Wednesday, March 12, 2014
What IS that??? -- how to name a painting
I want to mention my new favorite pen, it's called a ZIG Memory System Writer- metallic colours (it must not be made in America since it has the 'u' in colors) - indeed, upon closer inspection it is made in Japan. I got it at a paper store a month ago. It has two ends of different tip sizes. This one is silver and acid-free and it lays out paint-like color in the same way as those old metallic pens that you had to shake but they would make blotches all over or not write sometimes. This one isn't like that but it paints terrifically. I recommend you run right out immediately and buy one! They come in all kinds of colors. I like the metallic one because I can make little dots and lines on top of acrylic paint and it stands out beautifully.
While I was painting I was thinking about how or why artists name their paintings. Some leave them untitled. Others create in series, and use some simple nomenclature such as Stones I, Stones II, Stones III, and so forth. Others, some whose work is clearly abstract, use interesting names that conjure images of picnics or strolls along the beach, or days spent toiling in the kitchen or worrying over a child. I rather like those titles most of the time, because it makes me wonder what the artist was thinking when they named the painting.
Usually I come up with a name that is reflective of something in the painting, or if it's purely abstract I'll call it 'Red and Blue Painting' or something. But lately I've been thinking more about assigning funky names to my paintings. For instance, a few weeks ago I got on an elevator. It stopped at a different floor, and when two more people got on, the smell of bacon wafted in after them. In that moment I had the idea to name a painting "Smells Like Bacon." Off and on over the next week the idea came into my mind, and I wondered what a painting titled "Smells Like Bacon" would look like. Would it need to actually represent real bacon? Would it need to have rays of pink if it was abstract? Would it need to have wavy lines to represent the marbled fat layers in a bacon strip? I don't think so. But would there need to be some rhyme or reason to it? I know the answer is no. It's art, so people can do what they want.
In the case of the above painting, I was thinking about what to name it while I was painting it. At first the idea came into my mind, "They Said It Would Last." That made me think about how everyone who looks at an artwork comes to the experience with their own perspective, so what a title means to someone would convey meaning in a slightly different way to each viewer, particularly the more abstract the painting and the less directly linked, pictorially speaking, the title to the painting. So naming a painting could really become part of the art or the fun! And on the other hand, an artist could use a random word generator or pick random words out of a book or the dictionary to come up with a title beforehand, then use that as inspiration to create a painting.
As I changed the painting and covered up the large sphere, I thought I should change the name of the painting to "Too Bad" or "Enough is Enough" or some other thing commenting abstractly on the process of putting more and more painting on a page. Or I could call it "I Never Did Like Deviled Eggs Anyway." Well, I never DID really like deviled eggs. But since I'm on the subject of eggs, and there is some pink in this painting, plus a few wavy lines, I'm calling it "Smells Like Bacon."
How do you name your paintings? or if not, why not?