S_V_H Martha My Dear upgrade

What the visitor needs to know:

Photo 1: This is the revised image upgrade of music box Martha My Dear from late 2021, now supported with a stretched canvas frame. The artwork’s original aluminum frame is in front.
Photo 2: This is the artwork still attached to the original aluminum frame.
Photo 3: These are the three 20 inch by 24 inch wide stretched canvases that were used for this upgrade. They were a perfect fit for the canvas.
Photo 4: This is the backside of the finished revision of the music box Martha my dear. Since the stereo system was removable from the aluminum frame, I did just that and easily connected it with longer screws to the wood frame of the canvas.


Going Deeper:


I never felt that this canvas hung well with the magnets to the aluminum frame. Although the aluminum frame was sturdy enough to support the two sides and the heavy speaker boxes, the overall artwork structure, I felt, was weak. That was the main reason to update this artwork’s support, with three bolted together stretched canvases. The artwork now feels stronger and sturdier, allowing the canvas to sit smoother and flatter against the canvas.

Martha my Dear the original finished artwork photo from December 2021
Martha My dear revised image L110″ x H31″ x D6″
Here is a sample of my cover for Martha my Dear.

Roger's poem:
My younger Brother Roger passed away a year ago this last August. In a tribute to him I wrote a story poem that took months to complete. At his celebration of life, this last June 4th, I read it aloud, with encouragement and support from my family. I believe this poem contains universal relatable moments and meanings about the difficulties of losing someone close to you. It offers an understanding that loss is not about moving on. Instead, it is a story poem about the choice of moving ahead in life with them.

(This poem is in fifteen parts or sections and with each new blog post, there will be added one additional part. I am currently posting sections 1-11)


Roger’s poem

The sun in winter
is all too short.
Who knew as you move through our lives,
that yours would follow the winter sun.

Winter arrests time
for thought and reflection
that February afternoon.
Dressed for warmth
we venture out,
Into the soft light,
surrounded by stillness,
not an oak leaf stirring. 

The cold of that yesterday
 is heard in the crackling crunch
 of fresh fallen snow, 
 as I straddled previous steps
 along a well-worn path,
 deep into the woods.

Although I think
we are alone,
Zelda knows better,
her actions are telling. 
Life and the deer are about. 
Stopping with her tail up,
head sharply flipping, 
to-and-fro sensing something_, 
I also pause,
feeling a stirring in the air.
With her nose to the snow, 
Zelda looks to turn off the known path, 
to explore another trail, 
far less traveled. 
Her interest, I cannot foresee,
or know where it leads. 

Before I can call her back
to the safe way forward,
Winter freezes my momentum,
with a stinging breeze
across my cheeks,
breaking the silence,
awakening concerns.
Had I dressed warm enough?
I feel and pat
my coat,
all was there.
Then it came to me,
that it was not the cold,
but the wind, returning to me
moments once set
quietly away.
I wondered why on a
cold Winter’s Day
on this made-up path,
at this crossroad
in these common woods, 
this walk halted,
by an unforeseen breeze
sending a shiver
tumbling inside, 
then out into the light.
Why over all my many memories,
did I find this one exposed
from beneath Winter’s blanket_,
a consciousness,
an awareness,
that once_, 
was you? 

But time was fleeting.
I had let pass 
the diminishing forest light
and our late start.
Fearing the coming darkness
will hide this path,
I call Zelda back
to the safe way home. 
For Home is where we want to be. 
What choice have I,
but to be on our way. 
We had to turn back,
for time does not. 
I could only turn away. 

Those moments have passed
this another Winter’s Day,
although the cold
is harder to ignore,
our routine beckons. 
Although she cares less,
I dressed Zelda in a purple coat
and I in my heaviest hooded jacket,
thankful that each new walk
the sun grows nearer,
and longer,
and the return less concerning.  

Along the way
Zelda repeats her many stops,
on our well-walked path. 
And for a distance
all seems as it should,
until the quiet is interrupted
by a strong gust
pressing against my coat,
pausing our step. 
I feel this air’s warmth, 
as I look to see Zelda stopped ahead, 
her ears pushed back 
by the wind, standing at that 
barely a crossroad 
from yesterday. 
Her brown nose twitching 
in this comforting air. 
Although surprised 
to see her at this divide, 
I have a smile of déjà vu, 
by a long-ago line, 
from a well-used book of poetry 
now gathering dust, 
from the poet Robert Frost__, 
“Two roads diverged in a wood…” 
Two roads, 
in a wood. 
that is all I recalled. 
With a sigh and interest 
I pursue 
this other trail upwards, 
to see it following 
the rush of rolling clouds, 
knowing soon these winter paths 
will turn to mud, 
preventing our return, 
until the frozen has left. 
Thus beginning the awakening, 
ending Winter’s parsing of time, 
with days merging all too quickly. 
We will lose ourselves 
to work to be done, 
and unforeseen tasks, 
demands and bills to pay, 
that surely will come. 

