S_V_H Woodstock first image & a little J S Bach

•10/22/2020 • Leave a Comment

This first image of Woodstock shows the painted background for the foundation of my scratch-off technique.   This first step differs in appearance from my last three artworks that also used this style method.   The purpose of the scratching off the top layer of paint is to expose parts of the backgrounds, which creates an unique and unpredictable (not boring) contrast with the music.  I could have chosen any abstract background style, but did not with my past three works.  They shared a style with Where to have all the Flowers Gone.  I changed this trend with Woodstock.  For this artwork, I had an option the others lacked,  lyrics.  Instead of painting a silly nothing image for the background, I painted the lyrics that are part of the music.

This idea of removing paint to expose more than another layer of paint originates with my Bach Menuet.   For that work I glued a copy of Bach’s handwritten music to the background of the canvas and then scraped off the final topcoat to expose the sheet music.   This same idea works with the lyrics from Woodstock.  When revealed the words add color and connection to the music and the artwork.

To paint so many words, I looked first to Jean Michel Basquiat’s handling of words (he used a lot of them in many of his artworks).  Here is an example of his style from Artnet.   He used oil sticks (oil paint in the form of a crayon) to write out his words.  I do not have any oil sticks, so as in the past I brushed in the lyrics with the bar set at legibility.

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I finished the J S Bach work, Prelude, in September.  What I had not completed was the audio and the mount for the artwork. Prelude is the first work that uses the new 20watt amplifier and speaker system, whose construction and configuration took time. It was up and running only after receiving some replacement parts delayed in shipping.  When they arrived, I mounted them on a board I attached to a custom-built aluminum frame that holds the speakers, amplifier and to which I could attach and remove the artwork. Here is my YouTube video of my arrangement of J S Bach Cello Suite No.1 The Prelude mounted on the frame.

Up next I will prep the background so I can apply the top coat of paint, which for this artwork will be Cerulean Blue Deep. Once the final coat dries the fun part (and mess) begins as I will then scrap of the Cerulean to review what is beneath.

S_V_H The Song Woodstock intro

•10/07/2020 • 2 Comments

Joni Mitchell wrote the song: Woodstock,  which will be the subject of the next musical portrait.

By the time I finish an artwork that can take a month or more, I have lost much of my earlier interest and am ready to move on.   Thankful for a break it can take days to find and select the next piece of music to portray.  Then it takes added time to convince myself that the chosen music is worth the effort.  How I work is from project to project:  I focused until I finish an artwork,  and only then do I consider what to do next.

Once I have chosen my next subject, I arrange the music.  That was a lot easier before I added sound.   Without sound or words, what I did was pick a phrase or a sentence from the music as a start point and follow that to an obvious end point.  If the music included words I then had to choose carefully not only the words (Copywrite concerns on my part), but I had to make sure I still had a good start and end point.  Now days with added sound,  I create arrangements.  What that means is I pick short sections from different parts of the music’s notation, change them to connect,  and then together I create a pleasant flow of the music I am portraying.  This takes days with many revisions.  Eventually, I find an arrangement that sounds good to my ear.  I then move on to the artwork, using my arrangement as my guide to building the artwork.

That is where I am at with this first blog entry about the Woodstock project. There is no first image of the artwork (The start date of his project is September 26th).   Instead, I am offering a late revision of the music that I arranged for this artwork and that I will use as my guide to cut out, sand, prime, and paint what will be the notation parts for this project.

This is my current arrangement of the project Woodstock that comes from the music of Joni Mitchell:

In 1970 while in college in Madison the version of Woodstock I knew was by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. This song was on their album Déjà vu, a favorite album of mine. Their music confirmed my taste preference for the melodic style of Rock music

I discovered my rock n’ roll style when the Beatles came to America, as a sophomore in a rural high school farming town. I was a Beatles rock ‘n roll guy: great melodies and lyrics, at moderate volume, without any distortion. I had little to no interest in the groundbreaking hard rock style of Led Zeppelin. Obviously, my musical tastes expanded in college. I grew to like The Who, buying their album Live at Leedes, and Cream buying their two disc album Wheels of Fire. Still, The Beatles’ influenced continued into the eighties as I favored Madonna and the Funky sound of Prince, instead of Van Halen, whose music hits resurface with the passing of Eddie Van Halen.

Why then did I not arrange the version of Woodstock from my past? It was because recently when I listened to Joni Mitchell’s Folk rockin’ version of Woodstock; it caught my interest. I knew it would be a better fit for my current limited arrangement abilities, and it would be an acknowledgement of my early years appreciation for Folk music. Folk music later paralleled my preference for rock ‘n roll and grew from the likes of Peter, Paul and Mary, to Joni Mitchell, who I often mixed up with another favorite of mine, Judy Collins. I believe the album Déjà vu contains several other songs that are artwork worthy of future projects for the Sixties time in my life. This one is a thank you to Joni Mitchell, and her lyrics about my lasting memory of the Woodstock Rock Festival.

