S_V_H Metamorphosis 2 image 2

I have been working on and off on this artwork for almost a month. I have it figured out, but was interrupted by the warmth of Spring finally arriving, remodeling of our home, getting my bonsai plants setup and moved outdoors, and other projects, interruptions, and issues that have quickly altered my winter day-to-day work schedule.

I still have not painted and put together the side speaker boxes. I have the music done, which is wonderful, for after a month on this subject I would dread that idea of still having to create the cover music. That adds to the why I create the music before the artwork.

For this project I am using two sheets of steel each 6 inches by 24 inches. Like what I did with them in the past two artworks, I will bend them into a curve to enhance that 3 dimensional look I want. I also have a new method of mounting for those sheets, eliminating the need for the support of extra canvases and angle aluminum.

A different type of metal, mini corrugated steel, will be placed in the middle area of this artwork. Because this panel is sized at 26 by 36 inches, I had to figure out how to cut it to a size I could use. I have already learned that finding the right tools and developing the right skill for cutting galvanized steel will take time. My first attempt resulted in three pieces, of which I will use one. Although harder to size, I like corrugated metal. This type of metals with its V shape, adds depth to the artwork. Since it is also very magnet friendly, I can secure it to the canvas using magnets on the canvas backside. That is important, for to reduce this artwork length for transporting, the center canvas needs to be removed.

One last comment on the layout seen in this image. It is not accurate. One thing I have maintained consistently throughout the years is the up and down flow of my music. Although I break the rules, my rules, my music if it starts as an A, for example, as the first of my notes, elsewhere on the artwork the next A will also be very close in the same up and down height as the first. Of course as I have mentioned, I break the rules all the time, especially now that I use magnets that allow the music to be removed. That means that these artworks can and will change in appearance as they move on through their life. That last sentence puts these artworks into a small and unique group of misfits art.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Metamorphosis 2 image 1

Metamorphosis 2 plan layout. This image length is 100 inches with ten inch wide speakers boxes.
Metamorphosis 2 Music Box draft cover music.

The length of this artwork, including the music boxes, is ten feet. This size will not travel well. In order to exhibit this artwork, it will need to be dismantled. To do this, the 16×20 inch middle canvas will be bolted on both sides to the main panels, secured with wing nuts that are removable. This enables the artwork to be broken down into three pieces for travel.

I did not show in the preparatory image above, but I will set the two speaker boxes on top and in front of the main canvases. This design accommodates the depth needed for the speaker boxes. This method I used in the Beethoven project to allow the main canvases to hang closer to the wall when hung.

The cutting out the wooden pieces of the music has from the start been a messy, noisy, tedious, hassle. This grew worse when I started adding playable music to my artworks. To match the increasing length of the music, the number of notes also grew. At first, I only needed to cover a short phrase or a sentence from the music. My cover music soon became mini soundtracks. This then required me to use increasingly smaller notes in order to place them on an artwork that I could handle reasonably. I dislike small notes. That then resulted in the change in this arts philosophy with the move to sampling. That story is told in the 2020 last Christmas painting blog.

In the past, I made the switch from quarter inch to half inch lumber when creating notes two inches and larger in diameter. For this project I have returned to using quarter inch wood for the 3 inch half notes and slightly smaller quarter notes. Doing that saves production time, cuts the dust, and reduces the tedium of the cutting out and sanding. I plan on using half-inch wide for the base notation because of their deep dramatic sound in the cover music. Also, influencing my better use of my time is the ever improving cover music that I have enjoyed creating. This means that the definition of this art as both a visual and a performance presentation is increasingly becoming balanced and of equal value.

As I neared the end of this blog entry, I changed the plan. Realizing that a ten foot long artwork would limit exhibition placement “In the search for empty walls” (my quote), I moved the speaker boxes to the sides. This reduces the overall length to nine feet. That will be an improvement if I solve the probably design issue when attaching the music.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Philip Glass’s Metamorphosis 2

This is the piano only music box draft of the audio cover of Philip Glass Metamorphosis 2. I need this first in order to build the music.

I edited this 4 minute long music down to around a minute-and-a-half, for the next music box,

Starting at 1:45 Philip Glass in 1988, playing live Metamorphosis no. 2

I have, over the years, wondered about the composer Philip Glass, but thought his music was too inventive to work with. For reference I checked iTunes, which I have not used in years, and found four pieces of his music out of over 23,000 songs I own. Of those four songs none have a rating. In my iTunes days, I had little interest in Philip Glass’ music. Obviously, ” I was so much older than. I am younger than that now,” for his time has arrived.

