This is my completed image of the artwork Woodstock. Alongside of the artwork, I have an image showing the hanging frame for these free canvas artworks. The round magnets on each side of the top of the frame are used to hold the artwork in place. The other image is a closeup of the advanced stereo amplifier system that powers the music.
I will let the video tell the rest of the story of Woodstock from my home office studio being a stranger in a strange land.
The lesson I learned from Woodstock (mentioned in the video) is that placing the words on the top layer, instead of the bottom, may make it easier to read them even after scrapping. I plan on testing this idea on the final Christmas painting.
Fifteen Years of Christmas paintings: 2006 Joy to the world 2007 Winter Wonderland 2008 Sleigh Ride 2009 White Christmas 2010 What Child is This 2011 The Christmas Song 2012 Let it Snow 2013 You Raise Me Up 2014 A Great Big Sled 2015 Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas 2016 Ave Maria 2017 Silver Bells 2018 Rockin’ Around the Christmas 2019 Happy Xmas (the War is Over) 2020 Please Come Home for Christmas (the final painting of this Series)
Here is one of many versions of this year’s Christmas song sung by Martina McBride:
I picked this music for its connection with the Blues. There are few to none other popular Christmas songs in that genre, and this is the best. This version from the David Letterman’s final Christmas show puts this music over the top with Darlene Love’s Gospel influence.
This latest image shows the frame that allows me to wall hang artworks from 72 to 76 inches by three feet in height. This frame also contains the artwork’s sound system, and the magnets that are used to attach the artwork. On the left side is my new 20 watt stereo system, and the four-inch speaker boxes. The quality of the sound has improved from previous systems where I started with a sound box for stuffed animals and a built in 0.5watt speaker. Today’s system comes from the enormous improvements made by my first custom sound setup. That stereo system used one-dollar and ninety-five cents three-inch speakers and a 2 watt stereo amp.
I believe the 20watt amplifier and my speaker choices are now good-to-go. When I first added sound to these artworks getting them up and running was the concern. This is my second 20watt system, which is a lot more complicated than my previous amplifiers, and considering all the soldering, everything went as planned, almost routine. That means I now have the time to turn my attention to improving the enclosures that hold the speakers. If I give their build a little more attention to detail, I think this can be a shortcut to improving the sound even more.
Current 20Watt Stereo System with on/off switch
I have finished and signed the artwork Woodstock. I will discuss this project, include a video, and talk about my last Christmas painting in my next blog entry.
This image shows the artwork project, Woodstock, with most of the add-on’s in place, and the artwork in a near finished look. I have left all my temporary pieces of numbered tapes to record this moment that shows the system used to locate and place the beaming and all the other add-ons such as slurs, ties, incidentals, eighth note flags, and as a guide for the dotted notes. Every one of these artworks builds on a past artwork’s style, but their construction needs vary from each other. This photo may help future projects as I move from mistake to mistake and problem to problem.
Looking at the above photograph and then turning around to the artwork, the difference is striking. The photo lacks the third-dimension, which then allows the background to dominate the artwork in a kaleidoscope of movement, shapes and colors. Looking at the life-sized original artwork, the music physically stands out, creating a better balance with the background. This allows to music to capture the viewer with its own up and down, and back ‘en forth animation.
Applying the music is the last major part of completing this project. This will take several days. When completed I will post a video.
Woodstock the artwork, I define as fragile, makes showing it difficult. It is touchy to even move. To display my artworks in public has always been a priority. This work complicates show options.
I have done approximately 15 public viewings of this art using art shows and exhibitions since we moved with the first local show in the spring of 2017, and ending early 2020 at the Hopkins Art Center. The results are not mixed, with a heavy lean of expenses, token feedback, no interest, no inspiration, no new opportunities, little motivation to repeat, and little incentive to continue applying. My take away from Art Fairs and group exhibitions is that they reset every year, and even if you are successful (your own definition) in time, even those offerings that where once positive will fade.
