S_V_H We Belong final image

weBelong_finalWe Belong is finished. This is a commissioned work in which I learned about the women of 80’s rock.  To my surprise I knew, and remembered, more music from that time than I would have ever thought.  Creating this artwork was fun, enlightening, and a nostalgic look back to decade when I bought my first CD player, and  CDs starting with Steve Winwood’s Back in the High Life.

We Belong is sung by Pat Benatar, one of the best solo female rockers , who in the late 70’s early 80’s presented herself as an independent,  feisty, tough, defiant, aggressive, woman with a commanding sexuality, and flawless femininity.   I thought, oh my god, how do I paint that. Thankfully, the music is the foundation of this artwork and not a single artist or a performance.  We Belong certainly does accommodate Pat Benatar’s  musical style,  but like each artwork they evolve,  and finish presenting their own performance.



Scott Von Holzen

purpleRain_FPurple Rain (late April)

Before We Belong I had the feeling that my style was becoming rather redundant.  Painting Purple Rain did help.  Because of my musical appreciation for Prince,  I felt some comfort doing  different twists of old ideas that where fun and that worked.  Then We Belong followed,  and I walked into the disruption I needed to get me out of this boring style rut.  Unlike in past when other artists paintings had given me new direction, this time I stumbled on a new path when I viewed my first Pat Benatar ‘s music videos.

It was my client who specifically mention Pat Benatar and who suggested We Belong.  I agreed to do the artwork knowing that at best I had heard Pat Benatar on the radio. My history of music in the 80s is that MTV was a premium cable channel, and my CD collection leaned hard towards Prince and Madonna. In short, I knew her name not the music.  To prepare for the artwork, for the first time I watched Pat Benatar’s 80’s performances.  By watching videos, researching her story, and listening to her radio station on Pandora,  I developed a fuller picture of this 80’s rock star.   A part of that discovery, that captured  my fascination,  was how much the color black dominated, in her dress, and in the darkness of her stage performances.  It became obvious to me that to create We Belong I would have to paint with a color I never use before, black.

Black,  from the beginnings of this art, never appears on my pallet. It was because of the influenced of the Impressionistic painters, who like Monet,  that never used black, that I shunned it, using  a dark blue when needed. Only recently have I experimented with black decoratively in the Waylon Jennings artwork.   In We Belong, because of the influence of Pat Benatar,  I realized that black would have to step out of the shadows.  To meet my client’s expectations, and mine I saw the color  black dominating this entire artwork.  To accomplish that I covered the entire canvases with multiple layers of  Carbon Black to form a solid shade, that becomes my look of a horizontal monolith. Next, I had to consider how to apply the stripping.

In Purple Rain there the two areas of especially interesting  stripping, that because of their size and placement,  followed the flow of the music.  I realized  that covering the entire We Belong with stripping, which happens in Purple Rain would not work. I did realize that only doing the stripping to follow the music, as in Purple Rain, would be enough to be  a foundation for the music to hang on.  Doing no more stripping the color black in We Belong still dominates and keeps it inline with the style of Pat Benatar.


We Belongs influence shows in this years Birthday painting, Cherish.  The Birthday painting is always under pressure from a short timeline to complete.  Continuing the trend started in We Belong save time and planning.  Cherish turn out to be a basic artwork that like We Belong gets its message across using simple elegance.  That is the difference between it and the more decorative Purple Rain. I never thought that a singer would affect the style of this art, but a feisty 80s rock singer did just that.

cherish_finishedCherish (July 31st)


S_V_H We Belong image 3

weBelong_3We Belong  is starting to show of her charms.  All the parts of this music are now in place, which is always a major accomplishment for any artwork.  The color black along with shades of gray define this artwork, and the singer Pat Benatar.  To add depth to this look,  interest, and excitement to this painting, I am going to add a number of small, mostly curved wood shapes.  In contrast to the major neutral colors these add-ons, done in the  colors that define the eighties will soften, and enlarge the feminine.

Each of these artworks pushes this genre a bit more forward.  As long as the passion, and the need to know remains strong,  that is the direction I am heading. The one thing I am beginning to understand is that although I care deeply about each of these paintings, I know I can let them go if the time comes.  I am sure of that, for I believe it is this art,  that is leading me around the next corner, to the next piece of music, that will become the next painting,  that will steal my heart away, letting me, once more, feel seventeen again.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H We Belong Image 2

weBelong_2We Belong, is taking on that 80’s Pat Benatar look.  I knew her music, but in the 80’s I was more a Madonna, and Prince kind-of-a-guy.  Now, since this is a commission work I have had to take a fresh hard look at Pat Benatar,  her music, and influence on other women rockers of the 80’s.  My updated impressions of her  is that she certainly was an attractive performer,  brash, with a great voice.  I am referring to her  early 80’s hard rock voice which was deeper, less refined, and raspy,   that makes me think of the older Sarah Vaughn, without the range.

Here is an example of the early Rocker Pat Benatar before she went pop, We Belong,  followed by a comparison (only a  little) of one of the greatest singers ever, Sarah Vaughn.

Regrettably,  with an extreme amount of others things that need to be done, We Belong is slowly moving along.  Next up,  I will be adding more of the 80’s color look into the artwork, in the form of a lot of small wooden shapes. That will add interest and bring the music, and the background together.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H We Belong image 1

weBelong_1Here is the first image of a classic Pat Benatar song We Belong. This is prime Eighties music. This artwork consists of three canvas panels with a length of 52 inches by 16 inches in height.  Looking at this first image of We Belong, the background is a surprisingly sparse in comparison  with earlier works, with a solid black color dominating the artwork and not the stripping.   The influence for this first image for We Belong comes from the Bach Aria artwork I did for Japan.

This is American Pie from 2010, that the Bach client picked for a template. It did not surprise me that they prefer my older style. What did surprise me was the required amount of  adjustment made by everyone involved to make the older look work in 2016.


When we reached agreement on the background style and coloring, I than went even further back for another idea found in this Mozart work.  It is in this early 2006 artwork where I used a wide stripping to resemble my take on the musical staff or stave:


Here is a musical staff used in sheet music:


All these adjustments  resulted in a contemporary retro artwork the  Bach Aria work, 2016,


Now, free from the need for approval, I took the Grand Bach painting ideas and simplified the entire background with the color black that works well with this artist.


This is the 1984 music video of We Belong.

I could not find a live early 80’s.  This is the best of live versions from 2001:

Scott Von Holzen