S_V_H One Thousands Years image 1

One Thousand Years,
with the notes turned incorrectly to the right

This is a commissioned work requested by my brother for his son’s wedding later this August. I will not say anymore about this beginning of this project, for there is an interesting technique I stumbled carelessness into.

The music for this project was written and sung by a Christina Perri that I have never heard of. It has over 2 billion views on YouTube. Watching and listening to it I number of times did not change my opinion of the song. For me it falls into the category of ordinary love song. I song I would never have painted.

Even though I could have had many artwork sales for wedding songs, I have chosen not to. Songs like this are the reason. I chose and paint songs I am, at the time, emotionally connected to. That is my choice. My art. My way.

This art has never been about money, no matter the cost of time and monies of the last sixteen years painting music. This art is big. How big I do not know, nor can I grasp its true meaning or value. I do know it is part of a personal challenge to accomplish something special that started early in my life. Through the creation of these music artworks I am seeing an opening to an eventual self awareness. Back to reality, and out of my comfort zone, this commission work from my brother is a worthy and appreciative challenge. To quote the poet and philosopher Coldplay ” Nobody said it was easy.”

Well, that is the background of the music. Once I had a decent start for my cover music, I switched over to producing the pieces for the artwork. Now, I am going to lose everyone not into music notation rules. I broke a big one. Strange, I thought I had already demolished all the rules of notation accept the up down movement. I will explain.

In music notation generally and individually, the notes from B down the musical staff face left with the stem to the right. Notes above B than are turned and face right with the stem to the left. As you can see in the image provided. All the notes from my cover music were turned to the right with the stems to the left. That is wrong. All the notes for this music are lower than the B position and therefore should have been turned to the left. I have always obeyed this notation rule in the past, thinking the left-to-right and back-en-forth of the notes added interest to the artwork.

At first I could not believe I made such an error, but this project is rare, in which every note of the cover music faces the same way. I got in a note putting together rhythm that ended up with every note pointing the wrong direction. I thought I could easily solve this issue by flipping top to bottom. That did not work, everything was off. I also noticed that when turning the notes correctly to the left, I did not like that look.

The music flow felt blocked by all those stems, one after another. My solution was an easy mix solution. I decided for multiple reasons to leave most of the cover music notes pointing in the wrong direction. The change I made was to take a few notes that are below the music staff, remove the notes from the stems, and replaced them turned to the left.

Example of notes turned the correct notation direction.
Final note setup with a mixed of upper right facing
and lower left facing notes.

Three attempts at the background canvas.
Final, in the middle

In the above image the 24×36 inch scratch off canvas on the right is my first attempt. The plan for that canvas was to use the colors from the YouTube video of the music. Then my wife, Barbara, informed me that was a no no. I had forgotten the bouquet image. Even though I tried to repaint that first scratch off canvas was beyond a simple recovery. My next attempt is the 24×36 canvas on the left.

This time after trials, the plan was to use the Golden Acrylic colors of Permanent Violet Dark, Alizarin Crimson Hue, Permanent Maroon, Titan Green Pale and shades of Neutral Grays, along with Titanium white to mix whatever that other color is.

Starting with the base color design based on the banquet image on a new 24×36 inch size canvas, I tried to figure out what would look the best with the color Maroon and its various tints and close relatives. After I did the scratch off, I decided my plan for the base did not turn out as I wished it would have. Out of desperation and thinking in terms of wedding pretty, I glazed the entire canvas with Iridescent Pearl Fine. That move ended up covering everything, which luckily included the scratch off that displayed my crappy base paint layer.

I liked to look, and so did Barb mentioning the gray color that she could see in the base coat. The problem was that the base coat was actually shades of Maroon and Violet Dark that I had partially covered with a coat of Pearl. Her comment got me thinking. In the banquet flower image, strangely, there are gray flowers, so I thought I would go with shades of gray and a little of the other colors for the base, once again on a new canvas. That solve another problem I finally noticed: the 24×36 canvases I started with were too large for the music notes I had created earlier. I chose a smaller 16×40 inch sized canvas which better balanced with the size of the music.

Scott Von Holzen

Roger’s poem, dedicated to the memory of my Brother Roger who passed away a year ago this coming August 9th. In each new blog post I will add another section of this poem. Here are sections 1 & 2 of 15.

Roger’s poem

The sun in winter
is all too short.
Who knew as you move through our lives,
that yours would follow the winter sun.

Winter arrests time
for thought and reflection
that February afternoon.
Dressed for warmth
we venture out,
Into the soft light,
surrounded by stillness,
not an oak leaf stirring.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Crazy Final Image

This is the final image of Crazy with its stands attached. When close to finishing an artwork, I will build the stands to allow better access to complete the work. The alternative would be to place the artwork on easels, making it difficult to access the stereo system, or the music notes attached to the canvas with magnets on the backside.

