Saturday, March 22, 2008

Naming a piece of art

Easter Bunny
4 x 6 Oils on panel
copyright Jeanette Jobson

"Titles do not give a just idea of things; were it otherwise, the work would be superfluous."
-- Gustave Courbet

I've played around with some oil paints today with varying results. Oils are something I used a lot of years ago and have tried my hand at a few times recently. I love the texture and smell of turps, but I still need lots of practice. I was buoyed by the sale in November of one of my first oils in 20 years but haven't done a lot with it since.

This little piece is inspired bya ceramic rabbit found at the supermarket today. I liked the round shape and the simplicity of it, as well it will make up part of centrepiece for the Easter table tomorrow.

Then naming it... Sometimes titles for art come easily and almost name themselves, as it did with this piece. The subject, the season, it all fell into place without effort. Sometimes its very difficult to come up with a suitable title. So how do you choose a title for a piece of art and what weight does a title hold with keep the viewer's attention or buyer to reach for their wallet?

Some artists choose from a variety of methods of naming their art piece. Here are a few that I've come across.

1. Use a name found on a paint chip. This can have some merit, as designers spent months coming up with paint lines and titles for them. I don't know the merit in 'borrowing' the names of even if copyright could come into play on that one, but I know the names of paint become more and more interesting over time.

2. For landscapes, use the name of the place. This can cause some argument as the buyer may insist on knowing the exact place and whether it is there in their knowledge or not. Buyers also like to create their own story around a scene and putting a geographic name to the piece may spoil their illusion.

3. Use a single word for each art piece. This can become part of your style and make people remember you. Its rare to run out of single words, but you may have to spend some time creating the story around the title.

4. Generic titles are difficult to catalogue and not good for marketing your work. Not may people will search online or in a catalogue for Work # 563 or Abstract 728.

5. The Influence of Titles On How Paintings Are Seen. The title of a drawing has significant impact on the face it presents and the viewer's perception of it.

Bastard Paintings by Michael Corbin

Robert Genn's article on naming a drawing.

I do title my drawings and paintings. Partially it is the connection with the subject of the piece, or what I interpret as an action of the subject. Sometimes, the colour plays a role in it and sometimes the piece has a name almost before I begin to draw.

I believe that the name of a piece is part of its appeal and interest. It can pull in a viewer and give them direction or set the stage for thoughts around the words that make up the title.

How do you name your art pieces? Do you name them or are they generic pieces?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Wet or dry?

Northern lights over Flatrock
copyright Jeanette Jobson

About once or twice a year, we see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). Its not the spectacular light show that is seen further north, but it is amazing as shades of red and green ripple across the night sky. I tried taking a photo of it but I hadn't used a tripod so the result isn't that impressive. However, it does give you an idea of what it looks like.

The local art association is holding a one day spring exhibition and sale of work on March 30th and I'm trying to decide what I'll put it, framing etc. and all the usual flurry that goes beforehand. I'm getting a bit better at preparing in advance, but there is usually something going wrong the night before or morning of the exhibition.

I have been lucky with the exhibitions I have participated in this year and have sold pieces or had interest for commissions out of them. My love is graphite and I find there is a niche market for that medium that is a bit tricky to access. There is the thought by many that pencil drawings aren't in the same league as paintings. In the same way, there is a thought that relegates all forms of painting as amateurish unless it is oils. I so wish subjects and mediums could be appreciated for their own appeal and not compared to other types. There is such snob appeal in art, it frustrates me a lot at times.

My other love is coloured pencil and that is a relatively new medium. While growing in strength through public exposure and acceptance, there are still quarters who look on CP as a medium for children or amateurs. All we can keep doing is educating people about art and the various supports and mediums available and showing them how they can be used.

Tradition is difficult to change and there will always be the 'painting over dry media' camp and vice versa. My point is that neither are superior or inferior than the other. Simply different.

I like dry media for convenience of use. There's little set up or clean up, they're portable, reasonably priced and they provide me with challenges to achieve the same values and colour ranges as other media do.

Which camp are you in? Wet or dry?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bath time

I was cataloguing some files tonight on another computer and came across this little video clip of Blizzard, the orphan gosling that I became surrogate mother to a couple of years ago. This was his first introduction to water. I put the dish of water in front of the fire so he wouldn't get cold. Yes, I know, I know...

