S_V_H Please Come Home for Christmas_ project complete

My approach to creating a Christmas painting for the last fourteen years was to keep it simple, in the current style of that year, and get it done quickly and painless.    That all ended with this the last Christmas painting. 

 

My explanation starts with my previous blog entry: ” … I found this music…….. going through several video lists of the top Christmas songs of all time.    ….. I stopped to look at a video of a song I never heard of called Please Come Home for Christmas.  It was being sung by Bon Jovi….. …… The cover that closed the deal was by the country singer Martina McBride.”  That was my typical start of a Christmas painting.  What happened next requires a brief history retelling.

It was in 2018 that I noticed that the amount of music I wanted to base my portraits was increasing in length.   Eventually, I stop using small pieces or short phrases of music from sheet music.  That had been the norm since the beginning of this art.   This happened because I was creating my own arrangements as I added sound to an increasing number of artworks.   As my arrangements and the sound reproduction improved, so did the length and the size of the artwork’s music.   The switching to more professional software improved the quality of my arrangements even more.  This all sped up, with the decision to buy a mechanical license for any copyrighted music I wanted to portray.  This trend to expand the artwork’s arrangements surely had its origins from Classical and older pieces of musical artworks that were in the Public Doman with no copyright issues.

Now that I had the Christmas song I wanted to portray, as in the past, I needed a short piece of the music to do an easy and quick to finish artwork similar to the last fourteen years.  I wanted the music to fit on a three-foot by two-foot piece of primed canvas.   My problems started with the song’s arrangement, which required a lot of time and effort to complete before I could plan out the artwork.   I soon realized it was going to be difficult if not impossible to fit my arrangement of Please Come Home on my chosen piece of canvas?   To fit a minute plus long arrangement of music on a 3 x 2-foot canvas would require a ridiculous reduction in the wood’s size to fit three lines of music across the canvas.  The arrangement contained almost a hundred pieces of the music, which would require weeks more work to create and finish and a larger piece of canvas.   That seemed like an exhausting and crazy waste of effort and time for an artwork I basically felt indifference towards.   Christmas time restraints were already becoming a concerned.  When I realized I could not fit on a small canvas, an arrangement that used up days of effort to create, I changed direction.

I decided I would eliminate a fundamental rule that I lived with from the first music painting.  What resulted was that I reversed the roles of the Artwork and the Music.  From day one of the art, the chosen music had to match the flow of the artwork’s design, meaning both the artwork and the music needed to fit the canvas.   That changed with Please Come home.   Please Come Home became the first artwork to no longer be a portrait of a song.

The arrangement of the Music for Please Come Home now became the source material for the Artwork.   For this project, the plan was to use a small size canvas,   That made it impossible to display all the music from the arrangement.   For the workaround Please Come Home became the first artwork to sample the arrangement of the music.   What the means is this artwork would not be a portrait.  Instead, this artwork would be a sketch of the music. 

Sampling defined by Wikipedia is “…. the reuse of a portion (or sample) of a sound recording in another recording.”   In Please Come home for Christmas, I am displaying samples of the musical arrangement in two lines across a three-foot canvas.   I took the words from each sample of the arrangement and painted them where I planned to attach each wooden sample.  I then painted the other words from the music in no particular plan or arrangement to liven up the interest and for their connection to the music.

 

I have these other thoughts on this final Christmas painting and the final artwork of 2020. When a viewer looks at this artwork, what are they looking at I ask?  I have wondered and debated this question with myself throughout this year.  I going to guess because it is fictitious that anyone has looked in person at my artworks and told me directly what they were seeing, or lately hearing. 

I can see the total disruption of sheet music being transformed into the visual as a portrait that is a mix of two abstractions: music, and the visual arts.  This can be a blending into a new form of art?  I could also see a future for painted sheet music of popular music.  Or maybe there is nothing to see here.   What if I don’t really listen to music and if I did I surely would not understand what music looks like, or even care to know what it should look like, but I am guessing it doesn’t look like what I see in this art, and so all I can say is, whatever and where is that button so I can at less have a moment of enjoyment playing the sound of something that means nothing to me?   It is all a not sure.

What I can believe for certain is this art is moving to sampling.   I feel I am stepping through another unlocked door that leads me from what was to what is a path where music and art are one: Art in Music.

