Call it one hell of a New Year’s resolution. In 2014, Alaska-based oil painter Scott Clendaniel painted a beer every single day, posting them to his blog, Facebook and other social media outlets. It’s now 2015, and Clendaniel can look back on 365 painting of pints, bottles, pubs and breweries. What has he learned after a year of painting beer? He doesn’t really want to do that again.
DRAFT: How did you get the idea for this project?
Clendaniel*: In 2006, I did my first beer painting project called “The Color of Beer.” It was 10 paintings, 1-foot-by-2-foot, and I painted pints of beer ranging from amber to hefeweizen to brown ale to IPA and onward to stouts and double chocolate stouts. That was great. I had a sold-out show. I was like “Wow, people really like beer paintings.” It took me four years to produce my next show, 99 Bottles of Beer. It got a lot of attention, and I sold a whole bunch of paintings. I was thinking, ‘That’s great, what can we do to make that some type of buzz occur? I’ll do a Year of Beer.”
How did you select the beers you wanted to paint?
I wanted the label to look cool but I also wanted the beer to be tasty. It also needed to have a following. I wanted to do one from all 50 states, which I did succeed in doing. In Alaska, we really only get beers from the Pacific Northwest and some East Coast breweries. I got the rest sent or hand-delivered to us. That was really fun. I couldn’t believe I actually met that goal. It’s something most Alaskans don’t get to do.
Which were your favorite beers to paint?
I don’t know. I’m an equal opportunity beer drinker. I’m a lover of hops and a lover of malts.
Did you drink before or after the actual painting?
I try not to drink too early in the day. This is the way I really like to do it, though it’s not always what happens: I like to put the bottle out, then paint in the label and an empty glass. Then I pour the beer in the glass and then paint the beer while the foam is still there. I start with the foam, then I start drinking the beer, then I fill in the rest of the glass and the background.
Are the paintings selling well?
They’re doing pretty good. Right now, I put up about 100 of them at Midnight Sun Brewing in Anchorage. We sold a third of them before we even did that show. Then I’ll be looking for a new venue to show these paintings. I’d like to keep showing them until they’re gone.
What did you learn by doing this?
I learned how to paint live, in breweries, which was really fun. HooDoo Brewing in Fairbanks asked me to paint live in their brewery in February. I brought my plein air painting palette and set up shop right in their tasting room. I did that seven times on the East Coast with every brewery that would allow me to do it. At Dogfish Head, I’m sitting there working on the 90 Minute; it’s on cask, and I’m painting in the back of the pub. Before I even finished, this couple just asked me if they could buy it because they had just been married the day before. It was a pretty awesome experience to sell a wet painting like that.
Would you ever do this again? Maybe with wine?
I don’t think I’ll ever paint wine because a lot of people have already done wine. I am continuing with the project through Thirsty Thursday, putting up a new beer painting every Thursday. The first three I’ve done this year, starting with January 1, I started putting up famous pieces of art and then turning them into beer paintings. The first one was Andy Warhol-themed; instead of putting Marilyn Monroe or cans of soup in there, I put pints of beer. It’s been really fun. I’m trying to teach all the beer lovers about art history.
*Interview has been edited for length and clarity.