S_V_H Ave Maria 2016 Christmas Painting Image 1

•12/02/2016 • Leave a Comment


Ava Maria is this years Christmas Painting.  For those who have purchased one of my paintings they will once again receive a Christmas card with a signed and numbered canvas print of Ave Maria.

Of the different versions of this song this one written my Franz Schubert probably is the most well know, sung by the soprano singer  Maria Callas:

That is not the version used for this painting.  I prefer this aria of Ave Maria composed by  Vladimir Vavilov in 1970, and attributed later to Guido Caccini:

This year’s Christmas painting music,  by Vavilov/Caccini,  sung by mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca:

What convinced me to drop the Schubert version was the words.  Originally written in Italian, the translation to English loses much of the power of the music for me.  In this Vavilov version the only words are Ave Maria.  For me this projects a stronger message,  because the  singing of those two words, without sounding repetitious and boring,  creates a magical and hypnotic sound.

Scott Von Holzen

This is a small work forty inches in length by ten or so inches in height. I wanted this to be a small painting for a number of  a practical reason:  I needed to work on methods to produce, and feel good about,  small works in the same way as I have always felt with my larger works.

I am also trying to be practical, smaller works are easier to sell for they take up less wall space,  have a lower selling price,  are cheaper to ship, need less storage space,  and actually take less time to produce.  Another reason for small is I am still working under temporary and constrained Studio conditions.

For my Christmas paintings I never try new ideas.  Over the years I have learned to see these artworks as a summary of the year’s artistic style, which than eliminates any thoughts of risky style changes. Each year my singular goal with this artwork is to get the painting finished, photograph,  printed on canvas, signed, numbered,   create a new card design, address all the envelopes, and mail out a week before Christmas.

When finished I always have the feeling that all this extra work is worth it. I have never regretted this annual artwork. Those that have supported me over the years need to be told, at less once a year, how much I appreciate their belief in this art.   That includes you Pat, Kevin, and Matt.




S_V_H Mr. Brightside Image 1

•12/01/2016 • Leave a Comment

mrbrightside_1This is the Wonderful, the uplifting, the emotional charged song,  Mr Brightside, that became more important  to paint once I watched this surprising video:

It was in the last few months of my last and final “job”  that I stumbled on this video. Watching this musical tribute and seeing the camaraderie  brought back memories of the times when I  lived, and worked,  in Northern Wisconsin. It was Up North that I  found a lot of entertainment and friendships in my favorite bars and supper clubs.  Those days are now long gone, but I could not help but drag my co-worker friends (Pat, Kevin, and Matt)  into my office to listen and watch this video. I guess my intention was to share and re-live my past glories, but that did not happen. They watched and it turned out, to my disappointment,  that they were “all wet matches,” (a Mom quote).

Maybe they never drank and sang with friends in a local bar full of  like-minded strangers, or maybe being at work ruins the mood,  Or maybe I over-estimate people’s ability to “see beyond the end of their own noses”. That last “maybe” is a quote from my Mom.  Lastly, and probably the best answer “maybe” my work friends could give a “rats ass” (common phrased used by my Mother), that I valued our friendships.

Then on September 30th months after retiring from “job work” (my first job was while in grade school was I delivering Sunday newspapers in the Ashland Wisconsin winter), I again sent them this video, along with this tweet: “……..the “music” Is what brought us all together. Let us always celebrate the songs of our lifetime.” That move to awaken the walking dead was as silly as their responses.   “I am not going to hold my breath”,  then came to mind, another saying my Mom.   We all moved on to fresh silly bantering.

Obviously friendships have their limits.  Just for “shits and giggles” (must I tell you)  I can see us four friends all in a big white box, with each of us standing in our own secure corners with sarcasm as our only method of communication.  Hey, guy friendships kinda amounts to that level, which than levels off.  Still, I realize that such guy friendships do offer each of us a choice of different  rewards.

Maybe, for me, the real outcome of sharing this video was not to “maybe”  build  deeper connections with three friends, but only to slow the guilt of letting the past fade too quickly away, including losing touch with three valuable friends.

As you can see from this first image, I have taken my color scheme from the video. That tells me a lot about Music’s versatility: A great song can have many meanings, and create different reactions in people. This than is my take on the Music in the form of this artwork inspired by a video: Just “maybe” unlike the video, this painting I call Mr Brightside, that I will dedicate to them,  will break through that “no chance in hell,” (Mom again) wall to eventually build a  stronger and longer lasting connection with my three amigos. …..Silly me.