Scott Von Holzen

 

S_V_H Woodstock final image & 2020 Christmas painting

This is my completed image of the artwork Woodstock.   Alongside of the artwork, I have an image showing the hanging frame for these free canvas artworks.  The round magnets on each side of the top of the frame are used to hold the artwork in place.  The other image is a closeup of the advanced stereo amplifier system that powers the music.

I will let the video tell the rest of the story of Woodstock from my home office studio being a stranger in a strange land.

The lesson I learned from Woodstock (mentioned in the video) is that placing the words on the top layer, instead of the bottom, may make it easier to read them even after scrapping.   I plan on testing this idea on the final Christmas painting.

Fifteen Years of Christmas paintings:
2006   Joy to the world
2007   Winter Wonderland
2008   Sleigh Ride
2009 White Christmas
2010   What Child is This
2011   The Christmas Song
2012   Let it Snow
2013    You Raise Me Up
2014   A Great Big Sled
2015   Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
2016   Ave Maria
2017   Silver Bells
2018   Rockin’ Around the Christmas
2019   Happy Xmas (the War is Over)
2020   Please Come Home for Christmas (the final painting of this Series)

Here is one of many versions of this year’s Christmas song sung by Martina McBride:

I picked this music for its connection with the Blues.  There are few to none other popular Christmas songs in that genre, and this is the best.   This version from the David Letterman’s final Christmas show puts this music over the top with Darlene Love’s Gospel influence.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Woodstock artwork with frame

This latest image shows the frame that allows me to wall hang artworks from 72 to 76 inches by three feet in height. This frame also contains the artwork’s sound system, and the magnets that are used to attach the artwork. On the left side is my new 20 watt stereo system, and the four-inch speaker boxes.  The quality of the sound has improved from previous systems where I started with a sound box for stuffed animals and a built in 0.5watt speaker.  Today’s system comes from the enormous improvements made by my first custom sound setup.  That stereo system used one-dollar and ninety-five cents three-inch speakers and a 2 watt stereo amp.

I believe the 20watt amplifier and my speaker choices are now good-to-go.  When I first added sound to these artworks getting them up and running was the concern.  This is my second 20watt system, which is a lot more complicated than my previous amplifiers, and considering all the soldering, everything went as planned, almost routine.  That means I now have the time to turn my attention to improving the enclosures that hold the speakers.  If I give their build a little more attention to detail, I think this can be a shortcut to improving the sound even more. 

Current 20Watt Stereo System with on/off switch

I have finished and signed the artwork Woodstock.  I will discuss this project, include a video, and talk about my last Christmas painting in my next blog entry.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Bach Cello Suite No.1in G Major, the Prélude, BWV 1007 Final Image

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 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 BWV 1067 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 BWV 1067 Final image

Variable size L74”xH29.5”xD3”

This is the last blog image of J.S. Bach’s minuet In B minor (From Orchestral Suite No. 2) This has been a very long and drawn out project that started on April 21st.  I am still working on a 5 volt DC adapted update for this artwork so that the music need not rely on batteries.  This artwork is the first that will allow the user to shut off not only battery power but also the DC adaptor,  if used instead.   After finishing that upgrade, I will then date and sign the work.

I have entered this artwork in the upcoming art exhibition that is one of the best local shows.  This is part of the application:

“Confluence of Art Annual

Juried Art Exhibition Featuring Recent Works

September 18-November 15, 2020

Application deadline: 10am on June 22, 2020

CALL TO ARTISTS

CONFLUENCE OF ART ANNUAL is a juried art exhibit that seeks recent, original works by artists of all visual mediums. The following awards are selected by the juror:

Best of Show:  $500

First Place:  $250

Second Place: $150

Third Place: $100

A VIRTUAL EXHIBIT OF THE CONFLUENCE OF ART ANNUAL WILL BE CREATED ON OUR WEBSITE. A SOLELY VIRTUAL EXHIBIT OPTION IS POSSIBLE DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. In the case that Pablo Center cannot safely open to the public, determined by the CDC, Badger Bounce Back Timeline, our Board of Directors, and Pablo Center staff, we will move the Confluence of Art Annual to be solely a virtual gallery on our website, pablocenter.org. In this case, we will use the images that have been submitted through the application process.”

If I am reading this right, the Art exhibition may be open to visitors.   If not, I dread a “virtual showing.”  This artwork needs to be seen to be believed.  Here is one of the videos I sent in along with my twenty dollar application fee (pay to play).  This video tries to explain my artistic style.

Scott von Holzen

S_V_H I Will final image

I Will L41″ x H27″ x D3″

I have finished the second version of the music I Will.  The video below talks about the two versions of this project and the differences in the music.

