S_V_H One final everything

One ≈L40″xH60″xD9.5″
Right side view showing the raised canvases
Here I talked about using ChatGPT and lyrics that make little sense.

I started this project on May 9th. It feels a lot longer than that. Maybe it’s a summer thing, but I was not in the mood to do a major work. That is why the stereo system for this work is only the simple 2 watt system. I also choose to portray a small, simple part of the music for this artwork. I mentioned in the video that the music is covered based on the original version of this music. Although, what I choose to portray is my version of the notation from their 2023 album Songs of Surrender. The line I chose for the artwork is: “One life with each other sisters brothers.” The artwork depicts my notation rules that make for a condensed version of music, unlike the strict rules of sheet music.

The background canvas is five feet by three feet in wide. I have a few more of these left. I want to get rid of them is why I chose this canvas. The canvas, as mentioned, is not that sturdy or of high quality, but I have made it work. It is the four smaller ten by twenty canvases that are all the weight of this work.

When I first created the cover, I was not aware of U2’s newest version of this music. I had thoughts about simplifying my cover, or even updating its sound to better match the feel of the newest version. But I was too deep in the process to reverse my direction. Besides the stereo system used is only 2 watts with three-inch speakers. This system has none of the punch of my larger 20watt stereo. That means I have a sound quality limit for the cover. Therefore, any subtle changes to the cover would probably add little to what was already a decent sound, and a lot of waste of valuable time.

I may or not use ChatGPT in the future to take the lyrics from my the music and create poems and words I can use freely on my next work. I am sure I could create better poetry from a song lyrics. Would that needed time spent be worth the effort when ChatGPT can create poetry in seconds? That is what I am not sure of.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H One, final look

Image of the artwork progress on May 21st.

The background canvas which is 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide and has been in the storage area for years. Actually, I have three more of these. These were not overly expensive canvases when purchased. The wood is also lightweight and soft. Attaching the four smaller, higher-quality canvases to the weaker large canvas was a worry.

That concern became even worse with the finished work on the easels. I tried to level the work, and I made too much of a change, forgetting the artwork was still on the easels. Next was a loud boom with the artwork falling off the easels landing face down on the floor. After picking up the artwork I discovered what appears to be a mild crack in the frame of the large canvas. I placed a six-inch heavy metal bracket over it and screwed it in for support. This fixed any future issues that may develop. Otherwise, I was shown kindness. Besides the four attached canvases being a little looser, the speakers and the stereo were fine. The side image below shows the brackets normally used in wood frame constructions were here used to mount the four smaller canvases. Those four canvases are about 3 and 3/4 of an inch away from the base canvases. These angled brackets are sturdy pieces of metal. All I had to do after the crash was to add a third screw where needed and tighten the rest. Of course, this is not the first time these large heavier artworks have toppled off my easels.

An image of the back of the large canvas from May 22nd.
The finished look of the music artwork One.
Side image showing the heavy angled brackets used to support the four smaller canvases

I will have another final post for the music box One, with video comments and the completed cover music.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H One first image

This is the first image of the Music Box project titled One shows the primary 3 by 5-foot canvas. Next to it are the 4 10 x 20 inches smaller canvases to be attached horizontally across the main canvas. As for the words on the big canvas, they are not from the lyrics of the music. They are from ChatGPT.

What I did was ask ChatGPT to write me a poem using the lyrics from the song One by U2. I started with two versions and then added a third. Originally, I was going to pick random phrases and sentences from ChatGPT. I changed that idea after reading the beginning lines of one of Chat’s poems. I decided I write those words on the 5-foot canvas. Of course, ChatGPT is using words from the song to create the poem. But thankfully, the only words that stand out from the lyrics are found at the beginning of the poem. All three of ChatGPT’s poems begin with those first four words from the lyrics. After that, each of Chat’s poems separate, picking random meanings and words to fit their rhymes.

Over the years, cautiously and sparingly, words from the lyrics are used in these artworks. Their purpose is to add interest between the music and the artwork. I also pay for the right to cover copyrighted music. I am guessing and presuming copyright may also apply to the lyrics. I wish to respect lyrical rights. So when I use words from the lyrics of a song, they are a few and are pulled from edited phrases or sentences. I then make sure that the words on the artwork can have a commonplace meaning.

Lately, I have expanded the use of words by experimenting with a graffiti style. I now mix up sentences or short phrases from the lyrics. On the artwork I either leave them partially covered up or better scratch them away in order to create an age graffiti wall look. This accomplishes my word use goal, which also includes making sure the words are difficult to impossible to read or connect to the music. The words I used basically end up being a decoration of lettering. If there was ever a complaint, I would update the painting to eliminate any controversy. Everything is about money. So until these works are sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars, I think I am okay with my wordy style for now, and into the future.