S_V_H Burgundy Shoes Final Image

•11/27/2016 • 2 Comments

burgundy_finalBurgundy Shoes, from the Music of Patty Griffin, is finished,  and I believe this artwork represents in a charming way a beautiful musical story.  You can listen to the music from the painting which starts at the 1:16 second and continues to 1:33 seconds.

Here is Burgundy Shoes in its temporarily holding spot, in my Daughters home, for now I have no better safe place to store it. My new Studio is still weeks away from being completed.

burgundy_1I really do not have much more to say about this work. It is strange my transformation with a finished artwork. It is like all my emotions that where the reason I chose the music, and why I put my best effort into creating a new musical artwork, suddenly vanish.  While the painting is a work in progress my relationship is in the first person. Than when I declare it finish, the connection between me and the artwork changes to the third person.  I view all my finished artworks is as if some other artist had created the work. I have said this several times before, each of these artworks take on a life of their own.  They will become a long-lasting narrative about one piece of Music.  While for me each of these experiences, while barely a footnote in their lives, gives value to my days. I than have the wonderful opportunity to look back at a long forgotten artwork and say, wow, I did that. I like that feeling. Yea,  I do.

Music First

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H Burgundy Shoes Image 2

•10/07/2016 • Comments Off on S_V_H Burgundy Shoes Image 2

burgundyshoes_2I have been on the move.  Now,  after weeks of adjusting to my temporary routine, I am back. This is an advance image of this fine piece of music that tells a story of a girl taking a bus ride with her mother on an early spring day.

In Burgundy Shoes, as I have done in a number of other artworks,  if any of the lyrics give me design ideas, or mention colors, or a time of the year, I will find areas in the artwork to make use of those options. In this painting besides the girl’s burgundy shoes, there is mention of her plaid dress, her mothers red lipstick , lilac kerchief, and the green in the leaves of early spring.

It was obvious that burgundy would be the color of the background.  To harmonize the look of the painting I used colors that complement burgundy, in the stripping. Then I began to worked into the artwork more related  colors and those mentioned in the lyrics in shapes, and shades, consistent with the background.   The thinking for this painting is that the right use of color, in tune  with the music, along with a clean and balance design will improve the first reaction,  and curiosity of the viewer of  this relatively unknown music.

Scott Von Holzen


A shortest story  from a Temporary Studio:

When I do take a short afternoon nap I listen to my music to block out the world. Recently, I awoke from a respite to the song Burgundy shoes being played. This was a pleasant surprise for that is the music of my current art project. Outside my door I could hear my grandchildren playing.  I got up and enthusiastically walked out into the playroom playing aloud Burgundy Shoes.  I interrupted my precious three who were laughing and bouncing about like children do, just home from school.  I commented to them that the song they where hearing was the  music for my current artwork.  I guess my intention was to have them stop and  listen to the music as I explained to them that they actually inspired me to paint this music. Instead, I said nothing more after seeing that they all looked startled, and where staring at me with three unanimous looks of  silent confusion.  Feeling silly, and out-of-place, I retreated without another word, back to the safety of  their toy storage room, and my makeshift studio, to re-think my approach to public relations.




S_V_H Burgundy Shoes Image 1

•09/08/2016 • Comments Off on S_V_H Burgundy Shoes Image 1


Burgundy Shoes is small song musically by Patty Griffin, that elevates itself with its powerful lyrics. This song is a personal choice for me. I choose this music for I cannot listen to Patty Griffin’s music without thinking of my daughter Kinsey or her daughters Jordyn and Kendyl.  It also reminds me of a young boy, sadly a long time ago,  who also rode the bus home from school.  Without doubt I feel that my life has crossed paths with Patty Griffin’s.  Her music lets forgotten emotions know the warmth of acceptance and gratitude.

Burgundy Shoes Lyrics (in bold is the music of this artwork):

We wait for the bus that’s going to Bangor
In my plaid dress and burgundy shoes
In your red lipstick and lilac kerchief
You’re the most pretty lady in the world

The bus driver smiles, a dime and a nickel
We climb on our seats, the vinyl is cold
“Michelle ma belle”, the song that you loved then
You hold my hand and sing to yourself
Sun sun
Sun sun
Sun sun sun sun

Sun sun sun sun
Sun sun sun sun

The leaves are green and new like a baby
Tulips are red, now I don’t miss the snow
It’s the first day I don’t wear my big boots
You hold my hand, I’ve got burgundy shoes
Burgundy shoes, burgundy shoes


Patty Griffin first captured me when I saw a review of her Album 1000 Kisses on CBS’s Sunday Morning way back in 2002.  Until then I had never heard of her.  I bought the album  and have played her music,  and  have appreciated her song writing ever since.

