S_V_H Play that Song rough cut

•05/21/2021 • Comments Off on S_V_H Play that Song rough cut

I like to keep the cover music for this artwork around one minute or less. That does not always happen, but this is the goal. I have my reasoning. Go to any museum and stopwatch the viewers as they pause at your favorite Van Gogh, Turner, Matisse, Picasso, or Rembrandt, painting. You will notice their stare time is around 30 seconds. Looking at the timing for this art my guess is less than 30 seconds for the viewer would soon discover the music push button. That then adds a one minute, more or less, of extra viewing time. Finally, to bring the total view to near two minutes, I would probably get extra starring seconds once the music stops and before the confused viewer finally moves on to the Picasso. That added average viewing time would certainly help this art stand out in a person’s memory, and make the great ones envious.

Every cover song starts with the piano as my foundation for my notation. If the music has voice, then I include a better representative, either a string or woodwind instrument for their Legato (dictionary meaning is a smooth flowing manner, without breaks between notes.) For this rough cut version of the cover music I am using the software Notion for the Alto Flute, Viola, and Cello for voice parts, supported by the piano, banjo and drums.

In the past, before sound, I would use a phrase from the music in order to create the artwork. When I first added music, its purpose was to help the viewer follow the musical notation the artwork was displaying, which then enhanced their experience. That worked for a while. Eventually, as my musical skills increased, the cover music grew not only longer but included more instruments. This resulted in the increasing difficulty in following the artwork along with the music. I made this even worse because the artworks were also getting bigger to accommodate the increased length of the cover music. My temporary solution was to make my notation smaller. When I discovered even I was having trouble following the music along with the artwork, I knew that the causal viewer would simply stop trying. The solution became to have the artwork cover only parts of the cover music for the artwork. At that moment, the artwork no longer controlled the music. No longer am I creating artworks. They are now presentations with the visual and the sound being equal partners. 

Creating a presentation with this music makes added sense considering that this is not a major piece of music, and after counting the lead vocal notes for the cover music. They added up to over one-hundred. If I would then go with my average notation size, which is 50 millimeters, the artwork would have a length of over sixteen feet. That would be the size of a major Vivaldi artwork, and a silly waste of time for this small, but adorable song by the band Train.

This is my 81st day back Home and the first posting of the start of a new project. I am still working in a temporary studio. Yesterday, they installed the commercial carpet squares in the soon to be new permanent Studio.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Play that Song

•05/17/2021 • Comments Off on S_V_H Play that Song

This is the process that I go through trying to figure out what song should be my next project. In my last post I said this: “I need to find a song. It always starts that way. But it is difficult. I need to find a song I can spend a month or more with and still like the music. That is tough.” Let me add to that description the words frustrating, confusing, and even boring after sifting through dozens of songs. Here is how it went down for my next project.

I have a list of songs that I keep in my computer note software call Songs to Paint.

Part of my song list possibilities

Each of these listings where added because I had an emotional moment that matched up to the listening music moment. If I pick a song on the list, I remove them otherwise they remain on the list long after I have “lost that loving feeling.” Sometimes I am lucky and a song or a piece of music just catches me when I need a source. Other times, when nothing trips-my-trigger, I start my search with the list.

Until recently, once I found the music I wanted to paint I would look for a phrase, or a sentence with a clean start and a clean finish. If the music had words that I also wanted to include in the artwork, I then had to make sure that the notation was interesting to catch the viewer’s eye. That part of the process remains today, except I am now a lot more flexible with my word use. What I have added since 2018 is the sound of the music the artwork is portraying. Having to create a soundtrack for an artwork complicates my project choices. It has also changed my project flow. I now create my cover music for the chosen song, which then becomes the template for the artwork 

I create the soundtracks using a Digital Audio Workstation (computer) using StudioOne. There is an immense learning curve with this software. To keep things simple, I build my notation with an instrument I am familiar with, the piano. It then takes a week or more to build a respectable sounding cover that often includes the addition of other instruments, mostly strings and woodwinds. Getting my soundtrack to sound decent and polished is demanding. My music needs to sound good enough to represent the why I chose this music. My goal is never to I match the original music. The goal is that my cover music, when played, presents to the listener the spirit of the music that the artwork is displaying to the viewer.

