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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

What You Should Consider When Naming a Painting

'Beauty Emerges From the Mist' 5x7 pastel ©Karen Margulis
painting available for purchase on Etsy $45

Paintings deserve a good title. I admit that I am not the best at naming my paintings. Usually the titles are afterthoughts. And usually the titles are just descriptive like 'Morning Marsh' or Summer Meadow'. But I have been thinking about it a lot and I am convinced that titles should be given with thought. I know that when I like someone's work, I also look at the title and I am drawn to the more evocative titles. A title such as 'Kingdom by the Sea' is more interesting than 'The Sand Castle'. These evocative titles give me a little more insight into the artist and the painting. As Robert Genn says in his post about Painting Titles "... titles serve to confirm what's seen but also to add knowledge, insight, and a glimpse into the author's mind-set." Genn says artists should take the time to determine what they are trying to say with their paintings and if the titles they choose supports or detracts from their purpose. Consider the following paintings and their titles:

'One Morning in Maine' 5x7 pastel
available on Etsy $45

'Walk With Me in Beauty' 5x7 pastel
Available on Etsy $45

'Knee Deep in Lace' 5x7 pastel
available on Etsy $45

'Red Poppy on Taos Blue' 5x7 pastel
available on Etsy $45

'Yes She Loves Me!' 5x7 pastel
available on Etsy $45

In giving titles to these paintings I took a little extra time and considered what I wanted to say about them and how I may have felt when paintings them. Another thing to consider when naming a painting is how much information or detail should you give. For example, should you use the exact location of a scene or should you keep the titles more general? How does this effect interest or sales? I try to stay somewhere in the middle for most of my paintings. Robert Genn talks about five types of titles we can consider: Sentimental, Numerical, Factual, Abstract and Mysterious. He suggests considering each kind for your painting and seeing which title type fits your intent the best. That takes time and effort but don't your paintings deserve it?

I am working on an idea that will make naming paintings more fun so stay tuned and please share your ideas by commenting below!


Cindy Michaud said...

excellent post and important thoughts, sometimes those titles roll right out and sometimes i run dry...but they are always important to me when i look at the work of others...lesson noted! General locale reference is good, as a buyer i want it to be where I think it is!!

Karen said...

Thanks for the comments Cindy! I have decided to not take a good title for granted. I agree with you on general locale reference but I try not to be completely precise as I have lost sales because it was the wrong beach!

Donna T said...

Thanks for your thoughts and the link, Karen. You must be reading my mind as I have been struggling with titles lately. The best ones come right at the beginning when I'm starting to paint but that doesn't always happen.

Nick Miliokas said...

Choosing a title for a painting is just as important as picking a name for a child. Remember: it must last a lifetime.
p.s. I've always been partial to "Nick." But I'm keeping an open mind.