Hiking With Aliens

Took the kid on a hike and we found where the aliens left behind a chunk of metal from their jalopy of a spacecraft. The story going around town is that the aliens were too busy texting while flying and ran into a rogue asteroid in low earth orbit. Obviously, a piece of their wing fell off, fell through the sky like a giant metal dart impaling the top of a hill like a skewer in a martini olive.

We also discovered this tree that would be a perfect slingshot, Angry Birds style. We didn’t see any pigs around, so they must have ran off with all the eggs before we showed up.

On the way down we found a great shortcut and I totally beat Elliott to the bottom of the hill. Is it acceptable to take pride in beating a 9 year old in a race? You bet your sweet ass is! If you had any idea how much this kid tortures me on a daily basis you’d be surprised I didn’t leave him on the hill to fend for himself in the wilderness. Let’s be honest though, if you know this hike you know referring to it as “wilderness” is quite a stretch. Anyway…all you need to remember is that I won.

Oh yeah, Elliott totally befriended/kidnapped this alien we met on the hill. Despite the alien’s initial hesitation to mingle with humans, they’ve since become inseparable besties.

Stay tuned for more shenanigans.

Thanks for reading!
– Jeff

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Did you miss the last post about Viva Paso temporarily closing? If so, read all about it.
Also, without a retail shop for you to visit it would be super awesome if you checked out the online shop. Thanks!
Oh yeah, on the real. We did not find and kidnap the alien. Do you honestly think I would let my son take a piece of a random public art sculpture? We brought that silly alien from home. We should have left it on the hill though because the squeaking it makes when you squeeze its belly is driving me insane. It’s one of those things where if you are the one doing the squeezing/squeaking it’s super fun, but as soon as somebody else is doing it you want rip the thing out of their hands and jam it down the garbage disposal.

Closing Shop And Looking For A New Space

In case you haven’t heard by now, my shop, Viva Paso, is no longer at 1211 Pine St. We have NOT permanently closed. In fact, we are very much ALIVE online and are on the hunt for a new retail space. We’re calling this a “to be continued” situation. A mere intermission, if you will.

That’s the short version.

And that might be all you are interested in, but if you’d like to read more about it then get ready because here it comes…

The truth of the matter is that we had a 5 year lease and the 5 years was up on December 31, 2020. It’s really that simple. We did not close because of the pandemic or lack of sales/customers. The rent on that space is more than what we want to pay and signing on for another 5 years seemed more dreadful than it did fun. Who would choose dread over fun? Not me. So, after 5 years of being open 7 days a week I am happy to have a little break right now.

Giving a fully detailed run down of my history being a retail shop owner is something I’ll avoid for now, but I will say this. Since I first opened shop in 2004 until closing Viva Paso 2 weeks ago I have had some sort of retail/gallery space to show and sell my art from. In the past 16 years there are only a few little pockets of time where I had no space for a couple of months, but that’s about it. The biggest gap I can remember when I did not have a retail space at all was the 5 months it took for the construction to be done at Viva Paso before we could open the doors. I’ll bore you with all of those details when I publish my memoir, “Thai Iced Tea, Donuts, And Me”, coming out by Penguin Random House in 2055. Anyway, the point is, I have had a store for a long time. It’s what I know and it’s what I’ve done. Opening in a new location is nothing new to me. I’ve done it before and I can do it again.

The question is, will I do it again? Probably. I mean, right now that is the plan. This is a chance to look back, reevaluate, and open shop in a new space with a fresh vibe. Viva Paso, version 2.0. I look at spaces all the time and am just waiting for the right one that checks off all the boxes I want/need. Decent location, affordable rent. Seems simple enough.

Part of me daydreams about renting something in an industrial area so I can be more of an artist and less of a retail clerk. That would mean very little foot traffic and I’d have to rely on selling more stuff online and through galleries and retail shops that aren’t mine, but I like that idea. It feels more risky than renting a retail space downtown, but I would have the opportunity to make more artwork and that sounds super fun to me. Luckily, this isn’t something I need to decide today. So…

For now, I welcome this break from retail with open arms.

See, I never had a chance to paint rocks with the family on a Friday afternoon before.