That happened when I was hunting for music after finishing the Beethoven’s 5th project. Still in a Winter mood, no matter the lack of snow piles, my plan was to do another classical music box. To keep the cover music learning process going, I stayed with the piano as the principal instrument. I first turned to Chopin, but I have already done enough Chopin to last for now. Certainly there have to be other classical composers not named Chopin, Mozart, or Beethoven that would make an interesting music box. One search solution was to listen to playlists that fit that requirement. In Spotify, I found the playlist, 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Piano. Only a few songs in I heard Metamorphosis no. 2 and thought its haunting melody was perfect for my mood. Now that I have a decent piano version of the cover, the next step is to cut out of wood the many half and whole notes I will need. I know the notes will be large and more than the Beethoven work. That means I am going to have to innovate to keep the main canvas under six feet required for travel.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Beethoven’s 5th image 3

This image shows the design of this music box, with the two side canvases out front of the main Gehry canvas. Length 68.5 inches.
Side view showing the 8.25″ depth of this artwork

The two first image shows the testing arrangement of the opening notes of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony place on sheets of curved steel crossing the main Frank Gehry background canvas. The side view image shows the right side speaker box now placed out front.

Wikipedia link to image

Even though the artwork will represent those first famous beginning notes to the 5th Symphony, the unfinished music box audio instead places that dramatic starting music at the end. It is my effort to create anticipation of the obvious.

The image below shows the original concept, with the speaker canvases bolted to the Gehry canvas. This worked fine until I created the speaker boxes. Because the speaker canvases were mounted even with the main canvas, their added depth of 60 millimeters extending from the back brings the main Gehry canvas out from the wall. This is not ideal for the hanging wire on the Gehry canvas. Plus, having all three main canvases even across the artwork flattens the artwork. This is seen in the earlier image below. Bringing the two speaker canvases out front of the larger main canvas pushes the music of the artwork out to a depth of 8.25 inches. This is the deepest artwork I have ever created.

The three main canvases even across the artwork.

For the four smaller 6 by 6 inch canvases I chose the Beethoven’s friendly colors Iridescent Copper and Copper Light. Those colors also work in the style of Frank Gehry’s. I see his art as disruptive architecture. That is exactly what I want this art to be: more arty, less crafty. Their solid coloring needs more interest and maybe a closer connection to the Gehry canvas is my concern.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Just Another Day & Beethoven’s 5th

Just Another Day L68.5″xH45″xD6″

This video, of course, is a two-dimensional display of a three-dimensional artwork while the sound heard is a reproduction of the actual music. This artwork needs to be viewed in person to grasp its physical size, depth, and the sound production that is generated from within the canvases. That speaks to a key problem I have with what I now define as Sculptural Music Boxes, or SMBs

I will store this work with the previous project, Your Song, for now, in the studio behind the main easels. And like Your Song, I will use this artwork as a reference. Otherwise, I have no plans for a public exhibition of it or of any other artworks. I have come to a display halt hesitant to show these works in public. Some of that feeling comes from the disruption caused by COVID, when all exhibitions either went away, or came back as an unexceptable virtual event. The rest comes from within.

What am I to do with my Etsy storefront where I once listed dozens of artworks for sale? Since I open that store I have sold 14 items. The first year I sold seven artworks with the first selling for $260 in early 2014. The two most expensive paintings I sold occurred the following year, one for $1045 and the other for $1050. Then sales slowed to one here, one there. The last artwork, a commissioned work, I sold through Etsy in late 2017 for $575 dollars. Looking at the site, I see I let 50 listings expire in 2019 and put 21 in inactive status. My pricing range for the expired listings was from $325 to $2,800, plus a small shipping charge that varied, but was under $100. That reminds me of my local gallery experience when finally, after hanging and expensive work for a long time, I exchanged it out with two smaller pieces priced under $1000 each to see if cost was the issue. In time, the Gallery asked me to remove them. They knew what I have known: I don’t sell.

All those previous artworks were standard two-dimensional canvases and not interactive. My current artworks are all three-dimensional and interactive, which makes them a lot more complicated, expensive, and fragile to handle. The thought of trying to ship one of these new artworks in some kind of packaging bubble that would be required concerns me. It would not only be a timely endeavor, it would be an expensive package to produce, costing hundreds of dollars to ship. Then my next issue would be the unpacking after it arrives at its destination. Who and how will they unpack the artwork? Will they hang it safely? Finally, will the music actually play? I am speaking from experience of handing each of these artworks. I have had equal concerns with exhibition professionals handling these artworks and have communicated directly with them to insure all goes as expected. Trying to explain, or fix, or help or understand a buyer on a phone, a thousand miles away, whom I know little about, reminds me of a past that is that, past. Add in that selling on Etsy comes with high customer satisfied bar and what do I do if the customer is not happy? That too I would rather leave in the past.

