S_V_H I Will, The Artist version image 1

•04/07/2020 • Comments Off on S_V_H I Will, The Artist version image 1

To save time and planning, I designed this artwork, I Will, from what I learned from Where Have All The Flowers Gone.  The plan with the Artist version of I Will was to use the first I will as the template to speed everything along.  Even though I still have finishing work to do on the first I Will, for now, I am setting it aside.  It is difficult for me to work on two artworks at once, although I created all the wooden stems and the music for both works together.  That was as far as my joint effort lasted.   I have now moved on to the Artist version of I Will.

This second, I Will, be larger.  The first used two 6 inch by 12 inch canvases.  For this second work I am using two 12 by 24 inch canvases and have increased the length six inches.  My main take-away from the first I Will was to use it as a guide especially for the colors and overall design.  The difference between the two artworks is the painting of the background canvases.   On the first, I Will,  I used layers of glazes to paint the canvases.  While, on the Artist version of I Will, I am using a new and unproven technique on the two canvases, and along with the music.  This new method allows me to scratch away the top painted white layer to reveal, unexpectantly the color rich layer below.   I can remove the top paint layer, for example, with the edge of a pallet knife without damaging the abstract layer below.  In this first image, the top layer is white.  All the colors showing are from the bottom layer.  I like this look and technique, but I have concerns.  The top white layer is soft, too soft.  Rubbing that layer off could become an accidental issue.  I have applied two layers of glossy clear glaze in hope to strengthen the adherence of the paint.   In time, this canvas surface will probably harden, but for now handling with extra care is important.

Once I finely tune this scratching technique, then I think I can say that I have finally found my personal Abstraction style.  Before this, my best abstract technique was a version of Gerhard Ritcher’s squeegee technique.  Having an artwork, that is not a major project,  was the incentive to set aside the first I Will and to try out some ideas with Artist version of I Will (the wrath of Kahn).   Removing paint after I have applied it is not the only idea I am trying out new with this artwork.

This is the first artwork since I started painting music,  that I have abandoned the standard horizontal flow you see in the lines of sheet music. Every artwork before in varying degrees shares some semblance with the style of artist Mark Rothko, whose floating images, that resembled sheet music, that gave me my starting point in early 2006.

Sheet music staff lines

In my early days when I showed my musical artworks to others, the main take away I received was that this art would only appeal to musicians.  That was what I heard over and over, and I may have agreed with that.  My thinking was that there were a lot of musicians and songwriters, along with a large group of people who understood and love music.  It was later that I began promoting the idea that this art could appeal to anyone who loves music. The ability to read sheet music no longer became a requirement to appreciate this art.  That change of thinking then allowed me to chip away at my connection with sheet music.  Over the early years and even to this day, it is my early artworks, such as Canon in D, that the public finds the most interesting.  The reasoning is that such works look more like sheet music.   When over the years I moved away from the look of sheet music, and all of its restrictions, the public and musicians all lost interest.  That market left the building.  It had to, because I wanted it to.  I could have stopped evolving and created clones of Canon in D (2009) or Imagine (2010), for example, which would have given me a nice lucrative niche in the art market.  But that was never my goal. Even after these many 10s of thousands of hours, that was never my plan.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H I Will image 3

•03/26/2020 • Comments Off on S_V_H I Will image 3

This image shows the color changes I made after learning where the artwork would be hanging.  My original color scheme was to create a softer look.  Besides using a lot of white, I also used a variety of pastel colors, giving each of the notes types a different color.  That became a problem.  Standing back and looking at the artwork, I saw all those pastel colors working only in a baby’s room.  That was absolutely not what I wanted from this music.  My client solved my concern when she mentioned that the artwork would hang in their bedroom.  Oh!  I changed out the blue color and adjusted the tints.  With those changes I kept the soft look idea, while giving the artwork more of an intimate touch.  Most notable with the addition of the words.  I will explain them in the next blog entry.