Without the retail shop I am now strictly online. So, if there is anything you would like please check out all the goodies online.
For my artwork: jeffclaassen.com – This site is dedicated to everything I make. You’ll find original paintings, limited edition prints, shirts, sticker packs, pins, patches, etc.

And, of course, I always encourage you to see artwork in person. For that, I have a good selection of pieces at Fiona Bleu Gallery. They are at 900 Embarcadero, Morro Bay, CA.

For Viva Paso: vivapaso.com – Here you will find everything you would have seen in our retail shop. There are about 300 items available right now. Everything from serape blankets to stuffed animals, greeting cards to Chilewich mats, books, and even David Bowie socks.

I’d like to give a HUGE thanks to any and all of you that ever stepped foot in Viva Paso. With any luck we’ll be seeing each other again when we find a new space to call home.

See ya!
– Jeff

Behind The Scenes: Making New Wallets

This is the aftermath of a wallet making session in the studio at Viva Paso. Lots of thin strips of vinyl, art prints, and magazine clippings. There’s an art project in there somewhere in that pile of colorful debris, but I haven’t figured out what that is yet. Alternative to packing peanuts, maybe? Not really an “art project” per se, but it’s something.


This is the stage just before sewing. There are 6 layers to these wallets and I hold them all together with paper clips so they don’t slip and slide all over the place when I start sewing them.

They look so much cleaner after sewing, but the big messy stack is probably cooler to see. After this stage is when I trim all the edges off, giving each wallet a clean smooth edge.

Big news over here. I hope you’re ready for it. The classic red Hunter S. Thompson wallet that I’ve been making for years is finally available in two more colors. I don’t know why it’s taken so long, but a few months ago a customer requested/suggested making orange or yellow. He had already purchased 2 (maybe 3) red ones and he loves the graphic (obviously) but didn’t want another red one. So, I took his suggestion and made both colors. Check em out!

If you’d like one they are both available on my site now. They are $16 each.
To order click one of the above photos or just click one of these:
Orange
Yellow
And, of course, the Red is still available too.

And if that’s enough, I also added two new Card Cases to the selection.

This one is called “Fluffle”, which is great word you don’t hear too often. A fluffle is a group of bunnies and who doesn’t love a group of bunnies? Nobody, that’s who! Crazy talk, I tell ya.

This one is called “Let’s Kick It.” The card cases are $13 each.
If you’d like to order one just click one of the photos above or use these links:
Fluffle
Let’s Kick It

As of right now I only have these 2 designs for card cases, but I have over 30 wallet designs. Here’s just a few of them from the batch I made the other night.

You can see all of the designs right here. Also, I almost don’t like to admit it, but January was sadly the worst month Viva Paso has ever experienced, so if you order a wallet it would be very much appreciated.

And before I forget, I would really love to get these wallets into some other shops. I’ve done wholesale with these in the past and would really like to get more involved in that world. So, if you own a shop or work at a shop or know any store that might be interested in selling these please let me know or send them my way.

Email or send me a DM on Instagram: @jeffclaassen

Thank you so much for your support!
– Jeff

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Wow…you aren’t bored out of your eyeballs yet? That’s fantastic because check this out. You can now follow me on TikTok. I’ve been uploading a lot of quick time lapse painting videos on there. At the longest they are only 60 seconds, which is a bit easier to swallow than some of the YouTube videos I upload. Happy watching!

New Owl Painting And Video

First post of 2020. I’ve started the year off being as productive as possible. Before 2020 was upon us I told myself I was going to focus on making bigger paintings, but here I am making a series of 3.5″ x 7″ paintings. In my defense, I had some paintings in the works that weren’t quite finished, so I am working on those and then I really would like to make some bigger paintings this year. Anyway…for now I have one new piece to show you.

This is Ginger. She’s 3.5″ x 7″, mixed media on wood with epoxy resin coating. She’s available in my online shop or in person at Viva Paso – 1211 Pine St in downtown Paso Robles.

You know, come to think of it, I have more than one new piece to show you. I finished these next two a few weeks ago, so you might have seen them on Instagram, but if not, here ya go.


