Saturday, October 08, 2016

Creating titles for paintings

 Scarlet River - SOLD
30" x 40" oil on canvas

Finding a title for a painting can go one of two ways.

1.  The title flows, almost intuitively and fits the painting.
It can be an idea that's been floating around in my head for awhile or an emotional connection to something that the painting represents that will provide the title for the piece.  Sometimes its even a song that I'm listening to while painting the piece as was the case in this one. "Sitting in the Morning Sun" was inspired by the Otis Redding song "(Sittin On) The Dock of the Bay".

Sitting in the Morning Sun    12" x 12"  oil on canvas - SOLD

2.  The painting resists being titled as if its life depended on remaining anonymous.
So what do I do in this case? I start analyzing elements of the painting that can trigger reaction in a viewer.  It may be colour, or location.  Sometimes the most obvious and the simplest things become part of the title.

If that doesn't work, I start doing some research on other paintings with similar subjects to see what their titles are.  Its amazing how many paintings of a subject have the same name.

Sea Breeze - Sold
24" x 24"  oil on panel, custom framed

My final trump card is the thesaurus.  I put in words that reflect aspects of the painting then see what results come up.  Its quite a good way of looking at alternate wording or may trigger other thoughts about the piece.

Throwing a piece out for public input on titles can provide results that can be worked with, but as the public don't have the same connection and insight to how the painting was created and what inspired it, suggestions may be based on common visuals only.  i.e.  black dog, red boat, etc.  And while these can be good titles, try doing an online search of "black dog paintings" and see how many have the same name.

Creating a title that is meaningful to the artist and the viewer can be a challenge.  Leaving a title as a number is a final resort but makes cataloguing very difficult for the artist, gallery and doesn't provide information that inspires viewers or helps them create their own story about the painting.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Cemetery sketching


Sketching is always high on my list of priorities and is pretty much a habit with me.  Subject matter varies to whatever is at hand or sometimes I get an idea in my head and have to go with it.  Last weekend the weather was beautiful, cool but sunny and perfect for a wander in my favourite cemetery to do some sketching.  The sculpture found in older cemeteries is often ornate and makes beautiful subjects for drawing.  Most of the individuals with large sculpures on their gravesite were likely from wealthier families.  Likely then, as nowadays, monuments were expensive.  There can be a marked difference almost next to each other in the cemetery of an ornate sculpture next to a simple wooden cross.

Over time, weather takes its toll and taller objects and finials crack off and are propped up the main element as in this very ornate monument.  Trees in the cemetery grow of course and encroach on grave enclosures and sculpture, pushing some of them over into the grass.

In this cemetery, graves of very young babies, children and young adults are common. With deaths in the 1800s, it was obvious that many illnesses or relatively minor accidents that we consider non-life threatening today were deadly as it was an era that existed without antibiotics.  Measles, mumps, influenza, scarlet fever, infections from minor wounds all took their toll in young children and adults alike.

I sketched on site using a new fountain pen that I didn't realize had water soluble ink in it.  Until I added water to my drawing back in the studio.  Still, I like the effect but will remember its reactive properties for next time.  And to read the label before I buy something!

Sketching baby graves is poignant but a stark reminder that despite the problems of the current world, we have a lot to be grateful for in the medical field.  In this Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, we have much to be thankful for, including antibiotics!