S_V_H Will the Circle be Unbroken Final image

Will the Circle Be Unbroken 56.5L x 54H x 4D inches


Here is my YouTube Channel review of Will the Circle Be Unbroken:

What I did not mention in the YouTube video was that The Carter Family’s lyrics still sung today, tell the story of the loss of their Mother.

“I was standing by the window
On one cold and cloudy day
And I saw the hearse come rolling
For to carry my mother away

Lord, I told the undertaker
Undertaker please drive slow
For this lady you are carrying
Lord, I hate to see her go

Oh, I followed close behind her
Tried to hold up and be brave
But I could not hide my sorrow
When they laid her in the grave

Will the Circle Be Unbroken
Bye and bye Lord, bye and bye
There’s a better home awaiting
In the sky Lord, in the sky”

-The Carter Family

Reading those words I cannot help but remember my own Mother that passed away many years ago.  We three boys knew her as Namie, a name she chose because she did not want to be called Grandma.  Her mother Ann’s nickname was Namie.  We shorted the name to Nam.  She was a strong woman that did not “mince” her words.  Still, many times I saw that strength dissipate into frustration saying that nobody listened to her.  I think we three boys did, but my Mother grew up in a time when Men were in charge.  My Dad made the money and the rules.  Two little memories of my Mom that I will always remember (there are plenty more) is that she told me numerous times that I would “lose my head if it wasn’t attached.”   That is true to this day.  Even more important, was this advice from her “don’t cut yourself short.”  I live those words in this art, also, to this day.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H Will the Circle be Unbroken image 3

The current size of this artwork is 57 inches by 53 inches in width.  To travel with this artwork, the bottom section needed to be removable to fit inside the usable 42-inch width of the Toyota Rav.   That meant I also needed to remove the two connected canvases which cross all three sections of the artwork.  I first attached to the top and bottom front of the canvases  L-shaped aluminum strips.  The distance between them was enough for the artwork to fit in between.  I then drilled through the upright aluminum and artwork’s wooden frame to connect the artwork together with screws and wing nuts.

I was concern although 2019 with balancing the space between the art.  Early on I realized that the shadows created by the artwork features were not enough to fill the space.  That is when I started to add small pieces of canvas images between the gaps in the artworks.  The larger size and placement of the two canvases may be the better direction to explore.

The canvases purpose was to balance the negative space (that which is not part of the subject. I first called it empty space), and to add depth, and not to add contrast or interest.   The canvases are not original in style or design.  They are more like Walmart art.  I prepared them by layering multiple satin glazes using the same colors in the artwork.  The final gazes are of Iridescent Pearl.   My preference was that the canvases blend with the artwork and the off-white background support.   Although, there is separation.  The artwork has a matte finish while the canvases have a shiny satin look.

Finally,  it would be good to reduce my large stock of canvases.  I have probably thirty different sizes of canvases that have remained squirreled away since I finished the Vivaldi The Four Seasons series in early 2015.

Left to do is adding the words.

Will the Circle Be Unbroken with Johnny Cash, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and many others:

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Will the Circle be Unbroken image 2

I liked this song the first time I heard it on the Ken Burns miniseries.   The Carter family, with Mother Maybelle Carter in 1935, release their version with the titled Can The Circle Be Unbroken:

Maybelle Carter later returned on the 1972 Nitty Gritty Dirt Band album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken:

An early question I had about this music was the meaning of the title?  It is obvious now.  This music is about keeping the memory and the story of those who have passed from our lives in our hearts.  It is the hope that we pass on those connections to those that will carry on after us, and that when we pass on, our reward will be Heaven.   Here is an interpretation of the music by Herb Bowie:

“This is not a song of religious dogma, it is a song that speaks to a wellspring of religious feeling, to a tragic knowledge of time and what it brings to all of us, and yet an inescapable human desire to transcend death in some way, to feel a part of something larger that will live on after death. This feeling is part of what it means to be human, to know that our parents meant so much to us, to know how much they passed on to us in terms of their knowledge and beliefs and feelings and love, and with that bequest also passed on an obligation for us to keep these gifts alive.”

For this project, I changed my style by using  stretched canvases.   Instead, all the section ends are solid one-inch poplar wood.   That was the original plan shown in this second image.  That plan changed when I looked at the artwork Africa.  I looked back to that work, for it is on display as part of an exhibition of the Vallery Art Association, of which I am an at large board member.  Reading my blog entries for Africa, I wanted to refresh my memories of this artwork for the reception.  At the VAA reception,  each artist is to give a short talk about their artwork so that the other members can learn about each other’s subjects and varied techniques.

