S V H my Brother my Patron

Roger Lee Von Holzen

This bog site has existed for over ten years with the sole purpose of documenting this artist’s journey. That is what it has done and also that limitation is why at times it has failed to do. It turns out there is more to this story than me creating art. It is time to acknowledgement this art’s greatest patron, my brother Roger Von Holzen. Here are the images of the artworks and prints that hang in his home and a rental of theirs. Added to these pieces are the other art items, including prints which he gave to friends and associates, and his pivotal help in the sale of two other major artworks.

I have not been to my Brothers home for many years. It was an eight-hour drive to Missouri, and his considerable busy social and work related travels, and his many other travels around the world, made planning a trip to Missouri seemed a distant idea. Lucky for us, he and Myk traveled North each year to our family reunion and occasional visits. I am certain if I would have asked them they would have found the time and insisted on a visit. Our move to Eau Claire help cut travel time to seven hours, which made the difference.

There I was finally back at his house and the moment I walked in his front door, the artwork over the fireplace took my heart and breath away. Roger and his husband Myk, on a visit in 2008, bought What’s New, painted in 2007. My heart continued to fill again with emotions each time I walked into another room and there was another artwork or print on view. I knew the art he bought from me. What I did not know was how much this art meant to him. I should have known. I should have been more grateful. If only I would have.

Roger passed from my life on the morning of August 9th. I held his left hand, my other Brother Jeff held his Right hand, while Myk whispered in his ear, and around us were his closes friends and hospital staff. All of us were there for him until his last breath unselfishly allowed us to let go.

2020 Myk and Rogers last visit to our new home
I will always Love You

In 2017, I created this artwork for Roger as a gift for Myk. I remember Myk chiding Roger over the artwork’s theme song sung by Whitney Houston. Roger smiled and pushed gently back, defending his feelings.

Life is for the living, and I will try harder now to live it to my fullest. Roger certainly did. What he stood for and taught me was to do things while you can, whether it is creating great art, traveling to enrich your life, or attempting to connect with those you care about. Roger reminds me every day that the time is now, for the future may have other plans. I now understand Roger’s sentimentality over a song whose words speak about his love and devotion. Roger will remain a missing part of me that I can no longer touch, hug, or share a smile. I breathe for him in remembrance.

Scott Von Holzen

SVH “Sold” Walking in Memphis

Walking In Memphis 2019
Walking In Memphis 2019

Before I talk about the sale of Walkling in Memphis, I would like to comment on this image of Jaime O, the person who questioned me about why I gave up painting. This photo of Jaime in front of Twinkle and Gold Rush is how I see and know him. I see his pride in what this art has accomplished and, importantly, his part in this artist’s comeback. Well deserved. The question he presented to me back in late 2005 came from one of our many conversations.

Jaime O picture at my CVA exhibition in Wausau

Jaime’s office was across the hall from mine. And since I did not have a window, and he did, in search of a break or a change of scenery, I would often venture into his office. This occurred more often in the midafternoon, let’s say from 2pm and on. When Jaime was in his office, and not on the road selling, and it was around that 2pm time he would this tendency to get a little sleepy. To help refocus both of us, I would check my watch, listen to hear if he was on the phone, decide that world of IT was safe for this moment, and only then wander into his office.

I enjoyed his view, but it was a conversation I was in search of. Either of us would start it with a tease. Jaime was then, and probably still is, a world traveler selling to many markets. This allowed him In this spare time abroad to visit the local art museums and such. I, of course, found this art connection interesting and one I wanted to converse with him. That was something Jaime enjoyed. He not only understood great art, he also throughly enjoyed talking about himself. Although I always felt engaged with our conversations, no matter the subject.

It was during one of our exchanges around art that he questioned me about why I gave up painting. That became the change moment that may have helped instigate my shift away from traditional photography and into digital photography. Eventually, his words spun me around, away from photography and back to art that I had abandoned in the early 1980s.

I gave him an artwork as a thankyou in early 2006. Finally, I remember one brief conversation we had when he said that my name, “Von Holzen.” sounded like an artist or high end stereo equipment. I thought that was a wonderful comment. Years later, neither of us knew I would develop the potential to become both.

Gift to Jaime, Beethoven’s 7th Symphony

This is the video I received on my phone with the Owner of the company saying, “sold,” for Walking in Memphis.

Late in my fifties, I returned to a two-year tech school for five semesters to earn a decree in Computer Information Systems. This company then hired me for their IT department. Almost all these smiling faces I worked with, supported, exchanged stories, debated with, learn from, care about, and still miss today after being away for five years. They are from the sales department of the company I worked for fifteen years. The name mentioned in the video is a great work friend and one of the company’s top salesperson. I received this video from him and we still exchange text messages to this day. Of course I took this photo that like Jaime’s image clearly displays the character of this special friend of mine.

Walking in Memphis sold for $4,000 dollars. This is my largest single sale ever. Once again, I want to thank the company not only for their generosity, about also for their remembrance of my many enjoyable years serving their needs. As for the two person show at the Center for the Visual Arts in Wausau, Wi that was a disappointment. Although I am pleased to show and split the sale monies with them, nothing else came out of that effort. I did not expect to “Break on through to the other side,” but no feedback? Only experience was gained. I expected such and was proven right.

Scott Von Holzen

Play that Song, the Artwork, finished

These are the words with the music. I am not displaying lyrics, only words. In the early days artworks had a word or two. In time that changed as their number became more common and complicated. That was when a remembrance came to mind.

In my earlier summer job days I worked at my father’s car and truck dealership doing whatever I was told to do. While there I was in awe of the sign painter and his beautiful hand lettering who painted the customers’ truck doors. I thought of him when adding words became increasingly important. Seeing back to his slow motion painting and precision lines influenced my lettering style and personalize my the font style I used. It was as if I was assuming the position as a lettering painter. My artwork word standard became a challenging and time-consuming task. For example, I wanted to make sure all the letters looked similar and had the right width, height and spacing.

It was only recently when I was going to fill entire canvases with words that I came convinced that my precision letters and the time this type of lettering required no longer made sense. My alternative because a looser and more like my natural hand printing style. Besides, I thought after painting all the words, my next step would be to take a pallet knife and scrape parts of them away. I added another reason for my lettering change with this project.

When standing back from the artwork and seeing the words, the thought came to me: I was looking at graffiti. Now, I do not know if that is the right description for graffiti artists certainly are better word craftspeople, and better at using more elaborate fonts. Maybe my wording is more a reflection of the hand printing style used by Jean Michel Basquiat who was not a graffiti artist. All the words in this artwork are in my natural abstract graffiti style, which fits this music filmed in the city and works with the darker background and the scrapping.

The image above is the artwork in a near finished look. This is the first artwork using the technique where the music is held onto the canvas with magnets. When I hung the art pieces to the canvas, to take a photo for an exhibition, I knew the top coat of paint was still sensitive to scratching and could easily be damaged by the pressure of the magnets. Now days later, as the top coat is hardening, I am testing lighter strength magnets with different covers to prove that they are a viable hanging option that can be easily moved and removed.

I have not signed it yet, nor have I built the aluminum frame that enables it to by hung and supports the music. I was in a hurry. I wanted to meet the deadline for a major local show at the Pablo in Confluence Center in Eau Claire. My submission application made it in on the 24th meeting the deadline. My current stand is to not do group exhibitions, especially if there is an entrance fee, but this show is the exception. It is the most important art show in this area and more so I want a one-person show from the Pablo. This is an example of pay to play ($20 entrance fee) and playing to find a way.

Part of the Exhibition application

I will know by July 30th if this artwork makes it in the Jurored exhibition. I will then build the frame and add the music. The drop off is not till September. Otherwise, it will go to storage, and I will have another reason to hate group exhibitions.

Scott Von Holzen

SVH Play that Song 1st image

This is the first image of the artwork Play that Song from the music by the band Train. This is what I call the back image. I picked two shades of blue that represent the sky in the video. Since this blog is taking forever to write below is another image of the final top layer of paint, which consists of two coats of Bone Black and a third which is a more here-and-there coat of Payne’s Gray.

Image from the new Studio under construction.

The image above with the two examples of the attached music is a proof-of-concept test. I wanted to confirm that I can use magnets to attach the music to the canvas. This would then make it considerably easier to store and move the artwork about. Using magnets to attach the loose canvas to a frame, and magnets to attach the music to the canvas creates a constructed and assemblage artwork.

My past artworks using the scratch of technique involved attaching the wooden music to the soft and vulnerable top layer with glue. Making things worse, the canvas is attached with magnets to the support frame and not stretched. The attaching anything permanently to what is a loose piece of canvas to a layer of fresh paint that can be scrapped off, can be a challenge. Even with careful handling, the attached music can tear away from the top layer of paint and canvas. A solution was that by scrapping down to the original background canvas the glue in those contact areas would hold to the canvas. I am also seeing some evidence that over time the top paint layer may harden enough to diminish the attachment issue. Using magnets attached to the wooden underside of the music and then attached to other magnets placed on the backside of the canvas, eliminates the need for glue, and creates a secure, and a safer to move temporary hold of the music to the canvas.

This is the top background image. Once I paint on the words for the artwork I will then scrap this layer of paint, to reveal the blue and white original background.

This top image differs from my past efforts in that some areas of the background still show through. That happened because I only applied three layers of paint to cover the back layer. In the past I would apply many more layers until the background image was completely covered. I have given up on that idea. I don’t know why I was thinking I needed a solid cover background, other than that would be a traditional art technique that others would approve of. But I was never trained in traditional art techniques. I have only seen them in museums, books, and videos. At this point in this art’s development, my time is too precious to accommodate.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Play that Song rough cut

I like to keep the cover music for this artwork around one minute or less. That does not always happen, but this is the goal. I have my reasoning. Go to any museum and stopwatch the viewers as they pause at your favorite Van Gogh, Turner, Matisse, Picasso, or Rembrandt, painting. You will notice their stare time is around 30 seconds. Looking at the timing for this art my guess is less than 30 seconds for the viewer would soon discover the music push button. That then adds a one minute, more or less, of extra viewing time. Finally, to bring the total view to near two minutes, I would probably get extra starring seconds once the music stops and before the confused viewer finally moves on to the Picasso. That added average viewing time would certainly help this art stand out in a person’s memory, and make the great ones envious.

Every cover song starts with the piano as my foundation for my notation. If the music has voice, then I include a better representative, either a string or woodwind instrument for their Legato (dictionary meaning is a smooth flowing manner, without breaks between notes.) For this rough cut version of the cover music I am using the software Notion for the Alto Flute, Viola, and Cello for voice parts, supported by the piano, banjo and drums.

In the past, before sound, I would use a phrase from the music in order to create the artwork. When I first added music, its purpose was to help the viewer follow the musical notation the artwork was displaying, which then enhanced their experience. That worked for a while. Eventually, as my musical skills increased, the cover music grew not only longer but included more instruments. This resulted in the increasing difficulty in following the artwork along with the music. I made this even worse because the artworks were also getting bigger to accommodate the increased length of the cover music. My temporary solution was to make my notation smaller. When I discovered even I was having trouble following the music along with the artwork, I knew that the causal viewer would simply stop trying. The solution became to have the artwork cover only parts of the cover music for the artwork. At that moment, the artwork no longer controlled the music. No longer am I creating artworks. They are now presentations with the visual and the sound being equal partners. 

Creating a presentation with this music makes added sense considering that this is not a major piece of music, and after counting the lead vocal notes for the cover music. They added up to over one-hundred. If I would then go with my average notation size, which is 50 millimeters, the artwork would have a length of over sixteen feet. That would be the size of a major Vivaldi artwork, and a silly waste of time for this small, but adorable song by the band Train.

This is my 81st day back Home and the first posting of the start of a new project. I am still working in a temporary studio. Yesterday, they installed the commercial carpet squares in the soon to be new permanent Studio.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Play that Song

This is the process that I go through trying to figure out what song should be my next project. In my last post I said this: “I need to find a song. It always starts that way. But it is difficult. I need to find a song I can spend a month or more with and still like the music. That is tough.” Let me add to that description the words frustrating, confusing, and even boring after sifting through dozens of songs. Here is how it went down for my next project.

I have a list of songs that I keep in my computer note software call Songs to Paint.

Part of my song list possibilities

Each of these listings where added because I had an emotional moment that matched up to the listening music moment. If I pick a song on the list, I remove them otherwise they remain on the list long after I have “lost that loving feeling.” Sometimes I am lucky and a song or a piece of music just catches me when I need a source. Other times, when nothing trips-my-trigger, I start my search with the list.

Until recently, once I found the music I wanted to paint I would look for a phrase, or a sentence with a clean start and a clean finish. If the music had words that I also wanted to include in the artwork, I then had to make sure that the notation was interesting to catch the viewer’s eye. That part of the process remains today, except I am now a lot more flexible with my word use. What I have added since 2018 is the sound of the music the artwork is portraying. Having to create a soundtrack for an artwork complicates my project choices. It has also changed my project flow. I now create my cover music for the chosen song, which then becomes the template for the artwork 

I create the soundtracks using a Digital Audio Workstation (computer) using StudioOne. There is an immense learning curve with this software. To keep things simple, I build my notation with an instrument I am familiar with, the piano. It then takes a week or more to build a respectable sounding cover that often includes the addition of other instruments, mostly strings and woodwinds. Getting my soundtrack to sound decent and polished is demanding. My music needs to sound good enough to represent the why I chose this music. My goal is never to I match the original music. The goal is that my cover music, when played, presents to the listener the spirit of the music that the artwork is displaying to the viewer.

For this project, I rejected everything I had on my list. Here then are some of the music choices that I considered and discarded over a couple of days:

Bob Dylan Forever Young. But I have already painted Rod Stewart version

I started with Bob Dylan but moved on to Jeff Lynne singing Lift Me up. This music I like for its uplifting music and lyrics and its musical lightness. I feel that combination would be a suitable match for my mood. But I hesitated. It was not quite what I wanted. It did not ring-my-bell.

Jeff Lynn I love this uplifting music but again in this moment I did not feel it.
Elvis Presley live singing Love Letters. I listen to other versions, but could not convince me, but his voice is amazing.
I like the lyrics to this music, but the music flow and notation pace I did not thing would work with either the piano or a string instrument.

In desperation, and the hope to find a potential classic song material amongst today’s music, I turn to the google search looking for the “Best songs of the 21st Century.” I went through a number of lists: 100 Greatest Songs of the Century – So Far- The Rolling Stone, Every song of the Summer of the 2000s, 150 songs of the 21st century (so far), The Best Songs of 21st Century – Ranker. I even listen to a Spotty playlist Best Songs of the 21st Century. Besides Mr. Brightside, which I have already painted, nothing I listen to tripped-my-biffy, and which I thought I could notate and create a respectable soundtrack.

The next day, I thought for a moment to go with Born in the USA. No, I am not doing another Bruce Springsteen song. I did like the song’s rebellious sound, which got me to think about finding a Punk Rock song to paint. That idea popped up after listening earlier on my walk to the Violent Femmes singing Blister In the Sun. I have for a long time wanted to paint an example of this music genre. It somehow relates to my youth when I played the organ and sang backup with a local garage band. So I looked around. I started with the Ramones. I then moved on to play a few other bands, mostly from Spotify Punk Rock playlist. Nothing tripped-my-trigger. Besides, punk uses a lot of guitar which I have limited skill level to produce. The band Green Day surprised me as their music shows up in the punk music category. I have always liked their music. For me they felt like a garage band, but that wasn’t enough to move me.

Born in the USA, but enough of Bruce, please expand your range I told myself
The Violent Femmes. A good Song but not good enough to paint.
The Ramones and Blitzkreig Bop
Green Day I like the sound of these guitars but for now I do not think I have the skill or time to figure out how cover those guitars and drums.

I then thought about doing a song by Bon Iver (I liked his voice on the Taylor Swift song) They are a kind of local band, but that also went nowhere. Finally, I thought I could turn back the clock and so I searched but found nothing: not a pop standard or a Jazz Standard, or even a torch song was going to flip-my-switch. All delightful music, but again no light went on. I was in the dark, not knowing which way to go. Then in a soft desperate voice I spoke to myself that I needed a song to play, “Play that song,” I said. At that moment I paused as a faint connection with those three words popped into my head. In my Spotify search I typed “Play that Song.” There it was, Play that song by the band Train.

Finally, a song that caught my attention. It had that similar uptempo sound and interesting lyrics as my earlier option, “Lift me Up,” but its title and its story fit my current emotional situation better. I even think I can listen to this music, maybe for a month. Maybe. Hopefully.