For this project, I rejected everything I had on my list. Here then are some of the music choices that I considered and discarded over a couple of days:

Bob Dylan Forever Young. But I have already painted Rod Stewart version

I started with Bob Dylan but moved on to Jeff Lynne singing Lift Me up. This music I like for its uplifting music and lyrics and its musical lightness. I feel that combination would be a suitable match for my mood. But I hesitated. It was not quite what I wanted. It did not ring-my-bell.

Jeff Lynn I love this uplifting music but again in this moment I did not feel it.
Elvis Presley live singing Love Letters. I listen to other versions, but could not convince me, but his voice is amazing.
I like the lyrics to this music, but the music flow and notation pace I did not thing would work with either the piano or a string instrument.

In desperation, and the hope to find a potential classic song material amongst today’s music, I turn to the google search looking for the “Best songs of the 21st Century.” I went through a number of lists: 100 Greatest Songs of the Century – So Far- The Rolling Stone, Every song of the Summer of the 2000s, 150 songs of the 21st century (so far), The Best Songs of 21st Century – Ranker. I even listen to a Spotty playlist Best Songs of the 21st Century. Besides Mr. Brightside, which I have already painted, nothing I listen to tripped-my-biffy, and which I thought I could notate and create a respectable soundtrack.

The next day, I thought for a moment to go with Born in the USA. No, I am not doing another Bruce Springsteen song. I did like the song’s rebellious sound, which got me to think about finding a Punk Rock song to paint. That idea popped up after listening earlier on my walk to the Violent Femmes singing Blister In the Sun. I have for a long time wanted to paint an example of this music genre. It somehow relates to my youth when I played the organ and sang backup with a local garage band. So I looked around. I started with the Ramones. I then moved on to play a few other bands, mostly from Spotify Punk Rock playlist. Nothing tripped-my-trigger. Besides, punk uses a lot of guitar which I have limited skill level to produce. The band Green Day surprised me as their music shows up in the punk music category. I have always liked their music. For me they felt like a garage band, but that wasn’t enough to move me.

Born in the USA, but enough of Bruce, please expand your range I told myself
The Violent Femmes. A good Song but not good enough to paint.
The Ramones and Blitzkreig Bop
Green Day I like the sound of these guitars but for now I do not think I have the skill or time to figure out how cover those guitars and drums.

I then thought about doing a song by Bon Iver (I liked his voice on the Taylor Swift song) They are a kind of local band, but that also went nowhere. Finally, I thought I could turn back the clock and so I searched but found nothing: not a pop standard or a Jazz Standard, or even a torch song was going to flip-my-switch. All delightful music, but again no light went on. I was in the dark, not knowing which way to go. Then in a soft desperate voice I spoke to myself that I needed a song to play, “Play that song,” I said. At that moment I paused as a faint connection with those three words popped into my head. In my Spotify search I typed “Play that Song.” There it was, Play that song by the band Train.

Finally, a song that caught my attention. It had that similar uptempo sound and interesting lyrics as my earlier option, “Lift me Up,” but its title and its story fit my current emotional situation better. I even think I can listen to this music, maybe for a month. Maybe. Hopefully.

Interestingly, according to Wikipedia Play that Song”…. incorporates the melody of “Heart and Soul.”

Oh my god, this video played after I listen to the Cleftones, Heart and Soul. Would you know it? There was Bruce Springsteen with Chuck Berry singing Johnny B. Goode. Definitely on the list. I thoroughly enjoyed this video.


This is a special blog post. For this is my 651 post, and it ties the number of letters Vincent Van Gogh sent to Theo Van Gogh. Somewhere in a long ago blog post I set that as a goal to reach. Today I have. The best stuff is yet to come.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H the Return

•05/15/2021 • Comments Off on S_V_H the Return

This is Day 75 that I returned home. This is also the number of days without a start of the next project. Instead, I have spent most of my art time searching, collecting from storage, repairing, and updating music systems. That effort resulted in twelve artworks now being exhibited in a two person exhibition in Wausau. This is my first show where I will have multiple artworks on view for an extended period. Below is a screen capture from the Center for the Visal Arts website referring to the show. Strange, but they are using an image from a previous group exhibition that I took part in.