As 2022 moved along into 2023, I rethought larger works. I ended the year and early 2023 with two small works, Everglow and Shenandoah. Each used one large canvas sized 16 by 40 inches. These size works are a lot easier to handle, and a little less time to build. They also use a less expensive stereo system and somewhat less in material costs. But their size, Everglow 58 inches and Shenandoah 64 inches, as far as wall art size choices go, these two works would be extra large. I see them differently.

I define them as small works, but that does not mean they are bargain-priced. It takes about a month from start to finish for a new music box, even smaller works. I live in a semi-rural Midwest Wisconsin city, so the pricing where I live, right now I feel comfortable with, is from 1000 to 1500 dollars a week’s time spent per artwork. That then means even the small works are going to be pricey. I would certainly like to sell to my market. My problem is I don’t think it exists. Therefore, I have the privilege of charging what I wish. I also have the honor of not selling as well. As I have said several times: this art is about the art and not about selling a product. Besides, Although I have tried that idea in the past by creating very tiny music works. Of all of them, I sold two small Beethoven works, one for 150 and another for 300 dollars years ago. The last on display of these tiny, now classic works, was recently at a winery down along the Mississippi River. I priced them to sell at 600 to 700 dollars each. That pricing was on the high side for what sells in this gallery. Of course, nothing sold, nor was there a word of interest heard. Thankfully, I have all three little works back and safe in storage.

Image at a Winery show this Spring. I hung them to support my art group. They failed to sell.

I guess I am free to return to working on larger-sized projects. For 2023 that is what I am now doing. Of course, I am lucky to have a new larger vehicle with more space. That will help my new projects to be bigger, but not too big to travel.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H JS Bach BWV 974 Adagio final

J S Bach BWV 974 Adagio
≈H79 x W29 x D3.5 inches

I have a few other vertical artworks, including Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Schindler’s List, and an early Patsy Cline artwork titled Crazy. On this project, I increased the tempo (no longer Adagio) of this Bach piece to give it a more upbeat modern sound. Doing that allowed me to go vertical so I could cascade the music. Turning around from my computer screen and seeing this vertical artwork for real is a different experience. In the studio, its depth is obvious. In print with a white background, everything looks flat and 2 dimensional. That is an ongoing display issue that I feel I can now change because other things have changed.

Since 2013 I have been selling prints of my artwork on Etsy. I have also sold prints until recently on Amazon. What that required me to do is to cut the artworks out of their original backgrounds to print them on a white canvas matte. That was easier to do when my artworks were simple, all-inclusive rectangles. Over the years, the time spend cutting them out grew to many hours when I started working with wooden notes and metal frames. Those newer artworks happened because I wanted to add more depth. I wanted to better represent the width and depth that is music. But that change did not sell on Etsy.

What became obvious over the years with my Etsy sales was that my older, simpler, and rectangle-painted only artworks were the only images that sold. Lately, I have quit adding my newer works to my Etsy Catalog, because these works, with their ever-increasing depth, do not show well on a flat print. Until recently with Shenandoah, I still was cutting them out of their original background when displaying them on websites and applications, which still required a white background. Now, I have found, with the help of just the right shade of background gray and with the help of Photoshop, a better way to image my artwork. What I am doing is keeping the original background. That means the photos of my artwork now include the original background along with the artwork shadowing. This then improves their three-dimensional presence.

I do not think I am going to start another vertical artwork similar to this one. Instead, I see this project as offering me a new direction, moving away from my so-named, by another, boxy look. The problem with that is with the use of all these rectangle canvases, besides reducing my inventory, they easily added outstanding depth to my artworks. Their use allowed me to create large works that are strong and sturdy, making them easy to store and travel with. Right now I have no clue what direction this new direction will affect my direction forward. What is known is that I will continue to take this art from here to there.

But that is enough of that. Below is a 9-minute video that I even found interesting and fairly entertaining. It tells a little more of the story of this Bach project and the artist as well.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H J S Bach BWV974 Adagio image 3

Near finish JS Bach May 2nd
≈ W29 1/4x H74.5 xD3 inches
Image was taken on April 30th of the laying out plan for the notes

I have here a near-finish audio for the music box. This audio will play a lot louder on my Bose speakers than what will be heard coming from the artwork. Of course, the reason it will sound different is that I have, once again, returned to using the simpler 2-watt Stereo System to power the two 4-inch 4-ohm speakers. Actually, for it is easy to accommodate when displaying these artworks, the host’s concern always comes down to this: “How loud is the music? Can you turn it down?” Some day that reaction will be the opposite, but I probably will not hear that in my lifetime.