What makes this artwork unique is the experimental technique of scraping off the top layer of paint, reviewing the painted layer below.  The creation of this procedure gives to me my own abstract style.  Dealing with backgrounds has been a big pain since the beginning of this art.  The music needs to be on something and that dilemma has been the struggle and the driving force behind this arts innovation.  Although there is still some testing and trial and certain errors to come, I believe after fourteen years of changing background styles I now have a straight path forward.

I like to follow up on what I have said concerning what the viewer is to do when standing in front of the artwork and then playing the music.  Originally,  I wanted the viewer to listen to the music and visually follow the flow of the music that is the artwork.  That made sense. The viewer could then see how the music and the artwork related to each other, which was a founding reason I wanted to paint music.  That reasoning worked great as long as it was up to the viewer to find the music on their own.  They then needed to figure out by listening to the music exactly when and what the artwork flow was displaying.   That all changed when I added the music.  My first push of a button was the first four notes of Beethoven’s 5th symphony.  With that change, I made it a lot easier for the viewer to follow along with the flow of the artwork.  That relief did not last long.

Because this art is living and growing, new changes came along.  I found better computer software to create notation, and that included higher quality computer versions of instruments.   It did not take long for me to create a notation that used multiple instruments representing the flow you see in the artwork.  A good example of this is the wonderful 2019 artwork, Will The Circle Be Broken.

 

Then came the awakening that shocked me: this art and the music in it had grown to where I could not follow consistently along with the music and the artwork.  If I could not what hope would there be for the causal viewer?  Not being able to follow the flow of the music of the artwork left me with the question of how the viewer was to interact with the artwork?  I had made a great advance with this art, but unintentionally I created a conflict between enjoying looking at the artwork and listening to music.  With the presence of a button to push to play the music, I had created artwork that interconnected sight and sound.  For now, unless I figure out something else, I recommend the viewer keep the two senses separate.  Look at the artwork as a representation of a song in color and form.  Then press the button and enjoy the music for what it represents,  the sound of art.

Scott Von Holzen

 

S_V_H Blood Brothers (My Brothers) final image

My Brothers, wood metal, canvas, acrylic paint L43.5″ x H41″ x D4.25

This is the final image of the project Blood Brothers, now titled as My Brothers.  This artwork has run its course.  My worksheet has a beginning date of 12-29-2019.  I finished this work on the twentieth of February.   Thankfully, my time was not all spent on finishing this project.

I finally step it up and built a new website, updated the links to https:// and had it installed with the help of Brett Widmann a friend from my old workdays. This new main site will be easier to maintain.  It also gives me the opportunity to present a greater range of personal artist insight and videos that explain the art.  On line and in these blog entries hopefully, I can build a stronger connection with the viewer.

My style with My Brothers now completes a phase of this evolution that started early last year.  I have seen good progress but would like even more changes in how I represent visually music.  One option I am looking at is to build my artworks in smaller sections and then mount them on some kind of background. If nothing else, I am looking at breaking away from the regimented look of my flow that still resembles sheet music. The music it is displaying will still define the art, but for 99.9 percent of all viewers, the fewer notation rules I follow the more interesting art.  And finally, I have to figure out how to better integrate the visual with the audio.   Like I mentioned, my audio is no longer that easy to follow along with the flow of the artwork.  So, that means most viewers don’t know what to do.   Either they can look randomly at the artwork while listening to the music or pay no attention to the artwork while listening.   Or finally, stick with how it used to be by trying to follow the flow of the artwork when listening to the music.  My challenge is to make the viewing of the artwork and the listening to the audio a seamless experience.  Once I figure out how to do that.  I think I am on my way.

My final thought on this artwork is that I like the scratched and dent look.  This artwork presents a real-life image with plenty of meaning, without preaching or lecturing the viewer. This look comes from the lyrics from the song Blood Brothers:

“On through the houses of the dead past those fallen in their tracks
Always movin’ ahead and never lookin’ back
Now I don’t know how I feel, I don’t know how I feel tonight
If I’ve fallen ‘neath the wheel, if I’ve lost or I’ve gained sight
I don’t even know why, I don’t know why I made this call
Or if any of this matters anymore after all
But the stars are burnin’ bright like some mystery uncovered
I’ll keep movin’ through the dark with you in my heart
My blood brother”  – Bruce Springsteen

Finally, moving along.

Scott Von Holzen