S_V_H Embraceable You Final Image

embraceableYou_FinalEmbraceable you is finished. This painting comes from a Jazz Standard piece written  by George Gershwin in 1928.   This artwork consists of four canvas panels over sixty-four inches in length, and is larger than I had originally planed. What changed this artworks dimensions was my decision to add extra words, and then increase their size.  To make room for the larger font I needed to use larger canvases, which then required me to enlarge the music.

In the original plan I wanted to keep this artwork on the smaller size because of this music’s absence of drama (no slurs or ties, no flags, or beams), but my focus  changed from the music to the words to at least add some interest. That changed in direction created  a problem, absent if I would have used smaller canvases, of what to do with all that space between the music.  After a couple of, what I would consider,  tired attempts at stripping I realized I had nothing. That is when I turned to the painting, I Won’t Dance, a Jerome Kern Jazz Standard from the same time period as Embraceable you.  I Won’t Dance uses Art Deco treatments to mirror the times, and I thought a similar look might work with Embraceable.


To start with I added narrow gold and blue striping across the entire work. That gave it the Art Deco look which did greatly improved the interest and the character of Embraceable.  I then repainted some of the original stripping to improve the contrast, and to blend better with the music.

I actually had to learn like this work. It fell out of favor early in its development, probably because of the changes I made to the original plan.  It got worse when I  questioned the colors used for the music.  I felt my color choices, chosen for their feminine look, where to close in tone which made the music appeared to have a plastic  look.  It was not until I added the Art Deco touches that I realized that the music worked fine with the new look of background.  In the final image you see how everything came together.

My feelings for this artwork have certainly changed a lot since I first chose this music.  I now think Embraceable You does achieved an interesting,  and unique look, that I like. This painting should feel very good about itself, getting out of me, what it needed.


Scott Von Holzen






S_V_H Have yourself a merry little Christmas Final image

haveMerryChristmas_FinalHave yourself a merry little Christmas is finished. This is the smallest Christmas painting,  14 by 36 inches in length, that I have done since starting this series in 2006.  The only word, together, comes from this lyric from the music, “Through the years we all will be together, If the fates allow”.

My original plan was to use the colors, white, green, blue, red, and gold. I achieved that goal although I would have liked my red acrylics colors to pop (the contrast creates motion) more like the blue in the music flow. I finally had to tint the reds which did helped.

I do not look at this or any of my artworks as my definitive painting. I would never think that, because I have this yet philosophy about being an artist. What that means is that I believe that I am there yet. I believe that there will always be something better I can do with the next artwork.  I do my best. I give each artwork the time it needs, and then I finish, and move on.  I believe there are better songs to paint.

This is an updated image.  After looking at the work for a couple of days,  I realized that it was not yet finished.  I felt I needed to Christmas this painting up a little. By brightening up the greens and adding some decorative stripping, this painting better represents, now, the mood of the Holidays.  Time for me to move on, this work is finished.



Scott Von Holzen



S_V_H Heaven’s Wall Final Image


Heaven’s Wall is finished. This little work, only 40 inches in length, turned out to be an experimental artwork where I changed up my style.   One new change occurred in the background where I added curved lines on each panel. I then shaded along those lines to blend out some of the stripping. This accomplished three things:  added motion to the background, broke up the stripping (a more musical look), and finally created overall a large amount of added interest.   This I followed up with another exercise in drip painting.  Although I answered some questions, and accomplished what I wanted to,   I still do not have consistent control, or a comfortable feeling towards dripping.

That first flow note on the left I manage to create a different look based on an earlier work, Fine and Mellow.  I like the use of the colors pink and green around that note,  Those colors where also used in the far right panel, which helps to unite the three canvases.

Heaven’s Wall is my first artwork that has a feel for Gospel music, although I probably would not say that this is a Gospel piece, more Rock than church choir,  the music certainly is up lifting and the words do have a Gospel message.  The decision to paint Heaven’s Wall came easy.  I was out walking, and wondering what I was going to paint next, when this song played in my headset.  I ignored the fact I had recently finished another Bruce Springsteen artwork, The Ghost of Tom Joad,  maybe because the timing of the music fit the time I was in at that moment of choice.

Tomorrow,  I will embed a video about this finished painting in this blog.  In that video I could say something which inspired me to create this painting, but I will probably not.  At this point my only thoughts are I am glad the project is over,  lets clean up,  and put together the next  artwork, to see if I can do better.