Here is a picture taken at the CVA show setup in Wausau. We decided because of the fragility and the way this art needs to be handled, to help with the preliminary hanging guided by Madison Hager, the CVA director. We removed the artworks from their stands; I repaired them where needed, hung them, and tested the music that comes with each artwork. While there I asked Barbara to take pictures as I worked to repair the artwork Twinkle Little Star. To my surprised she did this walk through exhibition video.

The Center for the Visual Arts in Wausau Wisconsin May 11th

This is my current temporary studio.

In these images I am working on updating the Stereo systems on two of the twelve paintings in the CVA show in Wausau. Not much room to move around in, but with patience and acceptance, it all got done.

Yes, this next image is my temporary workshop where I do the woodworking.

Here is an outside and inside view of the progress of my new studio, which is in a separate building from the house. The new studio will have only these three large windows that face North. It will also be my largest studio, at 625 square feet.

My very first studio in the 1970s was a spare bedroom. Later it was in a back room of a motel we managed with no windows. When I returned to painting in 2005, I was back painting in another small spare bedroom. We moved in 2009 and the studio ended up in the unfinished walkout basement of our new house. Over the years I remodel that entire basement including the studio area creating two large bookshelves to hold my art books and other interests. Then we move again, leaving Wausau for Eau Claire. This time, we built our new house on a hill with a view.

The studio came about from the house plans. What I did was to convert a separate third car garage. This studio offered me, for the first time, some separation from the main house. Although I called it a studio, it basically remained as an upgraded, heated with air third car future option. It turned out that the window lighting was awful, the concrete floor was hard on my feet, and the space needed to work was noticeably smaller than my earlier walkout studio.

On the move again we are now living in the country, south of town with acres of land. I am also building a studio that is actually being designed as one. This studio will be the largest of them all and will include for the first time an attached workshop. In the past, I did my wood working in the garage. The hope is to be back working before the end of June.

The North facing studio windows

Here is the inside image of the Studio.

Inside of Studio

After 75 days of not starting a new project, it is time. I need to find a song. It always starts that way. But it is difficult. I need to find a song I can spend probably a month or more with and still like the music. That is tough. There is an incentive: starting now from this dinky temporary studio will be difficult but the end will be in the new studio.  Time is ticking a way. I need that song.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H After the Gold Rush arrangement

•02/22/2021 • 1 Comment
After the Gold Rush 72 inches in length by 36 inches

Here is the final image of After the Gold Rush, once again showing the artwork attached to its working 4 x 6 foot stretched canvas that is leaned up against the inside of the garage door so that I could get a reflection-free photograph.   Like the other artworks I created in this temporary studio, I have sandwiched this one between cardboard for protection. They are all now stacked in a fifteen-foot U-Haul in the driveway.  Tomorrow, I will take them to a temporary storage unit for the next two to three months until my new permanent Studio is ready. Until then here is my current arrangement of After The Gold Rush.

The instruments used in this arrangement include the piano, organ, bass flute, viola, cello.   For special effects I have included soprano and tenor voices, along with a tambourine and a little hand clapping. Even though I know my arrangement skills are young in their development the basic musical structure, I believe, is decent and progress is being made.  Finally, when I have a frame to attach this work to and have built it stereo system, I will post a video of the complete project, After the Gold Rush.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H After The Gold Rush Final Art image

•02/07/2021 • 2 Comments

36 inches in height by 72 inches.

This is the finished artwork for After the Gold Rush art project.  Before starting the artwork, I first created an arrangement of the music.  I then sampled it as seen in this artwork.  To complete this project, I will work with my arrangement to create the soundtrack.  I have already purchased the mechanical license for this music, which of course is still under copyright.  I have the metal frame from Woodstock, so I will only need to put the stereo amplifier together, and then install the soundtrack.  Once all that is complete I will post a video of my arrangement

For this artwork, I wanted to make the music as large as possible.  I did that but ended up with both the top and bottom lengths being 32 notes.  That left little spacing between the notes.  That raised a long time concern about fitting my music in a restricted amount of space. 

