S_V_H Mercy Mercy Me (Ecology) first image

•05/18/2019 • Leave a Comment

This is the first image for an exhibition with an environmental theme.   My submission is the music of Marvin Gaye,  Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)  This song would not have been my first choice of  Marvin Gaye music if it was not for the opportunity to show.*  At first, I felt no way could I qualify after reading the Pablo’s exhibition details.  Part of it read “….. this exhibit will feature works of art that examine how we interact with and effect the surrounding environment. We invite designers, artists, and creatives of all kinds who work with environmental topics or interests in the Life Sciences to apply…..”  I do not comprehend what the Pablo Center expects for entries.  Their statement was so general, that music with environmental concerns may well quality.  The song Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) was my obvious first choice.  While developing this project my research brought up another song choice, Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell.   Too deep into Mercy to change I dropped Taxi idea.  It will be a great choice for the next environment exhibition.

The song Mercy Mercy takes me back to a faint memory of the first Earth Day and the commotion on the campus of the University of Wisconsin. I did not take part that April day in 1970.  While at the University I recall discussions concerning feeding an overpopulated world but not the environment.   Back then I was mostly into graduating, meeting girls, and reducing sugar in my diet.  Who can forget the taste of Tab?

Here is a video of Marvin Gaye’s Mercy Mercy Me:

The color theme of this artwork is simple ecology.  The musical staffs, or my musical sticks, represent the land as bright green.  As the music moves across the artwork the colors fade to a near-death brown.  Then my sticks revive to a life returning light green that deepens to symbolize the recovery of the environment.  The round musical flow wood shapes, covered with digital canvas images of the sky follow the same environments changes.  I cover the 10×10 canvases to protect the mounted digital canvas images.

Scott Von Holzen

*My favorite Marvin Gaye song is I Heard it through the Grapevine.  That moment arrived at the opening scene of the movie The Big Chill.  I must not forget the California Raisins commercials. 

S_V_H The Theme Schindler’s List – Final image

•05/13/2019 • Leave a Comment

Constructed Sculpture of streched canvas, digital canvas prints, aluminum, and wood. 71.5 inches wide by 65.25 inches high.

I have completed the artwork, The Theme from Schindler’s List.   This picture is the largest project using aluminum framing.  The Theme from the movie Schindler’s List is six feet wide and sixty-five inches high.  If I had designed this artwork in 2018,  it would have been a long pencil-shaped flow of music eighteen feet.  What changed began in late 2018 with Africa the first artwork with multiple sections.  The boxy shape of Africa eliminated the limits of reasonable length and make hanging the finish works much easier.  There is still cleanup, photography, and a video to produce.  After, the plan is to hang this painting in the living room, for no other reason then hanging is a safe method for storing it.

Every new artwork comes with different challenges that need solutions.  From this project beginnings, I wanted this artwork large.  Big artworks have more impact on the viewer.  What I found out was that big artwork are difficult to handle in the more limited space of my current studio.  Not that I cannot do it.  In the past, this was not such an issue for I bolted multiple canvases together to create larger works in a studio that had the advantage of length.  I could then unbolt them for travel.   For this project, I needed a similar approach with my current angled aluminum framing.  The solution was to detach the bottom third aluminum framed section. I also experimented with another size reducing idea that allowed the music and the artwork to stay large but compacted.  Instead of reducing the size of the artwork I eliminated the spacing between the three sections. The recent artworks, Africa, Giant Steps and Rainbow have a considerable spacing between sections.   Although more manageable, I found that the build took on a busy confusing look.  This concern increase with placing the ties and beams.  All those narrow rectangle shapes painted black with gold striping could easily add clutter.  I wanted no more added confusion to this artwork.  My solution was to reduce their size and aligned them all across the artwork horizontally to counter all the vertical movements.

