S_V_H Giant Steps Fourth Image

63.25″ in length by 30″ high

This artwork needs to be signed and dated to be finished.  I am waiting because I am working on possibly adding music.  For this blog entry I have darken the image to improve the shadows created by the painting.  The shadows are not as pronounced as I would like, and the artwork needs to be brighter, but for this discussion this is what I have.

I cannot underestimate three important Artistic techniques (I hate thinking of art in terms of techniques) that make this work special.   The first technique comes from an Artist Friend, Jeff Nelson, who commented on the interesting look of the emptiness in my artworks. For some reason I never thought that the open spaces between the music was that great, until he mentioned it.  In fact my works from 2018 show me bringing the music closer together, especially in the artwork Africa.  That should have also happened with Giant Steps.  It did not.

As explained in an earlier blog entry, the second change comes from moving from a straight up and down, rise and fall look (Africa),  to a more angled, swing to the left, than swing to the right look (So What).  I believe I over calculated the effects of all those different angles.  Since the frames where already built, to reach the ends,  I ended up with larger spacing between the music.   More openness allowed the shadows from the music to extend further, the third technique, the shadows. Those shadows seemed to come alive with motion because of the effect created by the back-en-forth angles of the music, and the wider spacing that allowed them to fade out.

I first became aware of the effects of shadows in 2017 with the Bach artwork, that followed So What.  I took that artwork to an Art and Framing shop in town, for a frame, thinking that framing the Bach might make my art more acceptable to interested buyers. I now have found out that framing does not help.  The owner did not have the frame I wanted, but he took an interest in the Bach work.  He found an empty wall and hung the Bach to take a picture.  That is when he mentioned the shadows on the wall created by the Bach music.  It was that moment I understood the value of those shadows.  I do not have a copy of that picture, but here is a picture of that Bach work now framed, without the shadows.  It is in a nice custom frame, and will remain framed for now.  Even out of the frame the shadows on the Bach would not  have the same effect as they do with Giant Steps.  The Bach music is straight up and down.  It is the different angles of the music on Giant Steps, and the use of even smaller canvases than So What, that allowed more of the music to be outside the frame.

This is an exciting project that is going to open other big doors to new ideas and techniques yet to come.  So it goes.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Giant Steps image 3

Well this image looks like an actual artwork in the making, now that I have connected the two sections.  Of interest, Barbara says that this artwork looks better in person than in a picture.  That difference may be its physical size (2 feet by 5 feet) and the limitations of a two-dimensional image of a three-dimensional object.  She also mentioned that she like the back-en-forth movement of the artwork, compare to the straight up-and-down of Africa, that sits next to Giant Steps.  I certainly agree with her.

I wonder why I did not see the break through tilting used in So What (blog header image) completed in 2017.  It could be  that I did not think the techniques used in So What would transfer to other music genres (So What the creative music from the Jazz trumpeter, Miles Davis).  That artwork made it easier to repeat that technique easier for this other great jazz masterpiece,  Giant Steps.

That limited thinking is now past.  I now see this new look as taking a giant step in disconnecting these paintings from sheet music, the foundation of this art’s style.  Reaching this thinking has taken a long time because of my connection with and understanding a music.  Though, I never  wanted to paint sheet music,  I did want to paint the uniqueness of the music in the flow.   That is where the sheet music showed me the way in 2006.  Now, no matter the genre of my next artwork there will be no turning back.  This tilt-this-way-and-that-way look, improves the music connection with the improve look of spontaneity and motion in the artwork. Overall,  I believe that this is a better look than the stiff, sheet music appearance of last years masterpieces.  I say that Barbara is right.

This artwork is far from done.  I plan on adding a number of small canvases as backdrops for the music.  This came about because of this artworks more relax design and the resulting spacing that did not take into account all the tilting.  What happen is that I ended up with a lot more space, between the music (Not such a bad thing I discovered). The plan for the extra canvases is that they will give the artwork more of a physical look,  while adding background interest.  I actually did the opposite with the spacing between the two sections.

