S_V_H Over the Rainbow 1st image

•02/28/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H Over the Rainbow 1st image

This is the first image of 2019’s version of Over the Rainbow.  What the image shows are the pieces (not yet attached) that I made since starting this project on the 9th of February. I am just short of three weeks into this project.  My thinking is that in three weeks it would have been nice to almost be finished with this work, but of course I am still a week away from that.  I hope.  A big difference with my style, and that of other abstract painters, is  I do not create these artworks  in-the-moment.  They are all well thought out and planned ahead, because of their difficulty to build. Even though I do learn from the past,  each project is a new adventure in design, problem solving and recovery from mistakes.  I have made this art this way since I began.  Beyond a few commission works there have been no deadlines to meet, although I have met them all.  I am no longer going to do any common commission works, that means, for now, my time is mine, for all that is worth.

My first all music painting was Over the Rainbow.  This is my second painting of that music done a few months later in July of 2006.  This may also be one of the first artworks where I used an inch and on-half depth canvas with the unique size of twenty inches by sixty inches.  Before this my standard artwork was a two foot by four-foot on a seven-eights depth canvas.  I remember taking Rainbow to a family gathering at my father’s home soon after I had finished it.  I do not remember any comments from anyone. I do remember why I took it which was because this song meant a lot to me. 

I grew up being fascinated by the movie Wizard of Oz, which way back than,  aired once a year, around Christmas time.  As a kid I remember being strongly moved by how the movie started out in black and white and then switched to color.  Color television was new to me back than, with Disney Wonderful World of Color being a favorite program of mine.  Here is a picture of Judy Garland on the sheet music for Over the Rainbow, I bought for the artworks  from a sheet music store in Wausau now long closed.

Although I never understood the reasons why, or have forgotten them, I always felt that my Mother cared about Judy Garland.  Maybe it was because of the lost of the middle sister, Bernadine from alcohol abuse, which, along with substance abuse, also took the life of Judy Garland four years earlier.  It may have been that Mom saw in both their struggle to find happiness. I will never know.

I do not have a lot of memories of Bernadine, mostly because I was young when she lived near by.  I can see her face, her short hair, thin but shapely body, and thought her voice, in comparison to Moms,  sounded deeper,  sharper, stronger.  I am also seeing and hearing Judy Garland when describing Bernadine, which surprises me. 

After we left Ashland, I do not remember seeing Bernadine or even having any memories of her for many years until 1973.  That summer, Up North at the cottage, I received a phone call that Bernadine had died.  I found Mom and Dad who were out to dinner at a local golf club.  I believe I asked to speak with Mom, but do not remember Moms reaction.  My last memory of Bernadine was at her funeral in 1973, when, by accident, I saw the closing of the coffin (Jack, Bernadine’s husband,  died years later also from alcohol abuse).  The story of the tragedies of Mom, Bernadine, and Judy Garland, contain for me many uncertainties and missing details,  but I have grown up over the years believing that the song Over the Rainbow, and the story of the Wizard of OZ, is part of their story, also.  Back than I may not have understood all of this watching the Wizard of Oz, but what has always been true for me, was the impact of that movie going from black and white to color.  I cannot but today feel that like the switch to color in the Wizard of OZ, Mom, Bernadine, and Judy Garland  live on in me because of this music speaks to their times.  That is why I am painting Over the Rainbow again.  No black and white to be seen.  This artwork will be colorful which tells me that in this artwork, this time, their stories will have a happy ending. They only need to click their heels together three times, and I can do that for them.


Here is Over the Rainbow sung by Judy Garland from the 1939 movie Wizard of Oz:

When you look at the 2006 version of Over the Rainbow, there are no rainbow colors. I think, now, that was artsy of me.  The music I used for that painting,  and which Judy sings is “Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” In the artwork I painted the two words “you dare.” For this artwork  I have chosen the words, “why can’t I,” which comes at the last few measures of  Keith Jarrett’s emotional piano performance of Over the Rainbow. 