Though today 
Winter still decides, 
in the fast blanketing 
approach of low clouds 
bursting with snow 
and ice pellets, 
pirouetting down to us, 
if in an effort 
to hide our way, 
on this favored path. 

But wait! 
Where is Zelda? 
I see her brown eyes turned away 
as she slow trots 
along the untrampled path. 
Concerned I call her back 
when from behind 
I am shoved stepping forward, 
by a distant hum  
that becomes a gusting woosh, 
shaking the treetops, 
that then fads slowly 
to a murmuring sound, 
all so astonishingly familiar, 
awakening a time 
thought placed away_, 
when I held your hand, 
my eyes focus on your whispered breath, 
not knowing what would be your last_. 
Until now. 

For Winter’s calmness has returned.
And I am hearing only
my own breathing. 
And although I know 
that this air we can no longer share, 
as if to awaken
Winter’s silence, 
I inhale deeply in, 
then out that which gives me life, 
in a last hope, 
it may find you, 
and I may again 
hear a whisper of you_,
still here. 
sections 1-11 of fifteen.....to be continued.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Martha my Dear take 2 final image

This is a follow up video showing an actual finished artwork. I forgot to create the incidentals for the music box. Those add-ons include a sharp, a flat, a tie, a couple of flags, and four beams. They are there to give music box more of a musical look that is common in sheet music. Although not as much with this artwork, all those little additions add interest and are decorative. The video discusses this and the sampling process used for the visual part of this portrait of a song.

For many years, whatever musical phrase I picked for the subject, that is what I would paint. When I added sound, I continued with that idea, painting the entire length of the music. As my musical skill and interest increased, it became apparent that I had to either reduce the size of the music that I was portraying or increase the size of the artwork. The ever-increasing length and composition of the cover music was growing. For the viewer this also made it increasingly difficult to follow the music and the visual together. The problem was that the music had involved to be as important as the artwork that was portraying it.

To get hold of what I was creating, I set a one minute thirty second maximum time limit on the music. Then, from that cover music, I would select a piece, or a sample, to portray as the visual. Hopefully, this will keep these artworks to a length, and a construction timeline, that I can handle.

I see it this way: full-length paintings of portraits are few in numbers compared, for example, with portraits from the waist up. It is like the portrait painter is sampling the image of a person. My music paintings and now my music boxes are, and have always been portraits of a song.

In the video I give the viewer, awkwardly, an example of how the music is represented in the visual. I have nothing else to add to that except this entire process of combing the visual art with performance art is continuing to continue to be a continuing evolution. So it goes.

Scott Von Holzen

Here is the finished Music Box music for Martha My Dear

S_V_H Martha my Dear putting it together

Here is another put-together video of my latest Music Box Martha my Dear.

The canvas is six feet, but it is only twenty inches in width. That turned out to be a little tight. When I made this video, I had not attached the industrial Velcro I use along the top edge to prevent the canvas from sliding between the magnets. What happened when I attached the small upper piece to the right, the weight of the music pulled the canvas down. The magnets attached to the music were at the very top of the frame and the canvas. Making it even more difficult to hand is that the music built for this artwork is larger than previous works. This created a similar problem with the large centerpiece of the music, with it, the magnets, and canvas all seating along the bottom edge. This is a lesson learned. I wanted to see if I could attach the music to narrower pieces of canvas. What I learned is that a wider canvas would have made it easier to arrange the music, and that I should avoid trying to attach the music to either the top or the bottom of the canvas. For this work, I will figure out how to better arrange the music away from the edges of the canvas. Along with the added Velcro for support, this artwork should make for an interesting and enjoyable Music Box for the viewer to view and play. If that opportunity eventually presents itself. So it is.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Martha my Dear, the raw Audio test

I use the software Notion that is part of my DAW, StudioOne, to create the notation for what will eventually be my final cover version of the music used in this artwork’s music box. The instruments in Notion are decent, but I can improve the sound of my cover music substantially in StudioOne. Having the Notion version play on my newly build stereo system is part of the testing I do, to hear what improvements are needed.