That means if I would attend 100 more Art Fairs and group exhibitions, this art would eventually return me to where I started with nothing accomplished other than wasted time and monies. Artists who create for the public art market for a time may attend more success, but again that too will eventually wind down for each year the local art market does a redo. Knowing that, and even after repeated attempts, I have dropped one display opportunity after another. A conclusion may be this art is not ready for the public art market, at less not for now. For now, my now comprises two important and final (I have no other plans to show until they contain COVID), shows where I will display for the first time multiple artworks.
The first show will be a two person exhibition at the Center for the Visual Arts in Wausau, this coming May. The second show will also be a two people at the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, Wisconsin. Because of the Covid shutdown, I am waiting for rescheduling information. My heart tells me both shows will end the same with little to show. That does not alter my intentions to present two professional exhibitions that will display a brief history of this art and its music. I know the value of this art. My task is to keep on explaining and displaying. That keeps me keeping on the look for the next best opportunity. No other choice exists.
Woodstock image 3 shows the music in place. Different from the last work I did widened the music stems which allows me to attach my musical notes, incidentals, ties, and slurs to those stems. This is consistent with my style before I left my studio for my current home office studio. The wider stems have the benefit of more glue in contact with the canvas, allowing for a stronger bond. I realized when moving my last unstretched artwork that any amount of twisting of the canvas can loosen pieces. Maintaining the attaching of the music to unsupported canvas remains a concern. These artworks present an uniqueness not seen in art. Their freedom from a support, that has been a fundamental part of painting for over 500 years, enhances that.
Next up, I will add all my embellishments for interest. Finally, I have a decent rendition of the music Woodstock, and since I am not hurried to start another project, I would like to experiment with the instrumentation. The complicated software I use for the arrangement requires me to switch my concentration away from art to the mechanics of music production. My ability to process only one artwork at a time, also relates to my arrangements of the music. That is why I try to complete the music before I build the artwork. It all comes down to focus andsuccess that moves me from one point to the next, one foot in front of the other, through one door and knocking on the next.
This second image shows the results of the scratch-off technique of the top layer. I have mixed feelings. I would have liked the words on the background layer to show better, to connect the viewer to the music. To accomplish that, I realized I would need to remove too much of the top layer, losing much of the scraped look. Also, because the words where casually applied their inconsistent look makes identifying them harder. For comparison, here again is the original background of this artwork. The words are there. Whether anyone can find them and then read them only matters to me. For now, they exist, and their colors show, and at this learning stage of this technique everything is subject to change with next artwork.
Next I will being cutting out 125 pieces of wood for my music stems. I already cut out my poker chips note heads twice for this work. The first size was 1 5/8 inches, which were too big. I will save them for another project. I returned to the drill press and cut another batch, this time sized at 1 1/2 inches. They are all sanded and painted brown. The stems will be stained and then painted.
This first image of Woodstock shows the painted background for the foundation of my scratch-off technique. This first step differs in appearance from my last three artworks that also used this style method. The purpose of the scratching off the top layer of paint is to expose parts of the backgrounds, which creates an unique and unpredictable (not boring) contrast with the music. I could have chosen any abstract background style, but did not with my past three works. They shared a style with Where to have all the Flowers Gone. I changed this trend with Woodstock. For this artwork, I had an option the others lacked, lyrics. Instead of painting a silly nothing image for the background, I painted the lyrics that are part of the music.
This idea of removing paint to expose more than another layer of paint originates with my Bach Menuet. For that work I glued a copy of Bach’s handwritten music to the background of the canvas and then scraped off the final topcoat to expose the sheet music. This same idea works with the lyrics from Woodstock. When revealed the words add color and connection to the music and the artwork.
To paint so many words, I looked first to Jean Michel Basquiat’s handling of words (he used a lot of them in many of his artworks). Here is an example of his style from Artnet. He used oil sticks (oil paint in the form of a crayon) to write out his words. I do not have any oil sticks, so as in the past I brushed in the lyrics with the bar set at legibility.