I start each artwork with lots of enthusiasm, purpose, thought, and dedication.  When finished  all that euphoria that went into the painting has all emptied out, in what you see in it.   The finished work is then left alone on the easel, waiting its turn to be slowly moved about, from here to there, until it finally finds its self stack, losing its identity,  one among  all the others.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H With a little help from my friends Final Image

helpFromMyFriends_FinalI have done enough with this artwork to be able to call it completed.  With a little help from my friends consists of two canvas 58 inches in length by 15 inches in height. My worksheet for this painting dates August 29th,  and today’s finish date is October 2nd. That is a long time on one work, but I must admit there are good reasons.

On September 15th my Father passed away.  No one thought his time was so near, although we where all aware of his continual decline.  Still, it was a shock. No matter your age it is always hard to lose a parent. You have known only two people all your life and that is your Mom and Dad. When my Mom passed away in 2001 I still had my Dad to hold on to that connection. When Dad passed away that Tuesday morning,  I felt that last brick slip away from under what was my foundation, my link to my beginnings.  Life is for the living, and 2016 will be a new start, and I will built on other foundations I have created in my life, but that last first brick, that started it all will be forever cherished, missed, and now lost forever.

At the start of a new week I did returned to work for three days, which was awful. Thankfully, when needed the most,  on the 24th of September I flew out to Pennsylvania, having booked this trip in June.  My destination was Richland,  to visit my fellow garage band member, Tom Haley.  Our best  guess was  that it has been well over 20 years since we where last together. I spent six days with him.  All six days where each an exceptional experience for the both of us.  I liked knowing that each day I would be doing not only fun things, but also seeing things that where different from my daily experiences.  That was important, by being away from my routine life I could then enjoy a new me filled with new conversations, a lot of Art, and much different thoughts.

Tom and I took a bus to New York for the day. We spend most of the afternoon at the Museum  of Modern Art. I saw all the paintings I have seen only in books. I took a lot of pictures, and we walked through a great Picasso sculpture exhibition that both of us enjoyed.  The Modern surprised me.  I am not sure my art would fit with the contemporary art that they had on display.  I feel the dream of mine to walk into a gallery and see one of my artworks may be an out-of-place expectation for the Modern.  If there is a next time, that I am in New York, I will go to the Guggenheim to see if that would be a better fit for this art. Time will tell.

Below at the Modern is Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon that changed the course of modern art. This photograph taken by Haley, shows what bad lighting, and not knowing when to smile all come together in this classic forgettable snapshot, that surely will live on forever.


Here is a familiar Picasso sculpture among many familiar Picasso sculptures I have seen in print:


What turned out to be two nice surprises, among our day trips, was first, at a  local museum call The Reading Public Museum were they had a wonderful exhibition of Futurism works on paper. The first work called The Swimmer by Giulio D’Anna I especially like,  for he is creating a sense of motion through line and color. That is always been my first goal with every artwork, to work on creating movement of the music flow across the canvas. The other work Music by Pippo Rizzo of course I  liked because of  a sheet of music in the artwork.  I believe I can learn about movement from Futurism.









The other great surprise was the Barnes Foundation Museum in Philadelphia.  Below, is the only picture I could take, for they do not allow any photography of the collection. Our time  in the Barnes moving from one surprising gallery of artworks to the next, amazed us. I have visited a number of art museums in the world, but I must tell you this would be the best collection of Impressionism, post impressionism and early modern works you will every see under one roof.  Truly, and understatement to say this collection is spectacular.  What a tribute to Albert C Barnes, one of America’s greatest art collectors.


Continuing the bad lighting theme below this is my video commenting on With a little help from my friends artwork.

I really do not have much to say about this artwork, too much time has passed, with too much else clouding my feelings towards this painting.  For now I do believe I did the best I could do. I have finished this artwork.  Hopefully, this small gem, will accomplish what I have originally planned for it.  Again, time will tell.

Time also requires me to move on. Next up,  I will doing another small work based on the music, once again, written by Bruce Springsteen. This is a more traditional styled Gospel song that I called Heaven’s Wall.

Scott Von Holzen



S_V_H No Rain Final Image

 No Rain_Final

This is the final image a tribute painting to the music of Blind Melon, called No Rain.  What is different about this artwork is that I did not follow my normal flow pattern for the music:  horizontally from left to right. Rarely does it move vertically, which this artwork does.  In No Rain the music flows left to right starting with the top left panel. It then hops over to the top right panel. The music flow then moves, left to right across the larger bottom panel.  In order to improve the logic of this flow I decided to physically mount each panel at a different depth, creating a step movement in this work.