Here is Keith Jarrett, Over the Rainbow live in Tokyo:

Lastly,  I should mention that after finishing the first artwork of Over the Rainbow my original plan was to paint a new version of this music every six-months to track my style changes.  I painted only two, both in that same year, 2006.  So it goes.  


Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H Giant Steps Fourth Image

•02/07/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H Giant Steps Fourth Image

63.25″ in length by 30″ high

This artwork needs to be signed and dated to be finished.  I am waiting because I am working on possibly adding music.  For this blog entry I have darken the image to improve the shadows created by the painting.  The shadows are not as pronounced as I would like, and the artwork needs to be brighter, but for this discussion this is what I have.

I cannot underestimate three important Artistic techniques (I hate thinking of art in terms of techniques) that make this work special.   The first technique comes from an Artist Friend, Jeff Nelson, who commented on the interesting look of the emptiness in my artworks. For some reason I never thought that the open spaces between the music was that great, until he mentioned it.  In fact my works from 2018 show me bringing the music closer together, especially in the artwork Africa.  That should have also happened with Giant Steps.  It did not.

As explained in an earlier blog entry, the second change comes from moving from a straight up and down, rise and fall look (Africa),  to a more angled, swing to the left, than swing to the right look (So What).  I believe I over calculated the effects of all those different angles.  Since the frames where already built, to reach the ends,  I ended up with larger spacing between the music.   More openness allowed the shadows from the music to extend further, the third technique, the shadows. Those shadows seemed to come alive with motion because of the effect created by the back-en-forth angles of the music, and the wider spacing that allowed them to fade out.

I first became aware of the effects of shadows in 2017 with the Bach artwork, that followed So What.  I took that artwork to an Art and Framing shop in town, for a frame, thinking that framing the Bach might make my art more acceptable to interested buyers. I now have found out that framing does not help.  The owner did not have the frame I wanted, but he took an interest in the Bach work.  He found an empty wall and hung the Bach to take a picture.  That is when he mentioned the shadows on the wall created by the Bach music.  It was that moment I understood the value of those shadows.  I do not have a copy of that picture, but here is a picture of that Bach work now framed, without the shadows.  It is in a nice custom frame, and will remain framed for now.  Even out of the frame the shadows on the Bach would not  have the same effect as they do with Giant Steps.  The Bach music is straight up and down.  It is the different angles of the music on Giant Steps, and the use of even smaller canvases than So What, that allowed more of the music to be outside the frame.

This is an exciting project that is going to open other big doors to new ideas and techniques yet to come.  So it goes.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Giant Steps image 3

•02/03/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H Giant Steps image 3

Well this image looks like an actual artwork in the making, now that I have connected the two sections.  Of interest, Barbara says that this artwork looks better in person than in a picture.  That difference may be its physical size (2 feet by 5 feet) and the limitations of a two-dimensional image of a three-dimensional object.  She also mentioned that she like the back-en-forth movement of the artwork, compare to the straight up-and-down of Africa, that sits next to Giant Steps.  I certainly agree with her.

I wonder why I did not see the break through tilting used in So What (blog header image) completed in 2017.  It could be  that I did not think the techniques used in So What would transfer to other music genres (So What the creative music from the Jazz trumpeter, Miles Davis).  That artwork made it easier to repeat that technique easier for this other great jazz masterpiece,  Giant Steps.

That limited thinking is now past.  I now see this new look as taking a giant step in disconnecting these paintings from sheet music, the foundation of this art’s style.  Reaching this thinking has taken a long time because of my connection with and understanding a music.  Though, I never  wanted to paint sheet music,  I did want to paint the uniqueness of the music in the flow.   That is where the sheet music showed me the way in 2006.  Now, no matter the genre of my next artwork there will be no turning back.  This tilt-this-way-and-that-way look, improves the music connection with the improve look of spontaneity and motion in the artwork. Overall,  I believe that this is a better look than the stiff, sheet music appearance of last years masterpieces.  I say that Barbara is right.

