Like A Rock2 final Image

LikeARock2 52.25″ x 20″ in height. Three canvases, aluminum, wood features, and added music

Like a Rock the second version is finished.  I must admit I was a little concerned about how to go about this project, but to my surprise ( every time I say it is a surprise) but it is not, (for I always figure it out in the end), the results of this artwork are beyond my expectations.

This artwork’s theme is from one of the longest advertising campaigns that ran for over a decade. This video demonstrates this artwork’s added tribute to the music from those Chevrolet commercials over the years, and is for the private use of the owner.

Because this is a commission work with a specific theme I kept the design and the colors of this project focused on what I would consider is a good representation of the subject matter, with a small amount of creative interest added, so not to bore me or the viewer.

Commission works are challenging,  educational, and rewarding.  At the same time they are restrictive in every creative way.  That means for my next project, my choice,  I will be looking for music that allows me to do it differently. Maybe it is time for some Team Spirit, or a little Thriller, or how about what’s in Vogue.  We shall see.

Scott Von Holzen


S_VH Like A Rock 2 image 4

My current trend  is to let the music  define the size and shape of the background.  That is not the case with Like a Rock. The rigid shape of the background of this work, like the recent Chopin commission, means that I had to adjust my music to fit the backgrounds. I don’t like doing that, but commission works have exceptions.

The wood features of the music evolved from my standard Classical music shapes. This simple style is flexible in the spacing, and in dimensions, allowing everything to fit in the  background.
Up next I will be doing some stripping to add interest and movement to the artwork.  After that I will be finishing up with the words.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H New Like A Rock image3

This is a commissioned artwork for the Chevrolet Like A Rock commercial that aired from 1991 to 2004. In this image, as I have always done,  I place the music moving from left to right. The color of that music is a tinted Primary Cyan, which is a close match to the blue across the front of every Chevrolet dealership.  I am using darker shades of that same blue for the other parts of the music, to avoid one-color-boredom. At the top of this image is a clamp, to improve the glued bond between wood and aluminum.

Although my Father, a lifetime car guy,  made his money with a Ford Lincoln Mercury, heavy truck dealership, I think he was generally more a General Motors car person.  Of course being a true car lover,  his last, most favorite and greatest car he ever owned was his S Class 500 Mercedes sedan. Still, my early car memories are of his first Cadillac. I can see it today as a 1964, probably an aspen white, De Ville.  For Dad buying a Cadillac was more than having a great car.  Thinking back I wonder if for him that Cadillac  was a defining moment.   Maybe that was the point where he no longer thought of himself as a son of a Swiss immigrant. From then on,  he wanted to be known as a respected and successful American businessman.

My 2006 picture of my Father Warner, and his Mercedes

Creating the Chevrolet logo brings back those memories of growing up in the automobile business that my Father built. To this day I still love the sight and smells of new cars on the showroom floor. And like my Dad’s Cadillac, I had a car passion: “Like a rock, I was strong as I could be, Like a rock, nothin’ ever got to me, Like a rock, I was something to see.” My car was my red 1968 Mustang, and then my yellow 1970 Mach I Mustang. There where the road and bar trips with friends,  but the best part came in fall when I drove my Mustangs back-and-forth, and around the streets of Madison. I was particularly proud, to let the campus ladies, take full advantage of getting around that little big city, with me, in my cool wheels.  I too, like Dad,  once thought, I was something to see.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H New Like A Rock image2

For now the background is finished for this second Like a Rock project, and to my surprised it turned out better than I expected. Even though I stock many different canvas sizes I was lucky to find two sizes that where a close match to the dimensions of the client requested Chevrolet logo.  Because silver surrounds the logo I decided I would do the same with angled aluminum.  The problem was the difficulty in finding decent lengths of aluminum that where not marred or scratched. I searched three stores to find enough aluminum for this project. That made me realized that the issues of marring and scratching using aluminum needed to be resolved.

What resulted was that I learned that rubbing compound works for cleaning, and triple and quad zero wool removes most flaws, giving the aluminum a clean-looking finish. Finally,  using a Dremel with a buffing wheel gives me an extra backup for removing the worst mares and scratch marks.

Next up I will be placing the music.  For the music I went to the local Chevrolet dealership with a color chart to narrow the range of possible blues.  On my second trip to the dealership I  compared my painted test samples to what I call the “Chevy blue”  you see in this example:

With the help of my wife it turned out that the best option, for the music,  was a slightly tinted Primary Cyan.  I know my color pallet for this artwork is extremely limited.  That means adding contrast and interest to this artwork will probably be limited to those colors already in the background, or shades and tints of the music color. That may be an interesting challenge, something only commission work offers.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H New Like A Rock image1

Here is the first image of the commission work to create an artwork based on the Chevrolet, Like a Rock commercial,  that ran from 1991 to 2004.

The client wanted to include the Chevrolet logo, and as you can see I have done that. It is amazing that my experiences of using aluminum and canvas to create some pretty good Artworks, would be put to use to make a reasonable facsimile of an automobile nameplate.  Fascinating.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Like a Rock final image

Like A Rock three canvas, 19 inches x 34 inches in length, with aluminum and wood features.

This artwork for the music Like a Rock will catch the eye of the aware viewer with the words, “I Believed My Dreams.” I choose those words knowing their meaning would be varied and unpredictable.  I chose those words to take this artwork beyond the music.  I chose those words because I dream.

By the time I get to the final image of any of these artworks, I have lost my emotions and words for the artwork.  Except that when I turn away from the computer and look across the room, I do say that it surprises me. I never expected this music to turn into an artwork this good.  I like the browns and blacks for they fit Bob Seger.  I like the words for they take this artwork to another level.  And I like this artwork, because it builds from the past but does not imitate what has come before.