Although I signed and dated this artwork on July 22nd, I soon realized that I was not done. I forgot all those interesting musical items that add interest to the work. I am referring to all those small white objects attached to the music that in musical terms are the dots, beams, sixteen notes, and staff lines.

Crazy W66.5″xH45″xD8″

Here are my, this-work-is-finally done, comments on the Music Box Crazy posted on YouTube:

I have created a new website, emptywallsart.com, to better market this art and to support and promote the works of 6 other artists that are a part of the group. Organizing artists was only made possible with the help of two of the other six members, Jeff Nelson and Christy Skuban. This website is to be used to sell group exhibitions for Galleries and Art organizations.
Our group has the foundational connection in that we are all three-dimensional artists. Four of us are wall mounted and two are sculptural artists. We then offer the flexibility to a gallery, for example, the option to choose which artists would fit their best interests. Because of the diversity and the talent in this group, there will be kinks to be worked out. A positive side of this collaboration will hopefully come with the larger resource in ideas and venue opportunities to promote and sell our three-dimensional art to ever larger markets. My thinking is that the group will become greater than the sum of its members.

This is the Home page for EmptyWallsArt

It is obvious, even to me, after reading a few of these blog posts, how frustrating it has been to find ways to, as I would say, “break on through to the other side.” I have tried Art fairs, in and outdoors, local and distant exhibitions, and websites to market this art, and they all eventually reach the same level and result: no movement in this art. A show begins and ends, an exhibition begins and ends, an art sale occasionally begins and ends. As a wise man at an outdoor art fair told me, all these art venues reset every year.

These types of art exhibitions are fine to add names and dates to an art resume, but that is all their worth. Understandably, this art is not your typical craft work (make up your own definition of craft versus art, mine way below) that fills these shows and is appealing to the public for their prettiness, highly polished look, or eye-catching use of color. Therefore, I have made this turning point: “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~ Albert Einstein.

Something I wish to document and share:

The one-year anniversary of the passing of my brother, Roger, is drawing near. In my tribute to him I wrote a story poem that took months for me to complete. At his celebration of life, this last June 4th, I read it aloud, with encouragement from my family. I believe this story poem contains many universal moments and meanings about the difficulties of losing someone close to you that others may relate to.

I started writing this story poem in early February and finished the last changes in early June. It took so long to produce that I felt for me and Roger’s memory I would release it slowly. The poem is in fifteen different sections. The plan, starting with this post, is to make public the first section of this poem. Then, in the next fourteen blog posts, I will add another section until the poem is complete. Here is the first of fifteen sections of my poem dedicated to my brother Roger Von Holzen.

Roger’s poem

The sun in winter
 is all too short.
Who knew as you move through our lives,
that yours would follow the winter sun.

Scott Von Holzen

Art vs Craft

All art is craft
Not all craft is art.
the difference is
art was and always will be
an ever open revolving door
of perception.
Craft is a product

S_V_H Crazy image 2 update

The Music Box Crazy

I have always liked this song for reasons unknown. I never thought of painting it until I was watching a YouTube Art video and heard another cover of it by a street singer. Here is that cover of Crazy heard right from the start of the YouTube video by James Kalm:

The colors for this music box come from Gnarls Barkley’s outfit at his Grammy performance of Crazy and the violin section in this other YouTube live version:

The backside of Crazy showing the speaker install.

This is an advanced cover of the audio for the song Crazy. Like the YouTube video versions I liked these slower versions of the original.

This artwork needs to be completed. Its time has passed. The audio, as mentioned, is not done. At this stage the audio is being tested through computer speakers. The audio system for Crazy is my hand built system with its own custom speakers. When I am good with the sound of this cover on my computer speakers, a Bose system, I will then install that copy onto the music box and listen to that sound. Since the artworks speaker system is only two 4″ speakers, no doubt I will have to adjust it. I will then need to tweak the equalizer, the reverb, and balance, for example, until I hear a sound that is as good-as-it-gets. Then that is it.

Scott von Holzen

S_V_H Crazy first image

Final preliminary design

In my first layout below the speaker canvases, similar to past works are extensions on the sides. The width of this setup was around 45 inches in width, and six feet in length. I wanted to work to have a wider look away from the long rectangles in past 2020 music boxes. This first preparation image turned out to be too wide for our Toyota RAV to carry without dismantling. That is what I must do with all my previous 2022 works. I did not want that to continue with Crazy.

For Crazy I choose to keep the music for this artwork simple, and in four parts, so that I could have a more vertical work. The final design that was a good-enough-to-get-going arrangement is pictured above. This artwork will fit in the car being less than 42 inches wide and around sixty-four inches in length.

First layout.

As for my choice of the music, I remember I liked what I heard watching a guy dressed strangely, like an airline pilot captain, singing Crazy at the 2007 Grammy’s. I was able to find that performance on YouTube:

His outfit gave me the idea to go with a black theme accented with gold.