Although all this hassle is to be expected when selling online, I believe no amount of financial compensations would overcome the complications and the difficulties of selling, packaging, and customer satisfaction needed to sell. I know what I know and that known is no matter what; I don’t sell. Updating this artwork store would end up being nothing more than a vanity Etsy store, with monthly renewal bills from Etsy. COVID is going out the door; I am going to shut the door on this store. For now.

For my next project. I have decided for no particular reason to challenge myself with the opening movement of Beethoven’s fifth Symphony number 5. I actually painted an artwork that sold in 2014 from this movement.

Beethoven’s 5th, rough draft audio (BEST HEARD WITH VOLUME UP) first 7 minute movement finely trimmed to 1:33 seconds.
Beethoven’s 5th symphony 2008. I believe this looks to be a 3×5 foot artwork.
This is the on the floor canvas guide setup for the Beethoven 5th project.
Image from the LACMA Exhibition catalog Frank Gehry

The building pictured is by Frank Gehry. I am planning on using the building’s facade and colors on the main three foot by four-foot canvas in the setup image. For the two smaller side speakers’ canvases, I am considering a Beethoven quote. So it is to be.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Chopin Prelude Op. 28 No. 4

I have been working on this next project since October 8th. This work will be another Interactive Constructive Sculpture or to shorten the style name this is my next Music Box construction. Yes, as mentioned in previous posts the music has now become an integral part of this art, or then again, the music has now become a separate art performance attached to a visual artwork with the same name. Names or styles do not matter. What matters is originality and capturing the attention of the viewer.

According to Wikipedia, this music was requested by Chopin to be played at his funeral. I probably first heard it in the movie The Pianist, 2002, which I do remember watching. Rediscovering it lately I didn’t think of this music being necessarily sad or tragic, but rather a great example that reaches deep into my understanding of musical appreciation. I am not talking but music that touches one’s soul. That seems meaningless to me, for just what is “one’s soul?” I cannot define it, but I can say I feel it when I listen to it. Here is the version from the soundtrack of the movie The Pianist, which is two minutes and twenty-six seconds in length.

Of course, to not strain a viewer’s attention span much beyond one minute, I had to do some musical chopping. I have this draft arrangement that any Chopin fan would find shabby in comparison to the original. I would agree with that. That does change what I had to do. Viewers in front of a Picasso, Van Gogh, or Rembrandt artwork would be hard-pressed to last even one minute. Currently, the music is about a minute and a half, which is long. My hope is by editing out some of the repetitious measures, and upping the pace, that the music will keep the listener’s attention from drifting. The ending is also uplifting compared to all the covers I listened to. That is to keep the viewer from dozing off.

Chopin Prelude

The following is the only picture I have of this project. On a group of tables, I have laid out an idea of how the music will sweep across and beyond a six-foot-long, by two-foot canvas, it will somehow be mounted on.

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 Bach Cello Suite No.1in G Major, the Prélude

Here are the first couple of images of absolutely my last J S Bach artwork for this year.  I painted this work after watching the breakdown of this outstanding classical cello piece.  This is my third Bach work coming out of my temporary studio that is a free canvas based.  Again, as in the other two, I have kept the background mostly white. With this third work, I have limited the range of background colors to three blues to simplify the look of the color.

This is the image of this Prélude with the topcoat and the scratching completed.  I have developed a system to cleanly scratch-off the top acrylic layer of paint to reveal the base layer that is the above first image. The scratching is a lot more extensive than my previous works.  I have done that to push this method forward and to better adhere to wood attachments.  With this third work, I am abandoning my past, and going back to the future, which is working with wood to create a three-dimension look.

Here is a nice video version by Yo Yo Ma of J S Bach’s Cello suite Prélude:

I am not sure how this loose piece of the canvas will hold up to being moved with all the attached wooden pieces.  No matter, for now, this is my direction.



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 J S Bach Minuet in G Major BWV Anh. 114 Final visual image

This Bach Minuet visually is complete.  I still have to mount the music, square out the canvas, do something with the edges of the canvas, and create a mounting system so I can hang this artwork.  When those steps are complete than I will sign the finish date on the back.  For now, I am putting this project aside to start its companion piece, another Bach Minuet.   When I finished installing the music on these two pieces that will be, for now, the last of my Bach projects.  I am all Bached out.   Any future Classical Music works I will turn first to my favorites, Vivaldi or Mozart.

Until then here is my current arrangement of my the unfinished music for this project, Bach Minuet in G Major:

As for this style of art, I feel it differs to such an extant from this year’s previous artworks, that in a way they seem more like vacation projects.  Except although my vacation home may be on the lake,  it is a fishing lake and I don’t fish, and there’s no air conditioning.   So it goes.  It always does.  It always will.


Scott Von Holzen