We 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
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.