This has been an issue from the beginning of this art.  That is why I would first set the music out on the canvas on a table before attaching it.  Since I am still in a small temporary studio, the only table large enough for this artwork is the ping-pong table on the lower floor.  Because of the softness of the top layer caused by the scratch technique, and not wanting the distress of moving the canvas with the music attached, I decided against using a table.  I felt I could better align and assemble the music with the canvas safely attached to a  six-foot by four-foot stretched canvas on the easel.  I had tested these same steps on the previous and smaller Christmas painting. 

I taped a string along the top of the easel so I knew exactly where to place the top of the note’s stems.  In this way, my arrangement had the correct up and down.   Then excited to make sure all the notes fitted before the glue dried, I quickly attached the music, which comprised four sample sections.  This well-documented concern caused me to forget to place the middle sections on different planes from the end pieces.  I simply forgot to run another string.  When I had finished, the top section I soon realized this error.  I was beyond the time where I could safely remove any of the music without tearing away the top layer of paint.  At first, I thought I would have to do the bottom layer also in one straight line, as I have done with most of my artworks over the years.  This time I choose not to continue down that well-worn path.  I move the bottom to two middle sections, one up and one down, and added some words along the artwork bottom to fill in as interest.  

This video tells the rest of the story:

As I am writing this, I have sandwiched up this artwork and others between cardboard for safe travel.  I have begun the slow removal of my temporary artist studio from a room that makes a better home office.

This is my 649th blog post.  As I have mentioned one goal of the blog was to match the number of letters Vincent Van Gogh sent to his brother Theo Van Gogh, 651. 

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H After the Gold Rush Image 2

•01/30/2021 • 1 Comment

Wow! I am still shocked by the look after I do a scratch-off.  I know the results are, by now, predictable, and yet the scratching brings so much movement and life to the artwork, that it still amazes me.  This method keeps proving that it works, although that also still surprises me.   Of course with each project, some results I cannot control and those are not surprising.

This artwork had the issue with a lot of tiny breaks in the topcoat before scratching.  These little cracks in the surface paint have existed from work to work, although in this project they seemed excessive. That is something I would like to see less off.  I have an idea that the use of too much water when applying the topcoat may be causing more of these tiny cracks to be appearing.  In some areas in the middle, I did not like the placement of the words, so I painted them over which did fill cracks.   Then later, when I took a pallet knife to the topcoat, those thicker paint areas proved to be rubber-like and difficult to get any smooth flowing scratching.  You can see a few spots across the middle that the pallet knife resulted in the unexpected pulling of the paint. Thicker topcoats did not seem to be an issue in the past, but this time the extra coats were applied after the original topcoat had dried.  I did see that slightly curved horizontal lines created with a narrow head pallet knife, instead of using zig-zagging worked better for this artwork.  Finally, For the most part, I liked the effect of the background layer that shows through. This time I used a small roller to apply the background colors.  This technique is reminiscent of earlier artworks.  This look certainly may work for a future topcoat.

Here is what the background image for After the Gold Rush looks like:

The words I use and how I use them are different from others.  Again, I did not think it was worth my time to finely define the look of the lettering like I have consistently done in the past (from 2011).  The saving of Time and my changing approach to creating artworks (no longer relying on a craft approach to gain Artwork World respect) means the words and how they are used defines this art.  How they have crafted (I hide my craft), or how pretty they are adds no other virtue.  Like fine craftmanship, other artworks that display words, use words as a prop to shield their lack of originality.  In this art, the words, the art, and the music are bound together, with each enhancing the other.  That is a big difference.   And besides, after scratching what’s left is for you to figure out.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H After the Gold Rush image 1

•01/24/2021 • Comments Off on S_V_H After the Gold Rush image 1

This is the first image of After the Gold Rush. Nothing special here. All I am doing is giving the base layer some interesting color instead of leaving a blank sheet of white. Lately, all of my first images have been this type of entry level art. This image will soon disappear under the top coat until I take a pallet knife and scrap away at top layer.

Because I need an arrangement before I plan out a new artwork, here it is:

Later I will upgrade this music in my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software. After finishing the artwork, I will build the stereo system and install the music with the completed artwork.