The only image of I Will showing the baby color theme.  I photographed it upside down but flipped it when enlarged.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H I Will 2nd Image

•03/15/2020 • Comments Off on S_V_H I Will 2nd Image

I Will the second image of the artwork shows good progress,  considering the times we are in.  I suppose that is not such a bad thing.  Except that the threat from COVID-19, being over seventy in age, has hampered my concentration.  Yesterday was a good day, as my focus shifted back to this art.  Still, my concerns, along with those who except the truth, is the coming danger in the next weeks.  It will remind us all how fragile is life.  That means, for me, my life is in the studio where this art, my piano, music, and books will be my busy support, along with walks with my doggy, Zelda.  That also means my wife and other family members will interact more so with others, to keep this home feeling as normal as possible.  Although all families will soon confront the unknown, for now we want our lives to remain as normal as possible. The Family is the first line of defense, no matter the crisis.

This wonderful small sized artwork is resulting in a busy-looking artwork, with smaller open areas.   Since Over the Rainbow in early 2019, I have focused on reducing the spacing in my artworks. This artwork may be the height of that trend.  The companion artwork for I Will, that I have been slow to work on, will not follow the direction of this first example.

Next up I want to repaint the music.  For some stupid reason, I spent my valuable time in a wasted effort to paint detail.  I displayed this issue in the close-up images of the music in the last blog post. Enough of that silliness.  I am not a detail artist. That runs up against one of my basic philosophies.  Although I am amazed by those who can realistically draw, personally I can accomplish the same results with a good photograph.  That thinking has defined this art throughout its development. My detail is in the artwork’s structure, where color is a tool not an end all. That is it.  I measure my artistic skill in millimeters.

For this artwork, I going to take this boring image two, and introduce a little color, to cover up all that silly detail.  Color to accent, or complement the structure and the voice of the music,  ain’t that special.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H I Will first Image

•03/12/2020 • 1 Comment

This is I Will the first image.  I put all the pieces for this music on the floor in a rough arrangement.  This will be a rare, tiny artwork. I am guessing over 32 inches by 22 inches in height.  It needed to be small, for it is an artwork already promised, and it will need to travel to its home to be.

Here is a closeup of the decoration I attempted with the music.  I am not really a detail style of artist, so I am not sure this look works for me, and this may change.


Back on my tables, I will glue down the music to the background.  The starting date on my worksheet is March 4th.  The progress of this artwork is especially good because I am creating two similar works of this music.  The first one you are now seeing.  The second artwork of I Will, will be more experimental, and its progress has not kept pace with this first example. That is what I expected.  I already know the difficulties I have working on two projects at once.

Here is a nice acoustic version of the song, I Will,  sung by Paul McCartney:

Here all the lyrics from I Will.  I am building this artwork around the enlarged lyrics.

“Who knows how long I’ve loved you
You know I love you still
Will I wait a lonely lifetime
If you want me to, I will
For if I ever saw you
I didn’t catch your name
But it never really mattered
I will always feel the same
Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we’re together
Love you when we’re apart
And when at last I find you
Your song will fill the air
Sing it loud so I can hear you
Make it easy to be near you
For the things you do endear you to me
You know I will
I will”  – Paul McCartney
Interestingly, as I was writing this post, I played the video of Paul McCartney singing,  I will.   Forgetting to close the YouTube page, unexpectantly on YouTube, Paul McCartney sang another acoustic version of his music.  This time the song was Blackbird.  I painted the music Blackbird in early 2012.  Here is that artwork:
I like this artwork a lot.  It hung in my last studio over my computer desk.  “I was so much more painterly back then, I younger than that now.”
Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Blood Brothers (My Brothers) final image

•02/24/2020 • Comments Off on 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

S_V_H Blood Brothers image 4

•02/07/2020 • Comments Off on S_V_H Blood Brothers image 4

I already mention the influence of Will the Circle Be Unbroken on this project.  My explanation for the scratching and scuffing of The Circle was that I thought a less finished look better represented the edginess, the struggles, the roughness, and difficulties of the growth of early Country Music. The lyrics from the music represented the fear of lost and had nothing to do with the look of the artwork.  Although Blood Brothers also features a lot of scratches and scuffs, unlike The Circle, this time it is the lyrics from the music that shape, and define the physical flaws in the artwork. These are the lyrics from the song Blood Brothers that I built this artwork around:

