is better

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! 

Who’s Your Favorite Musher?

Our studio is inside the 4th Avenue Market Place, which is right on 4th Avenue, about a block from the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.  So, since 2016 we’ve been transforming the studio from work mode to pop-up gallery mode, and opening it to the public when everyone is on 4th Avenue to watch the race.  Each year I paint a new dog-mushing oil painting, and it usually sells on the day of the race.  A lot of people who come through the studio that day are tourists who came to Alaska just to see the Iditarod.  This year I painted this piece of Martin Buser, and then featured it in an e-news to my subscribers, and it sold before the open studio event!

Iditarod sled dog race dog mushing painting by Scott Clendaniel

Martin Buser. 24″ x 12″, oil on panel.

So Maria took a photo of the painting, and printed prints of it to sell during the Iditarod start at our studio.  But she also displayed the original, with a “Sold” sticker on it, and she had the brilliant idea to write on the sticker that I accept commissions, and could paint a custom Iditarod painting similar to this one with “your favorite musher.”  Well, several people took her up on that offer, and suddenly, I found myself painting dog teams for the next three weeks!  We were supposed to go to Washington, Hawaii, and Australia, but those trips were cancelled due to COVID-19 hysteria, so I ended up having plenty of time to work on these paintings.  I just finished them last week.  Who’s your favorite musher?

Iditarod sled dog race musher custom painting commission Scott Clendaniel

Aliy Zirkle. 36″ x 18″, oil on panel.

Iditarod 4th avenue anchorage Scott Clendaniel

Lance Mackey. 24″ x 12″, oil on panel.

Iditarod start Alaskan artist Scott Clendaniel dog mushing

Lance Mackey. 24″ x 12″, oil on panel.

Fur Rondy and Iditarod Open Studio Events – A Tradition at Real Art Is Better

We’ve had our studio inside the 4th Avenue Market Place for almost five years now, and each year during the Fur Rondy winter festival, and the Iditarod race start we’ve been turning the studio into a pop-up gallery, and opening our doors to the public.  The studio has large windows facing north, with a great view of the carnival.  Yesterday the carnival rides showed up in the parking lot across the street, which means the festivities are right around the corner!

Carnival rides getting set up in a snow storm.

The timing of the winter festival is perfect.  By late February, most Alaskans are fed up with winter, and start experiencing cabin fever.  The best cure is to head downtown to watch sled dog races, outhouse races, check out snow sculptures, ride a couple carnival rides, and maybe even participate in the blanket toss.  There are so many activities starting Feb. 28.  Here’s a link to the entire schedule.

The Real Art Is Better studio will be open both weekends.  Stop by to warm up, enjoy freshly-baked cookies, and check out the view.  We’re inside the 4th Avenue Market Place in Suite 4, which is in the NW corner if you walk in from 4th Avenue.  333 W 4th Avenue.

Open Studio Hours:

Saturday, February 29, 11am – 5pm

Sunday, March 1, 11am – 3pm

Saturday, March 7, 10am – 6pm

Fur Rondy carnival Anchorage Alaskaworld championship sled dog races anchorage alaska

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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Paintings Commissioned for Holiday Gifts 2019

Each year several thoughtful gift-givers commission me to paint custom oil paintings for holiday gifts, and so far I’ve always finished them all on schedule to be delivered several days before December 25th.  This year most of the paintings were dog portraits, and sadly two of those were of loved pups that had recently gone to doggy heaven.  No one ordered a cat painting.  Hmmmm.  One person really liked one of my existing float plane paintings, but wanted a smaller version, so I painted one for him.  I’m always impressed with the concepts that my patrons develop for these pieces, and my favorite part is finding out the stories behind each one.  I hope all the recipients liked their gifts.  I did receive a couple photos of smiling people holding their custom Clendaniel originals.

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.

Don’t Hang Your Beer Paintings in the Bathroom!

We often hear of masterpieces getting stolen from museums, but how often have you heard about a painting getting stolen from a brewery’s bathroom?  Well, in Anchorage, it happened twice, and both times the paintings were Clendaniel originals!  I’m flattered just a little, but mostly very disappointed with these people’s choices, or maybe just one person’s.
When I was doing the Year of Beer project, Gabe Fletcher, the owner of Anchorage Brewing Co., purchased a few beer paintings, and when he built his new brewery, he hung a painting in each bathroom.  Then one day, the painting from the men’s room was gone!  It was of Calabaza Boreal, a collaboration brew by Anchorage Brewing and Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales.  It was a hard piece to make, because it had two different incarnations and I depicted both bottles in the painting.  Gabe put out a plea for the thief to hang the art back on the wall, and no questions would be asked.  The painting hasn’t been seen since.  Gabe bought another painting from me of the Experiment, to replace that one, but he didn’t hang it in the bathroom.
Fast forward a couple years, and the thief strikes again!  Maybe it was a different person.  We don’t know.  This time the scene of the crime was the bathroom at Odd Man Rush Brewing Co. in Eagle River.  Last year I painted a piece live in the taproom, and one of the owners purchased it, and hung it in one of the unisex bathrooms.  Several months later, the painting mysteriously disappeared.  Ironically, the beer painting was of the Enforcer IPA.
So the lesson is, don’t hang your 8″x10″ Clendaniel beer art in public bathrooms at your drinking establishment!  I don’t have a problem with the location, I like having my artwork displayed basically anywhere, as long as it is visible to people.  The problem I have with public restrooms is that people seem to believe the artwork on the walls is a free gift.
After hearing that the piece was yanked, I contacted the owners of Odd Man Rush, and set up a date to paint a new one at the brewery.  I completed this painting last Sunday of Enforcer IPA, while sipping on a couple delicious brews, including the NEIPA, and when I was done painting the glass and the beer, I got to drink the Enforcer while painting the background.