It was this remark from an Africa blog post that changed my direction for Circle.  The post read ” Drilling holes and screwing canvases together brought back memories of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons Artworks, and the care needed to support and align canvas parts correctly. I had the easier option to attach the top and bottom canvases to the top and bottom edges of the background, but that looked too two-dimensional.”  It is the italicized part of this post about placing the middle canvas behind the artwork that caused me to change direction and to consider adding a canvas to the back of The Circle.  Throughout this year I have been dealing with a lot of space between the art features (the art term is the negative space, I am told).   I added small canvas and photo images to the back of my artworks to fill what I came to think of as too much empty parts of the artwork.   I did this throughout the year until my last project Twinkle Little Star.  For Twinkle I lacked any fresh ideas for filling its space and eventually added nothing else.  Taking the canvas idea from Africa, instead of one horizontal middle canvas, I am looking at adding two large canvases running and running them vertically, to act against this project horizontal look.   I will see if that works.

Scott Von Holzen



S_V_H Will the Circle by Unbroken image 1

My next major project is the Country song, Will the Circle Be Unbroken.   For me, this song stood out in the Ken Burns eight-part miniseries about Country Music.  A version of this music became an early Country Standard of The Carter Family.  Then later in the miniseries the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band released the song with the collaboration of early Bluegrass, and Country-Western legends, including Maybelle Carter.   Although, I recall The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band while in college,  because of their 1970 recording of Mr Bojangles;  they are not my earliest connection to country style music.

My earliest remembrance of songs of any kind where the 1958 release of Tom Dooley, by the Kingston Trio,  and Michael, Row the Boat a Shore, released in 1960, by the Highway Men.  Amazingly I have this faint memory of hearing these songs in a large brightly lit restaurant, with chrome chairs, and a high ceiling, on a jukebox in Ashland Wisconsin.  Even earlier my attraction for Folk music began with the radio and the music of Hank Williams. That all changed in 1964 with the Beatles in American and watching them on the Ed Sullivan show.  To this day I still have a lot of interest in Folk, and earlier Country music, that all started in the sixties.

Here is the video of a live performance of the Nitty Gritty Band, Will the Circle Be Unbroken:

One of my second life wishes, in which I defy the odds and not come back as a Chinese laborer but as a young weekend banjo player, would boost my skill as a musician,  and give my Saturday nights out memories a sharper edge along with a better foot tap.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H I’m Already There Final Image


One canvas, 36 inches in length by about 22 1/2 inches in height

This is unusual, for this is the first and the final image for I’m Already There.  If you read this earlier post about the artwork, Please Remember Me, I explain why a song, I probably would never have painted, ended up as an artwork.


Here I am with the two painting set I mentioned in the earlier blog entry:

Both of these finished artworks have a country theme, shared colors, canvas size and compliment each other when place side-by-side. That means I can close the door on my time at Best Buy with the regrettable understanding that this is the only music I every remembered from that time.  Wait, I do remember one other song while I worked at Best Buy.  Not sure I heard it more than a couple of times, but it was the lyrics from Money for Nothing, by Dire Straits, that I do remember:

“We gotta install microwave ovens
Custom kitchen deliveries
We gotta move these refrigerators
We gotta move these colour TV’s”

In that day that song was a great fit for me and Best Buy.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Please Remember Me Final image

One canvas panel 36″ by about 24″ high

Please Remember Me, is finished and is the first artwork where I did not adjust the music to balance with the size of the canvas.  I let the music flow where it needed to go and that makes  this little work a pivot point for what will come next.  This painting along with its partial twin,  I’m Already There, are each 36 inches in length. This size makes it easier to find the needed wall space to get this art out in public view.  To help that happen I have applied for two local art shows, and I am working on a proposal for a local art gallery.  The art of marketing this art is as important as the art.  You can’t find an audience for paintings stacked away from sight.

Throughout this project I have kept the color range close together, working in shades of blue, and greens. In this final image I have decided to throw in some miscellaneous colors that probably have nothing to do with the theme of this artwork.  I added these little color pieces, similar as you saw in Satisfaction,  for a number of reasons.  I like using the little odds-and-ends pieces of wood in bright colors, here-and-there on an artwork to break up the work and add some interest.  I also think of these extra wood pieces as fragments of the music flowing around the painting. When listening to music there are a lot of sounds that echo, that blend, or taper off,  and that is what these little wood add-on pieces are there to represent.  It all adds up to making an artwork fun to look at.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H Please Remember Me image 2

With this second image you can see the music going where it needs to go, with little concern for the  attached canvas.  This less contained design needs extra time to figure out the details of design,  positioning,  and securing of  the wood pieces.  I find myself taking more time planning and constructing that has challenged my carpenter skills,  and that rivals my time painting the artwork. I would like to see, when it works, if I can let the music move even more freely off and around the canvas.