Other than that, I am moving on to once again paint some Italian music, but not Vivaldi. This time the music is Operatic Pop with a cover by my favorite Disco Queen, the fabulous Donna Summer.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Like A Rock image 3

Like a Rock partial  Lyrics:

“I was eighteen
Didn’t have a care
Working for peanuts
Not a dime to spare
But I was lean and
Solid everywhere
Like a rock……

And I stood arrow straight
Unencumbered by the weight
Of all these hustlers and their schemes
I stood proud, I stood tall
High above it all
I still believed in my dreams

Twenty years now
Where’d they go?
Twenty years
I don’t know
Sit and I wonder sometimes
Where they’ve gone……

Like a rock, the sun upon my skin
Like a rock, hard against the wind
Like a rock, I see myself again
Like a rock”

This artwork has developed  its own look, and offering these innovations:

I rounded the ends of my ledger lines, square ends before, and allowed them to dominate the notes. Before these lines where either connected to or behind my notes Also,  I positioned my blue flat incidental to enhance the look of the artwork not because of the music.

In sheet music each group of musical notes has its own beam, but for my music I connected two groups of my music with one long beam.  I than added some stripping in groups of five like the five lines of a musical staff.

Over the years of painting eighth and sixteen notes I have tried dozens of different looks. With this artwork I have created one of my better looks for my own 16th note.  Very Art Deco.

Although,  I may not be done with this half dome tie, not done before, my blue Tie here sits on top of my notes

I placed this rhythm dot, again where it works with the artwork, and not with the music.

Of course my original idea, that I woke to in late 2005, was to some how paint music using sheet music. From its beginning I kept some aspects of sheet music in my artwork to make it work.  I also knew than that I did not want to just paint sheet music, nor did I want to create an abstract splish splash,  and call it music. Instead I decided to paint music that connects.

To that end I want my best works to relive that lost trill of removing the cellophane from a new CD or Album, placing it on the spindle, and for the first time to actually hear music, only listened too before,  through speakers bigger than a toaster.

I want Like a Rock to be part of that goal of connection. I want to stand between the music and the artwork,  in the sweet spot of sight and sound,  cellophane toss aside.  I want it personal.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H Like a Rock image 2

Like a Rock image two is where I put aside the subject of this artwork,  and work on bringing the music into visually harmony with the background.  As my saying goes, “…the artwork eventual seeks its own destiny, with little concern with its origins.” Image two is beginning to move to that direction, and by image three the harmony is in sight.

That is when I take another look to make sure my original plan for this music remains.  If needed the final steps  sharpen my vision for this painting. Finally, in key what I want to see is an artwork with a balanced sense of art and harmony

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Like a Rock image 1

Like a Rock is a small work,  30 inches in length by eight. My choice of browns and black fits the classic rock look seen in the images of Bob Seger. The colors silver and gold  are also a good choice that you can see in these album covers:

Bob Seger is a Detroit “roots rocker,” who found his first national success with his 1976 album Night Moves. Although I can not recall ever listening or certainly buying the music of Bob Seger, here I am today spending two precious  weeks painting his music. How did I get here?

The birth and the foundation of what music means to me began with The Beatles, and has spread wide from there.  I know the exact date it was on February 9th 1964 when I was a sophomore in high school.   That Sunday night The Beatles appeared on  the Ed Sullivan show.  I along with 73 million others watched them perform  in black and white, and unknowing joined my generation that night.

The range of my early sixties Rock band music tastes expanded to include The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Cream,  Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Doors, The Kinks, Jefferson Airplane,  The Zombies, Buffalo Springfield, The Who, Credence Clear Water Revival, The Yardbirds, but not Led Zeppelin. I thought their music was too hard Rock.  That tells me that my Rock music taste included a lot of bands like The Beatles like The Turtles, Simon and Garfunkel, The Dave Clark Five, The Four Seasons,  The Beach Boys, The Righteous Brothers,  The 5th Dimension, The Association, The Mamas & The Papas, Blood Sweat and Tears,  and The Byrds.

Musically I also enjoyed the music of  The Supremes,  Sly and the Family Stone,  Jimi Hendrix,  Ray Charles,  and the electric Blues of B B King.  I mentioned that because I grew up in all white environments even though my family moved  several times from different homes to different states.  My first memory of ever interacting with a black person occurred while I was in college. It was than that my best friend Tom Haley and I attended a B B King concert at a local Madison bar. I remember going up to B B after the show, saying something to him and he responded how hot it was. That was all I remember.  I cannot but think that it must have been the diversely of the University of Wisconsin environment, my Liberal Mother,  and the impact of music that made prejudice meaningless in my life.

My attention and compassion for music changed in the late sixties, and early seventies after the garage band I joined disbanded, and I finished college.  With the rise of Disco music and the Bee Gees through the seventies,  I skimmed along musically with these Beatles style groups including The Eagles, Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers, and Fleetwood Mac.

In the eighties I wandered through those musical years with Madonna and Prince.  In the eighties I bought one of my first CDs,  Back in the High Life. Steve Winwood was again another artist in the style the Beatles. In the nineties and on I  lost much of my  connection to popular music,  picking songs and artists, here-and-there along the way.

In early 2006 when I began painting music that expectantly became my second coming.  Suddenly, music no longer started with the Beatles and that February night in 1964. Today, I see music as having no beginning and it has no end.  From I Wanna Hold your Hand, to I am a Rock,  from the Classical Barque composer Antonio Vivaldi, to the Jazz master Miles Davis, as long as it is harmonic I am all in.

Scott Von Holzen