After, a long delay I upgraded the sound system used in this artwork.  In the past, I used a small plastic recordable sound box, used with stuff animals. It comes with a 1/2-watt amp with an inch size speaker. This worked well in my artworks because one model came with a  10-inch extension wired play button. This allowed me to mount the sound box inside the back of a canvas and the push button on the artwork.   For ten dollars each, this was an effective and cheap solution.  My new sound system comprises two, three-inch speakers powered by a two-watt stereo amplifier along with storage for audio files which I add using a computer.  In comparison, the price for this stereo upgrade is forty dollars.   What makes it worth the cost is my growing understanding of the capabilities of the free notation software by MuseScore.   I can now create ever better arrangements to play through a sound system with improved dynamic range, clarity, and depth that justifies the cost.

This artwork’s color style comes from the black and white movie Schindler’s List.  Red is the only stand out color used on the one sharp.  This color is to acknowledge the scene from the movie of the girl in the red coat.   As for the color gold, I learned its effects from past artworks to enrich the color black.  Finally, the small gray and black digital prints on canvas mounted wood I added for interest and to fill space.   I used two as faceplates for the speaker boxes.

I am unsure about doing another large work.  Looking back to 2012 I painted thirteen large The Four Seasons paintings over two years.  I finished them in a larger size studio. More room made it easier to handle fifteen-foot paintings and larger.  My current studio is nice but has less space for such size works. I can do large size works again, without a “bigger boat.”   Organization of my studio space will be an important factor in my success with my next big one.

I accomplished what I wanted to with this artwork. It is a good portrait of a touching and enduring piece of classical violin music. My next project is Mercy Mercy Me (Ecology).  This work will be my entry for a local exhibition that is due the first week in June at the local Pablo Art center.  I already have three rejections from them.   Hum, “things that make you go, hum?”  This could be my fourth not interested, but by applying, I am in the game, where I need to be.    Hum, at this moment, that is the way.


Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H The Theme (Schindler’s List) image 4

•04/19/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H The Theme (Schindler’s List) image 4

This artwork is looking less chaotic by adding my slurs, beams and even a tie.  Those features help to break up the vertical back-en-forth visual wishy-washy of the music,  while also filling space.  Their mostly horizontal placement connects to the artwork’s three frames,

This artwork is part of the project to answer two questions: can I make larger artworks in a breakdown way so I can transport when needed.  I accomplished that.  I can remove the bottom section of this artwork which then allows the top two sections to fit in the back of RAV4.  Second, can I lay down my music flow in a less rigid way ( a difficult task considering that I do read and understand musical notation) and move even more away from the design rules of notation.  That change would not affect the casual viewer, but for those that read music (an important group of supporters), to decipher the music of the artwork would be more challenging.  Here is the story behind why I came up with the second question.

Last fall I exhibited at the Falling Leaves Art show.  The show was indoors at a nearby high school that had a wall made to hang items.  This then made my setup easy and simple.  It was at this show that I hung a signature artwork, Mozart’s Turkish March, that also had a music box installed.   This artwork did not get accepted (a major disappointment) for the first art show at the grand opening of our new art center.  I thought this fine work needed to be shown in public. It was during the setup that the high school music teacher came up to me, and after taking a  quick look at the artwork, told me what the music was before I play the music.  That was a big surprise.  I don’t recall thinking that he had heard me playing the music, or if he had overheard that it was a Mozart artwork.  After he left I had a strange feeling that my artworks were still uncomfortably too close to sheet music.   I felt that after more than twelve years of trying to separate my art from sheet music, at less with music teachers,  my feelings were how easy I was still making artworks that a trained musical eye could still connect my music flow to sheet music.   Of course, I  feel that people following the flow of the art,  when playing the music, or knowing the music is and always will be a fundamental part of understanding this art.  That was certainly still obvious today 2018’s Turkish March.  It is with this experimental artwork, thought of an advanced 2020 project, that I am experimenting with loosening up what is left of my own rules of sheet music.  If this works it then may be necessary for musicians to read the title of the artwork for the clue to deciphering what the theme of the artwork is.   On second thought, maybe it would have been a lot easier to paint music in a unique style if I never learned to read music.  On third thought, I would not be painting music,  it all, if I did not at first understand the notation behind the music.