Finally, unrelated to the music, I have a comment about this blog site. Starting early in its existence, I made up a goal to post the same number of letters Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo Van Gogh. That total is a challenging 658. After ten years of blogging, this post will bring me to 637. I am only twenty-one away.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Bach Cello Suite No.1in G Major, the Prélude, Final Image

•09/21/2020 • 1 Comment

Here is the not-yet-ready for prime-time arrangement of Bach’s Prelude from his first cello suite:

(Audio updated 9-23)

This music sounds better in the software I used to arrange it, which is StudioOne version 5.  The section where the drums come in on the WAV file is dull compare to the original software file.  I am still in the early learning stages of this software.  I will make improvements, and updating this file, over the next few days before installing this stereo system in the artwork.

I am delaying the video for this artwork because I am having technical issues with a new 20 watt stereo system I will use for this artwork.  That is a large upgrade from my previous system which was also stereo but only 2 watt per channel.  By going to a 20 watt amplifier I can use speakers that produce a higher quality of audio reproduction to better match the value of these artworks.

The drums in this music comes from a song In The Air Tonight at the 3 minute 16 seconds mark.

My arrangement of this classic Bach music (even after I have perfected the WAV file) would not appeal to most J S Bach admirers.  I understand that, and they are right, but I am an artist, and if I am to be an artist, you gotta break down barriers, push through, upset, question, and challenge the viewer to see and hear differently, and not necessarily the way I do, just different enough to turn the knob, and step through the next unknown door as a shared experience.

I will have more about this artwork in a future video, including the playing of the final audio file.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Bach Cello Suite No.1in G Major, the Prélude

•09/18/2020 • Comments Off on S_V_H Bach Cello Suite No.1in G Major, the Prélude

Here are the first couple of images of absolutely my last J S Bach artwork for this year.  I painted this work after watching the breakdown of this outstanding classical cello piece.  This is my third Bach work coming out of my temporary studio that is a free canvas based.  Again, as in the other two, I have kept the background mostly white. With this third work, I have limited the range of background colors to three blues to simplify the look of the color.

This is the image of this Prélude with the topcoat and the scratching completed.  I have developed a system to cleanly scratch-off the top acrylic layer of paint to reveal the base layer that is the above first image. The scratching is a lot more extensive than my previous works.  I have done that to push this method forward and to better adhere to wood attachments.  With this third work, I am abandoning my past, and going back to the future, which is working with wood to create a three-dimension look.

Here is a nice video version by Yo Yo Ma of J S Bach’s Cello suite Prélude:

I am not sure how this loose piece of the canvas will hold up to being moved with all the attached wooden pieces.  No matter, for now, this is my direction.

 

 

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H The 2 Bach Minuets Together

•08/19/2020 • Comments Off on S_V_H The 2 Bach Minuets Together

Bach Minuet in G major

Bach Minuet in B minor

Here are the two finished Bach Minuets together along with the video explaining how these two artworks came about, why they look the way they do, and where I am going with this art

Even I am surprised that up next I have another Bach project, the Prelude from Cello Suite No. 1 in g major BWV 1007.  What caught my attention was this video that does a detailed explanation of this music.  Every song I paint, I research.  I want to know the music’s story and any other influences it has, including covers by other musicians.  Even though I may like the music, I need to build a connection that goes beyond the song in order to spend many weeks of my time to complete a project.  That does not mean the music I paint has to always be the best of the best.  Many times I am attracted to the melody, the lyrics, or my past connection.   As for my next project, the video of this Classical Prelude perked my interest after going through my list of to do artworks of over thirty songs and not connecting to any.

Here is the scrolling sheet music which includes Bachs own hand written version:

For interest, at less for me, here is my good-enough-to start for now,17th version of my 35 second condensed cover of this short 2 minute forty second Bach masterpiece.

 

Let me presume that anyone with a Classical music training will not be kind to my version.   I am an unique portrait painter and the Prelude for J S Bach’s first Cello Suite is my subject, and the music gives the image character and a voice.

 

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Bach Minuet in B Minor Final image

•08/07/2020 • Comments Off on S_V_H Bach Minuet in B Minor Final image

Length 77″ x 20″ Canvas Size L80″ x 35″ border size 3″ around.

This is the final image of my second Bach Minuet on canvas.   Both Minuet artworks share attributes in size, colors,  design,  and the interesting scratch technique.  This artwork improves on the what the earlier Menuet figured out through trial and errors.  Now for an interesting challenge.  I will not stretch either of these works.   That means I will have issues to solve, including how I will hang these artworks.  Since I have musical arrangements for each of these Minuets, how am I going to attach the speakers, amplifier and switches.  Finally, since this art rarely sells, how will I safely store these artworks?  Hum?