I will sign this artwork tomorrow and shoot an Instagram video and a longer detailed video to go along with this project’s final thoughts, along with some added comments on where this art is heading. The plan then is to take a few days off before starting my next project. I think I will be returning to larger works (I’ll explain) maybe starting with the song One by U2. But, there is a big but, for I will have to see what mood I am in, and what other music I may stumble onto.

“Stuff coming out, stuff going in. I’m just a part of everything” Peter Gabriel

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H J S Bach BWV 974 Adagio 2nd image

This image of the Bach project shows it sprawling out on the studio floor. At the top is the 16×24 inch canvas with a pallet painting after Van Gogh. This canvas will be hung on the wall. The rest of the music that drops off that canvas will then zig-zag its way down to the floor, to my canvas print of Van Gogh’s Olive Grove 1889 from the Kroller-Muller Museum in the Netherlands.

On Amazon there are several commercial available framed images of this olive grove on Amazon. They all seemed dark to me. Looking on line I found a public download of a higher pixel image of this Van Gogh artwork. Both previous artworks, Wildfire and then Shenandoah, contain purchased commercial prints of Van Gogh art. Having access to a higher quality image of Van Gogh’s Olive Grove artwork allowed me to adjust the colors and contrast. Whether I am accurate at less my print feels more like what I expect I would see if I could see this artwork in person.

Amazon commercial print looking dull.
My canvas print of a public image of
Van Gogh’s Olive Grove 1889 that appears bright and cheerfu

My thinking about this project started with what can I do differently from what I have been doing, while still using up my stocked canvases. That wonderment was reinforced by my friend Jeff Nelson who lately has been encouraging me to get out of my box. He does not realize I still have a lot of stretched canvases to use. Since he is a professionally trained artist, I have found it difficult to explain the goals of this art to him, even though I have tried. It is not his fault; it is just that my approach differs from his. I will explain those differences in a later post. And yet, I was a little bored with the current design of my latest artworks.

That lead me to a change. My original plan with this artwork was to start with a small frame canvas hung on the wall that would never accommodate all of Bach’s notes. The extra notes would then drop off the canvas, falling alongside the wall to a piling up of Bach’s notes on the floor with a Van Gogh print laying among them. Instead of a pile of Bach, I will now mount my the print on a small, stretched canvas. Then, like I have done many times before, I will deepen the frame to hold what will become the artwork’s right-side speaker box, placed upright on the floor, below the wall-hung canvas.

UPDATE: 4-28 4:45PM

a better plan worked out on the studio floor

Every idea for a new project starts out fuzzy and optimistic that all problems, all issues, and all hurdles will eventually be resolved. That reasoning works for I will, as I have always done, complete what I started. My biggest issue with zig-zagging the music down from the top canvas was how to support it or not, and would that work? The final decision became I needed to support my falling notes. That is where the angled aluminum comes in.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H J S Bach BWV 974 Adagio

This is the first image of the new artwork project started on the 14th for the music box for JS Bach/A Marcello concerto, BWV 974 second moment, Adagio. What the artwork will be depicting begins near the beginning of this musical piece, which sounds almost like a modern piece of music.

BWV 974 Adagio. How Irina Lankova reacts to the music outwardly, is what I feel within.

Every one of these artworks is personal. Like Vincent Van Gogh and his sunflowers each of these songs, connect in a moment, sometimes in the lyrics, other times in the melody and often with no words They touch my emotions to spend up to a month or more turning feelings into sight and sound. This connection with this art’s music has been endless, all these last seventeen years, and will continue until there are no more songs to paint. No more feelings left to put to sight and song. No more way to continue painting what is an endless source of subject matter, music.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Shenandoah final image

Shenandoah ≈ L58″ x H37″ D4″
In Studio image of Shenandoah
Five minutes of rambling, hands in my pockets, discussion of the music box Shenandoah, and playing the cover music.

My worksheet for this minor project has a start date of March 10. That seems like a long time. I realized that some of that timeline was used for preparing for two small new shows, picture below, including converting artworks to music boxes. Both events came from the efforts of members of EmptyWallsArt, an organization to find alternative ways to promote art.

For the Elmaro show I needed to dig out from storage older smaller size artworks that better fit their space and customer price range. On the left side is Like a Rock dated 2018. A favorite of mind is on the right: The Water is Wide, another traditional folk song, dated 2017. Both works were converted to music boxes. In the middle is an early 2018 music box of Beethoven’s 5th symphony.

Elmaro Winery Trempealeau Wis. along the gorgeous Wisconsin Mississippi river valley

For the other April show hanging I arrived late losing wall space to the other members of EmptyWallsArt. I hung only two of the three works. The nearer is the 2019 project Over the Rainbow. This artwork was converted to a Music Box. The update to Over the Rainbow was completed around January 29th and posted only on Instagram. Hung too low to the right of Rainbow, is the wonderful Frank Gehry styled major 2022 work Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. This is the same artwork that was well staged at 1802 Gallery in La Crosse early in the year.


The Forage a local banquet and meeting business

Going Deeper:

This is the second of a three music box series where I purchase a Vincent Van Gogh print and create an artwork around it.

Since this project is not a major work, I am powering the Shenandoah music box with two 3 inch speakers and a 2 watt stereo system. This smaller stereo is half the cost, and easier to build and configure compared to the 20 watt stereo which I use for all major works. The trade off with 2 watts of power is considerable. I have no need nor is there a volume control with the 2 watt system. The maximum volume from this system is barely above average conversation. Actually, whenever I show my music boxes, I am asked or suggested that the volume be soft.

That reminds me of the saying “If it’s too loud, you’re too old” which I researched and found it not attributed to any one person. My take on that saying probably comes from the music of Meat Loaf, and his song Everything Louder Than Everything Else.

Because the music box’s 2 watt system does not have the power to fill a small room if needed, I will adjust the individual sound of the instruments and their nuances so that the sound of the music box is clear and balanced. This concern over the softer volume has led me to create simpler arrangements for a 2 watt system to prevent muddiness.

After thoughts:

I am seriously thinking of doing another different series of Amazon wall art prints converted into artworks for EmptyWalls. I did not get any positive reviews or even any comments about my first Van Gogh artwork, Everglow. That intrigued me. To continue sticking it to the art establishment (they don’t care. So this is silly. I am going ahead anyway). My plan, if I choose to do, is to keep these music boxes small and cheap, and wait for a reaction, if ever any, from anywhere, to be shared with the world. Although, this may take some patience and time. I must take into consideration my opening video line: “Hello I am the unknown, unknown artist……………..”

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Shenandoah image 2

This image shows the final canvas background and the layout of the flow of the musical notes.

This image is to test to see that all the music will fit in the space of this background. What I expected fits and the spilling over of the music is part of the design. Different from the first image, the two sections of this artwork are now offset. The background shape is typical of my later works, minus the Amazon canvas print. I would like to see less of this type of background, but I have lots of extra canvases to use up, and they offer a firm backside for these artworks in order to store them upright. Also, the length of this final artwork should be under five feet. This size is a lot easier to travel with, and a good size for some upcoming shows where large works are unnecessary.

Next up is the pretty and ascetically pleasing painterly part. I am going to take the bluish colors from the commercial Van Gogh print Almond Blossom Tree, and create a cover version of the Van Gogh painting out of the three primed canvases. Although the Amazon print of the Almond Blossom 1890 is darker than the online image from the Van Gogh Museum, it has more contrast. Being a photographer, good contrast appeals to me. Even the online image from the Van Gogh Museum would certainly not match the actual artwork seen in person.

Here is a version of this traditional folk song by the United States Air Force Band:

This song’s attraction to me is its harmony and the reflective mood of the music, and not the words. In fact, I made up my own words to go with my cover music. How I will use them, or not, in this artwork is still unclear to me.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Shenandoah

This first image is the layout for the music box Shenandoah.. In the lower middle is an Amazon purchased print, 16 by 24 inches. This is the second in a three artwork series featuring a commercial reproduction of a Vincent Van Gogh print. Why am I doing this? That is another story. On both sides of the print are the speaker boxes. The larger top canvas, I will probably paint a cover of the Van Gogh print.

From early January 2006 to today, March 2023, all my music artworks have been personnel. Everyone of them represents an extension of who I am. I share this understanding with all the other music lovers who cherish a deeply held secret that wraps around them everywhere, everyhow, and every meaning of why, their music.

Shenandoah is a traditional folk song dating from the early 1800s. Here is the reason, or actually here is the sound, of an emotionally moving rhythm, a scrupulous harmony, and a nostalgic melody, that even without the words or ornamentation, ozes to the surface the deepest, most hidden emotions. Few to no songs written today come close. Shenandoah is in the elite class of great American songs.

Shenandoah – United States Air Force Band

Here is the actual version of Shenandoah that first caught my attention. Where the Air Force band vocal version is the best I have heard, here is the best instrumental of Shenandoah.

I started developing the cover music for this music box on March 10th using the notation software Notion 6. When the artwork is finished, I will then transfer this draft to the software, Studio One, to complete the final audio. Since this music is out of copyright, here is the entire draft music box music for Shenandoah.

Scott Von Holzen