S_V_H With a little help from my friends image 3

helpFromMyFriends_3This third image displays the music flow for With a little help from my friends. By portraying a dimensional flow of the music this now adds even greater depth to these artworks.  This move advances this art forms multiply layered trend which started when combining canvases to form different depths. What you have in this artwork is a painting that by combining different parts, to form multiple layers, helps to move this art form closer to the structure of a music.  A  musical performance occurs inside a structure with a stage in front of the audience, the musicians behind their instruments, people sitting around tables and moving about the room.  Live music performance exists in different depths and layers except for the sound that is everywhere, and though harmony,  focuses the interaction to and the connecting of strangers. This artworks  canvases  can also be a structure for the music and the viewer.  Even though this artwork lacks sound it can still present the music, as a multiple dimensional snapshot of the flow of the harmony.   This art then can offer another method for people to connect to  music. If that explains this art or not, that is okay, for even I am winging it most of the time.

Scott Von Holzen



S_V_H With a Little help form my friends image 2


This is the second image of With a little help from my friends, that consists of two canvases fifteen inches by fifty-eight inches in length. What you are looking at, for now, is the finished background for the music. I did have a lot of issues in choosing the right mix of colors, because each of these panels represents a different emotion in the music.

The music that I have chosen, in my chosen versions, goes from loud, and questioning, to soft and thoughtful. For the stronger left panel  bright colors seemed obvious.  Starting out with that first image I posted in an early blog entry,  I tried adding brighter yellow and lighter magenta colors.  This did not work. Finally in a spontaneous move I painted over those colors, leaving the blue and pink strips alone. I applied multiple transparent layers of Quinacridone red, that created different shades of red that brought that panel into harmony.

Those efforts with the left panel then created issues with the softer looking right panel. I had to find different ways for that panel to compliment the strong left panel, and create a smooth looking transition that follows the changes in the music. After some indecision I decided to stay with the base colors that you see in the first image of the right panel.  I then matched the structural changes I had made with the left panel which brought the two canvases closer together. Finally, by again using multiple transparent layers of blue-green colors, I was able to bring the right panel into a good color balance.

At this stage I now have two panels that work well together, and hopefully will work towards representing the huge range in the performances of this music. Between The Beatles original  version, and the most obvious cover by Joe Cocker, you can understand the difficulty in choosing a musical direction for this artwork.  These two completely different, and wonderful interpretations of this music, left no choice for  me but to borrow from each. With luck I will create an artwork, that when finished,  will represent the wide range of this classic sixties music.

The Beatles from the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Joe Cocker from the album Mad Dogs and Englishmen. I remember distinctly having, and enjoying this two record album, when it first came out in 1970


Scott Von Holzen



S_V_H With a little help from my friends image 1

helpFromMyFriends_1This is the first image of With a little help from my friends. What made this good Beatles song great was this performance by Joe Cocker at Woodstock, in 1969:

The following  gives you, an documents for me,  a little detail about my working technique, beyond applying paint to canvas:

To entertain me, I of course, am always playing and listening to music in the background in my studio.  When I start a new artwork, I search my music collection for the music,  and then add other versions, by different artists that cover the music. I do this because at the start of a new work session, I listen to the music that accompanies the artwork, to get a better feel of the mood of the music, that then helps me choose what color range to work in. Listening to only one song, even though I might have a dozen covers, still gets boring soon. What I do then as in With a little help from my friends, I pick one word, such as ‘help’,  and then I see what songs in my catalog use that word.  In that way I get a lot of music about help, and helping, which, relates to the music for this artwork. Of the 20,000 plus songs that I have in my iTunes, I pulled 76 songs that have the word help in the song title or in the information for that song.

I have eight versions of With A Little Help From My Friends, mostly by Joe Cocker. Here is a partial list of the other songs from my With A Little Help From My Friends Play List:
I Need you, It’s Only Love, The Night Before, Help!, all from the album Help! by the Beatles, I Can’t Help Myself, The Four Tops, I Just Can’t Help Believin’, by Elvis Presley, Helpless, a big cover song, Neil Young, K. D Lang, The Band, by Crosby, Stills & Nash,  Help Me, by Joni Mitchel and Johnny Cash, You Can’t Help Me Now, by one of my favorites, Amiee Mann, I’m Free (Heaven Helps The Man), by Kenny Loggins, Heaven Help Me, Gretchen Wilson, Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man, by Billie Holiday, For the Good Times, by Kris Kristofferson,  Help Me Make It Through The Night, also by Kris Kristofferson, Can I Get Some Help, by James Brown, Mother’s Little Helper, The Rolling Stones, Can’t Help Falling In love, by UB40, Let’s All Help the Cowboys, by Waylon Jennings, Heaven Help Me, by Wynonna Judd, Help Me, by Van Morrison, and how could I leave out B. B. King and Help the Poor, Crying Won’t Help You, Outside Help,and the Beach Boys, Help Me Rhonda.  The list goes on.

