Sunday, March 09, 2014


9.5 x 12.5"  pastel on Canson paper

Often titles arrive for paintings almost before they are begun.  Or while in process as colour and shape evolve.  Not in this case.  This boat remains untitled, so much so, that Untitled Boat may indeed become its title.

Having a number of untitled paintings can be problematic when it comes to cataloguing and tracking them.  Potential collectors and artists easily lose track if every 4th painting becomes "Untitled # ....."

Finding a name hinges on mood, lighting, place name, object name and a host of other variables. There are simplistic names based on obvious features or geographic settings, romantic sounding names, dredged up from a background of stories or symbolism around the work or clever titles based on tongue in cheek plays on words or settings or similarities.

An occasional "Untitled" label is fine and can enhance the mystery of a piece, but when overused, like anything, becomes confusing when used frequently or make the artist look as their vision wasn't complete when the painting ended.


Gary L. Everest said...

Hi Jeanette,
I hope I'm not too late to wish you a Very Happy Birthday. You were pretty sneaky giving a range of dates which may, or may not provide a clue to the real date. Mystery woman!
I also want to thank you for being so generous with your knowledge of making art. I never fail to learn something each time I visit your blog.
Keep up the great work and have a wonderful birthday celebration.

shevaun said...

Your untitled piece certainly does have an air of mystery! It's lovely. How about having a naming competition on facebook? No prizes, just a bit of fun?

theartistsday said...

What an excellent idea, a naming contest.
Art is so difficult, it's a visual thing but all the time we have to explain and describe it with words. For some of us this is very alien. Are the ones who describe it best the most successful? Just a thought.

Jeanette Jobson said...

Thanks so much Gary. I try to slide birthdays under the radar at times. :) And sharing information is part of making art, in my opinion.

Shevaun, I had considered that, but find that labelling a painting is personal and while others may provide wonderful suggestions, I end up choosing what feels right eventually.

Mary, I guess each person has their own story around a painting that they see and from that, words and labels arise.

Interesting point about whether the descriptions push success. In some ways, yes as I believe stories sell paintings sometimes. People like to know a bit about the setting or human touch behind a piece and if they can identify with the story or the place, they like a piece more.

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

really like the reddish boat interior against the blue/green, looks great :)

i am horrible when it comes to titles, sometime I just want to close my eyes, open a dictionary to a random spot and pick the first word i see, but that would probably backfire horribly on me :p

Jeanette Jobson said...

LOL Jen, that dictionary result could be interesting. I sometimes use a thesaurus and see what words it spins out when I choose a setting, subject or colour.