Although I have paid for a cover license for this music for the minimum of 25 copies, I will only have this one music box and this one final version of this music. If the Powers-to-be of YouTube complain about the music, I will then switch this video from Public to Private, on YouTube, but the link to this video will still work.

The only purpose of this video is to be a part of the documentation of this art’s progress. Nothing more is relevant. I have over 100 videos over the last nine years, with many with no or only a few views. I do not have the time, nor do I want to spend the time to cater to the “Like” button. All of my videos, which become clearly apparent, are as raw as can be. I prefer it that way. I have said, I hope I never go viral. The cost to me and to this art would be too high if that happens in followup wasted time. My focus is this Art and never to be another one-hit-wonder. So it is.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Martha my Dear image 3

Martha my Dear on the table. Behind left is J S Bach Minuet in G major, followed by You were on My Mind, followed by a self-portrait date 1975, and up against the wall is Schindler’s List.

In this photo I am showing how the artwork could fit laid across the metal frame that I created to hold the six-foot canvas that is up on a canvas support. Behind this canvas is my previous artwork, Chopin’s Prelude.

The 20Watt Stereo system I developed for this art with more wiring left to do.

This is the stereo system that I put together to power the two four-inch speakers that will be mounted on the sides. All the parts to this amplifier have to be soldered and wired together. Each time I put together this stereo system, it is an emotional and tense operation. There are a lot of small precise soldering to be done. I have gotten better over time but each solder I attempt is a touchy moment. Hard to do considering my steady hand could use a hand. What allows me the opportunity to make such small connections is my near sightedness. To solder I remove my contacts, and put on my glasses. Then when soldering, I remove my glasses, put on protective lenses. This then allows my nearsightedness to focus clearly on what I am attempting to do. Even though I do not have the steadiest hand, I get it done. Much of yesterday involved planning, soldering and placement of the components on a board that will be installed on the backside of the artwork.

After using my original Blog Template for the last eleven years, I was told by this site’s support that my theme, Chaotic Soul, was no longer supported. After some research I found one free theme, Hemingway Rewritten, that was a glove fit with my original theme. I forgot that switching themes requires a bit of CSS (a program’s style sheet) to bring a theme up to the operational level I need it to be. I made some quick strides and will tweak this site’s look and functionality over the next few months. So it goes.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Martha my Dear, the Canvas image

This image of the music box, Martha my Dear, shows the 6 foot by 20 inches canvas and the first step in my process of painting this canvas. Below the canvas are the two stretched 12x16inch speaker box canvases. This background image turned out to be all wrong for this project. I applied a different technique for the background. That was an awful choice.

The background colors exist to appear only when I scrap away the top layer. Any specific design of the background colors is unnecessary. When I scratch, what I want to see is a diverse mixed of colors that add interest and contrast to the top layer of paint. A third rate abstraction style is all that is required to make that happen. But I choose fancy instead of practical, and this project fell off the easel.

This did not become blatantly obvious until after the music was applied. I did not apply the top layer of titanium white heavy enough, which allowed the background and the blacks to show through. Then I made things worse when I used a darker gray color for the words. I realized I needed to lighten and reduce the contrast of the canvas. What I had left to finish was the scratching of the top layer of paint. That went as expected, and the contrast of the art was softened but fell short of expectations. I sensed failure. I was looking at a canvas that needed to look like the Beatles album cover that contained the song, Martha My Dear, disc one, side two, first song. It did not.

The Beatles’ White Album is entirely white except for their name in a light gray. That is the template I originally wanted for this canvas. Here is my seventies copy of the White Album (lighten up to better represent its original look). Sadly, as a cash poor college student, I sold my original release album once I copied it to my reel-to-reel tape recorder.

Out of desperation I repainted over the existing words with layers of titanium white. I then repainted the words using a lighter gray. That improved the look, but the original background still existed under all this paint. That meant I could not re-scratch this top layer. Instead, I gazed over the canvas with light applications of white gesso. That was the softening technique that worked. The scratching still shows, but it is now white and white now dominates this canvas. When I placed samples of my music up against the canvas, that was the moment I knew I could now move on. So it goes.

(after taking this last image, I later applied a white glaze to soften the two speaker boxes)

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Martha my Dear first image

This first image of Martha my Dear is of pile of music that I carefully built. Laid end-to-end the music is, oh! That measurement came to twelve feet, seen in the image below. Hum? From the start of this project the plan was to control the amount of music and therefore its length, knowing that the canvas was only 72 inches. Hum?