“Gilligan”
3.5″ x 7″ – mixed media on wood.
Available in my online shop.


“Mary Ann”
3.5″ x 7″ – mixed media on wood.
Available in my online shop.

Yes, I am using all the characters names from Gilligan’s Island. I have a few more to go, so be on the lookout for Lovey, Thurston, The Skipper, and The Professor.

Enjoy!
– Jeff

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What, that’s not enough for you? Fine…
follow me on the IG: @jeffclaassen.
and on TikTok: @jeffclaassen

10 New Mini Paintings

I have been obsessed with making these little 3″ square paintings. Here’s a little video showing the newest batch.

All of these are one of a kind hand painted originals. They are 3″ x 3″ canvases and are available on my site for $30 each. Yes, the awesome little easels are included.

If for some reason watching a video makes you cringe here are photos of the paintings in all of their 3″ glory.


“Prankster” – adopt me


“Gordie” – take me home


“Denny” – let’s hang out


“Philip” – hold me


“Joel” – let’s get donuts


“Ace” – fly with me


“Teddy” – kiss me


“Chris” – let’s be friends


“Lydia” – be my roommate


“Vern” – be my roommate

And there you have it…that is what 10 mini canvas paintings look like.
Thanks for checking them out!

– Jeff

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If that wasn’t enough for you…
– I’m now on TikTok
– Follow on The Gram: @jeffclaassen

They’re Back!

The journals/notebooks were new this year. I had toyed around with the idea for awhile and finally got off my butt and figured out what would work best for me. I’m super stoked with how popular they’ve been. I recently ordered a new batch. In case you haven’t kept up on Instagram I now have 4 designs to choose from.

All of them are 120 lined pages and are 6″ x 9″, which is the perfect size for a notebook.
Right now they are all in stock, so I can ship them out within 24 hours. If you’d like to order one they are all available in my online shop. They are also available in person at Viva Paso – 1211 Pine St in downtown Paso Robles.

Thanks for the support!
See ya!

– Jeff

Halloween 2019 : Elli The Jelly

Elliott was a jellyfish this year for Halloween. I know that’s a bad photo, but I’m trying to show off that it lights up. Here’s another attempt, but it’s still not a good photo.

You have to trust me, the costume looked awesome in the dark. All the credit goes to Coral for this one. She made the whole thing and it was so impressive that a lot of the houses we trick-or-treated at gave Elliott extra candy because they thought his costume was so great. “Why not take another couple candies? I just LOVE your costume!” It was a fun night. One lady even told him to take an extra handful.

Here’s a photo in the daylight so you can get the full effect of Jelly-Elli.

Per tradition we went to downtown Paso Robles where they block off the streets around the park and the shops hand out candy. It gets pretty crazy, so if you can’t handle a lot of fast movement and big crowds you’ll probably want to avoid it, BUT it’s actually really fun to see so many costumes all in the same place. We even found another jellyfish, which Elliott was very excited about.

After a couple of hours of walking, arms tired from holding the heavy jellyfish, we were happy to be home to enjoy this pile of candy.

Hope you all had a Happy Halloween!

Oh yeah, here’s a bonus photo of some fun Halloween cut outs Elliott made earlier in the month.

And that’s that.

– Jeff

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Bonus Blog:
Yes, today is the last day of Blogtober. I posted one blog every day for the entire month. I never got to that point where I thought, “Ughhhh….why did I decide to do this?” It was fun for me and it was interesting having to come up with something to write about every day. I don’t like to talk about “inspiration” because I think it’s cheesy, but inspiration is everywhere. One day I wrote about a lady buying way too many boxes of Wheat Thins. Another day I wrote about a hole in my sock. Anyway, I hope it brought you some enjoyment. I have two minutes to hit the PUBLISH button before midnight strikes and there is no way I’m going to fail this dumb challenge on the last day.

Thanks again for reading and following along.
See you soon!

426 Days In A Row

This is the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever had in my entire life. It’s also the most expensive. I would say that with the majority of purchases you get what you pay for and after wearing these shoes for 426 consecutive days I feel that I got my money’s worth. Let’s be honest though, I got my mom’s money’s worth. What can I say, my mom likes to buy me shoes. She doesn’t buy all of my shoes, but she’s certainly purchased a fair share of them. Thanks, mom!

