S_V_H Don’t stop Believin’ All images of the Birthday painting.

The 1890 painting “Undergrowth with Two Figures” by Vincent Van Gogh. Not Courtesy Cincinnati Art Museum. / Cincinnati Art Museum/Cincinnati Art Museum

Don’s stop Beleivin’ 24 inches by 6 feet. This is the Birthday painting for 2011.  Today, is July 31st, and although the original plan was to paint this work all in one day, that is not going to happen, because it is going to be impossible  to finish this work by Midnight tonight.  It is now 8:35pm, and the earliest I was able to begin this work.  Life just got in the way today.  Because there was a thought that maybe this would be a problem, tomorrow is a vacation day, and this work will be finished, hopefully early in the afternoon.  Still, no matter, I present this 2011 Birthday painting.

To save considerable time and to sharpen the decision making, each Birthday painting that has been done, there have been only two done in this similar fashion, a Vincent Van Gogh Painting is chosen for the color reference.  As you can see this years choice is a late painting called Undergrowth with Two Figures.

So it begins: 8:40pm listening to Stand by Me sung by Ben E King.

8:59pm :  I have a great many books on Vincent Van Gogh but do not have any large reproductions of this work.  The best I found is in the book Van Gogh In Saint-Remy and Auvers.  Also, I have another decent reproduction found in The Power of Art by Simon Schama.  It looks to me that the base of the Van Gogh painting is Green Gold so that was rolled on. Good start, listening to a live version of Thunder Road.

9:13pm: added the Prussian Blue.  Listening to This is A Man’s World sung by Leela James. Now, begins the tough part: how to add the effect of Vincent’s brush stokes but in my style. Since he is creating his vision of a forest floor and I am creating my vision of  musical staffs or staves, I am going to be more organized with the application of the color.  I think I will start with an all over all effect with a number of Vincent’s colors, and then come back to emphasize the lines of the trees and the color spaces of the background that will  give definition to the music.  In other words, this is less of an abstract musical piece then it is my own interpretation  of the actual musical flow.  Oh, by the way the trees and their colors will be the notes.

10:02pm: Listening to American Pie sung by Madonna. I have and will throw more of the greens that I have.  It looks like nothing I have ever done, which is what is expected of the Birthday painting.  Sure, fine tuning will bring the canvas back to a more traditional look.  I started out with a 3/4 inch pallet knife, but that was uncomfortable and did not fill enough spaces.  I then switch to my favorite pallet knife, use in all of the best of these artworks.  That made a difference.  I was also running a revolving fan back, and forth, blowing on me as I applied the acrylic paint.  I am trying to cut back on the smearing.  Looking at Van Gogh’s work I am thinking he let this work dry between coats:  look at his sharp yellows and whites.  I do not have the favor of time so I am writing to give the fan some time to do its job. Plus, I can take a few minutes, to see how far I have come and what needs what green next.  All of these greens are just the background colors.  When I get to the necessary fill, I am going to go back over the work and give it, for example the whites, yellows, and orange, detail, that resembles the color flow of the Van Gogh work. Listening to Amazing Grace sung by Willie Nelson.

10:29pm listening to Bring Me to Life.

10:46pm Listening to Somewhere Over the Rainbow sung by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (god rest his soul). I needed to take a break here to let the paint dry, for I was adding Green Gold and it was smearing heavy in the Phthalo Greens, yellow and blue.  I am getting tired, although I will try to work till 1 am I will be surprise if I make that.  The entire day was busy visiting relatives in Marshfield, which was nice, but not my original plan. I should mention that on all my posts I write in the third person. This post is an exception for convenience of the moment.  I am finding this painting style interesting, and believe once it is past Midnight, and my Birth date has passed, if the background is basically finished I may call it a night.  Until I am satisfied with the look, which I am not so far, I will continue applying paint until this comes together, no matter how long it takes. Listening to Cry Me a River by Justin Timberlake.

12:01am Listening to The Finer Things sung by Steve Winwood.  A very favorite back, and one of the first musical DVDs that I purchased.  I believe the basic background on the lower green section is done. The fan is drying the paint and I would like to begin to add the dabs of white and strokes of a couple of different yellows and a little orange.  There will be more to smooth out the background. It is kinda of lumpy in spots.  Added some Anthraquinone Blue to the very top edge to begin closing that off.  The dark edges along the top and bottom push the artwork inward, and help to unify the work. Listening to Unpredictable sung by Jamie Foxx and Ludacris.

1:09am Listening to In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins. I am about as far as I can go tonight. Tomorrow I need a fresh mind to make this music work. Again, I must say it is like nothing before.  Yes, it is because of what has been done. Still, I see something interesting coming out of this. It is hard to judge if this is going to be a special work or whether it moves the art forward enough to effect the current Vivaldi work..  Right now I am spinning, and doubtful of my efforts. I keep looking for more, from me.  And, I know it is there, but it ain’t easy, being easy but hard to have it any other way.  Like my Brother Jeff says, “it is what it is.”  So it is.  Listening to The Archies, Sugar, Sugar.  Who would think I would end the night on a sixties Bubblegum song. It is what it is.  It does have a nice uplifting beat and sound, at 1:17am.  I hate stopping as long as the music is playing.  I can not stand the silence.  Listening to Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye sung by the great Julie London, 1:23am.  Good night.