Here is a YouTube video of After the Gold Rush sung by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt, on the David Letterman show. When I first heard this cover on Spotify, I know that someday I would paint this music. It then became a matter of catching me in the mood. That is why I don’t do commission work.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H After the Gold Rush and print offers

•01/14/2021 • Comments Off on S_V_H After the Gold Rush and print offers

The melody, After the Gold Rush, is a classic rock project from the music of Neil Young.   The lyrics tell a disjointed (poetic?) story I find hard to follow. Although the meaning of the words are cloudy , the strength of the melody pulls the song together. This style of this music is country/folk rock ‘n’ roll, with a touch of Gospel.   The results are lyrics that are haunting, although I don’t know why.  For example “Thinkin’ about what a friend had said, I was hopin’ it was a lie” and “All in a dream, all in a dream, and I was lyin’ in a burned out basement ,” which makes no sense to me, but sounds intriguing.  Finally, maybe it is an environment warning, as suggested by others, “Look at mother nature on the run in the nineteen seventies/twentieth century/twenty-first”…..”Flyin’ mother nature’s silver seed, To a new home in the sun.”

Here is a live version from 1993:

Each new project’s preparations start with picking out a piece of music to paint. I do not have a set system that picks the music. Many times it is hearing a song that reflects my current mood or enthusiasm. For example, if I think it’s time to create a Mozart project, I would listen to Mozart until I found a phrase, or a section of music that I thought was catchy and that had a good start and ending point. I would then search for the sheet music to see the flow of the music. If I found the movement of the music interesting, I would then put together different canvas options, before making my final decision. That standard procedure worked for many years until I started creating my own arrangements of the music. My focus now becomes the entire piece of music.

Today, my project path starts with first writing my sheet music arrangement of the music and then figuring out how to apply it to canvas. The final decision is hard, for to proceed can easily consume a month and more of my time. Only then does the physical part of building the artwork begin. For this next project, After the Gold Rush, I have already written a basic one-minute piano arrangement. The next days I will spend making improvements to my melody and the flow of the artwork, before starting production.


I have upgraded both of my print sales sites to offer over 170 Artworks from 2006 through 2020. For the last couple of years, I have focused all my time on moving from one project to the next. This resulted in little updating of my print sales sites. After finishing this year’s last Christmas artwork, I used the next couple of weeks updating not only my print sales sites but also my main website.

I am offering on my Etsy Print Store a $10.00 off coupon through February along with free shipping (USA only) for any of my prints. At checkout, apply the coupon code, blog10. This coupon may work outside the United States but without the free shipping option.  For my Amazon site, I will offer individual item discounts, which is more complicated to set up than Etsy. Discounts on Amazon are coming in time.

My Etsy and Amazon prints sales sites have sold prints consistently and have provided a small amount of net income over the years.  What they have not done, along with my main website, is to create any buyer’s interest. In comparison, the many public exhibitions I have applied and showed in over the years, have also created no buyer’s interest and have fallen far short on covering expenses. With all that in mind, I have now decided to no longer register for any group exhibitions (all those that require admission fees). To keep this art on public view, I am increasing my efforts to improve my sales with my two prints sales sites that actually provide a small income. That then brings me to my last Etsy store: ArtInMusicPaintings, that I created to sell the original artworks.

This second Etsy store I created in 2013 to sell the artworks. Right now I have put that store on vacation for all of my artworks are currently in storage that allows no access.   Since its founding, this site has sold 14 artworks with the last being December 2017.   My ability to market these original works through Etsy has changed over the years. 

The price of shipping a large box has increased over the years as UPS changed their pricing based not on weight so much as size.   Etsy pushes hard for all of its stores to offer free shipping, but that does not work with most of my artworks that are over four feet in length. These artworks are large and lately they have grown even more fragile to handle, which makes shipping safely nearly impossible without a considerable amount of expense. Besides some packaged artworks would be over the UPS dimensions limits and then would have to go by freight.   The current Etsy push and store marketing support is focused on free shipping. Trying to sell higher valued artworks on Etsy with free shipping would require me to increase artwork prices considerably for who knows where in the USA an artwork would have to be delivered to. I do not have to offer free shipping, but I cannot help but think if I would keep this store on Etsy I would still try to keep shipping under one hundred dollars, raise artwork prices another one hundred, and eat the difference in shipping cost where needed. I have reached the point that I do not want to deal with shipping artworks. That leaves me almost without options to sell.

