S_V_H Mr. Brightside Final Image

mrbright_finalMr Brightside is finished and is the final painting from this temporary studio.  Over the last three months, from my Daughters children’s toy storage room I have also finished Burgundy Shoes,  and Ave Maria.  As I am writing this blog entry I am working on the setup of my new permanent studio, in a new home, in this new city.  So begins this new adventure with many new stories to come.   To quote Semisonic “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”


Once again, here is the video that inspired this artwork:

County Kerry Bar Sings ”Mr Brightside’ to Remember Lost Friend Ger Foley

Mr. Brightside is a simple song made up of mostly quarter and eighth notes in a fairly even pitch.  This than shows in the  musical flow, and in the solid blocks of color used in the background of the artwork. Besides using the colors from the video in the painting I wanted to represent the people and the spirit of the bar.  To do this I took my two eighth notes and added to them some left over wood pieces in different shapes and colors. I know that is not much, but that was all I had left after three months of working in a toy room.

Throughout the later part of my stay,  all through the day, no matter what I was working on, I would ask my Amazon assistant, Alexa, to play Mr. Brightside.  And she would respond “Playing Mr. Brightside.”  Then would come the guitar intro, and for some unknown reason I would feel instantly uplifted by this “feel-good” rock music, “I Never,..I Never…I Never,……..I Never………………………. This helped me through the last few weeks in the delightfully alien world of small children. “Bless their Hearts.”


Scott Von Holzen


S_V_H Mr. Brightside Image 1

mrbrightside_1This is the Wonderful, the uplifting, the emotional charged song,  Mr Brightside, that became more important  to paint once I watched this surprising video:

County Kerry Bar Sings ”Mr Brightside’ to Remember Lost Friend Ger Foley

It was in the last few months of my last and final “job”  that I stumbled on this video. Watching this musical tribute and seeing the camaraderie  brought back memories of the times when I  lived, and worked,  in Northern Wisconsin. It was Up North that I  found a lot of entertainment and friendships in my favorite bars and supper clubs.  Those days are now long gone, but I could not help but drag my co-worker friends (Pat, Kevin, and Matt)  into my office to listen and watch this video. I guess my intention was to share and re-live my past glories, but that did not happen. They watched and it turned out, to my disappointment,  that they were “all wet matches,” (a Mom quote).

Maybe they never drank and sang with friends in a local bar full of  like-minded strangers, or maybe being at work ruins the mood,  Or maybe I over-estimate people’s ability to “see beyond the end of their own noses”. That last “maybe” is a quote from my Mom.  Lastly, and probably the best answer “maybe” my work friends could give a “rats ass” (common phrased used by my Mother), that I valued our friendships.

Then on September 30th months after retiring from “job work” (my first job was while in grade school was I delivering Sunday newspapers in the Ashland Wisconsin winter), I again sent them this video, along with this tweet: “……..the “music” Is what brought us all together. Let us always celebrate the songs of our lifetime.” That move to awaken the walking dead was as silly as their responses.   “I am not going to hold my breath”,  then came to mind, another saying my Mom.   We all moved on to fresh silly bantering.

Obviously friendships have their limits.  Just for “shits and giggles” (must I tell you)  I can see us four friends all in a big white box, with each of us standing in our own secure corners with sarcasm as our only method of communication.  Hey, guy friendships kinda amounts to that level, which than levels off.  Still, I realize that such guy friendships do offer each of us a choice of different  rewards.

Maybe, for me, the real outcome of sharing this video was not to “maybe”  build  deeper connections with three friends, but only to slow the guilt of letting the past fade too quickly away, including losing touch with three valuable friends.

As you can see from this first image, I have taken my color scheme from the video. That tells me a lot about Music’s versatility: A great song can have many meanings, and create different reactions in people. This than is my take on the Music in the form of this artwork inspired by a video: Just “maybe” unlike the video, this painting I call Mr Brightside, that I will dedicate to them,  will break through that “no chance in hell,” (Mom again) wall to eventually build a  stronger and longer lasting connection with my three amigos. …..Silly me.



S_V_H A Great Big Sled Christmas 2014 final image


A Great Big Sled Final Image. Here is another version of this wonderful Christmas song with a modern edge to it. When you hear those bells, you are listening to this artwork.

This finished  artwork uses six canvas panels with a finished length of sixty inches. Any picture of this artwork will never compare with seeing it in person. No image I can produce captures the look of the gold and silver paint that dominates this work. This resulted in a long struggle to produce a decent canvas image for this years Christmas cards.  Finally, under the press of mailing dates, and the conclusion that I could not produce a match of the work, I did my best to print something. This years Christmas card printing is largest ever with thirty copies.

Looking at the overall finished artwork I like the look of the candy cane stems. They were a lot of work,  not tedious, but time-consuming.  I especially like the look of those long blue objects that are my version of musical Rests. I painted over a dozen Rests, each different from the last, in the last Vivaldi. You can see that look being carried over in this artwork. What I am seeing in my Rests, is a good solution in design that has quickly become a mature style. The Rests will certainly evolve over time, but not out of need or necessity.