After wearing these everyday for 426 days here is what they now look like.

Yeah, so they’ve lost a bit of their original pristine. Now they have character…I guess? I’m not a fancy person by any means, but for the times I’ve had the good fortune to experience the finer things in life I have learned something. Quite simply, I’ve learned that it’s worth it. You get what you pay for. I’ll give you an example. I’ve been wearing hoodies for years. Yes, a lot of people wear hoodies, but I’m talking practically every single day. Day after day. Year after year. I used to buy my hoodies at Bello’s. Anybody from SLO remember that place? The hoodies were your run of the mill hoodies that ranged in price from about $19-25, if I remember correctly. One day I found myself strolling around Farm Supply (don’t ask) and I saw this amazing Carhartt hoodie. It was thick and really fuzzy inside. I wouldn’t say it was fleece lined, but something magical was going on in there. To put it lightly, it was the best damned hoodie I had ever seen. The $49 price tag shocked me and I knew there was no way I could justify spending that much money on something I normally get for half that price. Then I came to the realization that I would literally wear it every day just like I wore my other hoodies every day. There’s no reason this one would get less wear than any previous hoodie I owned. The BIG difference, besides the price, was that it fit better, it felt softer, was way more comfortable and it would last longer because it was made better. So, I bought it and it was totally worth it.

Now let’s say I wore a hoodie once or twice a month. There is no reason I’d ever pay $49 for one. I’d just stick with the cheapo ones. At this point it might be needless to say, but I wear my shoes like I wear my hoodies. Over the years there are plenty of shoes I’ve worn every day for a year straight. That’s just how I roll. The thought of wearing a pair of shoes with a $190 price tag sounded ridiculous, especially when I normally find a pair of skater shoes on sale for $50 or less.

That’s a very brutal before and after photo. Anyway, the second I first slipped my foot into these I knew my shoe wearing experience would be changed forever. These are literally the only shoes I want to wear now. That’s a bit obvious, right? I mean, I have been wearing them every day for 426 days.

Here’s the thing. I like to break down the cost of things based on how much I use them. To me, $190 is a crazy amount of money to spend on shoes. It’s probably totally normal to some and might even sound like a deal to others. Anyway, I break it down like this. Let’s say I rented these shoes on a daily basis. Wearing them now for 426 days my cost would be about 45¢ a day. That’s pocket change, people!

What’s the moral of this story? I don’t know…buy some of my artwork so I can buy more shoes. Just kidding! Not really, but yeah…

The truth is, I looked at my shoes today and thought they looked so ridiculous I can’t believe I’m still wearing them. I was planning on just posting the before and after photos to get a laugh. Then my mind just started going and my fingers started typing and now here we are.

Look, you only live once. It’s silly to deprive yourself of something that might only cost you 45¢ a day in the long run. Just go out and buy that thing you think is overpriced or hard to justify. Chances are it will be totally worth it.

Hoodies and shoes. Another banger of a blog post.

See you tomorrow…
for the last day of Blogtober.

– Jeff

P.S. – Oh yeah, in case you were wondering, the shoes are Pikolinos. I picked mine up from Seattle Thread Company. The people at STC were super awesome with over the top customer service.

P.S.S. – The model is called Palermo and I’m a size 44 (11 US). Just sayin’.

The Chesebrough Farm Tradition

Every year we go to Chesebrough Farm to pick out a few pumpkins and it’s always a good time. We went a couple of weeks ago and Coral and Elliott picked out some favorites. I feel like every time I go there I am surprised with how many different types/varieties of pumpkins there are.

They have a lot of fun photo opportunities set up around the farm, but we skipped all of them except for the big pyramid of pumpkins at the top of the post. I guess none of else felt like being Instagram models that day.

The farm is located at 790 Moss Lane in Templeton and is open 10am – 6pm every day in October. If you need to grab some pumpkins in the next couple of days now is your chance.

