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Dec 04, 2008 16 Comments
The rain hasn't arrived quite yet. The air is crisp and the sky is unpaintable blue. The wind plucks at the last golden leaves clinging to trees hunkering down for our brief winter. Listen to the quiet noise of fall.
Does the name of the child determine its personality? Not if it's name is John or Jill or even Jesus. But if you name it "Untitled #5" or "Infidel fallen angry into the mouth of Cheney" or "Beelzebub", your choice might have some influence.

So it goes with a painting. I want a name that reflects and respects any meaning already in the painting. Even "Untitled" means something. The name is important, but it isn't the entire context of a piece. More like a nice hat. If your head is ugly, the hat won't save you. If the name isn't appropriate to the piece, it won't fit, it won't make the painting better.

I have a friend who is amazing with words even if he likes the pun and word play more than is healthy. Lately I've taken to calling him when I'm toying with different names for something new.

"Jackson, this painting. The woman and the girl."
"You only call me when you need words. I feel so used."
"No really. I need a name."
"I'm going to charge you per word."
"Fine. I'll credit you towards a ball of sticky lint."
"I've got it. 'Lost Contact'."
"I'm crossing you off my christmas list."

View from here, 24" x 20", Oil on canvas

The name came from Jackson and I think it might stick. Even if I did have to listen to his schtick to get it out of him.
Fall is the time of year with the most clarity. We know it as a time of change, but it's also the time of constants and chosen certainty, of family and friends. Be thankful when you can and most of all when you can't. Listening is just the start.


raindog    Dec 04, 2008  at  3:01 pm

first jackson is an idiot and should not be trusted with important tasks like raising children and naming paintings.

If it were me and it certainly isn’t..I would have called it ..“that time..”  because the painting is like a recollection of a particularly beautiful moment..as if the lady in the red is trying to explain the moment to the girl..as in “remember that time…it was as if we were walking in the clouds…” but we don’t hear her words..we just see your painting.

Scott    Dec 04, 2008  at  10:57 pm

That’s the trick, isn’t it? There’s so much room for interpretation. Every person I’ve spoken with has a different take on the piece, sometimes with a different suggested name.

Which makes me damn happy.

Martin    Dec 05, 2008  at  12:15 am

I poured myself a strong cup and took a few minutes out of my all too hectic schedule to ponder the name dilemma you have found yourself mired in between two gigantic men, one who has been heavily sedated for days now and the other who sniffs oil and gas for a living, both trying to impart some sort of deep, metaphysical process of applying a title to your painting that so exquisitely demonstrates that bestowing a suggestive label detracts from the very core of what an Artist suffers to bring into being, which is allowing the viewer to fabricate their own interpretation of the piece without a bias of an evocative, expressive heading leading the observer down a path they had no intention of traveling that may in fact severely detract from the one thing that drives the lust for art itself, which is the discovery, the inner joy, to fall into a piece and let it touch your soul on its own terms.

I therefore title it “Oil on Canvas”. You’re welcome, no thanks needed.

Jackie Mcintyre    Dec 07, 2008  at  12:57 am

You guys have it all wrong, It’s about women; the young girl dressed in blue and yellow is telling the older women dressed in red (which could possibly be could be her Mother ) to leave her alone.  Thus the title…“Leave me Alone”

Bill Sharp    Dec 07, 2008  at  1:15 pm

I agree that titles are important but my opinion is that you don’t want to stifle the viewer’s interpretation with a title. The title should allow the viewer to be taken anywhere.

Of course, it’s your work. You get to decide what purpose the title serves.

BTW, since you moved your blog, my reader doesn’t pick up an RSS feed. I miss keeping up as you “beef” up your portfolio.

Justin    Dec 07, 2008  at  1:53 pm

Jackson’s still an idiot, and Martin needs to learn the time honored Scottish brevity, jeez what a windbag.

Your all still idiots. And so am I.

Scott    Dec 08, 2008  at  1:47 pm

“Red Coat”

This is the naming protocol I usually employ. I call my motorcycle, “The Bike”. I call things what they are - or try to.

Jack90210    Dec 11, 2008  at  8:39 am

That’s a fabulous painting.  Even though I’m only seeing it 2” x 3” on my monitor, it’s going to continue speaking to me long after I surf away.

shop for art    Feb 04, 2009  at  8:04 am

That’s a fabulous painting.  Great post and good job,thanks!

Bren    Aug 02, 2010  at  6:09 pm

Martin said it the best.

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