In the past I would have brought the two sections closer together to close the emptiness between, or like with Africa adding a background canvas between the sections.  For this artwork I went the other way by leaving the middle space empty.  I actually increased the distance between sections, a few inches.  What I discovered was the drama created by the emptiness and the power of the shadows.  The shadowing created by the emptiness and the depth of the artwork,  greatly enhances the look of motion.  I have a new quest to figure out how to increase the shadowing.  Wow, that is interesting direction I never thought I would be going.

Scott Von Holzen





S_V_H Giant Steps 2nd image

This is Giant Steps still in pieces, but starting to look interesting.  In past projects my procedure was to first cut out all the round heads, and then space them together to find the length of the artwork.  I would than build the artwork in sections and mount them to the background, moving from left to right.  You can see this done recently in the artwork, The Tango first image.  The reason I built these artworks that way was to help build interest in this blog by giving the viewer progress bar images of my artworks .  The problem with doing it that way was I was creating each section and then stopping to install it, and then starting the process all over again, always interrupting the work flow.

I learned from Africa, that creating all the major parts of the music first, saves construction time.  Another advantage that I have seen with Giant Steps is that my enthusiasm, which is always greatest early in a project, lasts a little longer, knowing there will be more enjoyment with less frustration by laying everything out before installing.

That reminds me of another enjoyment when doing a puzzle, and you are down to the last few pieces. Your emotions begin to rise knowing that where the few remaining puzzle pieces fit is becoming increasingly obvious.  Your pace quickens to insert the final pieces.  With the final puzzle piece locked in place, a momentary joy lifts your spirits for only than does the image of the puzzle come into focus.  That is the same feeling I had when finishing Africa.  For a few minutes, I did not feel exhausted with the project, but felt joy in seeing the completed artwork. The only difference between the two (and this is not cheating) I had already know where all the puzzle pieces fit.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H Giant Steps image 1

This first image of Giant Steps shows the pieces that I have made so far for this artwork. Once painted and glue together I can than map out the music flow to make sure everything fits on the two 60 inch by six-inch frames.  I will connect the frames one above the other, after attaching all the music.

The importance Giant Steps by John Coltrane, I knew, but it wasn’t until I watched the video on Giant Steps “The most feared song in jazz,” that I had the incentive to paint it.  Since this video also involves a lot of discussion of music theory,  I found that attractive.  What finally convinced me to do Giant Steps was how well  Africa’s rectangle format worked for that music.

The rectangle format allows me to create larger works with more music while keep the artwork length reasonable, under eight feet (longer lengths makes storage an issue).  Using the rectangle format, with two frames for the music instead of one long frame,  cuts the length of Giant Steps down from over ten to five feet.  Even though the stacking of the music was new, I felt disappointment with Africa.  Stylistically there was only small differences with Africa from the other 2018 artworks, like Vogue, or the Turkish March.  The answer to that was the rediscovery of So What.  Finding the video on John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, and at the same time taking a second look at a forgotten artwork, I found the new direction I was looking for after Africa.

So What was my birthday painting in the summer of 2017.  This Miles Davis artwork had its first showing at The Art in the Park Art Craft Fair in Appleton, the day before my birthday.

I took the larger, and different looking So What to the Art fair as a statement piece.  So What was Art Fair priced at $800.00, but was never noticed that day.   At that time I thought the musical style of So What would only work with solo Jazz music, and no other genre. This was clear with my next painting, Chaconne,  by the Classical Composer J S Bach, that came out of no where because of a print request from a customer in China.  The Bach music was Classical in style, and much more complicated than So What so it was never considered.  Chaconne turned out to be an exceptional work with it own wonderful Classical music look, that set the example for what was to follow.  So What, then ended up in storage as “so what.”

Lately,  we needed a longer, but narrow artwork to decorate a wall. Since So What’s colors worked for that room, and because it was at the front of the stack artworks,  it came out of storage.  To refresh this blog header I also switched that image to So What. Than came the video on Giant Steps. Because So What’s Jazz style worked well, it became my plan to use it as the template for the John Coltrane Jazz piece.  What  I am doing is  my own Back to the Future move with Giant Steps, with the hope, this time, of using this look in future projects.  Looking back I regret the time lost in not exploring the possibilities of  So What.  Giant Steps will take So What forward using as its theme the first 14 seconds of this music:

Scott Von Holzen