Here is the Etsy link

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Please Come Home for Christmas_ project complete

•12/19/2020 • Comments Off on S_V_H Please Come Home for Christmas_ project complete

My approach to creating a Christmas painting for the last fourteen years was to keep it simple, in the current style of that year, and get it done quickly and painless.    That all ended with this the last Christmas painting. 


My explanation starts with my previous blog entry: ” … I found this music…….. going through several video lists of the top Christmas songs of all time.    ….. I stopped to look at a video of a song I never heard of called Please Come Home for Christmas.  It was being sung by Bon Jovi….. …… The cover that closed the deal was by the country singer Martina McBride.”  That was my typical start of a Christmas painting.  What happened next requires a brief history retelling.

It was in 2018 that I noticed that the amount of music I wanted to base my portraits was increasing in length.   Eventually, I stop using small pieces or short phrases of music from sheet music.  That had been the norm since the beginning of this art.   This happened because I was creating my own arrangements as I added sound to an increasing number of artworks.   As my arrangements and the sound reproduction improved, so did the length and the size of the artwork’s music.   The switching to more professional software improved the quality of my arrangements even more.  This all sped up, with the decision to buy a mechanical license for any copyrighted music I wanted to portray.  This trend to expand the artwork’s arrangements surely had its origins from Classical and older pieces of musical artworks that were in the Public Doman with no copyright issues.

Now that I had the Christmas song I wanted to portray, as in the past, I needed a short piece of the music to do an easy and quick to finish artwork similar to the last fourteen years.  I wanted the music to fit on a three-foot by two-foot piece of primed canvas.   My problems started with the song’s arrangement, which required a lot of time and effort to complete before I could plan out the artwork.   I soon realized it was going to be difficult if not impossible to fit my arrangement of Please Come Home on my chosen piece of canvas?   To fit a minute plus long arrangement of music on a 3 x 2-foot canvas would require a ridiculous reduction in the wood’s size to fit three lines of music across the canvas.  The arrangement contained almost a hundred pieces of the music, which would require weeks more work to create and finish and a larger piece of canvas.   That seemed like an exhausting and crazy waste of effort and time for an artwork I basically felt indifference towards.   Christmas time restraints were already becoming a concerned.  When I realized I could not fit on a small canvas, an arrangement that used up days of effort to create, I changed direction.

I decided I would eliminate a fundamental rule that I lived with from the first music painting.  What resulted was that I reversed the roles of the Artwork and the Music.  From day one of the art, the chosen music had to match the flow of the artwork’s design, meaning both the artwork and the music needed to fit the canvas.   That changed with Please Come home.   Please Come Home became the first artwork to no longer be a portrait of a song.

The arrangement of the Music for Please Come Home now became the source material for the Artwork.   For this project, the plan was to use a small size canvas,   That made it impossible to display all the music from the arrangement.   For the workaround Please Come Home became the first artwork to sample the arrangement of the music.   What the means is this artwork would not be a portrait.  Instead, this artwork would be a sketch of the music. 

Sampling defined by Wikipedia is “…. the reuse of a portion (or sample) of a sound recording in another recording.”   In Please Come home for Christmas, I am displaying samples of the musical arrangement in two lines across a three-foot canvas.   I took the words from each sample of the arrangement and painted them where I planned to attach each wooden sample.  I then painted the other words from the music in no particular plan or arrangement to liven up the interest and for their connection to the music.


I have these other thoughts on this final Christmas painting and the final artwork of 2020. When a viewer looks at this artwork, what are they looking at I ask?  I have wondered and debated this question with myself throughout this year.  I going to guess because it is fictitious that anyone has looked in person at my artworks and told me directly what they were seeing, or lately hearing. 

I can see the total disruption of sheet music being transformed into the visual as a portrait that is a mix of two abstractions: music, and the visual arts.  This can be a blending into a new form of art?  I could also see a future for painted sheet music of popular music.  Or maybe there is nothing to see here.   What if I don’t really listen to music and if I did I surely would not understand what music looks like, or even care to know what it should look like, but I am guessing it doesn’t look like what I see in this art, and so all I can say is, whatever and where is that button so I can at less have a moment of enjoyment playing the sound of something that means nothing to me?   It is all a not sure.