I finished the J S Bach work, Prelude, in September. What I had not completed was the audio and the mount for the artwork. Prelude is the first work that uses the new 20watt amplifier and speaker system, whose construction and configuration took time. It was up and running only after receiving some replacement parts delayed in shipping. When they arrived, I mounted them on a board I attached to a custom-built aluminum frame that holds the speakers, amplifier and to which I could attach and remove the artwork. Here is my YouTube video of my arrangement of J S Bach Cello Suite No.1 The Prelude mounted on the frame.
Up next I will prep the background so I can apply the top coat of paint, which for this artwork will be Cerulean Blue Deep. Once the final coat dries the fun part (and mess) begins as I will then scrap of the Cerulean to review what is beneath.
Joni Mitchell wrote the song: Woodstock, which will be the subject of the next musical portrait.
By the time I finish an artwork that can take a month or more, I have lost much of my earlier interest and am ready to move on. Thankful for a break it can take days to find and select the next piece of music to portray. Then it takes added time to convince myself that the chosen music is worth the effort. How I work is from project to project: I focused until I finish an artwork, and only then do I consider what to do next.
Once I have chosen my next subject, I arrange the music. That was a lot easier before I added sound. Without sound or words, what I did was pick a phrase or a sentence from the music as a start point and follow that to an obvious end point. If the music included words I then had to choose carefully not only the words (Copywrite concerns on my part), but I had to make sure I still had a good start and end point. Now days with added sound, I create arrangements. What that means is I pick short sections from different parts of the music’s notation, change them to connect, and then together I create a pleasant flow of the music I am portraying. This takes days with many revisions. Eventually, I find an arrangement that sounds good to my ear. I then move on to the artwork, using my arrangement as my guide to building the artwork.
That is where I am at with this first blog entry about the Woodstock project. There is no first image of the artwork (The start date of his project is September 26th). Instead, I am offering a late revision of the music that I arranged for this artwork and that I will use as my guide to cut out, sand, prime, and paint what will be the notation parts for this project.
This is my current arrangement of the project Woodstock that comes from the music of Joni Mitchell:
In 1970 while in college in Madison the version of Woodstock I knew was by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. This song was on their album Déjà vu, a favorite album of mine. Their music confirmed my taste preference for the melodic style of Rock music
I discovered my rock n’ roll style when the Beatles came to America, as a sophomore in a rural high school farming town. I was a Beatles rock ‘n roll guy: great melodies and lyrics, at moderate volume, without any distortion. I had little to no interest in the groundbreaking hard rock style of Led Zeppelin. Obviously, my musical tastes expanded in college. I grew to like The Who, buying their album Live at Leedes, and Cream buying their two disc album Wheels of Fire. Still, The Beatles’ influenced continued into the eighties as I favored Madonna and the Funky sound of Prince, instead of Van Halen, whose music hits resurface with the passing of Eddie Van Halen.
Why then did I not arrange the version of Woodstock from my past? It was because recently when I listened to Joni Mitchell’s Folk rockin’ version of Woodstock; it caught my interest. I knew it would be a better fit for my current limited arrangement abilities, and it would be an acknowledgement of my early years appreciation for Folk music. Folk music later paralleled my preference for rock ‘n roll and grew from the likes of Peter, Paul and Mary, to Joni Mitchell, who I often mixed up with another favorite of mine, Judy Collins. I believe the album Déjà vu contains several other songs that are artwork worthy of future projects for the Sixties time in my life. This one is a thank you to Joni Mitchell, and her lyrics about my lasting memory of the Woodstock Rock Festival.
Finally, unrelated to the music, I have a comment about this blog site. Starting early in its existence, I made up a goal to post the same number of letters Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo Van Gogh. That total is a challenging 658. After ten years of blogging, this post will bring me to 637. I am only twenty-one away.