S_V_H The Theme (Schindler’s List) image 2 & 3

•04/04/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H The Theme (Schindler’s List) image 2 & 3

This is the first of its kind frame for The Theme from Schindler’s List.  Even though this artwork is larger than the last two artworks, I can still carry it in the Toyota RAV4.  I have solved the car space limitations by building this frame in which I can disconnect the bottom section.  Although these two-piece frame does lay flat in the car, the music, when added, will not.  This idea of a frame consisting of separate sections allows me to build larger artworks that have a greater impact on the viewer but still can be delivered for an exhibition.

Also yes, this third image does look overly busy, or is the word “busy” a reference to the music? No, matter,” it is what it is,” an artwork in motion.   The look of clutter is deliberate.  I placed the music to cross over into each others space.  This creates added tension. This artwork, unlike all of the previous artworks, breaks one of the last rules of notation left to be broken: keeping the music separated.

I still have lots of other decorative music features to add to this artwork so the look of this music will change considerably.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H The Theme (Schindler’s List)

•03/28/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H The Theme (Schindler’s List)

This, of course, is not much of a first image, but this is how the artworks in 2019 have looked after two weeks worth of work.  2019 has already been, one of my most creative years. In the image, in the background is the artwork, Africa,  the first completed artwork of 2019.  Then next came the artwork Giant Steps, followed by Over the Rainbow.   In comparison,  Africa, although unique in its rectangle shape,  continues the style that dominated 2018.   With the Theme music from Schindler’s List, I have a plan that includes a challenging technique, that if it works, will greatly add to the already wonderful progress of 2019’s Giant Steps and Rainbow.

Here is a very dated video of Itzhak Perlman, discussing and then playing John Williams Schindler’s List:

In choosing this music to paint,  the movie, Schindler’s List was never played into the decision-making. I liked this music the first time I heard it, going in all the way by the ending.  Those type of feelings has always been the major reason I pick a piece of music to paint.   Of course, there are those other factors to discover that confirm the choice.  That information comes from researching the music I paint, which I do with all my artworks.  I also listen to performances,  watch videos of the music, and read the story behind the music.  Well, there is a big story behind this music and that is the movie Schindler’s List.  The movie and The Theme are forever attached.  Watching again, this time, parts from Schindler’s List, I decided that the dominate colors for this project would be black and white with shades of gray.  Another take from Schindler’s List comes from those remarkable scenes of the girl in the red coat.  My plan is to use a small amount of red in this artwork, to acknowledge this heart-felt part from the movie.

Here is an available clip of the girl in the red coat from the movie Schindler’s List:


The artwork Africa appears in this first image for it is back in my studio.  I am doing a little touch-up and preparing it for the exhibition.

Here, just lately,  is my artwork Africa standing against the wall on second floor of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.  It is in line to be hung for the upcoming 40th Anniversary of the juror-ed Arts West exhibition.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Over the Rainbow 2019 Final image

•03/11/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H Over the Rainbow 2019 Final image

Over the Rainbow 2019 is finished.  Rainbow painted in the style of Giant Steps has that improvisational look that originally I thought would only work with Jazz artworks such as Giant Steps and So What.  Rainbow shows that this jazzy more relaxed style of the music does adapt to the ballad,  and will probably work with other music genres, including Classical.  Another benefit of the music styled more casually, is that this than solves a longtime issue, of how to portray motion in a static artwork.

Over the years I have tried different ways to simulate motion in the artworks.  I even researched motion that was important to the art and social movement Futurism.   Good examples of my best earlier attempt at motion can be seen in a number of the Vivaldi Four Season’s artworks.

Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons Autumn Allegro. Length 15 feet.

For the Vivaldi Artwork Autumn to try to simulate motion I added a smaller circle inside the larger musical circle.  The illusion I wanted was that of a spinning ball inside the larger circle moving clockwise across the artwork.  The results were always mixed.  Other examples of this technique can be found in artworks from 2012 until 2015 when I finally abandon the idea with the switch to raised wood for the music.

As mentioned before the idea to allow the music to go off vertical comes from the artwork Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock.   An interesting critique of this artwork comes from the site jackson-pollock.com. “According to art historian Dennis Phillips,……… Because we look for the poles and miss much of the rest, the name is simply too distracting.”  Phillips is right for  I saw the poles as musical notes and the background as just that.  That is probably why there are no other mentioned Pollock’s with similar poles.


In summary, there are two big changes that occurred in Rainbow and earlier in Giant Steps.  The first is that I have moved away from longer than wider artworks, that were standard since the beginnings of this art, to a more squared look with the music now stacked in sections.   A practical reason for this move is the difficulty in storing these long delicate, with multiple parts, artworks.   Actually, no matter their length, my artworks these last few years, I have found,  can only be stored safely when laid down.  The other even bigger change, that also goes back to the beginnings of this art, was to drop the consistent upright stance of the music which, of course, resulted in making these new artworks look less static.

One troubling issue that lingers still, and affected Rainbow, was how to paint or not paint the canvases. There was even a moment that I thought about leaving them all white (my Robert Ryman moment).  Rainbow is just the latest artwork where I have questioned what purpose the canvases served, besides support for the music.   I escaped back to reality by deciding to paint only the two center canvases in an outer space type Rothko look.  I then added a variety of canvas-covered round wood pieces (I like circles having nothing to do with the music for their disruptive effect) for interest, and to connect the painted canvases to the other four covered by canvas prints.


Finally, I should mention the blue piece of wood with a relaxed handwritten word, why, repeated five times.  For this version of Over the Rainbow, instead of choosing Judy Garland’s version of the music, I chose Keith Jarrett’s jazzier performance and stunning ending. This artwork’s music is “If happy little blue-birds fly beyond the rain-bow why oh why can’t I?” These words are all sung by Judy Garland without any slow down until she sings the last word I.  All those extra whys is because of Keith Jarrett performance of those same last few notes,  where he slows down dramatically, drawn each note out.  On the first why he almost seems to pause.  At that first why is where I decided to add the extra whys, for fun, and to channel a tribute to Jean Michael Basquiat, and his painting that includes five Moses.

I am still planning on adding the red music button for the music to Over the Rainbow.  When I am finished I will post a video.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H Over the Rainbow 2

•03/05/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H Over the Rainbow 2

Over the Rainbow is nearing completion.  This size of this artwork is about sixty-one inches by thirty-nine inches in height.  Giant Steps is on the easel next to Rainbow and the similarities are obvious. Giant Steps already has a Classic look, compared to Rainbow, that has a playful look.  One striking difference is the larger size of the music on Rainbow stands out as a dramatic and moving difference.  I still need to add the words, “why can’t I,” and will do that with a twist.  Hand drawing words are always time-consuming to do and require a lot of attention to detail but this is a well travel road for me.   My other task left with this artwork, I created, and now will have to solve.

What I need to do is to connect the four outside canvases (covered with digital canvas images) with the two inner canvases that I painted.  In Giant Steps I had this same issue, but reversed, with the painted canvases on the outside.  Giant steps had the advantage that my painted canvases and the digital images on the other canvases were similar in design and color.  From a slight distance, it is hard to see the difference between them.  In this image of Rainbow, the difference between the digital images and the painted ones is obvious.  Somehow I need to change the look of these six canvases in such a way that they connect with each other.  Or not, and I could just call it Art.  But that would not be, this Art, where harmony is part of the visual experience.

Scott Von Holzen