This artwork is far from done.  I plan on adding a number of small canvases as backdrops for the music.  This came about because of this artworks more relax design and the resulting spacing that did not take into account all the tilting.  What happen is that I ended up with a lot more space, between the music (Not such a bad thing I discovered). The plan for the extra canvases is that they will give the artwork more of a physical look,  while adding background interest.  I actually did the opposite with the spacing between the two sections.

In the past I would have brought the two sections closer together to close the emptiness between, or like with Africa adding a background canvas between the sections.  For this artwork I went the other way by leaving the middle space empty.  I actually increased the distance between sections, a few inches.  What I discovered was the drama created by the emptiness and the power of the shadows.  The shadowing created by the emptiness and the depth of the artwork,  greatly enhances the look of motion.  I have a new quest to figure out how to increase the shadowing.  Wow, that is interesting direction I never thought I would be going.

Scott Von Holzen





S_V_H Giant Steps 2nd image

•01/29/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H Giant Steps 2nd image

This is Giant Steps still in pieces, but starting to look interesting.  In past projects my procedure was to first cut out all the round heads, and then space them together to find the length of the artwork.  I would than build the artwork in sections and mount them to the background, moving from left to right.  You can see this done recently in the artwork, The Tango first image.  The reason I built these artworks that way was to help build interest in this blog by giving the viewer progress bar images of my artworks .  The problem with doing it that way was I was creating each section and then stopping to install it, and then starting the process all over again, always interrupting the work flow.

I learned from Africa, that creating all the major parts of the music first, saves construction time.  Another advantage that I have seen with Giant Steps is that my enthusiasm, which is always greatest early in a project, lasts a little longer, knowing there will be more enjoyment with less frustration by laying everything out before installing.

That reminds me of another enjoyment when doing a puzzle, and you are down to the last few pieces. Your emotions begin to rise knowing that where the few remaining puzzle pieces fit is becoming increasingly obvious.  Your pace quickens to insert the final pieces.  With the final puzzle piece locked in place, a momentary joy lifts your spirits for only than does the image of the puzzle come into focus.  That is the same feeling I had when finishing Africa.  For a few minutes, I did not feel exhausted with the project, but felt joy in seeing the completed artwork. The only difference between the two (and this is not cheating) I had already know where all the puzzle pieces fit.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H Giant Steps image 1

•01/19/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H Giant Steps image 1

This first image of Giant Steps shows the pieces that I have made so far for this artwork. Once painted and glue together I can than map out the music flow to make sure everything fits on the two 60 inch by six-inch frames.  I will connect the frames one above the other, after attaching all the music.

The importance Giant Steps by John Coltrane, I knew, but it wasn’t until I watched the video on Giant Steps “The most feared song in jazz,” that I had the incentive to paint it.  Since this video also involves a lot of discussion of music theory,  I found that attractive.  What finally convinced me to do Giant Steps was how well  Africa’s rectangle format worked for that music.

The rectangle format allows me to create larger works with more music while keep the artwork length reasonable, under eight feet (longer lengths makes storage an issue).  Using the rectangle format, with two frames for the music instead of one long frame,  cuts the length of Giant Steps down from over ten to five feet.  Even though the stacking of the music was new, I felt disappointment with Africa.  Stylistically there was only small differences with Africa from the other 2018 artworks, like Vogue, or the Turkish March.  The answer to that was the rediscovery of So What.  Finding the video on John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, and at the same time taking a second look at a forgotten artwork, I found the new direction I was looking for after Africa.

So What was my birthday painting in the summer of 2017.  This Miles Davis artwork had its first showing at The Art in the Park Art Craft Fair in Appleton, the day before my birthday.