I did complete a portrait including Blizzard a couple of months ago. I had done the original drawing in my Moleskine then redrew it on regular paper as I liked the composition.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tea vendors

Tea merchant
coloured pencil & pen
copyright Jeanette Jobson

Have you noticed how everyone these days has to have a cup of coffee in their hand in the morning in public? Where did this come from? Don't we have the equipment at home to make coffee and don't we have coffee makers at work? Why do people have to stop between home and work and buy coffee?

The coffee then is too hot to drink in the car so you need to wait 20 minutes to even take a sip without losing the lining of your mouth. By which time you're at work or wherever you're going and then you have to balance the hot coffee cup, your purse, laptop, mail and whatever else you're carrying and open the door without dropping anything or spilling coffee all over yourself. And people do this why???

It seems there are coffee vendors all over the world and this image of a tea merchant in New Delhi is no different than the Starbucks or Tim Hortons of the western world. Except that there isn't a drive through, which is a good thing!
In May 2007 India's Supreme Court banned street sellers from cooking food on the pavements of New Delhi to clean up India's chaotic capital.

The ban will hit at the heart of daily customs of thousands of eaters in the capital, where breakfasts and lunches like pan-fried parathas and samosas cooked in vats of hot oil are served on the streets to hungry customers.

One exception will be made for the quintessential Indian tea vendors, although the court says they must now serve their drinks in disposable glasses and cups.
Here, there are similar problems with Tim Hortons franchises which are so busy in the morning that they cause traffic congestion from backed up queues at the drive throughs. Most places sell more things than just coffee. You can eat three meals a day there as well as the usual snacks so even drive throughs aren't speedy.

I have a problem with drive throughs. They're not 'green'. Its another waste of resources as you sit and let your car idle as you wait in line. And the physical act of parking and walking to the shop is hardly a hardship as its no more than 5o feet at most in many car parks - and quicker than the drive through.

I adore coffee and make it at home and at work, but I rarely stop along the way or turn up at meetings and work, cup in hand. I just don't understand the rationale for being unable to wait til you get to your destination to get coffee or tea. Or is it simply another trend?

Monday, March 17, 2008


Beached boat
Black and white charcoal on mi-tientes 9 x 12
copyright Jeanette Jobson

I have too much on my mind and couldn't sleep last night, so I was up at 3am drawing and this beached boat is the result.

I'm trying to use up a pad of Canson mi-tientes paper which I really don't like much. I can't bear to throw things away, so I'm using the smooth side and am running out of darker colours which I prefer. There are strange yellows and oranges in this pad of paper which I've never considered using as backgrounds, but they may produce interesting results. I'll have to experiment with some warmer subject matter.

What do you do with paper you've bought and dislike? Is it kept in the back of a drawer to languish or do you persevere just to use it? I still have some paper that I haven't used yet sitting in my art cupboard. Perhaps those of us who want to get rid of what we don't want or try out new supports need to organize a paper swap!

I haven't used the coloured Canal papers yet, but have recently had a few ideas for it. I also bought a sheet of Yupo watercolour paper some time ago. I've heard good and bad reviews of Yupo, but I guess I'll have to try it myself to find out what its like.

I may have some time to do that tomorrow as we're in the midst of a powerful snowstorm right now with winds up to 120km and up to 60cm of snow expected by tomorrow. After which a day of freezing rain is forecast. Not fun. Because freezing rain in that quantity brings down powerlines. Keep your fingers crossed.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Popcorn and snow

Popcorn Trio
Graphite, Canson paper 8 x 4
copyright Jeanette Jobson

More snow! And more due tomorrow!! I'm moving. Anyone who lives in a more temperate climate and who would like to adopt an artist for a few months, let me know. I can cook, clean and knit as well...

I struggled through unplowed roads today to teach my drawing class and of course, everyone called in to say the weather would prevent them from attending. So I did some shopping at Costco which was blissfully empty for a change then came home. This afternoon I made my winter treat - popcorn. I love the salty taste and crisp yet soft texture of the popped kernels. In the leftovers of the bowl I rescued a few of the expanded kernels to try my hand at drawing them.

It was quite enjoyable. Popped corn has a very sculptural look to it that goes unnoticed as you eat handfuls. Drawing anything and everything, as always, provides an opportunity for close scrutiny and lets me really understand the folds and angles.

And, just in case you've ever wondered, here is an explanation of why corn pops - or more the elements that need to be present to make it pop. The explanation of how the white part of the corn is created could be a little offputting...
The gelatinized starch granules do not explode, but expand into thin, jelly-like bubbles. Neighboring bubbles fuse together and solidify, forming a three-dimensional network much like a sink full of soapsuds. This is the white fluffy solid we eat.