“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

These words and others from the lyrics reinforce in me the difficulties it is to keep near close and understanding relationships with those dear to us as the years pass by.  Unlike The Circle where the scratches and scuffs represent more the history of Country Music, in Blood Brothers all these deep cuts, scratches and scuffs although not stained with blood,  are stained with blue, red, and violet colors, which represents the flesh of three Brothers.  All those chips, and doubts, dents, and fears, cuts, and regrets, flaws, and disappointments, stand for decades of lives being lived day to day. That is what defines this artwork.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H Blood Brothers image 3

•02/07/2020 • 1 Comment

When I turn away from the computer image of Blood Brothers and look at the artwork, the difference is startling.  Although that is predictable, I cannot underestimate the visual difference. To see these artworks in person pulls the viewer closer, at less out of curiosity.  Then they see the push button that draws them dangerously near to the artwork. They press the green button.  Surprised, they realized that they have touched the artwork, breaking one of Art’s greatest taboos.  The music plays. It pushes them a step back to notice the depth, the precision,  and the diverse texture of the painted wood and canvas.  The artworks overall presence pops into their view.  The song ends. They move on.  That could be an experience of a gallery visitor or not as they pass by without more than a glance. It all depends.  Seeing this art being experience by strangers is an award. The problem is finding enough public visibility. Up to now, my best efforts to show these artworks have been by absorbing expenses and fees to apply to group exhibitions or even worse art displayed in tents at Art Fairs.  Last year was my best showing in exhibitions. The results from all those public viewings were zero responses.   Add that zero to the many other zeros of creating artworks for shows and not being juror’d in.

An example is the finely finished little artwork, Where Have All the Flowers Gone.  This project I made especially for a local exhibition that also features paired floral arrangements that harmonize with each artwork.  This is the local Pablo’s Center’s largest attended show. This artwork titled, Where have all the Flowers gone, I thought would be a perfect match for any florist. Where have all the flowers gone? Look there they are in the vase next to the painting.   As for this current project,  Blood Brothers, I am in search for exhibitions options.  The look of Blood Brothers and more on the influence of the artwork, Will the Circle Be Unbroken

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H Blood Brothers image2

•01/29/2020 • Comments Off on S_V_H Blood Brothers image2

This image two of Blood Brothers I have staged to show the music before I attach it to the background.   My original idea was to attach two photos of me and my two brothers.  The first image placed at the beginning of the artwork would have been an early childhood image with me holding Jeff the youngest.  Then at the end of the artwork I planned to place a recent image of us three brothers.  The more I thought about this artwork and the great time being spent on its creation,  I decided to eliminated the photos.  I do not produce a lot of artworks in a year.  A personalize artwork would hurt its meaning.  The theme of this artwork, the bond of brothers, is  universal.  I left the photos out of this project and instead changed the white color of the music’s disks.

Instead of photographs representing my brothers,  I picked three different colors to represent we three brothers.  For the top section of the artwork I painted all the disks blue.  That color represents my brother Jeff, and the color of Chevrolet blue, that is his business over many years.  The middle color is a violet color to represent Roger. Violet is a color band from the Rainbow flag.  Finally, I choose a red color for me.   I have always signed my artworks in red.  That comes from Frank Lloyd Wright’s signature.  I did a paint test of these three colors.  I went with the artistic norm of the day and painted them in plastic solid colors.  Solid shades of color that I call baby colors did not look to be a part of the artwork.   Changing my mind, I took a damp cloth to remove the paint.  I stopped when my random removal of paint resulted in a look that worked with the artwork.  I then took a file and scraped each note hastily.  I then lightly sanded each disk.  Last,  I applied a light-colored  glaze that matched the note color.  There is some thought behind why I damaged the paint.