10:00am August 1st.  Listening to Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey. Up this morning at 6:45am.  Could not sleep.  Was concerned about the politics that happened the day before, and just had to get of early to here the feedback.  I am very disappointed in the President.

Back to the art. I have decided to change the part of this music that was to be painted:  the original musical phrase is ” on and on and on and on”. The notes have interest and would have been easy to work with. Instead I changed direction to the much more difficult, but defining words of this music: “Don’t stop believin’ hold onto the feelin’ .”  Two reasons for this change, the added challenge, and second because of a family loss that occurred last night. Is is what it is.  I will have to reduce the size of the notes, and cram them in, but in the end it is the  words that matter with this music.

10:44am Listening to Mack the Knife performed by Oscar Peterson.  I put yellow green lines to help define the structure of the music.  Now, the placing of the notes is next.  This canvas is not a smooth surface so there is a question if the circles that represent the flow of the music will look right. Still waiting for the lines to dry.  Listening to I Call Your Name by the Mamas and the Papas. 10:57am now listening to Allegro From the Spring Four Seasons, Vivaldi.  11:04am listening to Under Pressure, Queen.  Playing it loud.  So, it now begins.

11:45am Listening to Hallelujah sung by K.D. Lang, nice.  Not much to look at put laying down this flow of music needed a number of wet wipe offs.  I needed space for the words, and I needed space for the ties, and I needed space for the 1/8 notes, and only the words got the bare necessity of what they needed.  Compromise, in Art not seen in Politics.

2:05pm listening to Bach BWV 1042 Allegro, a Concerto.  Struggling, and thinking I am just throwing colors at this work.  Time is short I need this work finished by 6pm.  I am not trying to duplicate the Van Gogh work, just trying to shape and color the stems to resemble Van Gogh’s trees.  I am using a pallet knife, and a brush, but it all seems messy.  I have to let this dry and think it through.  Of course, I am tired.

4:42pm Listening to Get to Me by Train.  This is a rushed work.  I took on too big of a work for just one day, and it will show, but it will be finished sometime today.

5:32pm  Desperado, the live version, by the Eagles is playing.  Now, for the words, than back to the beams to do something to make them pop.

[ Below is the final image that is linked to a larger image]

8:38pm Sting is singing Fragile, that certainly reflects on the efforts to complete this painting.  Obviously, I was correct that this work was going to be a challenge.  Certainly, this was too much to expect the best results.  I think I went into this music thinking I could pull off the same quality I get with those works that take weeks to finish, all in one day.  That was absurd, and I am happy knowing that the extra days I take to finish any other works is well spent and pays off.  This work required quick decisions and in the end I just ran out of creative options for the beams.  I wanted to do something different but I was running out of time, and completely running on of mental focus, and mental sharpness, and mental freshness.   It is knowing that the only ideas I had left where what I had previously used is regretful, but honestly I had no other choice.  I could not walk away from this work and let it sit a day, there where no more days, or hours, and only a few minutes left to be given to this Birthday painting.  It is done and in a few days it will be posted to the website.

Barbara liked the painting especially the colors.  I was just following the Van Gogh painting, and purple worked.  I am not crazy about that choice but it looks pretty.  I cannot forget one factor that always plays into these works is that in the end people appreciate the fact that these works that present themselves in a colorful way.  This work accomplishes that.  Good job, now back to Vavaldi.

The final song  for this project is Adagio For Strings by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.  A fitting final to the 2011 Birthday painting.  It is what it is.

Post Comments: It would have been better if the final picture included a smile,  but exhaustion and the over whelming feeling of lets get this done,clean of this mess, and get back to Vivaldi stole the moment .  The main take-a-way is that this work was too much to try to accomplish in one day. In the end the ideas ran out, the creativity dropped, and the only motivation left was to apply enough paint to finish the work. Still, for a work that did show some new creativity it does stand quit well on its own.  Every color that could be thrown at this canvas, especially greens, was tried.  In fact at the end there was a sense of desperation to search for a color that could help to kick up the look of the beams.  What was a surprising  was stumbling into Gold Ochre that did just that, and ended up being the final color.

This artist never has enough distinct colors to work with.  The winning parts of Don’t Stop Believin’  are the background, the way the shafts of the notes where handled, and the over all use of color.  The disappointing parts of this canvas are the ties and the beams, and their lack of creativity.  The design of the eighth notes (those are mostly the left side notes) kinda works, showing some uniqueness in design, but they broke little ground.  Still, they work, and their simple design saved a lot of time.  To end, the conclusion is no one really gives a damn if this picture was painted on this artist birthday or not.  The important part is does it hold its own, and like what was said it does, and truly in the end that is the end that really matters.

(revised  august 3rd)

Scott W Von Holzen

One thought on “S_V_H Don’t stop Believin’ All images of the Birthday painting.

  1. Pingback: S_V_H Birthday painting, Your ideas are needed. This is your chance to be part of this blog’s Art history. « art IN music

Comments are closed.