I have been working on and off on this artwork for almost a month. I have it figured out, but was interrupted by the warmth of Spring finally arriving, remodeling of our home, getting my bonsai plants setup and moved outdoors, and other projects, interruptions, and issues that have quickly altered my winter day-to-day work schedule.
I still have not painted and put together the side speaker boxes. I have the music done, which is wonderful, for after a month on this subject I would dread that idea of still having to create the cover music. That adds to the why I create the music before the artwork.
For this project I am using two sheets of steel each 6 inches by 24 inches. Like what I did with them in the past two artworks, I will bend them into a curve to enhance that 3 dimensional look I want. I also have a new method of mounting for those sheets, eliminating the need for the support of extra canvases and angle aluminum.
A different type of metal, mini corrugated steel, will be placed in the middle area of this artwork. Because this panel is sized at 26 by 36 inches, I had to figure out how to cut it to a size I could use. I have already learned that finding the right tools and developing the right skill for cutting galvanized steel will take time. My first attempt resulted in three pieces, of which I will use one. Although harder to size, I like corrugated metal. This type of metals with its V shape, adds depth to the artwork. Since it is also very magnet friendly, I can secure it to the canvas using magnets on the canvas backside. That is important, for to reduce this artwork length for transporting, the center canvas needs to be removed.
One last comment on the layout seen in this image. It is not accurate. One thing I have maintained consistently throughout the years is the up and down flow of my music. Although I break the rules, my rules, my music if it starts as an A, for example, as the first of my notes, elsewhere on the artwork the next A will also be very close in the same up and down height as the first. Of course as I have mentioned, I break the rules all the time, especially now that I use magnets that allow the music to be removed. That means that these artworks can and will change in appearance as they move on through their life. That last sentence puts these artworks into a small and unique group of misfits art.
The length of this artwork, including the music boxes, is ten feet. This size will not travel well. In order to exhibit this artwork, it will need to be dismantled. To do this, the 16×20 inch middle canvas will be bolted on both sides to the main panels, secured with wing nuts that are removable. This enables the artwork to be broken down into three pieces for travel.
I did not show in the preparatory image above, but I will set the two speaker boxes on top and in front of the main canvases. This design accommodates the depth needed for the speaker boxes. This method I used in the Beethoven project to allow the main canvases to hang closer to the wall when hung.
The cutting out the wooden pieces of the music has from the start been a messy, noisy, tedious, hassle. This grew worse when I started adding playable music to my artworks. To match the increasing length of the music, the number of notes also grew. At first, I only needed to cover a short phrase or a sentence from the music. My cover music soon became mini soundtracks. This then required me to use increasingly smaller notes in order to place them on an artwork that I could handle reasonably. I dislike small notes. That then resulted in the change in this arts philosophy with the move to sampling. That story is told in the 2020 last Christmas painting blog.
In the past, I made the switch from quarter inch to half inch lumber when creating notes two inches and larger in diameter. For this project I have returned to using quarter inch wood for the 3 inch half notes and slightly smaller quarter notes. Doing that saves production time, cuts the dust, and reduces the tedium of the cutting out and sanding. I plan on using half-inch wide for the base notation because of their deep dramatic sound in the cover music. Also, influencing my better use of my time is the ever improving cover music that I have enjoyed creating. This means that the definition of this art as both a visual and a performance presentation is increasingly becoming balanced and of equal value.
As I neared the end of this blog entry, I changed the plan. Realizing that a ten foot long artwork would limit exhibition placement “In the search for empty walls” (my quote), I moved the speaker boxes to the sides. This reduces the overall length to nine feet. That will be an improvement if I solve the probably design issue when attaching the music.
I edited this 4 minute long music down to around a minute-and-a-half, for the next music box,
I have, over the years, wondered about the composer Philip Glass, but thought his music was too inventive to work with. For reference I checked iTunes, which I have not used in years, and found four pieces of his music out of over 23,000 songs I own. Of those four songs none have a rating. In my iTunes days, I had little interest in Philip Glass’ music. Obviously, ” I was so much older than. I am younger than that now,” for his time has arrived.
That happened when I was hunting for music after finishing the Beethoven’s 5th project. Still in a Winter mood, no matter the lack of snow piles, my plan was to do another classical music box. To keep the cover music learning process going, I stayed with the piano as the principal instrument. I first turned to Chopin, but I have already done enough Chopin to last for now. Certainly there have to be other classical composers not named Chopin, Mozart, or Beethoven that would make an interesting music box. One search solution was to listen to playlists that fit that requirement. In Spotify, I found the playlist, 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Piano. Only a few songs in I heard Metamorphosis no. 2 and thought its haunting melody was perfect for my mood. Now that I have a decent piano version of the cover, the next step is to cut out of wood the many half and whole notes I will need. I know the notes will be large and more than the Beethoven work. That means I am going to have to innovate to keep the main canvas under six feet required for travel.