Warning! All the next stuff is kinda geeky. The main purpose of this blog is to document this art. Any entertaining value is strictly accidental. Besides, I would never want this art, these blog entries, or my videos to-go “viral,” This is out of fear of becoming a one-hit-wonder and/or bad timing for my eventual 15 minutes of fame option.

Anyway, what I have to work with is a roll of heavy primed canvas the length of six feet and my choice to cut the canvas at twenty inches in width. Luckily, I have two options, with one being building two connected six-foot canvases frames. Seems like a lot of work. Or, what I will do, which is to reduce the length of an artwork by meshing the music together.

Here then are three basic sketch ideas. Each of these resulted in a project length of around 102 inches. That is easily workable with the addition of the two speaker boxes attached on both ends of the canvas frame. These boxes will also be out front of the canvas, with music attached allowing the music on the canvas to slide under, reducing overall length. An example of this would be the left side of the last image of the Chopin Prelude music box.

This next image is my about time to move-on-lets-work-on-the-canvas-next.

But first here is my final “sketch” for this next music box. To add documentation, I rarely have done any drawing of any preliminary sketches for my music projects. I have several sketchbooks I used when I first started out as a portrait painter back in the 1970s. Since then, I have simply preferred photography over the pencil.

This last preliminary image shows I can attach all the music to a measured six feet by twenty-inch canvas, along with the added speaker boxes.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H Martha my Dear musicBox project

I am posting early to document this process. The image below is part of the sheet music I put together. I am using the notation software Notion that is a part of StudioOne, the DAW used for the final soundtrack. This worksheet is dated November 20th. By putting in the hours needed I found to my surprise that the draft of this music was done after a bit of tweaking today. This sheet music will then be my template to create the visual part of the artwork. The circled parts of the image below show the music that I will build. The choice of notes was made the same as it has always been: I look for an interesting part of the arrangement that has a good start and finish that will fit the artwork. Today’s projects, I no longer am concerned about the fitting the music to the artwork. That is because I don’t want the artwork to fit anymore. Moving the music outside the canvas makes for an open and improvisational look. This is art without borders.

Page 2 of 3 of the Martha my Dear worksheet date 11/2012021

The sheet music is what the artwork samples. To explain, I create and when required; I pay for the right to create a cover for the music. From that cover I then choose a sample and that is what the viewer sees. I then import the sheet music notation from Notion into StudioOne. With a few days of work the music will be finished. Notion works great to produce a musical draft. StudioOne then takes that Notion file to a professional level. Its only limitation is the skill of this artist.

Notation software draft of Martha my Dear

I am not trying to overestimate the quality of this shorten by a minute cover of this great Beatles song from their White Album. The same White Album that I stood in line on a November day at the record store on State Street in Madison, Wisconsin, the day of its release. Nor am I trying to denigrate this fabulous piece of music by chopping it up into smaller pieces visually and in the performance. No, this project and the others like it, which I now refer to as musicBox instead of Interactive Constructive sculpture, are challenged by the typical viewer’s attention span.

A lengthy piece of music can lose a viewer’s interest waiting for the song to end. They can simply walk away, not comprehending what they are looking at or what is being heard. There will be many viewers, especially younger ones, and listeners who have never heard of this music, or do not connect to the music. Shortening helps, but the music, no matter the quality or the length, means more to me than another cover song. No, this music exists as a voice of an artist extending a finger forward. I am a bright shiny object. If you ever get the chance Push the button. I do.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H I Will final image

I Will L41″ x H27″ x D3″

I have finished the second version of the music I Will.  The video below talks about the two versions of this project and the differences in the music.

What makes this artwork unique is the experimental technique of scraping off the top layer of paint, reviewing the painted layer below.  The creation of this procedure gives to me my own abstract style.  Dealing with backgrounds has been a big pain since the beginning of this art.  The music needs to be on something and that dilemma has been the struggle and the driving force behind this arts innovation.  Although there is still some testing and trial and certain errors to come, I believe after fourteen years of changing background styles I now have a straight path forward.

