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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Should Place Names be Used in Painting Titles?

'Sanibel Island Breezes'                 11x14          oil on canvas     ©Karen Margulis   sold
It's hard  to come up with a good name for a painting. I struggle with names. I want my paintings to have names that have a lot of thought. I want them to be evocative or clever. I want them to complement the painting....to give viewers a little something extra, a bit of insight into the painting. Some days I do better than others with choosing names. Today I realized that we have another issue to consider when naming a painting...Do we use the place of the painting in the name....or do we stay general and let the viewer decide where the place is?

I have heard arguments for both. You probably have heard something similar.  A potential buyer asks me about a beach painting. "What beach is this?"  Now I have a dilemma. What does the buyer want to hear? What if I say it is Sanibel Island and the buyer wants a painting of Marco Island? It could be enough to cause the buyer to move on.  What if I have given the beach painting a generic title but the buyer wants a Sanibel painting. Using the place name in the title could be enough to sell the painting. It's hard to know what to do.

'Down to the Beach We Go'       5x7          oil on panel           ©Karen Margulis sold
I have given this dilemma a lot of thought and I haven't come up with a final answer. But I do have some guidelines.
  • If the scene I am painting is an obvious recognizable place such as the Teton Mountains, I will include a place name in the title. Collectors might be searching for art of specific and special places so a place name will be helpful
  • If the scene in my painting is more generic then I will usually avoid place names or I will give it an 'umbrella' title that could cover several possible locations. For example a Florida beach painting could have the words 'Gulf' or 'Coast' or 'Atlantic' in the title. This allows the beach to be any beach along these coasts.
  • If I am asked directly where the location of the painting is I will reply that the painting was inspired by a visit to 'X' but that it reminds me of many similar places.  This leaves the door open for the painting to be where the potential buyer wants it to be!
  • If I am at a plein air event then I will often use the name of the place in the title because it will help remind me of that specific place.
Today's paintings are both oils of Sanibel Island Florida. I have named one using the place name and one with a more generic title. Which do you like better?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Collectors. Do you look at the titles and do they influence your decision to buy a painting?  Artists, do you use place names in your titles?

You may be interested in my previous post about painting titles HERE


Rachel said...

I agree putting the name of the place in the title limits the 'buy' impulse when the painting is shown outside of that location. But if you're painting locally and showing locally then I think the place name is helpful.

DLPBR said...

Hi Karen, loveyour work but why isn't it showing up within your blog post. I think it's been about 2/3 posts since this started happening. Any ideas why?

Karen said...

Good point Rachel! Thanks for sharing!

Karen said...

I'm not sure why! Is the photo not showing up when you go to the blog or through your email update? I haven't heard about it from anyone else. Is anyone else having problems seeing the images? I'll try to figure out what might be happening. Thanks for letting me know.

Diane Ruck said...

yes, I am no longer seeing any images in the email. I also clicked on the link and am not seeing the iamges here either.

Karen said...

I think I know what is wrong with the photos not displaying. I changed the code to make the photos larger so maybe that is why. I hope so. I won't mess with the code today and see if that makes a difference. Thanks for your patience and please let me know if the problem persists. I appreciate you all!

Vanessa Turner said...

That's a hard decision. I think that if I wanted a memoir to remind me of a location, the "place" would be important. However, if I am simply browsing the artwork available a generic title would be just fine. But either way it's nice that you add another element to the title even when using the location, like "island breeze". Gorgeous work too!!

Karen said...

Hi Vanessa,
Thanks for your input. I appreciate your thoughts. It is nice to hear others weigh in. I appreciate you visiting my blog!