This art made a breakthrough with the artwork, Will the Circle by unbroken (rejected this year, my the Trout Museum SECURA exhibition).  I gave that artwork a rough worn look that I thought better represented the story of this classic country song,  and early Country Music.  I continued that look and idea of that theme with Blood Brothers I think the lyrics of this song tells a story of struggle, personal flaws, and faith in a family no matter the shortcomings or misunderstandings.  Maybe this music speaks to life full of complicated conflicts. That is what this artwork reflects in its lack of exhibition quality prettiness.    No bright, perfect art here. There is enough of that crap out there already.  Here you find bits of the truth in canvas,  wood and paint.   This art’s meaning is in the emotions of seeing that first paint scratch on your shiny new car, the red wine spilled on white linen, that decision you should have never made,  or the perfect life, that you never had.  Each morning we pick up the pieces of ourselves, and press on.  So it is with this artwork.


Scott Von Holzen.

S_V_H Where have All the Flowers Gone Final Image

•12/27/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H Where have All the Flowers Gone Final Image


36″ Length x 26″ Height x 3″ Depth

I have finished the artwork for the music, Where have all the Flowers Gone.   I am going with a short title of, Flowers because the words on the artwork say it all.  I want to explain why my little circles of music are all white.  They are that way because the flowers are all missing from the artwork.  That should then be a convincing incentive for the Pablo center to have a local florist create an arrangement of flowers to display with the artwork.  The floral and art reception is March 18th through the 22nd.


I am thinking that I heard this 1962 version on the radio sung by Peter Paul and Mary:

Although I have finished this artwork,  the audio addition is not.   I am waiting for parts. Once done, I will post a video.

There are two things different with this artwork that most viewers will miss.  The most important change is that the stems are flat but wide.  The extra width of the stems allows me to better adhere them to the frame.  Also, the shorter stem height makes them less vulnerable to be twisted loose when being carried or shipped to an exhibition.  Of lesser importance, on the top section, the second and the fifth stems have no connection to their extensions.  I like this idea and plan to carry this forward from now on.  I also taped all the stems for each section together.  This allowed me to paint images across multiple stems, before mounting them.


Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Where have all the Flowers Gone image1

•12/21/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H Where have all the Flowers Gone image1

This is my first image of the classic Folk song, Where have all the Flowers Gone.  This music is one of my Greatest Musical Hits, the Early Years.   I am guessing, but I believe it was the Kingston Trio version of this song that created that connection.   Here is a video from 1966 of The Kingston Trio on the Andy Williams show singing Where have all the Flowers gone:

This is a 1960s live video of Pete Seeger, who wrote the song, that starts at one minute forty seconds:

Finally, this is the 1986 live version of Where have all the Flowers Gone, by Peter Paul and Mary. This group’s musical diversity, through the sixties, kept alive my interest in Folk music even as my musical tastes turned to the Beatles and rock n’ roll music.

There are a lot of good reasons to paint Where have all the Flowers Gone, but in reality, it was this email that finally motivated me to set aside the time for this project:



Pablo Center at the Confluence is seeking visual artists and floral designers to participate in Pablo Center’s group exhibit: Fabulous Florals & Fine Art. This popular annual exhibit will run March 18-22, 2020. Fabulous Florals & Fine Arts is a five-day exhibit paring visual art with floral interpretations of each art piece. We invite visual artists to submit images of their completed work for jury. Artists may submit up to three artworks. After artwork has been selected, images of the artwork will be sent to floral designers and will be the inspiration of their floral design. Selected works of art will be on exhibit at Pablo Center in the James Hansen Gallery.  APPLICATION DEADLINE IS JANUARY 11, 2020.”

This well-attended, and colorful exhibition,  comes at a good time in our Wisconsin winter.  I have submitted the last two years,  and both times I have received kind email rejections.  This year I am stepping it up.  I have kept this work small. The artwork will be full of colorful plant looking shapes, and for the first time, I will include playable music.  This artwork will also have an ironic title, Where Have All the Flowers Gone.  The color of the music, only white,  says where have all the flowers gone.  The florist will provide that answer.

Scott Von Holzen