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