Early audio for this music box

My first step always is to create a basic soundtrack. Form that sound track I then choose the music the artwork is to sample. This current audio is lacking a lot, including drums. All that will be improved later when the physical artwork is near completion, and I am starting to build its sound system.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Metamorphosis 2 Final Image

Metamorphoses 2 L122″xH31″xD7.5″ all dimensions can and will vary.

A would like to comment about the following video about Metamorphosis 2. This artwork is the last of three pieces dedicated to the architect Frank Gehry. I took the colors used on the canvases from a picture of The Neue Zollhof in Dusseldorf, Germany.
I made this video recovering from a terrible cold, not COVID. I never lost my sense of smell and taste and which I tested negative for. This video does not display my usual upbeat mood, and that comes not only from my cold but from my disappointment in the status of today’s Contemporary Art. To me, what I am seeing in today’s art is all crafty with a few words of deep thought and concerning in the artist’s statement to create the appearance of art and an artist that has deep principles and concerns. That seems to be all the rage in exhibitions and galleries, that and displaying master craftwork. It is all so blah blah, blah to me. I know craft can be desirable and valuable. Got that. It is just that I am not seeing any Art. I am not saying this artwork is Art. A lot of craft has gone into creating this physical music box. But unlike craft, I am not trying to create a pristine, finely polished, perfect technical skill object. What I am putting together may not be Art, but I don’t consider it as craft either. It is what I am. It is all that I am and will be. That is the only way I can put in the work and time needed for each of these music boxes.

Define what is and is not Art? OK, this is my revise version that I came up with after listening to dozens of different explanations of What is Art, at this Art Assignment YouTube Video and then realizing that I am not trying to define what is art, but in actuality I want to define what is not art. I quote five words from the Art Assignment video, for right now those words best represent what I am thinking. I am sure I will find my own substitutions in time.

Art vs Craft

All art is craft
Not all craft is art
the difference is
art was and always will be
an open and ever evolving
Craft is a product.

I started this project on April 9th and completed it on May 25th with the installation of the music. The cover music I put together starting on April 9th. That is the first step of these current projects. Unlike pervious covers, my working cover music for Metamorphosis 2 was the final version in need of tweaking only. In the past I would put together my cover music in the notation software Notion, using the piano, no matter if that was the main instrument or not. Once satisfied with the flow of the music, I would then create the artwork. Finishing the artwork, I would then return the cover music and to add other instruments and improve the sound quality in my DAW, StudioOne, before installing it. Because this artwork took almost seven weeks to complete, I was totally out of touch with the original cover music. Thankfully, I kept this project limited to one instrument, the piano, which simplified the entire cover music process, in Notion and StudioOne. Finally, on the 26th I added interest items which were all those narrow horizontal pieces attached to the notes, completing this project.

My biggest surprise with the cover music was how loud it could be, and the sound quality of the piano, which I thought was good and almost comparable to my computer’s Bose stereo system. I think I have reached a good level of speaker box development considering the limitations. Here is the final licensed cover music for Metamorphosis 2.

I no longer can think of or remember my feelings toward creating this cover music and this music box. It has taken so long to complete this project that all the emotions that have gone into creating this artwork have faded. I am happy to have finished it. I enjoy the music and like the look and the size of this artwork, which is more my style with little concern for market friendliness. The next artwork will start soon although I don’t have a clue what music I will paint next.

I am already evolving

Art vs Craft
(new version 2)

All art is craft
Not all craft is art.
the difference is
art was and always will be
an ever open revolving door
of perception.
Craft is a product

Scott Von Holzen

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 Symphony final image

April 3rd Beethoven’s 5th Symphony about L68″xH48″xD8″
with all of my Incidentals in place.

I dated this work April 1st as finished (seen in the image below) then realized that I forgot the finishing touches. In the video I mention those still-to-do-things calling them Incidentals. My term is broader than the musical notation term Accidentals that only cover sharps, flats, and naturals. My term Incidentals covers those items and everything else, not my notes.

April 1st image with missing Incidentals except for the two word boards.

All of my projects, including these music boxes, are built from my cover sheet music. This sheet is used to create the project guide and music for the artwork. Of course, out of necessity and choice, I separate these artworks from sheet music, eliminating as many pieces of notation as possible, leaving this arts foundation, the up and down flow of the music. I then have the option, for artistic reasons, of putting back parts of my cover sheets’ information. For example, in the finished image above, I have added two eighth note rests. I rarely do this anymore. I included them in this project, for no other reason, then visual interest.

Musical Notation:
Eighth Note Rest

I am surprised by the sound quality of this Music Box, considering the smaller size of the speaker boxes. Besides improving box design, what may contribute to the better sound quality are my production skills. Those improvements in my understanding of the software I use comes slowly. On average, my time spent on each project is around four weeks, with my actual music production taking only a few of those days. I did have a start date of March 8th for this Beethoven piece, which is a quicker turnaround time only because of the visual part of this project comprised only nine notes. Here is the finished music for this project.

The final music box music for Beethoven 5th Allegro non brio

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