I like to follow up on what I have said concerning what the viewer is to do when standing in front of the artwork and then playing the music.  Originally,  I wanted the viewer to listen to the music and visually follow the flow of the music that is the artwork.  That made sense. The viewer could then see how the music and the artwork related to each other, which was a founding reason I wanted to paint music.  That reasoning worked great as long as it was up to the viewer to find the music on their own.  They then needed to figure out by listening to the music exactly when and what the artwork flow was displaying.   That all changed when I added the music.  My first push of a button was the first four notes of Beethoven’s 5th symphony.  With that change, I made it a lot easier for the viewer to follow along with the flow of the artwork.  That relief did not last long.

Because this art is living and growing, new changes came along.  I found better computer software to create notation, and that included higher quality computer versions of instruments.   It did not take long for me to create a notation that used multiple instruments representing the flow you see in the artwork.  A good example of this is the wonderful 2019 artwork, Will The Circle Be Broken.


Then came the awakening that shocked me: this art and the music in it had grown to where I could not follow consistently along with the music and the artwork.  If I could not what hope would there be for the causal viewer?  Not being able to follow the flow of the music of the artwork left me with the question of how the viewer was to interact with the artwork?  I had made a great advance with this art, but unintentionally I created a conflict between enjoying looking at the artwork and listening to music.  With the presence of a button to push to play the music, I had created artwork that interconnected sight and sound.  For now, unless I figure out something else, I recommend the viewer keep the two senses separate.  Look at the artwork as a representation of a song in color and form.  Then press the button and enjoy the music for what it represents,  the sound of art.

Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H I Will, The Artist version image 1

To save time and planning, I designed this artwork, I Will, from what I learned from Where Have All The Flowers Gone.  The plan with the Artist version of I Will was to use the first I will as the template to speed everything along.  Even though I still have finishing work to do on the first I Will, for now, I am setting it aside.  It is difficult for me to work on two artworks at once, although I created all the wooden stems and the music for both works together.  That was as far as my joint effort lasted.   I have now moved on to the Artist version of I Will.

This second, I Will, be larger.  The first used two 6 inch by 12 inch canvases.  For this second work I am using two 12 by 24 inch canvases and have increased the length six inches.  My main take-away from the first I Will was to use it as a guide especially for the colors and overall design.  The difference between the two artworks is the painting of the background canvases.   On the first, I Will,  I used layers of glazes to paint the canvases.  While, on the Artist version of I Will, I am using a new and unproven technique on the two canvases, and along with the music.  This new method allows me to scratch away the top painted white layer to reveal, unexpectantly the color rich layer below.   I can remove the top paint layer, for example, with the edge of a pallet knife without damaging the abstract layer below.  In this first image, the top layer is white.  All the colors showing are from the bottom layer.  I like this look and technique, but I have concerns.  The top white layer is soft, too soft.  Rubbing that layer off could become an accidental issue.  I have applied two layers of glossy clear glaze in hope to strengthen the adherence of the paint.   In time, this canvas surface will probably harden, but for now handling with extra care is important.

Once I finely tune this scratching technique, then I think I can say that I have finally found my personal Abstraction style.  Before this, my best abstract technique was a version of Gerhard Ritcher’s squeegee technique.  Having an artwork, that is not a major project,  was the incentive to set aside the first I Will and to try out some ideas with Artist version of I Will (the wrath of Kahn).   Removing paint after I have applied it is not the only idea I am trying out new with this artwork.

This is the first artwork since I started painting music,  that I have abandoned the standard horizontal flow you see in the lines of sheet music. Every artwork before in varying degrees shares some semblance with the style of artist Mark Rothko, whose floating images, that resembled sheet music, that gave me my starting point in early 2006.

Sheet music staff lines

In my early days when I showed my musical artworks to others, the main take away I received was that this art would only appeal to musicians.  That was what I heard over and over, and I may have agreed with that.  My thinking was that there were a lot of musicians and songwriters, along with a large group of people who understood and love music.  It was later that I began promoting the idea that this art could appeal to anyone who loves music. The ability to read sheet music no longer became a requirement to appreciate this art.  That change of thinking then allowed me to chip away at my connection with sheet music.  Over the early years and even to this day, it is my early artworks, such as Canon in D, that the public finds the most interesting.  The reasoning is that such works look more like sheet music.   When over the years I moved away from the look of sheet music, and all of its restrictions, the public and musicians all lost interest.  That market left the building.  It had to, because I wanted it to.  I could have stopped evolving and created clones of Canon in D (2009) or Imagine (2010), for example, which would have given me a nice lucrative niche in the art market.  But that was never my goal. Even after these many 10s of thousands of hours, that was never my plan.

Scott Von Holzen