Odd Man Rush Brewery Eagle River Alaska Scott Clendaniel beer artist beer painting

The new painting to replace the one that was stolen.

If you see either one of those stolen paintings, please grab it back for the rightful owners.  If you would like to return the stolen pieces, because you made a bad decision while you were a little tipsy, just put them back in the bathrooms, no questions asked.
Cheers to honesty!  Please don’t steal art, just contact me, and I’ll paint your favorite beer… no questions asked.

Real Art Is Better in Person

Since I don’t have gallery representation, I don’t get to show people my art in person as much as I would like.  Throughout the year, people can see my art by making an appointment to visit my studio, or attending an open-studio event and art shows at local venues.  Sure, I post photos of my paintings online all the time, but that doesn’t do justice to the colors and texture.  Seeing art in “real life” is a completely different experience.  That’s why I’m so glad to be participating in, and hosting several events this month where you can see my work.  I’m looking forward to seeing you at any, or all of these (if you’re on Facebook, you can see the Facebook events by clicking on the images).

1. Winter Market at Anchorage Brewing Co. November 30th and December 21st, 2-8pm.  Great beer, and pizza baked in a wood-fired oven!Anchorage Brewing craft fair winter market

 

2. The Holiday Studio Sale at the Real Art Is Better studio!  We clean up our studio, and turn it into a pop-up gallery for First Fridays a few times a year, but this one is not to be missed, because it’s more like our holiday party.  December 6th, 5-8pm.  333 W 4th Ave, Suite 4.  Real Art Is Better holiday studio sale

 

3. I will be the featured artist at Turnagain Brewing Company in December, so you can see my art there all month long.  I’ll have a meet and greet event there on Saturday, December 7th, 5-7pm.  My art will be available for sale directly from the brewery.Turnagain Brewing art show Scott Clendaniel beer artist

 

4. I will be joining many talented local artists and crafters at the annual Makers Market at the Atwood Center.  December 14 & 15, 11am – 4pm.  That will be a great place to do all your holiday shopping!

The holidays are always a busy time of year, but I’m grateful for each and every one of you who has supported my art career!

Cheers!

The Big Project Is Finished… Now What?

There were many days this summer when Maria would go hiking, or biking with friends, and I would spend the day at the studio, weekends included, working on the big 1% for Art project for Gladys Wood Elementary.  We installed the paintings this week, and yesterday I touched up all the spots where screws were visible, and mounted the plaques, so the project is officially done!  The whole process took over a year, but a lot of that time was spent waiting for paperwork to get processed, designs to be approved, contractors to be available after the earthquake, etc.  The actual work took about 7 months, but I did spend a few weeks at the cabin in McCarthy, and went on a ski trip in March.  I also managed to have an art show at Midnight Sun Brewing, and complete all the commissioned paintings that were ordered during that time.  Now that the big project is over, I need to regroup and set a course for the next few months.  The first thing I did was clean my studio, now that the panels weren’t completely overtaking it.  That really set my mind at ease.  So, what’s next?

Alaskan artist public art Scott Clendaniel studio

The panels completely took over my studio, which is why we couldn’t be open for the First Friday Art Walk.

Alaskan artist public art Scott Clendaniel Gladys Wood

The paintings are all installed!

Well, first we’re flying to Arizona, and meeting a couple of Maria’s relatives from Germany, and going to Las Vegas with them, and then Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion National Parks!  When I get back, I’ll start working on my next public art project (Maria is really good at keeping me busy), which is a 12ft x 6ft oil painting on canvas for the new clinic in Bethel.  I will also continue working on my beer-themed coloring book.  So far I’ve completed 26 pages, and my goal is 50.

This is a rendering of the painting I will be making for the new clinic in Bethel.

The beer-themed coloring book is coming along.

I will also start getting ready for my next art shows at Enlighten Alaska in November, and Midnight Sun Brewing in January, and the Makers Market in December.  We can start having First Fridays at our studio again, and the next one will be in December, which will be the Real Art Is Better holiday party.  Other than that, I’m available for commissions, graphic design, and sticker orders.  Life is pretty much back to normal, maybe I’ll even go mountain biking tomorrow with Maria!

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.

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.