meOnBikeHere is how I connect the picture of me with my bike and my art. For exercise I travel a six-mile route, averaging around five-minute miles. What makes the course interesting is near the end I have a small hill and then a large hill to climb. The small hill is the warm up. The big hill I cannot bike up it, although I do walk up it.  Instead I approach the big hill from the backside, which is has a more gradual pitch to the top, and an exciting down the front ride.  Of course the backside trip still is extremely demanding. What I have learned to help me overcome this climb is that as I start to climb the steep part of the hill I tilt my head down looking at my front wheel and only a few feet in from of me.  By doing this I lose the sense of the height of the incline, and focus only on pedaling through the next few feet in front of me.  And it works, when suddenly I am at the top of the hill,  and can than relax.  That is also how I approach this art by focusing on the artwork in front of me and not the next great art project or what I should do to become the truly fine, and known, artist I wish to become. In biking I  hill climb by seeing only the road in front of my wheel.  In art I do much the same: I follow the road in front of me.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H No Rain Final Image

 No Rain_Final

This is the final image a tribute painting to the music of Blind Melon, called No Rain.  What is different about this artwork is that I did not follow my normal flow pattern for the music:  horizontally from left to right. Rarely does it move vertically, which this artwork does.  In No Rain the music flows left to right starting with the top left panel. It then hops over to the top right panel. The music flow then moves, left to right across the larger bottom panel.  In order to improve the logic of this flow I decided to physically mount each panel at a different depth, creating a step movement in this work.

The following  side image shows these changes in canvas depth:

Side View No Rain

I did not have to do it this way.  An alternative design, typical of this art, would have been one longer horizontal combination of panels.  I could have also created a horizontal stepped look (actually never considered) to this work following such examples as this years Birthday Painting, and last years  Up on The Roof.  I choose neither of these paths, and at first I could not remember my original thinking about this artwork.  Then I remembered: if you listen to the music you will hear a  series of short pauses after the word ‘escape.’  What it  came down to was I wanted to create an artwork without displaying these stops in the music flow.  And yet I wanted to keep up the logical movement of the music across this artwork.  I realized I could reach these goals by placing each  ‘escape’ on a different level.

It all came down to this reasoning:  what convinced me to paint this music was the word, ‘escape.’  I wanted this artwork to focus entirely on that repeated word, and  so I eliminated the rests. The pauses are actually still there, it is in the change in-depth between the three canvases. I accomplished what the music does, but in my way.  I think any viewer who sees this work and says that word three times, will understand and find their own meaning  in this artwork. I know I did.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H No Rain by Blind Melon image 4


In image four you are seeing the colors from the video that will dominate the music. I could not resist taking the colors from the girls bumblebee outfit, that starts the video, for the background.  Now, I cannot help but transition, as the video does, to the brighter greens, yellows, and blues, for the music. If it was not for the music video I do not think I would have ever used these color contrasts between the browns, and bright blues and greens.  Now, it is important to assure this artwork ‘s success,  that I find ways to transition the background colors into the music colors.  This approach would be similar to what happens in the video.

The video starts with the bumblebee girl in a world that is neither kind nor understands her. Eventually she finds her way out of that disappointing,  and  drab world into a new reality filled with color, music and dancing.  This low quality video can have a deeper meaning than that of a 90’s musical group, portraying their version of a 60’s Peace, Love, and Rock en Roll band out in the country for the day.  Maybe, this video speaks to the magic of music to rescue people’s lives.  Here is that video again:

If this video is about transition, then in its simple, predictable way, I would say, it speaks to my belief in the power of music to change people’s lives, for a few moments, or even a life time.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H No Rain by Blind Melon image 3


This is a tribute painting to Blind Melon’s 1992  No Rain. This update is showing you the music flow. The two shades of blue for the music come from the shirt and jeans worn by Shannon Hoon, the voice of No Rain.  In my own little comparison of Bind Melon to Canned Heat, Shannon Hoon, died of a drug overdose at 28, in 1995, while Alan Wilson from Canned Heat,  the singer of Going up to the Country that became know as the unofficial theme song from the original Woodstock festival, died also of a drug overdose at 27, in 1970.