Wikipedia says that painting on canvas began around the end of the 15th century with Venice Italy as a leader. Now it is the 21st century, and in keeping with the past practices I started painting music by using the canvas as a containment for my subject, music.  Only in the last year has this relationship between subject and painting surface began to change. At this moment I am now wondering if I should look at a piece of stretch canvas as more of a docking source, for the music, instead of the traditional material needed to hold the subject.

With this work I have had a lot of issues at attempts and errors to find the right combination of colors that are in harmony with the artwork and the music. At first the starting colors comes from the music, Then later in the project the color plan shifts to the painting. That is when I balance the colors of the artwork to build a stronger harmony for visual impact, and hopefully a good first impression.  It is in those first few seconds when a viewer gazes at an artwork,  that the hook needs to be set.  That doesn’t guarantee a successful paining, but it does help the artwork to find its own story.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H Please Remember Me image1

please_1Please Remember Me, is on a short list of those rare Country Music songs that I have painted.  The trend for a country song to end up on my artworks list is that I have a story to tell about the music.  I passed story comes with the artwork, Waymore’s Blues, by the Artist Waylon Jennings. The story for Please Remembers Me follows below the video.

I think the video story board for Please Remember Me is awful, although I do like the colors.  In the beginning  Tim McGraw is sitting  on an out-of-place worn metal bench by the ocean.  And what is up with the flip lighter he seems to cherish?  As far as colors I am using that bench which shows up in the stripping and the  random red color.  I also used shades of muted blues and blue greens from the creepy and eerie opening ocean wave scenes.

Here is the video and lyrics from Please Remember Me:

“Just like the waves down by the shore
We’re gonna keep on comin’ back for more
‘Cause we don’t ever want to stop
Out in this brave new world you’ll see
Ov’r the valleys and the peaks
And I can see you on the top”

In a change of style,  I am greatly increasing the size of the music in proportion to size of the canvas.  In the past to give the music a solid foundation my standard practice was to generally match the size of the canvas with that of the music flow.  The results were that the smaller canvas the smaller the music. You can see this effect in the Artwork With a Little Help, and with Heaven’s Wall.  I have never been comfortable with small music, so that is one of the reasons why I have not painted a lot of small canvases.

It was with the larger length artwork Mon coeur s’ ouvre à ta voix that you see this trend beginning to change.  The issue I found with this painting, and that has held me back from pursuing,  was that this artwork turned out to be fragile, requiring careful handling.  With Please Remember Me using  improved techniques I think I can make the music bigger
than the canvas.




Here is a Story for the Country song that comes with a twist:

In 2000 I returned to a Technical College to re-train for a new career. To keep money coming in I also started working part-time at Best Buy in the Computer Sales group.  In a year or so I switched positions to the Computer Tech Bench doing mostly computer repairs, which was more in align  with my major.

It was during those working times before or after close of the store that they would turn up the volume on the overhead speaker system to play the latest eclectic Best Buy promotional music CD.  For me I enjoyed this musical connection as all of us went about putting everything in order, stocking or arranging shelves, updating the to do and check lists or going over items received for service and such.  It would be later when the discarded older versions of these Best Buy CDs would end up at the Tech Bench.  We than used CDs  for sound testing purposes, and that is when I first heard this particular country song that surprised me how much I enjoyed listening to it.

When working at the Tech bench I stood behind the customer service girls and faced the back wall of computers that needed setup or repair.  I actually enjoyed this small isolation with my computers over the frequent customer interruptions.  It was in those turned away moments where I develop this connection to this one country song. I kept coming back to this one track over a several weeks  when sound testing, until the CD finally disappeared from the Tech bench, and the song was forgotten. My Country Music list of likable songs is just a little longer than my Heavy Metal or Punk music, so when a country song affects me as much as that one did at Best Buy, you would think I would remember it even to this day.  Well, I did not.

Than along came the song Please Remember Me which popped up out of nowhere during my search for music I wanted to paint.  The song seemed familiar to me, but I could not place it. It wasn’t until I flash back to my Best Buy years that I began to wondered if Please Remember Me could be that lost special country song.

I worked at Best Buy starting in 2000, to 2003. According to Wikipedia Tim McGraw release Please Remember Me in 1999 and it became his biggest single hit,  spending five weeks at the top of the chart.  I could see that track showing up easily on a Best Buy CD, so it could have laid around the Tech Bench.  Also, my reaction to this music seemed to be deeper than just knowing the song, as if I had a lost history.   My conclusion was that it must have been that song from my time at  Tech Bench. That is when I decided to paint Please Remember Me.  I felt good about that decision until this blog entry.

In writing in this blog I kept thinking back to my time at Best Buy in search of more details. During one of those flashing back moments I recalled a song about a guy being away from his home and family on one of those Best Buy CDs. I checked the Billboard Hot Country Chart and in 2001 I found Lonestar’s I’m Already There, that match those memories. That songs timing was much closer to my time at the Tech Bench, and it spent six weeks as number one on the Hot Country chart.

