S_V_H The Theme (Schindler’s List)

•03/28/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H The Theme (Schindler’s List)

This, of course, is not much of a first image, but this is how the artworks in 2019 have looked after two weeks worth of work.  2019 has already been, one of my most creative years. In the image, in the background is the artwork, Africa,  the first completed artwork of 2019.  Then next came the artwork Giant Steps, followed by Over the Rainbow.   In comparison,  Africa, although unique in its rectangle shape,  continues the style that dominated 2018.   With the Theme music from Schindler’s List, I have a plan that includes a challenging technique, that if it works, will greatly add to the already wonderful progress of 2019’s Giant Steps and Rainbow.

Here is a very dated video of Itzhak Perlman, discussing and then playing John Williams Schindler’s List:

In choosing this music to paint,  the movie, Schindler’s List was never played into the decision-making. I liked this music the first time I heard it, going in all the way by the ending.  Those type of feelings has always been the major reason I pick a piece of music to paint.   Of course, there are those other factors to discover that confirm the choice.  That information comes from researching the music I paint, which I do with all my artworks.  I also listen to performances,  watch videos of the music, and read the story behind the music.  Well, there is a big story behind this music and that is the movie Schindler’s List.  The movie and The Theme are forever attached.  Watching again, this time, parts from Schindler’s List, I decided that the dominate colors for this project would be black and white with shades of gray.  Another take from Schindler’s List comes from those remarkable scenes of the girl in the red coat.  My plan is to use a small amount of red in this artwork, to acknowledge this heart-felt part from the movie.

Here is an available clip of the girl in the red coat from the movie Schindler’s List:


The artwork Africa appears in this first image for it is back in my studio.  I am doing a little touch-up and preparing it for the exhibition.

Here, just lately,  is my artwork Africa standing against the wall on second floor of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.  It is in line to be hung for the upcoming 40th Anniversary of the juror-ed Arts West exhibition.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Over the Rainbow 2019 Final image

•03/11/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H Over the Rainbow 2019 Final image

Over the Rainbow 2019 is finished.  Rainbow painted in the style of Giant Steps has that improvisational look that originally I thought would only work with Jazz artworks such as Giant Steps and So What.  Rainbow shows that this jazzy more relaxed style of the music does adapt to the ballad,  and will probably work with other music genres, including Classical.  Another benefit of the music styled more casually, is that this than solves a longtime issue, of how to portray motion in a static artwork.

Over the years I have tried different ways to simulate motion in the artworks.  I even researched motion that was important to the art and social movement Futurism.   Good examples of my best earlier attempt at motion can be seen in a number of the Vivaldi Four Season’s artworks.

Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons Autumn Allegro. Length 15 feet.

For the Vivaldi Artwork Autumn to try to simulate motion I added a smaller circle inside the larger musical circle.  The illusion I wanted was that of a spinning ball inside the larger circle moving clockwise across the artwork.  The results were always mixed.  Other examples of this technique can be found in artworks from 2012 until 2015 when I finally abandon the idea with the switch to raised wood for the music.

As mentioned before the idea to allow the music to go off vertical comes from the artwork Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock.   An interesting critique of this artwork comes from the site jackson-pollock.com. “According to art historian Dennis Phillips,……… Because we look for the poles and miss much of the rest, the name is simply too distracting.”  Phillips is right for  I saw the poles as musical notes and the background as just that.  That is probably why there are no other mentioned Pollock’s with similar poles.


In summary, there are two big changes that occurred in Rainbow and earlier in Giant Steps.  The first is that I have moved away from longer than wider artworks, that were standard since the beginnings of this art, to a more squared look with the music now stacked in sections.   A practical reason for this move is the difficulty in storing these long delicate, with multiple parts, artworks.   Actually, no matter their length, my artworks these last few years, I have found,  can only be stored safely when laid down.  The other even bigger change, that also goes back to the beginnings of this art, was to drop the consistent upright stance of the music which, of course, resulted in making these new artworks look less static.

One troubling issue that lingers still, and affected Rainbow, was how to paint or not paint the canvases. There was even a moment that I thought about leaving them all white (my Robert Ryman moment).  Rainbow is just the latest artwork where I have questioned what purpose the canvases served, besides support for the music.   I escaped back to reality by deciding to paint only the two center canvases in an outer space type Rothko look.  I then added a variety of canvas-covered round wood pieces (I like circles having nothing to do with the music for their disruptive effect) for interest, and to connect the painted canvases to the other four covered by canvas prints.


Finally, I should mention the blue piece of wood with a relaxed handwritten word, why, repeated five times.  For this version of Over the Rainbow, instead of choosing Judy Garland’s version of the music, I chose Keith Jarrett’s jazzier performance and stunning ending. This artwork’s music is “If happy little blue-birds fly beyond the rain-bow why oh why can’t I?” These words are all sung by Judy Garland without any slow down until she sings the last word I.  All those extra whys is because of Keith Jarrett performance of those same last few notes,  where he slows down dramatically, drawn each note out.  On the first why he almost seems to pause.  At that first why is where I decided to add the extra whys, for fun, and to channel a tribute to Jean Michael Basquiat, and his painting that includes five Moses.

I am still planning on adding the red music button for the music to Over the Rainbow.  When I am finished I will post a video.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H Over the Rainbow 2

•03/05/2019 • Comments Off on S_V_H Over the Rainbow 2

Over the Rainbow is nearing completion.  This size of this artwork is about sixty-one inches by thirty-nine inches in height.  Giant Steps is on the easel next to Rainbow and the similarities are obvious. Giant Steps already has a Classic look, compared to Rainbow, that has a playful look.  One striking difference is the larger size of the music on Rainbow stands out as a dramatic and moving difference.  I still need to add the words, “why can’t I,” and will do that with a twist.  Hand drawing words are always time-consuming to do and require a lot of attention to detail but this is a well travel road for me.   My other task left with this artwork, I created, and now will have to solve.

What I need to do is to connect the four outside canvases (covered with digital canvas images) with the two inner canvases that I painted.  In Giant Steps I had this same issue, but reversed, with the painted canvases on the outside.  Giant steps had the advantage that my painted canvases and the digital images on the other canvases were similar in design and color.  From a slight distance, it is hard to see the difference between them.  In this image of Rainbow, the difference between the digital images and the painted ones is obvious.  Somehow I need to change the look of these six canvases in such a way that they connect with each other.  Or not, and I could just call it Art.  But that would not be, this Art, where harmony is part of the visual experience.

Scott Von Holzen

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