I dated this work April 1st as finished (seen in the image below) then realized that I forgot the finishing touches. In the video I mention those still-to-do-things calling them Incidentals. My term is broader than the musical notation term Accidentals that only cover sharps, flats, and naturals. My term Incidentals covers those items and everything else, not my notes.
All of my projects, including these music boxes, are built from my cover sheet music. This sheet is used to create the project guide and music for the artwork. Of course, out of necessity and choice, I separate these artworks from sheet music, eliminating as many pieces of notation as possible, leaving this arts foundation, the up and down flow of the music. I then have the option, for artistic reasons, of putting back parts of my cover sheets’ information. For example, in the finished image above, I have added two eighth note rests. I rarely do this anymore. I included them in this project, for no other reason, then visual interest.
I am surprised by the sound quality of this Music Box, considering the smaller size of the speaker boxes. Besides improving box design, what may contribute to the better sound quality are my production skills. Those improvements in my understanding of the software I use comes slowly. On average, my time spent on each project is around four weeks, with my actual music production taking only a few of those days. I did have a start date of March 8th for this Beethoven piece, which is a quicker turnaround time only because of the visual part of this project comprised only nine notes. Here is the finished music for this project.
The final music box music for Beethoven 5th Allegro non brio
The two first image shows the testing arrangement of the opening notes of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony place on sheets of curved steel crossing the main Frank Gehry background canvas. The side view image shows the right side speaker box now placed out front.
Even though the artwork will represent those first famous beginning notes to the 5th Symphony, the unfinished music box audio instead places that dramatic starting music at the end. It is my effort to create anticipation of the obvious.
The image below shows the original concept, with the speaker canvases bolted to the Gehry canvas. This worked fine until I created the speaker boxes. Because the speaker canvases were mounted even with the main canvas, their added depth of 60 millimeters extending from the back brings the main Gehry canvas out from the wall. This is not ideal for the hanging wire on the Gehry canvas. Plus, having all three main canvases even across the artwork flattens the artwork. This is seen in the earlier image below. Bringing the two speaker canvases out front of the larger main canvas pushes the music of the artwork out to a depth of 8.25 inches. This is the deepest artwork I have ever created.
For the four smaller 6 by 6 inch canvases I chose the Beethoven’s friendly colors Iridescent Copper and Copper Light. Those colors also work in the style of Frank Gehry’s. I see his art as disruptive architecture. That is exactly what I want this art to be: more arty, less crafty. Their solid coloring needs more interest and maybe a closer connection to the Gehry canvas is my concern.
This video, of course, is a two-dimensional display of a three-dimensional artwork while the sound heard is a reproduction of the actual music. This artwork needs to be viewed in person to grasp its physical size, depth, and the sound production that is generated from within the canvases. That speaks to a key problem I have with what I now define as Sculptural Music Boxes, or SMBs
I will store this work with the previous project, Your Song, for now, in the studio behind the main easels. And like Your Song, I will use this artwork as a reference. Otherwise, I have no plans for a public exhibition of it or of any other artworks. I have come to a display halt hesitant to show these works in public. Some of that feeling comes from the disruption caused by COVID, when all exhibitions either went away, or came back as an unexceptable virtual event. The rest comes from within.
What am I to do with my Etsy storefront where I once listed dozens of artworks for sale? Since I open that store I have sold 14 items. The first year I sold seven artworks with the first selling for $260 in early 2014. The two most expensive paintings I sold occurred the following year, one for $1045 and the other for $1050. Then sales slowed to one here, one there. The last artwork, a commissioned work, I sold through Etsy in late 2017 for $575 dollars. Looking at the site, I see I let 50 listings expire in 2019 and put 21 in inactive status. My pricing range for the expired listings was from $325 to $2,800, plus a small shipping charge that varied, but was under $100. That reminds me of my local gallery experience when finally, after hanging and expensive work for a long time, I exchanged it out with two smaller pieces priced under $1000 each to see if cost was the issue. In time, the Gallery asked me to remove them. They knew what I have known: I don’t sell.