See ya!
– Jeff

Sample Shirt: Some Bitch Stole My Lunch Money

It’s been a long time since I had some shirts available…and it’s going to be a little bit longer before they are ready. This here is a sample shirt that I had made before I go in for the BIG order. And I’m glad I ordered a sample first, for two reasons.

One, I meant to order black, but somehow ordered a color called Oxblood Black, which is really a dark dark purple. It’s a hard color to describe and when I first saw it I actually thought it was dark brown. And two, I need to do some fine tuning on the lettering. I’m never a fan of my handwriting, but this messy scrawl actually worked for the “Some Bitch Stole My Lunch Money” theme. The thing that bothers me is the “E” in “some” and the “O” in “stole” and “money”.

I have another sample that should arrive in a few days where the girl is done in black ink on a light colored shirt. Unfortunately, it’s with the same text because I ordered them at the same time. Hopefully, I can fine tune the text tonight and get some new samples ordered ASAP. If they turn out good and get my stamp of approval then new “Some Bitch Stole My Lunch Money” shirts will be officially ready for the world. If you’ve been with me for awhile, you know this image is not new to shirts, but this is the first time I’ve included the title. Not exactly sure why I’ve been so hesitant about it, but I’m glad I finally got over whatever my hangup was.

One last thing, the sample shirt is available for $17 on my site. When this graphic gets my final approval and is “officially” released the price will be $24. This sample shirt is basically one-of-a-kind, so if you like collecting things like one off shirts now is your chance.

This shirt is a unisex medium and is a “Bella + Canvas 3001” shirt. I know that’s a weird name, but they’re popular in the blank tee business. Anyway, it’s 100% combed and ring spun cotton, so it’s super soft. Also, keep in mind, although it’s a sample shirt there is really nothing wrong with it. I’m just very picky about the lettering. Ok, that’s probably more than enough information. If you’d like it you can purchase it right here.

Thanks for looking!

In other news, I can’t believe this is day 28 of Blogtober. Only 3 more days to go. This hasn’t been as demanding as Vlogtober, but it’s certainly more work than I had anticipated. There have been a few last minutes posts where I started writing at 11:45pm and posted just before midnight. Being that last minute would not have been possible during Vlogtober. Making a video last minute meant starting at 10pm, filming for 15-30 minutes, editing for 45 minutes to an hour and uploading just before midnight, which was scary because if something happens during the upload process I’d be posting late.

That’s it for now.
See ya!

– Jeff

Digital Art Sunday: Bugs Bunny Appropriation

About a year ago I messed around a little with making some appropriation art. There’s something about it that doesn’t totally sit well with me, which is weird because there is a lot of appropriation art that I do like. It just makes sense that if I like some of it then I should make some of my own. Why not put my own spin on appropriating popular images? Because, let’s face it, there is a lot of questionable appropriations out there. I certainly wouldn’t be able to single handedly ruin the art form. I don’t really have to dig too deep to realize why appropriating makes me a little queasy. Simply put, it’s just low hanging fruit. There are so many artists, especially on Instagram, who seem to have made an entire career out of painting other peoples images. Some of them do it in a clever way with their own unique twist and others are straight up knock offs. The outsiders perspective (mine, at least) is that all of them are laughing all the way to the bank.

Quick interruption, shouldn’t the phrase “laughing all the way to the bank” be phasing out by now? To get with the times we need to start saying, “laughing all the way to Venmo” or “laughing all the way to Square” or “laughing all the way to PayPal”. Ok, moving on…

And it makes sense that some artists have made appropriating a career. It’s the same reason there are so many remakes/reboots in the movie industry. The path has been paved. Why risk making something new that nobody knows about and attempt to make that new thing popular? It’s so much easier to take something that is already popular with a built in fanbase and just remake that. Like I said, it makes me a little queasy, it’s low hanging fruit, and in way it sort of lacks integrity. After I drew my first appropriation piece (my take on Jiminy Cricket) it took me about three months before I posted it on Instagram. Before that I only showed it to maybe three people. The people I showed it to were supportive of it, which was nice, but I still waited awhile before posting it online for the whole internet to see. I finally got over my apprehension because I realized I’m the only one thinking this much about it, meaning nobody cares. And at the end of the day, making art is fun and if I enjoy the process of making something that’s the important part for me. If the outcome is a success that’s just a bonus. Also, what I did wasn’t a straight up knock off. I added my own style to the original source, which, in the world of appropriation art, is taking something that exists and making it your own. That’s a big difference compared to the artists out there taking something that exists and copying it. I tried my best not to do that.