Burgundy Shoes is one among of a number of other Patty Griffin songs that are special.   Some of my other favorites are Florida, Rain, Long Ride Home, Crying Over, Trapeze, and When it Don’t Come Easy.

Here is the studio version of Burgundy Shoes.  The music for this painting begins at 1:16 seconds into the song:

This is the only Live version that I thought was decent enough to present:

Scott Von Holzen


Burgundy Shoes  Technical Notes:

Below is the original first image of Burgundy Shoes.  You can see that the stripping is different from the latest image. What happened, is that I planed, calculated, thought it all through,  and still put the bottom vertical stripping in the wrong place. It could not be removed so I had to repaint the entire burgundy background.


I am lucky that although the lyrics are small they give me a lot of color clues for this artwork.  Of course it is easy to start with ‘burgundy shoes” which you see in the background. But the lyrics also mention “plaid dress,” “red lipstick,” and “lilac kerchief.” In the finish work you will see the influence of all those lyrics.  I am so lucky to have them.

As a note, my studio is down and packed away, for the big move to come.  Although disappointed,  to my delight,  I will soon be back with my music and my art, in a temporary home studio provided by my daughter and her family.

How lucky.


S_V_H We Belong final image

•08/22/2016 • Comments Off on S_V_H We Belong final image

weBelong_finalWe Belong is finished. This is a commissioned work in which I learned about the women of 80’s rock.  To my surprise I knew, and remembered, more music from that time than I would have ever thought.  Creating this artwork was fun, enlightening, and a nostalgic look back to decade when I bought my first CD player, and  CDs starting with Steve Winwood’s Back in the High Life.

We Belong is sung by Pat Benatar, one of the best solo female rockers , who in the late 70’s early 80’s presented herself as an independent,  feisty, tough, defiant, aggressive, woman with a commanding sexuality, and flawless femininity.   I thought, oh my god, how do I paint that. Thankfully, the music is the foundation of this artwork and not a single artist or a performance.  We Belong certainly does accommodate Pat Benatar’s  musical style,  but like each artwork they evolve,  and finish presenting their own performance.



Scott Von Holzen

purpleRain_FPurple Rain (late April)

Before We Belong I had the feeling that my style was becoming rather redundant.  Painting Purple Rain did help.  Because of my musical appreciation for Prince,  I felt some comfort doing  different twists of old ideas that where fun and that worked.  Then We Belong followed,  and I walked into the disruption I needed to get me out of this boring style rut.  Unlike in past when other artists paintings had given me new direction, this time I stumbled on a new path when I viewed my first Pat Benatar ‘s music videos.

It was my client who specifically mention Pat Benatar and who suggested We Belong.  I agreed to do the artwork knowing that at best I had heard Pat Benatar on the radio. My history of music in the 80s is that MTV was a premium cable channel, and my CD collection leaned hard towards Prince and Madonna. In short, I knew her name not the music.  To prepare for the artwork, for the first time I watched Pat Benatar’s 80’s performances.  By watching videos, researching her story, and listening to her radio station on Pandora,  I developed a fuller picture of this 80’s rock star.   A part of that discovery, that captured  my fascination,  was how much the color black dominated, in her dress, and in the darkness of her stage performances.  It became obvious to me that to create We Belong I would have to paint with a color I never use before, black.

Black,  from the beginnings of this art, never appears on my pallet. It was because of the influenced of the Impressionistic painters, who like Monet,  that never used black, that I shunned it, using  a dark blue when needed. Only recently have I experimented with black decoratively in the Waylon Jennings artwork.   In We Belong, because of the influence of Pat Benatar,  I realized that black would have to step out of the shadows.  To meet my client’s expectations, and mine I saw the color  black dominating this entire artwork.  To accomplish that I covered the entire canvases with multiple layers of  Carbon Black to form a solid shade, that becomes my look of a horizontal monolith. Next, I had to consider how to apply the stripping.

In Purple Rain there the two areas of especially interesting  stripping, that because of their size and placement,  followed the flow of the music.  I realized  that covering the entire We Belong with stripping, which happens in Purple Rain would not work. I did realize that only doing the stripping to follow the music, as in Purple Rain, would be enough to be  a foundation for the music to hang on.  Doing no more stripping the color black in We Belong still dominates and keeps it inline with the style of Pat Benatar.