All those previous artworks were standard two-dimensional canvases and not interactive. My current artworks are all three-dimensional and interactive, which makes them a lot more complicated, expensive, and fragile to handle. The thought of trying to ship one of these new artworks in some kind of packaging bubble that would be required concerns me. It would not only be a timely endeavor, it would be an expensive package to produce, costing hundreds of dollars to ship. Then my next issue would be the unpacking after it arrives at its destination. Who and how will they unpack the artwork? Will they hang it safely? Finally, will the music actually play? I am speaking from experience of handing each of these artworks. I have had equal concerns with exhibition professionals handling these artworks and have communicated directly with them to insure all goes as expected. Trying to explain, or fix, or help or understand a buyer on a phone, a thousand miles away, whom I know little about, reminds me of a past that is that, past. Add in that selling on Etsy comes with high customer satisfied bar and what do I do if the customer is not happy? That too I would rather leave in the past.
Although all this hassle is to be expected when selling online, I believe no amount of financial compensations would overcome the complications and the difficulties of selling, packaging, and customer satisfaction needed to sell. I know what I know and that known is no matter what; I don’t sell. Updating this artwork store would end up being nothing more than a vanity Etsy store, with monthly renewal bills from Etsy. COVID is going out the door; I am going to shut the door on this store. For now.
For my next project. I have decided for no particular reason to challenge myself with the opening movement of Beethoven’s fifth Symphony number 5. I actually painted an artwork that sold in 2014 from this movement.
The building pictured is by Frank Gehry. I am planning on using the building’s facade and colors on the main three foot by four-foot canvas in the setup image. For the two smaller side speakers’ canvases, I am considering a Beethoven quote. So it is to be.
This is the project Just Another Day, with the artwork music in place. I changed the original design by dropping the bottom canvas lower, which allows easier access for attaching the music.
I have found the inspiration for this artwork in the architecture of Frank Gehry. It is his freedom from standard architectural rules, made possible through computer software, that allows him to create the buildings that match his imagination. His accomplishments give me the encouragement to break completely from any of my own artificial limitations I made up for this art. Now what works for me, I will make work for these artworks. That sounds simple, but the getting to this understanding has taken years.
The definition of this art starts with sheet music and accordion lessons when I was seven. My appreciation of music has grown ever since, including the grasping of music theory and my interest in learning to play different musical instruments. It was knowing the fundamentals of reading sheet music that I discovered a unique painting technique.
Before I started painting music, I searched “art in music” and what I found were paintings of people playing musical instruments, or abstract images given a title of a song. I chose a different way to paint music by using the up and down flow of a song seen in its sheet music. I felt I could paint this approach if I kept this art to only representing this movement. I wanted the viewer to visualize the music in an artwork built around a song’s pitch changes, and not a painting of sheet music. Now, with Frank Gehry’s creative push over-the-ledge, I am letting go of those artistic restraints that have forever defined these music works. It just took me forever to get to this point of seeing the value of Gehry’s designs, along with a little help from Bach.
I see Gehry’s finish, especially his commercial projects, as high craft, especially in his use of speculator materials like titanium. I do not consider my artwork high craft and do not present them that way. I understand the beauty and high craftsmanship of great art that is favored. I just think it is a waste of time and has little to do with my message. I see my approach, for example, in the varied model pictures of Frank Gehry’s “the Dancing House.” I feel these models harmonize better with my artistic style. Add to that a little help from a rediscovered 2020 Bach project.
This Bach artwork was experimental, for it allowed me to slide the music sections about using mounted arms. Those two white mounted arms in the lower middle of the artwork are examples of what I used to connect the music to with bolts and wing nuts. When loosen, this then allows the music to slide up and down those arms. This Bach work is the first attempt at what I now take for granted. The problem back then was how to secure the arms of the artwork, which turned out to be not reliable.
It was the CVA show the summer of 2021, that this Bach artwork got the worse of it, coming home with pieces of it in a tote. This artwork was a mess, and an irritation that I ignored for months. The worse issue was the mounting arms that pushed out the music a lot further from the canvas. This exposure and the weakness of the mounts resulted in more parts of the artwork being loosened or even falling off at the show and breaking loose on the U-Haul truck rental drive home. Eventually to store, I repaired the damaged from the CVA show. It surprised me I was only missing one small piece. Although still fragile to the touch, I took what I have learned since its build to strengthen the attachment of the artwork to the canvases.
After the repairs were done, I took another look at this work, and how the music stood out three inches from the canvas surface. This distance creates an amazing look of depth lost in a picture. Also, the beautiful curved white shapes give a superior strong look of motion across the artwork.
Taking my current mood, the depth and style of the Bach’s work, and Gehry’s let-it-all-hang-out style, the results are in. Just another Day’s looks results from the largest canvas being painted like the look of corrugated sheet metal, the curving of wood pieces, and an eighteen-inch steel plate, resulting in an artwork with a depth of six inches.