What I can believe for certain is this art is moving to sampling.   I feel I am stepping through another unlocked door that leads me from what was to what is a path where music and art are one: Art in Music.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H Please Come Home for Christmas progress images

•12/12/2020 • Comments Off on S_V_H Please Come Home for Christmas progress images

Background canvas layer image

Please Come Home for Christmas is this year’s Christmas painting and the last in the series.  This first image shows what I would call a generic abstraction.   All I am trying to do is paint the canvas with colors that when scratching off the top coat of paint would review a contrast in color interest between the two layers.  It is a style of painting that I can honestly call my own.   Concerning the painting of the background, I noticed after scratching down to the background that I should have painted over all the white areas of the background.   I believe that would have improved the color contrast with the top layer paint.

My brother Roger’s Christmas card gave me the basic color scheme for Please Come Home.

I was hesitating to paint another Christmas painting.   This conflict has been growing for years.   The feedback over the last 14 years has been almost nothing. The original reason I spent an enormous amount of time and effort to create an artwork and then design, produce and send out Christmas cards was a way to say thank you by staying connected to those who had purchased an artwork, or people and friends that have supported this art.   The issue became this plan never grew. Everything remained as it was from the first Christmas card to last year’s fourteen versions.  It became a yearly habit and nothing more.   The creating of fourteen Christmas paintings added up to a lot of time spent that resulted in a few responses, and not a single artwork or print sale.   The reason today that I am creating the fifteen Christmas painting came from a comment I got from one long time Christmas card receiver.   She had made a custom framed for all the canvas prints from the Christmas cards and had one last blank space left to fill.  I guess it came down to this, which was enough to continue this series one last year.

When I first introduce my choice for this year’s Christmas artwork, anyone who looked at the videos could see this was a distinctive agnostic style of a Christmas song that I was looking for.   How I found this music started with going through several video lists of the top Christmas songs of all time.   At first, all the music that appealed to me I had already painted.   That forced me to go back through the list that I thought contained the most diverse songs.  That is when I stopped to look at a video of a song I never heard of called Please Come Home for Christmas.  It was being sung by Bon Jovi and included the delightful Cindy Crawford.  This caught my interest, to watch other videos of Please Come Home.  The cover that closed the deal was by the country singer Martina McBride.

top paint layer covering up the background image shown above

The finished top layer of acrylic paint includes many of the words from the music.  The addition of words to an artwork helps connect the music to the artwork and provides the opportunity for the words to have other meanings beyond being the music’s lyrics.   I took the pieces and phrases of the lyrics and placed them where they would fit without concern for their order.  I kept everything fairly horizontal and used different colors for each group of words for separation and legibility. 

In the past, I have waited no longer than a day to begin the scraping process.  For this artwork, two days passed before I took a narrow pallet knife and scraped away the top layer of the artwork to review the background.  I noticed that the scraping was harder to do.  Probably because of the extra one day delay. 

I made sure my scratching away of the topcoat was extensive, even across the words, to bring out the contrasting background colors.  What surprised me when done was how easy it was to still read the words. Unlike the previous artwork, Woodstock, the scratching off of the top layer only then revealed the words. 

This is the finished canvas image part of this project.

This last image is a snapshot image of the signed canvas image of this year’s Christmas painting.   I used a stiff felt material for the pink and green-colored rectangles (my musical beams, ties, and slurs). The pink color is that of the felt, while the green color I painted using another piece that was white.   Knowing I would not be stretching this artwork, I went with the use of the flexible felt being attached to the mounted wood.  Felt bends, unlike wood.   This then would lessen the chances of pressure on the glued wood if there was any twisting of the canvas when being moved.

This finishes the first part of the project.  In the past, this step would be the end.   This artwork requires that I build a wall mounting aluminum frame to attach the canvas too.  I will next construct the speaker boxes and solder together the stereo system.  The installation of the music that I had arranged before even starting the work on the canvas is next.   I then attach everything to the frame to finish the project.  The result will be an artwork that will wall hang with a button that when pressed will play the musical arrangement that the artwork is portraying.

Scott Von Holzen