I dropped my interactive, constructive sculpture style because of the move to my current small office studio.  I am not happy painting artworks on canvas, which I see as one-dimensional.  Music is my subject and portraying it works best in three dimensions.  I do not have the option to return to my preferred multi-dimensional art style. That means I have been using shading and contrast to create a fake looking two-dimensional musical artworks on canvas.  To finish these two canvas works, I will add the music, which will take time.   Hopefully, I will use the next few days to figure out how I will keep on keeping on, moving ahead.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Bach Minuet in B Minor on canvas

•07/28/2020 • Comments Off on S_V_H Bach Minuet in B Minor on canvas

My next project is another version of the Bach Menuet, BWV 1067 that I recently completed.  This artwork on canvas is a followup companion piece to the Bach Menuet in G Major canvas project. The title of this 2nd Menuet version is Bach Minuet in B Minor.  The image above shows my base image.  It would not matter how I paint these types of backgrounds, because they disappear after I apply the top coat.  Turning around as I am writing this blog and looking at this canvas, I like what I see.  Seventy-five-years ago this would have been an interesting abstract work.  Today, these backgrounds are enjoyable and interesting practice.

 

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H J S Bach Minuet in G Major Final visual image

•07/26/2020 • Comments Off on S_V_H J S Bach Minuet in G Major Final visual image

This Bach Minuet visually is complete.  I still have to mount the music, square out the canvas, do something with the edges of the canvas, and create a mounting system so I can hang this artwork.  When those steps are complete than I will sign the finish date on the back.  For now, I am putting this project aside to start its companion piece, another Bach Minuet.   When I finished installing the music on these two pieces that will be, for now, the last of my Bach projects.  I am all Bached out.   Any future Classical Music works I will turn first to my favorites, Vivaldi or Mozart.

Until then here is my current arrangement of my the unfinished music for this project, Bach Minuet in G Major:

As for this style of art, I feel it differs to such an extant from this year’s previous artworks, that in a way they seem more like vacation projects.  Except although my vacation home may be on the lake,  it is a fishing lake and I don’t fish, and there’s no air conditioning.   So it goes.  It always does.  It always will.

 

Scott Von Holzen

 

 

 

S_V_H J S Bach Minuet in G Major

•07/25/2020 • Comments Off on S_V_H J S Bach Minuet in G Major

This is a near image completion of J. S. Bach’s famous Minuet in G major.  I learned later that this music was composed by Christian Petzoldand. This is a video of a fast pace version of the music:

 

If this music sounds familiar to you that means you are about my age.  Here is a video of the 1965 hit, A Lover’s Concerto,  by the Toys:

 

The image above is of my new temporary studio.  It is about 150 square feet in space.  An enormous help for space, not seen in the photo, is a wall of adjustable bookshelves where I store my painting supplies.  The ceiling is a marvelous eleven feet in height.  At less this time I have some natural light, compared with my 2016 temporary studio.  My only other lighting comes from a five light fan of which I have ungraded two of the bulbs to floods aimed at the artwork.  Still, the lighting is bad.  This makes judging my efforts a learning process, not helped by the lack of room to step back to view this larger work.   I confronted the reality of my temporary studio  when I read this line from a book by David Byrne about his band, the Talking Heads:  “Ive always liked creative restrictions, and here, happily, many were already in place.”  I’ll check that off.

Scott Von Holzen

 

 

 

S_V_H Bach Minuet in G Major image 1

•07/02/2020 • Comments Off on S_V_H Bach Minuet in G Major image 1

First image of a Bach Minuet

Second image of a Bach Minuet

This image one shows an art that has shifted direction because my current studio is being shut down for a move to a different home, this time in the country.   This change includes the construction of a new and larger studio.  The start time for the studio construction is uncertain.  That means from now until completion I will make artworks in temporary locations, in compact spaces.   Adding to the lack of a real studio, I have become increasingly board with this art current direction and it physical and time demands which have exhausted me.   This has resulted in my sudden and required abandonment of my much favorite three-dimensional path.   For now, I will return to the world of two-dimensional primed canvas. The ability to play the music the artwork is portraying will remain. How I will add all the hardware to play and hear the music on canvas will be an interesting challenge: I will not stretch the finished artwork.  Over the past 14 plus years, I have been painting music and finding solutions for every obstacle to keep pushing this artwork style stubbornly forward.  That is the quick story.

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The effects of Covid-19 have eliminated in-person art exhibitions or turned them into virtual exhibitions (I waste of my time), for nobody knows how long.  That does not work for this art.  My paintings/sculptures need to be seen, touched, and heard by tens-of-thousands of people before they will have a minuscule chance of being taken seriously. That means, for now, until this virus is under control, I am punched out.

Scott Von Holzen

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Here is part of the longer story.