I believe in my early days of group exhibitions, I could only find one standard art genre name that fit somewhat, which was Mixed Media. When I added a push button to play the music, the artwork was portraying, I then went all-art-genre-in and came up with the description of Interactive constructive sculpture. I now have simplified this genre down to Sculptural Music box. We will see how long that lasts.
Up next, I will work on the installation of the stereo system, which will complete this music box project.
Just Another Day is music by Jon Secada. Here is a better live video and sound presentation from a Stound Stage performance in 2017. This music was originally released in 1992.
This music is not a classic from my past. I do not remember if I ever listened to it when it was first released. It is a nice catchy pop tune that I thought I could work with. I have new drum software and this music has a simpler drum beat to start the learning process. Also, I wanted to do a smaller artwork and the song’s chorus length works for the artwork and the cover music. I must admit that I have forgotten any other motivations I could have for painting this music. Many of my music choices just happen. I probably heard this song on a Spotify Daily Mix, and it fit the mood and the size of the music I wanted to paint.
The plan was to use canvases from my ample stock for this project. These blog images and the audio sums up what I have been doing, for 60 to 70 plus hours 7 days a-week, since the middle of February. The smaller image is the setup for this project. I should have done that on Your Song. One goal of Just Another Day was to reduce the over length of the artwork by placing the speakers inside the artwork and not attaching them to the outside. This would create a smaller size work easier to store when that time comes, and it will. This project will be under six feet by four feet in height. Because of the limits of these four canvases, I had to cut back my original music sample. When laid out, the artwork music stretched to ten feet.
As for the larger blog photo, the colors and the design come from these Images from the LACMA Museum exhibition catalog, Frank Gehry. Not only has this art style been influenced by dead artists: Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko, Henri Matisse, and Jackson Pollock, it also has many other influencers, including the living architect, Frank Gehry. On the large canvas, the striping did not photograph well with the iPhone. The silver color looks awful, while the contrasting color is a lighter shade of black, meant to represent the Gehry image of corrugated metal.
As for the cover music, I am astounded by what I have accomplished with the software. Even though what I am doing is basic, simple, fairly straightforward, and nothing that anyone could not also do. I cannot help but being pleased with my growth and understanding of digital music, created using the (DAW) StudioOne. So it can be.
The following video I had to do in two parts. While filming, I carelessly removed the music from the background. This resulted in a magnet falling and damaging the sound board part of the stereo system. The sound board holds the music file and enables me to connect a switch that, when pressed, plays the music. That accident required the soldering and putting together of a replacement sound board that was then rewired to the amplifier, which was not damaged.
The Peter Principal states that “what can go wrong, will go wrong,” What makes that logic even more obvious and true was that I knew well that easy access and a low profile made the stereo components vulnerable to accidents. For now, until I can come up with a better design, I added a simple cover of light bubble wrap over the entire stereo system to deflect and absorb contacting.
Here is a picture of the stereo system used for the music box of Your Song.
This artwork project could be a sign that I may revisit the use of stretched canvases. I like their strong support structure for the music, along with their ease of handling and cost savings. I also have a lot of canvas stock from previous purchases that I do not want to waste.
My custom combination of metal framing and free flowing canvases cut to size eliminated a frustration of the limited sizes of stretched canvas that comes with the benefit of cost, and time savings. over making my own frames and stretching the canvas. That means I will continue to use and take advantage of the freedom of this technique, to breakup, and counter the boxy closed look of traditional stretched canvas.
Your Song, which I started with composing the cover music on December 26th, is now finished.
The piano is the foundation that carries the cover music for Your Song. While the violin, viola, flute and the added clarinet are the voices of this music. I have decent four inch speakers, but with so many instruments competing to be heard, the music sounded a little muddy. It needed clarity. I found the issue probably was with a narrow band of the lower mid range. I improved what I could after first removing all my questionable equalizer settings. I then adjusted the master volume headroom, and finished with small volume tweaks here-and-there. That all helped enough to get to this final music version posted below.
I am a little amazed by how much the audio for this music boxes has continuously improved with each new project. As my understanding of music and this art has deepened over the years, I have also noticed a change in me. I am today hard wired to music and art that would have been beyond my dreams as a youngling when I started painting music in early 2006.
I feel blessed that my Guardian Angel saved me, which made possible the growth of my determination that sprang from a heritage starting with my Grandpa Casper first coming to America and his hard work to build a life in the cheese business, my father’s determination to create his own version of the great American business executive, and my Mothers sparkling, and enlightening personality. They laid out the foundation. They showed the way. I found the path.