My symbols for the bell sounds, surrounded by extra circles, are nothing special, but they work, filling space while adding interest, and the opportunity to add extra canvases to make the look of this artwork, unique. My musical vine looking Slurs, you see all across the top of the canvases, and repeated in a red color in the music, give a Christmas look to the work, and fill space while pushing the music across the canvas. My red and green rectangles I like for their sharp edges counter the rounded forms of the slurs and the other rounded objects in the music. My choice of words where the best option, that balance well, and flow nicely across the painting. Still, If I would have had another choice I would have left out the word ‘me.’  I like words to connect personally to the viewer,  leaving me out of the picture, but this did not work.

As this art has taught me over the years, I have come to respect the limitations when producing each painting.  Each of these finished artworks are a display of an abstract idea that is music, and the price of admission that allows me to paint another. I always hope that my next artwork will somehow solve the disappointments with the last painting, but I know that Music is a vastly diverse language, so that challenge is great.  I have to constantly look at my art and question how I paint, and if I can find another, better way, to visualize sound that a viewer can relate to.  This makes everything complicated because for this art to evolve artistically, I have to keep an open mind, with all of its options, no matter the direction this may turn me.  It is that search to find new ways to apply the colors of acrylic paint to pieces of canvas, that will forever remain the goal. This years Christmas painting breaks no new ground, solves no problems, and answers nothing. That is what I expect from the last artwork of the year. Instead, in all of its non answer glory,  It is a summary of this art’s 2014 style that leaves open another opportunity for improvement. On to 2015 where the best artwork is yet to be built.

Scott Von Holzen





S_V_H A Great Big Sled Christmas 2014 image2


This is a late 2nd image of A Great Big Sled this years Christmas painting.  Looking at the image you can see that most of the major items are in place.  For those parts that I need to paint in I have some basic ideas of what I am going to do.  With my version of 8th notes I am looking to fill space and add interest. By using a long curve shape this will animate the music across the canvas, which is similar to many of my artworks, where I create sails out of my notes.  When I create a musical artwork a static look is not excusable.  Maybe that is why a lot of art based on musical themes are abstractions.

My words ‘me in the sled,’ say something different from the music, which is what I always try to do in my word choices. My words intentionally go in a different direction from the music. The viewer hopefully seems them as a curiosity.  They are a part of an artwork, that starts out as a tribute to a song,  and ends as something more out of something else, that maybe on its own appears to be rather mundane or boring.

It is interesting that the  music that I portray, ends up being little influenced by the real music I am portraying.  It is like I am using music as an excuse to paint an artwork.

My love of music makes my love of art real, and not a reproduction in a book.

Scott Von Holzen

S_V_H A Great Big Sled Christmas 2014 image1


This painting, like all by artworks, is a tribute to the music of the artists that have given us songs to remember. This years 2014 Christmas painting is A Great Big Sled from the musical group,  The Killers.

Since I have been slow to blog lately, the image you see above is a lot further along than my usual image one. This artwork is composed of five canvases with a length of sixty inches, and a height of just over twenty-seven inches.

This is the eighth in the Christmas series. I had to do some research to find all the previous years artworks.  Here is the list:

2006  Joy to the World (I know this is not a Christmas song, but the title certainly fits that time of the year, and I liked the music of Three Dog Night)
2007 Winter Wonderland (a standard, Bing Crosby)
2008 Sleigh Ride ( a fun song)
2009 White Christmas (the greatest Christmas song, Bing Crosby)
2010 What Child is This (a strange choice that year, not my style)
2011 The Christmas Song (one of the best, Judy Garland)
2012 Let It Snow (my favorite Christmas look)
2013 You Raise Me Up (A tribute to Uncle Walt)

I choose this years Christmas painting early this year. It is these words form the chorus that made the decision easy:

” I wanna roll around like a kid in the snow. I wanna relearn what I already know.”

Those two lines took me back, reconnecting me to the boy I once was fifty years ago.

I appear to not be in the Christmas spirit yet, for I have not enthusiastically worked on this artwork. That may be changing for I need it done.  Once finished,  I can than photograph it, print copies to canvas, and send out this years Christmas Card, signed and numbered, before the Christmas mailing deadline, to all those that have purchased an artwork. That sentence exhausted me.

My overall feelings towards this work so far, are that I am not crazy about the design look of the music. It appears to be a little awkward.  I do like the heavy use of gold and silver which I consider perfect for a Christmas theme.  And finally, the most interesting part of this artwork is those lower images surrounded with multiple circles.

When I played this music for people there was the suggestion that I include the sound of the bell that you hear, that now appear along the lower part of this painting.  It was that suggestion that changed my  original choice of music. I move away from the lines I quoted above. Any of those choices would have been much smaller and easier to do. My original plan for this years painting was to do a small canvas similar to the Let it Go, and Fly Me to the Moon artworks. Instead I followed the idea of the bells, and choose this much longer, more demanding, more interesting phrase, that  I considered a greater challenge. I cannot turn away from my own test. If I consider doing an artwork a challenge, that pretty much guarantees that I will paint that image. I cannot help it, I know I need to push to be the artist I expect to be.

I must say that receiving feedback can be useful. The thoughts and suggestions from others, does offer me a different insight and perspective about this art.  Although, that is a little hard to say, at times the words from others are useful. It does not really change anything important,  for I know that it is a must for me to find my own artistic path, and not follow the wishes or trends of others. Still, a small amount of outside, unbiased exchange does more good than harm. I am mature which makes me smart enough to filter, never doubting nor forgetting, what makes me, is me, and not you.

Scott Von Holzen