I could go on and on about this topic, but I’ll stop for now and file it away for another time. Anyway, I posted this Bugs Bunny piece on Instagram back in May and all I wrote for the caption was, “What’s up, Doc?” and now I’ll expand on that. I grew up watching Bugs Bunny. I know a lot of people my age did, but I was really into it. I even had that Looney Toons book with the real life animation cell in it. That totally fascinated me. I had no idea how cartoons were made and when I saw that animation cell in the book it was pretty mind blowing. What I’m trying to say is that I chose Bugs Bunny to appropriate because he really meant a lot to me and I’ve been a true Bugs fan for as long as I can remember. This wasn’t just a mindless decision based on the fact that Bugs Bunny is popular.

I have yet to make an actual painting appropriating a popular character from our culture and I’m not sure if or when I will. For now, since I’m sticking to the digital realm with my appropriation art, I thought it would be fun to throw the characters into my own photos. Here’s the original photo that I used for the Bugs Bunny piece.

I took this photo in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park earlier this year. It might seem random, but to me it makes perfect sense for Bugs Bunny.

I’m curious what your thoughts are about appropriation art. Not just mine, but the art form in general. Let me know.

Hope you had a fantastic weekend.

– Jeff

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Want to see more?
Check out Jiminy Cricket. I chose him as my first one because he’s not only a cool looking character, but the shape of his head was perfect for the faces I paint.
And also Fred Flinstone. I chose him because I watched the Flinstones when I was a kid and I mistakenly thought Fred’s head was also the perfect shape for the faces I paint. It turned out super ugly, so I hope you get a good laugh at it.

Say Hello To My Little Friend

Last night I promised to talk about our drive home from San Diego in today’s post and I’m just going to get straight to the point.

We got a puppy!

This has been in the works for awhile. If you know anything about Coral she LOVES to do research. She would never acquire a new pet on a whim. She already knows a lot about dogs, but I’m guessing she’s spent the last 6 weeks becoming an expert on Pugs, specifically. Her timing could not have been better because she found a pug puppy that wasn’t too far out of the way from our drive home from San Diego.

Elliott was completely clueless to the fact that mom had been on the hunt for a puppy, so we totally surprised him. We left San Diego and headed to Fontana. The problem was we couldn’t pick up the puppy until 5:45pm. We were stuck with a lot of time to kill because we didn’t want to stay in San Diego too long in hopes of avoiding traffic, but we didn’t want to get to Fontana too early because from what we could tell there wasn’t much to do there. Luckily, we found a pretty sweet Barnes & Noble in Corona that we spent a lot of time at. Clean bathrooms too, which is always a plus when you’re on the road.

When it was finally puppy pick up time we pulled up in front of a house after hours of telling Elliott that we had to pick something up for work. He was slightly confused why we had to go to a house, but I think he was so tired of driving he didn’t question it too much. He didn’t even think it was too weird when I told him to cover his eyes while I was holding my camera and nothing says, “this surprise is for you” more than a person pointing a camera at your face while telling you to cover your eyes. I got the whole thing on video and it’s adorable, so by the time I finish editing it you’ll be able to see it in about eighteen months.

Those first two photos were from Coral and this next one is a screenshot from the video. At this point in the surprise he was so thrilled to be holding a puppy that it hadn’t crossed his mind that it was ours. After cuddling and laughing he asked, “Where can we have this.” Coral said, “She’s coming home with us.” And his face did this.

I’m sure you’ll be seeing a lot of Inez on the Viva Paso Instagram. Today was her first full day with us and she spent a lot of time in the shop. She did great and even played a little bit of dress up.

See you tomorrow!
– Jeff

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Not satisfied and need more?
Check out my YouTube Channel.
Take a look at the Viva Paso Blog.

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