Here is that video and the lyrics:

“I’m already there
Take a look around
I’m the sunshine in your hair
I’m the shadow on the ground
I’m the whisper in the wind
I’m your imaginary friend
And I know I’m in your prayers
Oh, I’m already there”

Since I already have my first image of Please Remember Me, and on its own this music is powerful, well written and beautiful to listen to, my plan is to finish this project.  I  have this connection to it for unknown reasons, including a little part of me thinking that this Tim McGraw song could have been a track on one of those Best Buy CDs.  But, my conclusion for now is, that the mysterious country song that I listen to while working at the  Best Buy Tech Bench sometime in the early 2000s was, I’m Already There by Lonestar.

I consider Please Remember Me to be the better of the two songs.  I also know that I probably would never paint this Lonestar song unless it was a commissioned work.  Still, non of that changed my decision that I will paint both of these classic country songs on the same size canvases.   My plan is to treat them as if they are a set, connected by a misguided story about a lost song.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Waymore’s Blues Final image

waymoreblues_FinalWaylon Jennings Waymore’s  Blues is finished. It took a crazy long three months to complete.  I started it in early May, but after working on the background I  halted work on it to switch my efforts to the commissioned Japan Bach painting, followed by another commissioned, We Belong, and then Cherish this years Birthday painting.  Waymore’s Blues is even a longer overdue painting considering that it has been over nine years since I last painted a Country Music artwork,  Crazy by Patsy Cline.

The biggest unique look,  that is also the obvious hook for this artwork,  comes from the design of Waylon’s leather embossed guitar.  I stylized the look of his guitar into a cool design that is the music in this painting.  Since the music  has such a dramatic look that than allowed me to go with a straight forward  background with clean straight lines, and  pure colors applied right out of their jars.  This kept the desigin of the background deceptively simple,  in contrast to the music,  and visually offers another side of Waylon Jennings.  As for my choice of the colors, white, black, blue and brown, they all became obvious after watching a few Waylon Jennings videos.   Black and white show in his guitar and strap, the blues come from his blue jeans look, and the browns comes from his abundance of head and facial hair.

Waylon sings, “I ain’t no ordinary dude. I don’t have to work.”  Every time words appear in these artworks  I pick them so that they offer alternate meanings from the music. In Waymore’s Blues ” I don’t have to,” challenge the viewer, especially if the music is familiar to them.

Here is Waymore’s Blues from a live performance of Waymore’s Blues at the Grand Ol Opry in 1978, with his guitar that is where the black and white designs you see in the artwork come from.

Scott Von Holzen


I have always like Waylon Jennings, but I am not sure why.  My guess may have something to do with my earliest child recollection of music which would the songs of Hank Williams. To this day I still like many of Hank’s hits such as, Your Cheatin’ Heart, Cold Cold Heart, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, Jambalaya, Hey Good Lookin’ and Kaw-Liga.  I cannot recall where or how I heard him sing, but probably it was my Mother’s love of music that I probably listened to Hank on the radio.  Another possibility is that  I may have heard Hank Williams being played on a jukebox. There is a good chance that my parents, in their twenties,  brought me along with them to one of the local taverns.  I would have heard the sounds of music like never before, and would have been apart of many memorable times my parents had in the early 50s with friends and family. Sadly, neither of them are around to confirm any of my short frames of memories of so long ago.

I know it is still a long stretch from Hank Williams to Waylon Jennings, especially after Hank Williams I have no other memories of Country music. In fact,  the next song I recall from my youth,  came about when I was taking accordion lenses.  I wanted to learn to play the music for Bye Bye Blackbird, but my teacher never found the sheet music ( Instead I painted Bye Bye Blackbird in 2012).  My next remembrance of music was the song High Hopes, probably song by Frank Sinatra (Painted and sold).  A few years later I do recall a pop hit, Speedy Gonzales  by Pat Boone. Then as a high school Sophomore in 1964, the music of the Beatles changed every teenager,  including starting me on this path to now.

I guess my appeal for Waylon Jennings, and his song Waymore’s Blue, could have come from it being more of a traditional Country song, without the twang, that was greatly influenced by the Blues.  Or maybe,  Waylon Jennings one of the original County Outlaws, involved from one of the most original, influential, and controversial singer, songwriters of his time,  which was also my time as a youth.   And now, much older, and in this time,  I have a moments opportunity,  to keep going down that musical path beyond just Hank to Waylon.

Here is Hank Williams singing his 1947 classic Move It on Over in this 1949 recording.  This early Rockabilly song greatly influenced  Bill Haley and the Comets classic hit, Rock Around the Clock, that became the anthem for the youth of the 50s, and brought Rock ‘en Roll into the musical mainstream (reference Wikipedia):