The first image shows a similarity to the artwork Where Have All the Flowers Gone.   The second image shows how I have covered up this by applying my scratch technique.  This results in me randomly scrapping away parts of the top paint layer to review the background colors (An example of this method is the artwork I Will)

Where Have All The Flowers Gone

I Will

What makes this project different is that I have never tested this scratch-off technique on unstretched canvas. I originally thought this technique would only remain stable and not peel away on wood or stretched canvas. Because of that reasoning, I was not planning to use my scratch-off technique on an upstretched canvas. I changed my mind when I realized I had no other option.  My old techniques for applying paint to my backgrounds now seemed dated.   With the coming studio move, I found out that the supplies I need were already packed away.  I bought replacements for it excited me to learn how my scratch-off technique would stand up on the loose canvas.  To my surprised, it worked.  Each time I have used this technique, I am unsure how it will turn out.   It is not until I take my finger nail or a pallet knife and scrap the top layer of paint off do I believe.  To my delight on this rougher finished and heavy prime canvas the top paint layer had the right amount of adhesion that it allows me to easily scraped off the paint.  I created pencil wide back-and-forth scraps that created a look of dramatic movement across the canvas. The second image shows my results. Now, I have noticed days later I can still remove the top layer of paint, but its adherence is greater.  That is good.

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This is another even earlier part of this lengthy story.

These first images of this Bach Minuet will be a part of a two artwork project. Earlier this Spring  The Interculture Art Inc. in Japan, which I have sent other Bach works to in the past, requested two more Bach artworks.  Issues began when there was a delay in information, probably because of  Covid-19.  Here is the original Etsy Store conversation sent on May 12th:

はるか
Message:
Hi,Scott
How are you?
I’d like to ask you to make new works.
I would like to request the production of two pieces to decorate a hotel.
I would like these works to arrive in Japan by mid-June, so I would like you to ship them by the end of May.
The size of both works is w78.74 inches and H19.685 inches.
Since it will be attached to a panel with a thickness of 1.18 inches, please allow enough space for the attachment. (It would be nice if there is a margin of 2.36 inches for each side. So, please make the size of the whole paper with W83.46 inches H24.405 inches.) They will not be attached frames at this time, so please draw the continuation of the picture for the side of the panel.
Can you make a picture like the attached images? There are two works, a whitish one and a colorful one.
The theme of the hotel is Bach, a classical composer. Please draw a picture of the score of Bach’s music. The hotel owner may be familiar with Bach and we have to tell him “This is Bach’s music and work’s title”.I look forward to hearing from you.best wishes
Yamakawa
I sent him this reply:
Yamakawa,
I have a heavy prime canvas piece that has a width of W86 inches (218cm) and with no issues with the height and needed extra canvas you requested. Shipping by June 8th will make the difference. The end of May would be difficult for I have other obligations to meet.
I believe I have two wonderful Bach music pieces for the hotel. Interestingly, I am working on one of them a Bach Minuet BWV 1067 mv 6 which is a dance, but in my current style. I will use this music but revert to my much older method according to the two artwork examples you sent. My second selection is another dance Minuet in G-Major-BWV-Anh-114. This Bach music is easily the most recognizable by the public.

What convinced me to take on this project is that I had in storage a roll of a heavy-duty primed canvas that was large enough to create two Bach artworks to the measurements required. I told Yamakawa that my price would be $1000.00 for each artwork plus shipping. He agreed, but needed to confirm the order with the client.  It was not until early June before my next contact where the plan appeared to be changing. Their ultimate decision was to go with two prints from artworks of any Bach music.  My problem was I had no Bach artworks that came close to the style and colors that they wanted. They also needed them delivered by earlier July.  By the time I received their last request, my studio move was already in progress and set for mid-July.  I thanked him and declined their offer.   We both hoped that there will come another opportunity to work together.

That left me with the possibility to use up the canvas that had been lying around my storage for years.  That idea and the soon lost of my studio meant that I could change the way I made my artworks.  What convinced me I needed a change came from my growing frustration over the sizeable time and effort that each of my latest projects has required. It takes easily over a month and from 40 to 60 or more hours a week’s worth of effort to finish one artwork, and for what result?  This year the results for all my efforts to finish new artworks has been I get to take a nice photograph of my finished artwork.  I then put it on side easels in the studio until it gets in the way, or its ideas are no longer needed.  It then goes in storage with the other hundred plus other artworks that I have rarely seen over the years. I then start the next project and everything repeats.  So, why not go back to doing easel work using canvas instead of custom wood pieces?  This could be a fresh opportunity to try ideas on a simpler two-dimensional platform that will include music.  Japan would not have wanted the music. They only needed something artsy to fill a space on a wall.   At this moment lets us begin the lost chapter of this still unfolding story of one guy with one purpose, and one goal to find out. Did he make it?

Scott Von Holzen