The following  side image shows these changes in canvas depth:

Side View No Rain

I did not have to do it this way.  An alternative design, typical of this art, would have been one longer horizontal combination of panels.  I could have also created a horizontal stepped look (actually never considered) to this work following such examples as this years Birthday Painting, and last years  Up on The Roof.  I choose neither of these paths, and at first I could not remember my original thinking about this artwork.  Then I remembered: if you listen to the music you will hear a  series of short pauses after the word ‘escape.’  What it  came down to was I wanted to create an artwork without displaying these stops in the music flow.  And yet I wanted to keep up the logical movement of the music across this artwork.  I realized I could reach these goals by placing each  ‘escape’ on a different level.

It all came down to this reasoning:  what convinced me to paint this music was the word, ‘escape.’  I wanted this artwork to focus entirely on that repeated word, and  so I eliminated the rests. The pauses are actually still there, it is in the change in-depth between the three canvases. I accomplished what the music does, but in my way.  I think any viewer who sees this work and says that word three times, will understand and find their own meaning  in this artwork. I know I did.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H Sweet Little Angel final image

sweetLittleAngel_finalSweet Little Angel came together, as an artwork, following by painting of this years Birthday artwork, Losing my Edge.  Before the Birthday painting,  the painting technique that I used for those vertical shafts that follow the music,  came from a fairly consistent past. The first step I would do would be to put down a base color, letting it dry. Then next I would spread, drying between layers, other colors.  What changed with the Birthday painting is that I did not wait for each layer to dry.  This new technique is to spread one color, and then another,  mixing them while still wet.

Returning to Sweet Angel, I then decided to paint over the shafts I had already finished. What I did different from Losing me Edge,  was to use an extremely heavy white first coat.  Then while that was still wet I would worked in a blue color that quickly tinted.  I liked this added thickness, that increased the depth of the work,  and I like the mixing of  wet colors mix that resulted in some interesting, and random looks.

The second difference that occurred in Sweet Angel, that came from the Birthday painting, was the drip painting I did all along that top curved line in the center panel.  Up to this work I have had the feeling that I was being a little rigid in the way I handled, what they call in the music world, the slurs and ties. This new method frees me up to better match the diversity that is music.

Sweet Little Angel will always be remembered for being the first work to use wooden cutouts for the flow of the music. This great Blues tune, painted in a variety of blue colors,  gives this artwork a great overall looked that matches its genre, that is further enhanced by the center panel with its contrasting tints of magenta.  This is a good painting, that easily goes beyond being a “good job.”

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Losing me Edge final image

losing My Edge  _10This is the Final image of Losing my Edge.  The end came quickly, as everything came together.  Later, after my Birthday Dinner, I will go over the artwork and do touch up, and sign the back.  This was an interesting artwork much more experimental than my typical Birthday painting. This Birthday painting turn out to be a complicated project.  I am glad I took the extra day to paint this work. Doing it all in one day would have been too much.  I will have one more entry about this years Birthday painting, with a video discussing the artwork, and why I pick this music.


losingMyEdge_11Here is a view of this artwork from an angle so that it shows how the music floats about the background


Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H The Ghost of Tom Joad Final Image

The Ghost of Tom Joad final image

I have completed The Ghost of Tom Joad. This artwork proves to me that it is easier to test new ideas when working on a smaller size canvas. I used two new techniques in this work that I plan on developing, and experimenting with in future paintings.  The first one is drip painting.  Dripping paint is not a great artistic breakthrough. It is a technique that I have ignored, until I stumbled on a dripping method that was convenient to use, consistent, and with fairly precise control. The second new technique, if you look closely at the enlargement,  you will see a number of small square wooden pieces that I have attach to this artwork.  I am fascinated by the unlimited opportunities that attaching painted pieces of wood to canvas can offer.

These two methods each can add interest, and more important depth, in edition to using multiple layers of canvases to make that three dimensional, sculptural look possible.  But not every artwork works well with layered canvases.  Now,  with the option of dripping, and adding small wooded pieces to the canvas surface,  I can give even a traditional flat rectangle artwork a little of that three dimension look.  I am always after this to better reflect the depth of the music I am portraying.