We Belongs influence shows in this years Birthday painting, Cherish.  The Birthday painting is always under pressure from a short timeline to complete.  Continuing the trend started in We Belong save time and planning.  Cherish turn out to be a basic artwork that like We Belong gets its message across using simple elegance.  That is the difference between it and the more decorative Purple Rain. I never thought that a singer would affect the style of this art, but a feisty 80s rock singer did just that.

cherish_finishedCherish (July 31st)


S_V_H Waymore’s Blues Final image

•08/19/2016 • Comments Off on S_V_H Waymore’s Blues Final image

waymoreblues_FinalWaylon Jennings Waymore’s  Blues is finished. It took a crazy long three months to complete.  I started it in early May, but after working on the background I  halted work on it to switch my efforts to the commissioned Japan Bach painting, followed by another commissioned, We Belong, and then Cherish this years Birthday painting.  Waymore’s Blues is even a longer overdue painting considering that it has been over nine years since I last painted a Country Music artwork,  Crazy by Patsy Cline.

The biggest unique look,  that is also the obvious hook for this artwork,  comes from the design of Waylon’s leather embossed guitar.  I stylized the look of his guitar into a cool design that is the music in this painting.  Since the music  has such a dramatic look that than allowed me to go with a straight forward  background with clean straight lines, and  pure colors applied right out of their jars.  This kept the desigin of the background deceptively simple,  in contrast to the music,  and visually offers another side of Waylon Jennings.  As for my choice of the colors, white, black, blue and brown, they all became obvious after watching a few Waylon Jennings videos.   Black and white show in his guitar and strap, the blues come from his blue jeans look, and the browns comes from his abundance of head and facial hair.

Waylon sings, “I ain’t no ordinary dude. I don’t have to work.”  Every time words appear in these artworks  I pick them so that they offer alternate meanings from the music. In Waymore’s Blues ” I don’t have to,” challenge the viewer, especially if the music is familiar to them.

Here is Waymore’s Blues from a live performance of Waymore’s Blues at the Grand Ol Opry in 1978, with his guitar that is where the black and white designs you see in the artwork come from.

Scott Von Holzen


I have always like Waylon Jennings, but I am not sure why.  My guess may have something to do with my earliest child recollection of music which would the songs of Hank Williams. To this day I still like many of Hank’s hits such as, Your Cheatin’ Heart, Cold Cold Heart, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, Jambalaya, Hey Good Lookin’ and Kaw-Liga.  I cannot recall where or how I heard him sing, but probably it was my Mother’s love of music that I probably listened to Hank on the radio.  Another possibility is that  I may have heard Hank Williams being played on a jukebox. There is a good chance that my parents, in their twenties,  brought me along with them to one of the local taverns.  I would have heard the sounds of music like never before, and would have been apart of many memorable times my parents had in the early 50s with friends and family. Sadly, neither of them are around to confirm any of my short frames of memories of so long ago.

I know it is still a long stretch from Hank Williams to Waylon Jennings, especially after Hank Williams I have no other memories of Country music. In fact,  the next song I recall from my youth,  came about when I was taking accordion lenses.  I wanted to learn to play the music for Bye Bye Blackbird, but my teacher never found the sheet music ( Instead I painted Bye Bye Blackbird in 2012).  My next remembrance of music was the song High Hopes, probably song by Frank Sinatra (Painted and sold).  A few years later I do recall a pop hit, Speedy Gonzales  by Pat Boone. Then as a high school Sophomore in 1964, the music of the Beatles changed every teenager,  including starting me on this path to now.

I guess my appeal for Waylon Jennings, and his song Waymore’s Blue, could have come from it being more of a traditional Country song, without the twang, that was greatly influenced by the Blues.  Or maybe,  Waylon Jennings one of the original County Outlaws, involved from one of the most original, influential, and controversial singer, songwriters of his time,  which was also my time as a youth.   And now, much older, and in this time,  I have a moments opportunity,  to keep going down that musical path beyond just Hank to Waylon.

Here is Hank Williams singing his 1947 classic Move It on Over in this 1949 recording.  This early Rockabilly song greatly influenced  Bill Haley and the Comets classic hit, Rock Around the Clock, that became the anthem for the youth of the 50s, and brought Rock ‘en Roll into the musical mainstream: