S_V_H Bach BWV 988 – Aria final image

AriaBWV988_ImageFinalThis is the final full size image of the Bach work that I will be shipping to Japan.  When it arrives in Japan it will be re-stretched losing about 60mm around each edge of the frame. The final image that will hang in the Grand Bach Hotel in Kyoto Japan will be 1600mm x 500mm or about 64 inches by 20 inches in height.

The video below pretty much sums up my thoughts,  and feelings about this artwork.  Actually, I did this video to do a short lighting check, except that I kept on going. It is kind of funny in spots,.  Still,   I should have worn a better shirt,  turned off the fan I was using to dry the painting, been organized,  and stood up  straight.  Otherwise, the message is good, and it certainly documents the progress of this art, so I went with it.  Next up I will be finishing my Waylon Jennings painting,  and  starting another commission work, the Pat Benatar song, We belong.

Check out this video of an artist that needs a staff of advisors if he is ever to make it in the Big Town.


Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Bach BWV 988 – Aria image1

AriaBWV988_Image1aAlong with a Waylon Jennings artwork I am also working on a second painting that will be hanging in the Grand Bach Hotel in Kyoto, Japan.  This new artwork will be another Johann Sebastian Bach work, BWV 988 the Aria from the Goldberg variations. And like the first work I sent to Japan in 2014 the owners are again very particular about the look of the art that decorates the hotel.

My first artwork for the Grand Bach was a lesson in compromise over creativity.  For that work I was given general color, with style direction,  along with a small early painting I did called Crossroads to use as my guide. As the artwork progress the client would politely asked me, through their intermediary, to makes changes from the updated images I sent them. When I finished the painting for the Grand Bach,  and sent the final image the owners where not pleased. They requested that I repaint all the green colored areas out of the work before shipping. I said I would not, for I had finished the artwork  (oh I was so young and naïve then). I offered to give their money back. After some discussion instead of compromising my artist vision (silly boy) I offered to create a new artwork in an incredibly short  week (I would never do that again).  Here are the two original paintings I created for the Grand Bach in 2014. Both artworks are 86″ in length x 56″ :

This is the second version that hangs in the Grand Bach reception area, Bach BWV 1065:


I am standing in front of the original Grand Bach painting that now decorates my studio. This is Bach BWV 1014:

Bach&Me Looking at the Grand Bach website today, which at the time was not available for the than new hotel,  I can easily see that the color green did not fit in with the Grand Bach Hotel decor. I should have painted over all the green with some boring brown or rust, whatever they wanted, but that thinking is now, and not than.

This first image of Aria I have submitted for approval.  By agreeing to their terms of reviewing my progress I am knowing  dampening my creativity, and basically  creating an artwork based on acceptability.  This all seems counter to my artistic philosophy, but these two artworks for the Grand Bach Hotel in Kyoto Japan have been a valuable opportunity. They both have thrown me outside my little predictable artist world.  They both have forced me to develop new problem solving skills,  and both of these projects are an awakening when it comes to excepting commission works.

After submitting that first image I heard back from my intermediary who requested to totaling change the colors for the artwork, going contrary to their earlier preferences. Here is the updated first image, which is far different from their original color requests.  They ignored me when I pointed that out.  Out of frustration I finally ended up repainting the entire first image, losing two days of work.  I sent the new image.  They thanked me for making the changes,  and requested a new image when I started placing the music.


I think it is somewhat odd that no one involved with either Grand Bach project even offered,  requested, or asked me about the Bach music that I chosen to portray.  I have given them wonderful Bach musical works, but for all practical purposes I could have given them Elvis’s In the Ghetto, and just told them it was Bach at his best.  Maybe I can save Elvis for a future commission projects as my cynicism, and artist confidence matures.  Overall, that it seems to me,  that their only concern is that the artwork matches the decor of the hotel like on the other decorations.

For all the rest of us that care about the music we like and not how it looks, here is the Bach BWV 988 Aria.   My artwork for the Grand Bach Hotel is the first 25 seconds,  played exceptionally by the eccentric Glenn Gould:

Scott Von Holzen




S_V_H Bach BWV 1065 & BWV 1014 Update


The Grand Bach Hotel in Kyoto Japan.  These are two photos sent to me by my one contact in Japan, Asako Takigawa.




Here is a new image from the newly updated website of the Grand Bach Hotel in Kyoto Japan.  And yes, that is my painting.  I would never have thought back in 2006, when I started this journey to portray music, that I would  paint not one but two Bach’s paintings both where meant for this grand hotel.  Only one made it to Japan.  The second painting BWV 1065 is what you see.


The first artwork, BWV 1014 hangs today tacked to the wall in my studio.  Eventually, it I will have to frame it for sale. For now, I like it just where it is, close to me.   Scott Von Holzen



S_V_H Bach BWV 1065 – Allegro Final 2 versions


This is Bach 2 BWV 1065 Allegro First Final Version (87″ by 52″) completed March 5th. What you are looking at in the lower part of the image is my interpretation of a musical tie.  A musical tie is a curved line that connects two notes of the same pitch, that extends the length of the first note, with the added value of the second note. For me a Tie is an opportunity to add interest and drama to the artwork. Ties, slurs, trills, and incidentals, are important to me, for they add that extra character to a painting which would be difficult if  I only used notes, stems, flags and beams,  the fundamental parts of sheet music.  Since the last thing this art want to do is duplicate sheet music, ties and slurs become powerful creative tools, as you see in the above and below images.

After checking and comparing multiple translations I came up with the above Japanese alphabet for the words, Johann Sebastian Bach, that represented my vision of this interesting Tie.  My thinking was that putting the composer’s name in Japanese, would be a tribute to the client.  I thought this would show respect and consideration for the clients native  written language, which I thought beautiful.  The composer’s name, in Japanese, also would add value and interest to the painting’s content, for me in an abstract way.  Instead the response  was since Bach was European, the client  did not associate his music with Japanese letters, or their point of view.  According to their representative the client adores the Western Culture, and so they requested that I change the lettering to English. Since time was short the representative said if it was not possible to make this change she would tell them so.  Actually, their reasoning was convincing, and I felt it was important to complete this work to the client’s satisfaction.This lead to four hours of work to replace the Japanese words with English version of Johann Sebastian Bach. To give the words some extra drama, I found a great free font, Baroque Script to use as my template.  Interesting Bach composed his music during the Baroque Era.


bach1065_ver2FinalWhat you see in the above image is the final, final version of Bach 2 BWV 1065 Allegro completed about 9:30pm on March 6th.
That evening after running the fan, I removed the canvas from its temporary frame and laid it gently on the floor, even though I had not heard back with the go ahead and ship. Very early the next morning I checked my email and there was a short message thanking me and asking that it be shipped out. My wife and I rolled the artwork carefully,  with added protection, around a large tube.  Later that morning Barbara took the painting to shipper, and now Bach 2 is sitting in a DHL Hub in Ohio, on its way to Tokyo.  How cool is that.

All I know is that this painting will be hung behind the front desk at a new Hotel, set to open on the 15th of March.  So, once the work safely reaches Japan, and all is well with it, and it gets through customs, it will be re-stretched, before it makes it way to its final home.  I did not ask the name of the new Hotel, because I did not want that information to had any effect on my vision of this second Bach work.  Now, that it is on its way to a new home, I have asked for a picture, and the Hotels name. If I get that answer I will pass it along.

As for Bach 1, Bach 2 sister work both completed on the same frame, and my favorite of the two,  it is hanging pinned to my studio wall.  I will order a frame for this work and put it up for sale on Etsy in the future.

Next up another commission of a University Fight Song.  Should be interesting.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Bach BWV 1065 – Allegro image1& 2


This is Bach 2 of the two Bach series.  After I finished the first Bach the client asked for changes that I could not make: once signed, done.  I offered two options: returning their money or painting another New Bach.  They choose  the New Bach.  The client suggested that the work be less geometric in appearance, less pop art look, less white in the background,  more spontaneous to the feel of the music,  and that the coloring consist of  deeper colors such as  red oxide, which they like in that old canvas they choose for an example.  Luckily, I had already ordered more canvas which arrived on Friday.  It was Sunday, with the wonderful help of my son-in-law Steven,  that we able to get it nicely stretched.  Late in the afternoon I started the background and finished that night. Monday late afternoon into the evening, I put down all the notes, and did some testing on the beams and stems of the music.  Last night I finished painting the music, and started to work on the color contrast.  All through this new work, I had to keep reminding myself to keep the colors muted, and the style loose.  Actually, their request to make the work more ‘spontaneous’ worked to my advantage. I did not have to create the perfect artwork, like I tried with Bach 1.  All I had to do is keep the precision, using  sharp lines sparingly to keep up the structure , and let the paint go where it wanted to, when it did.  I was being spontaneous.  Well,  I was making it look like I had swish splashed the artwork.


Bach 2, the sister work,  image 2 BWV 1065, almost midnight last night.   Here is a link to the music.  This painting starts at 4′ 19″ and goes to the end.

As I am writing this blog entry, the work is actually finished. I spent more time then I thought, fixing mistakes, adding interest, and doing something very special (I like to shake the tree) with that lone tie that you see curving along the middle bottom .  I have sent a near finished image, to get the final approval of the work. Now, I am waiting for my go-ahead-and-ship email.

Hopefully, I can post the finished image, yet this evening.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Bach BWW 1014, Adagio Final image


Bach Sonata 1014. With image 8 you are seeing the Ties in all the color glory.  I save the Greens for them. There are twenty of them. What you are seeing is an entire artwork which does not just focus on the music flow that you see.  I see importance in every aspect of the music, and use color and shape to create dramatic, or contrasting images, that create interest which is my main goal of every work I do.  Great music with out an interesting flow, is boring.  My job is to find those great phrases in the music that not only define the music but make it fun to paint.

Next up are to add the sharps and fix a couple of the stems, that I can make longer, followed by cleaning up the edges..

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Bach BWW 1014, Adagio image7


This is image 6


This is the current image, image 7

Bach Sonata BWV 1014 Adagio.  As can be seen this artwork is coming together.  The background is becoming what it is, and the music is beginning to shine above. I can create movement with the shafts, especially with the use of darker colors. This contrast with the notes and the background creates a dramatic vertical movement to the music. 

The colors for the shafts where fairly easy to decide:  I wanted a darker color with some contrast added.  The easy choice was an old favorite Phthalo Blue Red shade.  The beams where more difficult. I tried using a Red Magenta, and then spreading white across, followed up with a violet-blue.  Not good enough.  I removed the paint and played with a couple of other ideas, before deciding to stay in the reds for color.  The only decent contrasting Red was Cadmium Orange? I spread it heavy over the Pyrrole Red, and after it was dry, it looked good.  Good enough to leave it alone.

Next up, what will put this work over-the-top, are the Ties.  Does that not sound exciting?  It will be, once you see my Ties.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Bach BWW 1014, Adagio image5


Bach Sonata BWV 1014 Adagio, with this image showing the musical flow.  I really like this stage of this artwork. You have the painted background and just above it you have the music floating across the canvas.  In the beginnings the music flow resembled musical notes.  I quickly began to elevate my  notes, giving them more stature and a greater dramatic look.  The problem with that look, even when they where almost  vertically, was that they still resembled  sheet music notes.  That changed when I moved to the circle.  Now, that I have shaded these circles, I have noticed a new sensation.  I see the music flow, but I am also seeing much more: I look at the music as it flows across the background, and what I now see are little moons.  It is almost spiritual, looking at the musical flow and seeing something else totally different form music, but still bound to it.  I am not sure where this comes from, beyond the fact that as a boy I followed the space race with Russia, and knew all the names of the planets that revolved around the sun.

Well enough with the space race, and the mystical, it is time to give the music a little body and soul.  that is up next.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Bach BWW 1014, Adagio image4


Bach BWV 1014 Adagio, 220 cm by 130 cm,  all on one canvas.  What you are seeing different from image 3 are the white bands, and the Azurite blue bands in the center area.  What you do not see is the three hours of work it took to get this final look of the background.  Originally, I had two large bands of blue.  I then tried an old technique, by using a wall paper, or plaster brush with short bristles, that I pull across the Azurite.  I did dark lines of Prussian, and then later I added white bands to counter the darkness of the two wide blue bands.  I stared at the results, and finally decided, that the big blue bands were too much.  Now, the background is better balanced, pushed back towards the lighter look, the preferred look, and is ready for the music.

Tonight and tomorrow, I will be putting the music in place, to see that it fits and then I believe I will be filling them in and shading them.  Next up will be the shafts, and the beams, of the music.

We will quickly see how it goes.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Bach BWW 1014, Adagio

You can hear the music that will be in the painting, in the next link, starting at  1:19, ending at 1:40.  This is powerful music that I have wanted to paint for a long time. Because of the Vivaldi Four Seasons series, every time I have made time to paint a partner work next to the Vivaldi, I have always chosen modern music. For me these side works learn from the Vivaldi.  Because they are much smaller it is easier to experiment with them, and in that way sometimes the Vivaldi work gains back. So, it was only through good fortune that I have interrupted my work on this years Winter Vivaldi to work on this other classical piece that has been on my to-do list for a long time.

I have gone old school experience with this artwork, mainly because this is an unusually large single canvas.The way I am approaching this work is by going back to one of the first artist that gave me direction for me as an artist: Mark Rothko.  You will see some of his style in this work, which is similar to many of my earliest art works, such as this example,  Mozart’s Concerto 21 form 2006:


When I received the request to paint this Bach work, Crossroads was the one painting the customer picked as a guide especially for its color and overall lightness of the work. Well that was 2008 and now in 2014 my style and my art has involved considerably, making it impossible for me to go back and repeat the past.  Few of my artworks repeat, they all tend to build on each other.  Today I see Crossroads, as dull, flat, sloppy in technique, with bad usage of drab colors. Still it will help me make a better Bach. I have found helpful direction for the Bach work, in Crossroads, especially in its overall use of color.

Crossroads, the painting,  was an experimental work 16 inches by 40 inches. I used a large plaster bristled brush as a new painting tool. That was a technique that I have rarely used since.  I consider Crossroads a marginally successful artwork that stands on its own, as a one time idea.


For today, though,  it has been valuable guide for this Bach work.  Maybe, that is why I painted this work in 2008, not knowing that one day it would offer I new perspective and a new opportunity to move this art forward.

Bach BWV 1014 Adagio Image 1 stage 1 of the background.  The take on image ones, including this one, is to pick colors that probably work with the theme, and spread some paint around.  As I am painting this first layer, I have Mark Rothko in my thoughts, but I am not trying to carry out anything special here, I am only trying to cover up the canvas. I difference with this work, is that I have usually left a white bar on the top and the bottom.  For this work, it felt better about forgetting  the bars.  The main reason I felt this way about this work is that when finished I will remove the artwork from its home-made stretcher, and then carefully rolled it up for shipping.  It will then be re-stretched: I want no sharp edgings to interfere with the re-aligning of this artwork.  I think that makes sense.  I will say, seeing this work in person it, dominates the space, and creates an impressive look, even though it is early in its development as a contemporary artwork.


Bach BWV 1014 Adagio Image 2, stage 2.  Here you are seeing the influences of Mark Rothko and of the early Mozart work.  Nothing special here.  What these two bars are doing is giving me the placement for the music.


Bach BWV 1014, Adagio image 3,stage 3.  Now, finally you are seeing the direction the background . There is a lot coming from the unfinished Vivaldi Winter.  I have looked at it for direction as much as I have looked at the painting Crossroads for color.


With the help of Barb I was finally able to find the artwork Crossroads, buried among the giant works.  Looking at this artwork my opinion has not changed.  Hopefully, someone with a passion for Eric Clapton, The Creme, or just the great blues song that is Crossroads, will contact me to buy this interesting little painting.

I have this artwork listed on Etsy, for a reasonable price of $200.00.

Up next is to finish the background, in one session, and then start putting down the music.

Scott Von Holzen