My original idea for The Ghost of Tom Joad  was to use earth tones to keep the coloring muted and the contrast lower.  I found out once again, that it was hard for me to limit my pallet.  I may have an opportunity to actually limit my pallet with this years Birthday painting, at the end of July.  My Birthday painting I start and complete in one day.  A simpler color scheme, with smart use of tints and shades, could save painting time,  and be an opportunity to experiment with a cleaner appearing,  less cluttered looked.


Up next is another small artwork, and a Blues Classic, Sweet Little Angel. I cannot seem to get enough of B B King so I thought it was time to do one of his own classic songs.  Since this is a Blues piece I can see this as an opportunity to create a simpler artwork.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H Fine and Mellow Final Image


Fine and Mellow is finally finished. For its size this painting took forever to complete. Well  at less it felt that way.  I must admit things drag on way longer after I heard of the death of B. B King.  At that moment I could not stop spinning the Blues. Since Fine and Mellow is a Billie Holiday Blues song, with a great video, and B. B. King is the Blues, the Blues kept flowing through me. It is if it was hard for me to let go. I could not move on. Surely, during this time the death of my favorite Uncle, Walter, and our cat, Roxy, must have played a part. And yet there must come that moment, that we all understand, that Life is for the Living.  So this is it. After I post the blog entry, I am returning my music choice back to Quick Mix on Pandora, letting everything go including letting B. B. King fall back in place with the other 99 channels on Pandora.

Fine and Mellow, consists of three canvases about 20 inches by 50 inches in length. All during this painting, I have had  my concerns, after watching Billie Holiday sing this song with such great accompaniment, that I would have a hard time capturing that music. Of course, as always, I have to remind myself. I know that every painting starts out as if it is all about the music, but they all end up in some way a tribute to the music, but more so, an artwork that stands on its own merits. Sometimes I wonder  if the music is my excuse to paint another painting.

Looking at Fine and Mellow, it looks its best when the lights are lower which allows the background to stay dark. The brighter colors of the music are still there, but all those blues, in the background, take on more depth with the lights turned down. Surprisingly, What stands out with this work is the background. For a change I let the music flow float behind the background layers.  What caused this change in thinking was that the artwork looked boring compared to the black and white video. The stripping across the music woke this painting up.  At first I striped only the music flow, but that changed, and by letting the music blend more with a background, this painting found its own way to stand out from my other works.

This is a second final image, that I finished this morning. I added a lot more stripping across most of the major parts of the music, causing the background seep a lot more to the surface, and finally creating the look I wanted from the start.


The nice parts of this painting are my use of the color yellow and those shades of green. The words I consider to be well done, in how they blend into the background, an important part in helping to define the feelings of this painting. But the winning aspect of this artwork, and the biggest improvement is without doubt the strong emphasize given to the background stripping. All those different colors and shapes in the stripping greatly effected the mood of the entire artwork  with the added feature of filling in empty spaces with interest.

In the video you see this back-en-forth between Billie and the musicians. One of the goals of this artwork was to recreate that movement with the contrast of the background with the music. Like in the video, everything has to come together to succeed, and hopefully that is also happens in this artwork.

To end this blog entry and this special Time with Billie’s Fine and Mellow, how about spending a few last minutes with the Blues and B. B. King,  singing “When It All Comes Down (I’ll Still be Around)


Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H I Won’t Dance Final Image


I Won’t Dance is finished, and I am liking what I see. This artwork looks to challenge, looks interesting, and looks like nothing else. Now, none of those adjectives guarantee that this art form, including this artwork, will have any lasting value, but for now, if you want to own, I Won’t Dance, you will have to check out the listing on Etsy.

Once again here is the video this artwork is based on. I cannot tell you exactly what elements from this black and white film clip this artwork uses.  What does matter is what I felt watching Fred and Ginger interact, their style and the atmosphere around them. That is all I needed to create the theme for I Won’t Dance.

What do  I think of this artwork? Well, I will  tell you, it is crazy cool, and out of sight. Not only is this a great Jerome Kern song, it is catchy tune that, over the years, has been persistently a favorite song of mine,  popping up, and putting a smile on my face. Maybe I like this music because I am such a reluctant dancer. When I was in college I had to push myself  to ask the girl to dance. I was okay once I did, but up to that point, I was a one man debating team.  Well, I have grown since those days (although I am beginning to race back to the future), and the thought of dancing feels good to me.  I see this artwork as something special, and very approachable dance piece.  My  impression looking at I Won’t Dance  is that it makes you want to dance, dance, dance!  Enough said.  I should shut up, for this artwork had me at the first dance.

Scott Von Holzen