You can see in this side image how the music flows up from the canvas, and then back down on the bottom panel. I like that idea,  because for me unlike what you see in the any sheet music, the music when played becomes a unique experience to the listener.  No two live performances are the same, as well as no two artists singing the same music will sound the same. That is the key to understanding this art. I am presenting, like I do with any of the music I chose,  a single performance as an artwork.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H No Rain by Blind Melon image 2

No Rain image 2This is No Rain image 2 with the background completed for now.  Here is the album cover again so you can see some similarities, in stripping and colors.

blindMelonAgain,  this is a difficult artwork to visualize because the three canvases you are seeing are physically on different levels You can see these steps better with this side view of No Rain.

No Rain Side View

This background, that is a part of the trend lately, is rough in appearance. You are not seeing a lot of clean solid coloring. You are seeing  more transparency in the layering of colors, which creates uneven looks,  and variety in shading.  You are looking at an edgy, feisty, muddled, slipshod background,  but one that is organized in its mood, and presentation.  This I will counter when I portray the music in solid colors, and softer shading, like what you see in the video.

The music is next, so it will be off to the work shop to cut out the thirteen pieces needed to represent this music

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H No Rain by Blind Melon image1

norain_1This is the artwork, No Rain, a tribute to the music of Blind Melon. This artwork consists of three panels of stretched canvas. The largest panel is 20 x 24 inches, and the two smaller upper canvases are each 12 x 16 inches. What I have done special here is that the flow of the music will be from the back canvas to the most forward canvas. It is hard to see in the image, but the upper left panel is two steps back, while the upper right is one step back, from the larger lower panel.

In this first image of the background you are seeing what an artwork looks like when you want to cover up the white of the canvas. Much of what you see will soon disappear under layers of brown,  yellow, and yellow gold paint based on the Blind Melon album cover:blindMelonThe album offers limited interest which works for the background,  only.  It is the Blind Melon’s video of No Rain, with its use of lighter, brighter  greens and blues, which I will used  for the music.

I chose this music specifically because of the words I picked to be displayed on this artwork. Those three words are ‘escape,’ ‘escape,’ and the third word is also ‘escape.’ Part of the reasoning is my mood, but mostly I chose ‘escape’  for that word repeated offers up a world of interpretation for the viewer.

Also, I chose this music because this group reminds me of a favorite group of mind from the sixties, Canned Heat.  Although I never purchased their albums, their music on the Woodstock album made a lasting impression. The reason I never purchased their music back then is because I was on fairly  sparse budget as a college student in Madison.  Each album buying decision was always a debate. I do remember having the money for some of the biggest artists, such as Ray Charles, or the Beatles  and their White Album.  I believe I paid around twelve dollars for that Beatles double album. I then taped it on my big reel to reel recorder and sold it.

Scott Von Holzen



S_V_H Sweet Little Angel final image

sweetLittleAngel_finalSweet Little Angel came together, as an artwork, following by painting of this years Birthday artwork, Losing my Edge.  Before the Birthday painting,  the painting technique that I used for those vertical shafts that follow the music,  came from a fairly consistent past. The first step I would do would be to put down a base color, letting it dry. Then next I would spread, drying between layers, other colors.  What changed with the Birthday painting is that I did not wait for each layer to dry.  This new technique is to spread one color, and then another,  mixing them while still wet.

Returning to Sweet Angel, I then decided to paint over the shafts I had already finished. What I did different from Losing me Edge,  was to use an extremely heavy white first coat.  Then while that was still wet I would worked in a blue color that quickly tinted.  I liked this added thickness, that increased the depth of the work,  and I like the mixing of  wet colors mix that resulted in some interesting, and random looks.

The second difference that occurred in Sweet Angel, that came from the Birthday painting, was the drip painting I did all along that top curved line in the center panel.  Up to this work I have had the feeling that I was being a little rigid in the way I handled, what they call in the music world, the slurs and ties. This new method frees me up to better match the diversity that is music.

Sweet Little Angel will always be remembered for being the first work to use wooden cutouts for the flow of the music. This great Blues tune, painted in a variety of blue colors,  gives this artwork a great overall looked that matches its genre, that is further enhanced by the center panel with its contrasting tints of magenta.  This is a good painting, that easily goes beyond being a “good job.”

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Losing me Edge final image

losing My Edge  _10This is the Final image of Losing my Edge.  The end came quickly, as everything came together.  Later, after my Birthday Dinner, I will go over the artwork and do touch up, and sign the back.  This was an interesting artwork much more experimental than my typical Birthday painting. This Birthday painting turn out to be a complicated project.  I am glad I took the extra day to paint this work. Doing it all in one day would have been too much.  I will have one more entry about this years Birthday painting, with a video discussing the artwork, and why I pick this music.


losingMyEdge_11Here is a view of this artwork from an angle so that it shows how the music floats about the background


Scott Von Holzen