I took the larger, and different looking So What to the Art fair as a statement piece.  So What was Art Fair priced at $800.00, but was never noticed that day.   At that time I thought the musical style of So What would only work with solo Jazz music, and no other genre. This was clear with my next painting, Chaconne,  by the Classical Composer J S Bach, that came out of no where because of a print request from a customer in China.  The Bach music was Classical in style, and much more complicated than So What so it was never considered.  Chaconne turned out to be an exceptional work with it own wonderful Classical music look, that set the example for what was to follow.  So What, then ended up in storage as “so what.”

Lately,  we needed a longer, but narrow artwork to decorate a wall. Since So What’s colors worked for that room, and because it was at the front of the stack artworks,  it came out of storage.  To refresh this blog header I also switched that image to So What. Than came the video on Giant Steps. Because So What’s Jazz style worked well, it became my plan to use it as the template for the John Coltrane Jazz piece.  What  I am doing is  my own Back to the Future move with Giant Steps, with the hope, this time, of using this look in future projects.  Looking back I regret the time lost in not exploring the possibilities of  So What.  Giant Steps will take So What forward using as its theme the first 14 seconds of this music:

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Africa Final Image

•01/06/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H Africa Final Image

Africa: acrylic paint, with six canvases, with wood and aluminum features. About 50 3/4 inches in length by 32 inches high, by about 3 1/4 inches in-depth.

After one month of work Africa is finished.  I created this artwork to be the submission to this years Artwest Exhibition. Although, if accepted, this work would be installed in a library,  I did shake-the-tree, by adding sound, although tone down:

This artwork’s look, comes from more than the usual amount of internet research, that included the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, African music, and African fashion.  Like Toto, at the time of the music’s release, I have never been to Africa.  In fact “I’ve never been to Spain,” but I kinda like the popular African instrument, the Marimba, which work well with this artwork’s soundtrack.   Africa’s experimental rectangular format, cut the length of this artwork from over eight feet, to just over four feet, in length.  For this musical theme I think the two connected backgrounds canvases, each 10 x 20 inches, gave this  artwork a solid foundation, plus added a lot of sculptural depth to the entire work.  The dimensions of this Artwork make me wonder what I could call this art style.  I have tried and rejected, painting,  mixed media, outsider art, the Russian art style Constructivism, the Combine art style of Robert Rauschenberg,  Conceptual Art, and finally every current art style that deals with Interaction.  I have nothing. Therefore I default to Mixed Media on the entrance forms, because this Art hangs on a wall, unlike traditional Sculpture, and Other just songs icky.

I used many different colors in this artwork, which lead me to stop and write what colors went where. That became an issue because the theme of this artwork has an unusual story telling look.  Starting from top left to bottom right, this artwork begins with the night and the stars. That leads to a sunny day with rain. Than from the bottom left you have the Serengeti, with rain again,  and finally on the bottom right there is Mount Kilimanjaro.

After a long month of working on this project, I want to now move on.  As I said before, I expect this Artwork to be rejected for submission. That means it will probably sit out-of-the-way, on the left easels, until I finish my next big project.  Than there will no longer be any room for it, and that is when it will be off to Storage. But while it is in the studio, it will be an example for change for the next artwork. The look of Africa does present new opportunities.  What, and how, and where I will take this art, I have no idea, but I believe it is time to take a fresh look at the relationship between music and painting.  That leaves Three Dog Night to help motivate me to keep on keeping on. And if you have forgotten, and you should never forget (no matter your age), “Jeremiah was a bullfrog
Was a good friend of mine:”


Scott Von Holzen




S_V_H Africa image 4

•01/04/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H Africa image 4

Africa image four.  I am near done, so I wanted to push this image out.   The large violet and blue piece of wood is my interpretation of Mount Kilimanjaro as part of this artwork’s theme.


The rest of the artwork, displays even more my interpretation of the story of the lyrics and the musical theme of the song, Africa.


Scott Von Holzen