Interestingly, according to Wikipedia Play that Song”…. incorporates the melody of “Heart and Soul.”

Oh my god, this video played after I listen to the Cleftones, Heart and Soul. Would you know it? There was Bruce Springsteen with Chuck Berry singing Johnny B. Goode. Definitely on the list. I thoroughly enjoyed this video.


This is a special blog post. For this is my 651 post, and it ties the number of letters Vincent Van Gogh sent to Theo Van Gogh. Somewhere in a long ago blog post I set that as a goal to reach. Today I have. The best stuff is yet to come.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H the Return

This is Day 75 that I returned home. This is also the number of days without a start of the next project. Instead, I have spent most of my art time searching, collecting from storage, repairing, and updating music systems. That effort resulted in twelve artworks now being exhibited in a two person exhibition in Wausau. This is my first show where I will have multiple artworks on view for an extended period. Below is a screen capture from the Center for the Visal Arts website referring to the show. Strange, but they are using an image from a previous group exhibition that I took part in.

Here is a picture taken at the CVA show setup in Wausau. We decided because of the fragility and the way this art needs to be handled, to help with the preliminary hanging guided by Madison Hager, the CVA director. We removed the artworks from their stands; I repaired them where needed, hung them, and tested the music that comes with each artwork. While there I asked Barbara to take pictures as I worked to repair the artwork Twinkle Little Star. To my surprised she did this walk through exhibition video.

The Center for the Visual Arts in Wausau Wisconsin May 11th

This is my current temporary studio.

In these images I am working on updating the Stereo systems on two of the twelve paintings in the CVA show in Wausau. Not much room to move around in, but with patience and acceptance, it all got done.

Yes, this next image is my temporary workshop where I do the woodworking.

Here is an outside and inside view of the progress of my new studio, which is in a separate building from the house. The new studio will have only these three large windows that face North. It will also be my largest studio, at 625 square feet.

My very first studio in the 1970s was a spare bedroom. Later it was in a back room of a motel we managed with no windows. When I returned to painting in 2005, I was back painting in another small spare bedroom. We moved in 2009 and the studio ended up in the unfinished walkout basement of our new house. Over the years I remodel that entire basement including the studio area creating two large bookshelves to hold my art books and other interests. Then we move again, leaving Wausau for Eau Claire. This time, we built our new house on a hill with a view.

The studio came about from the house plans. What I did was to convert a separate third car garage. This studio offered me, for the first time, some separation from the main house. Although I called it a studio, it basically remained as an upgraded, heated with air third car future option. It turned out that the window lighting was awful, the concrete floor was hard on my feet, and the space needed to work was noticeably smaller than my earlier walkout studio.

On the move again we are now living in the country, south of town with acres of land. I am also building a studio that is actually being designed as one. This studio will be the largest of them all and will include for the first time an attached workshop. In the past, I did my wood working in the garage. The hope is to be back working before the end of June.

The North facing studio windows

Here is the inside image of the Studio.

Inside of Studio

After 75 days of not starting a new project, it is time. I need to find a song. It always starts that way. But it is difficult. I need to find a song I can spend probably a month or more with and still like the music. That is tough. There is an incentive: starting now from this dinky temporary studio will be difficult but the end will be in the new studio.  Time is ticking a way. I need that song.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H After the Gold Rush arrangement

After the Gold Rush 72 inches in length by 36 inches

Here is the final image of After the Gold Rush, once again showing the artwork attached to its working 4 x 6 foot stretched canvas that is leaned up against the inside of the garage door so that I could get a reflection-free photograph.   Like the other artworks I created in this temporary studio, I have sandwiched this one between cardboard for protection. They are all now stacked in a fifteen-foot U-Haul in the driveway.  Tomorrow, I will take them to a temporary storage unit for the next two to three months until my new permanent Studio is ready. Until then here is my current arrangement of After The Gold Rush.

The instruments used in this arrangement include the piano, organ, bass flute, viola, cello.   For special effects I have included soprano and tenor voices, along with a tambourine and a little hand clapping. Even though I know my arrangement skills are young in their development the basic musical structure, I believe, is decent and progress is being made.  Finally, when I have a frame to attach this work to and have built it stereo system, I will post a video of the complete project, After the Gold Rush.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H After The Gold Rush Final Art image

36 inches in height by 72 inches.

This is the finished artwork for After the Gold Rush art project.  Before starting the artwork, I first created an arrangement of the music.  I then sampled it as seen in this artwork.  To complete this project, I will work with my arrangement to create the soundtrack.  I have already purchased the mechanical license for this music, which of course is still under copyright.  I have the metal frame from Woodstock, so I will only need to put the stereo amplifier together, and then install the soundtrack.  Once all that is complete I will post a video of my arrangement

For this artwork, I wanted to make the music as large as possible.  I did that but ended up with both the top and bottom lengths being 32 notes.  That left little spacing between the notes.  That raised a long time concern about fitting my music in a restricted amount of space. 

This has been an issue from the beginning of this art.  That is why I would first set the music out on the canvas on a table before attaching it.  Since I am still in a small temporary studio, the only table large enough for this artwork is the ping-pong table on the lower floor.  Because of the softness of the top layer caused by the scratch technique, and not wanting the distress of moving the canvas with the music attached, I decided against using a table.  I felt I could better align and assemble the music with the canvas safely attached to a  six-foot by four-foot stretched canvas on the easel.  I had tested these same steps on the previous and smaller Christmas painting. 

I taped a string along the top of the easel so I knew exactly where to place the top of the note’s stems.  In this way, my arrangement had the correct up and down.   Then excited to make sure all the notes fitted before the glue dried, I quickly attached the music, which comprised four sample sections.  This well-documented concern caused me to forget to place the middle sections on different planes from the end pieces.  I simply forgot to run another string.  When I had finished, the top section I soon realized this error.  I was beyond the time where I could safely remove any of the music without tearing away the top layer of paint.  At first, I thought I would have to do the bottom layer also in one straight line, as I have done with most of my artworks over the years.  This time I choose not to continue down that well-worn path.  I move the bottom to two middle sections, one up and one down, and added some words along the artwork bottom to fill in as interest.  

This video tells the rest of the story:

As I am writing this, I have sandwiched up this artwork and others between cardboard for safe travel.  I have begun the slow removal of my temporary artist studio from a room that makes a better home office.

This is my 649th blog post.  As I have mentioned one goal of the blog was to match the number of letters Vincent Van Gogh sent to his brother Theo Van Gogh, 651. 

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H After the Gold Rush Image 2

Wow! I am still shocked by the look after I do a scratch-off.  I know the results are, by now, predictable, and yet the scratching brings so much movement and life to the artwork, that it still amazes me.  This method keeps proving that it works, although that also still surprises me.   Of course with each project, some results I cannot control and those are not surprising.

This artwork had the issue with a lot of tiny breaks in the topcoat before scratching.  These little cracks in the surface paint have existed from work to work, although in this project they seemed excessive. That is something I would like to see less off.  I have an idea that the use of too much water when applying the topcoat may be causing more of these tiny cracks to be appearing.  In some areas in the middle, I did not like the placement of the words, so I painted them over which did fill cracks.   Then later, when I took a pallet knife to the topcoat, those thicker paint areas proved to be rubber-like and difficult to get any smooth flowing scratching.  You can see a few spots across the middle that the pallet knife resulted in the unexpected pulling of the paint. Thicker topcoats did not seem to be an issue in the past, but this time the extra coats were applied after the original topcoat had dried.  I did see that slightly curved horizontal lines created with a narrow head pallet knife, instead of using zig-zagging worked better for this artwork.  Finally, For the most part, I liked the effect of the background layer that shows through. This time I used a small roller to apply the background colors.  This technique is reminiscent of earlier artworks.  This look certainly may work for a future topcoat.

Here is what the background image for After the Gold Rush looks like:

The words I use and how I use them are different from others.  Again, I did not think it was worth my time to finely define the look of the lettering like I have consistently done in the past (from 2011).  The saving of Time and my changing approach to creating artworks (no longer relying on a craft approach to gain Artwork World respect) means the words and how they are used defines this art.  How they have crafted (I hide my craft), or how pretty they are adds no other virtue.  Like fine craftmanship, other artworks that display words, use words as a prop to shield their lack of originality.  In this art, the words, the art, and the music are bound together, with each enhancing the other.  That is a big difference.   And besides, after scratching what’s left is for you to figure out.

Scott Von Holzen