Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What's in a name?


Some paintings seem to name themselves, while we struggle with others forever before finally slapping something, anything on them to differentiate them from the last one painted.

So how important is a title to a painting?  Its pretty important for both artist and viewer.  For the artist it becomes a part of the piece, describing an emotion, a place, a memory and it serves well as a reference point in inventory.  How many "Red & Blue"  or "Untitled # 8"'s can you have without having a clue what they are visually in the future?  Its a gallery nightmare to have untitled paintings in stock.

For the viewer it becomes a direction signal into the process and placement of the painting to help them understand the piece more, even though they will create their own story around it.

Titles for most paintings fall into place at around the halfway mark, when the direction of the piece is known and coming together more clearly.  Sometimes a title comes first, then a painting to represent it, but that's less the norm.  And then there are those orphans who end up as completed works but with no name attached to them.  Those are the challenges to name without reverting to 'Untitled' again.

Painting titles  range from sentimental phrases to obscure references with meaning only to the artist. Whatever the association, its helpful to have something that gives the viewer a direction without revealing too much of the thought process and allows them to create their own thinking around the image.

The above painting, Metamorphosis, is 24" x 36" on gallery canvas.   The image isn't wonderful, taken early in the morning withe sunlight filtering across it through the blinds.  But the colour is fairly true and the final image will be taken in better light soon.

It is quite abstract, but still represents water.  I used a palette knife to apply thick layers of oil paint and to give texture and a split of hot colour to contrast the blues.

Why is it called Metamorphosis?  I'll let you create your own story around that...




7 comments:

www.susan.parsons.com said...

How timely for me. I'm siting in my sisters den, surrounded by 30 of my watercolors, trying to come up for names for them. Your article remnded me how important the title is. Better get back at it....

suzanneberry said...

you're so right! titles are important. and these are just wonderful. i love them both. the sunlight on metamorphosis is so interesting. beautiful work jeanette!

Jeanette said...

30 names to consider...that's a task and a half. When I get really stuck, I go to a thesaurus and put in a few words that are spinning around in my head and see what branches out from there.

Suz, I wish I could get the impact of this in a photograph. The sunlight (rare lately!) really hits the high notes and brings out the true colour of the painting.

But I can't easily move the piece til it dries a bit so I don't trek paint all over the house to bring it to better light to photograph it. Thanks for stopping by.

RH Carpenter said...

All I know is that this is a seascape and one I'd gladly put on my wall. I love the play of cool water and hot colors that give it more life and more interest. And the palette knife technique really suits you!

Jeanette said...

Thanks Rhonda. This one seemed to almost paint itself and the colours were intuitive. Glad you enjoy it.

Sue Pownall said...

Susan - I can't believe you have 30 pieces to name :(

I name as I go along generally, although some end up with a more acceptable name such as meskina morphed into Quiet Wisdom.

Metamophosis - because it was a cat picture that ended up a seascape??? :)

Jeanette said...

Ha, pretty much like that Sue! I struggled with a painting for weeks on it then let the muse take over and voila! :)