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Thursday, August 07, 2014

Place Names in Landscape Paintings...Yes or No?

'A Meadow Story'              12x12           pastel            ©Karen Margulis
purchase painting here $145
How much does it really matter? Does having the location of the painting in it's title make it more desirable? Or does it prevent viewers from liking the painting as much because it isn't a place they know?  It can make or break a potential sale and because of that I rarely include a place name in the titles of my paintings. Instead I like to use titles that express the mood or feeling I am after. My paintings could be anywhere with a similar landscape....it is the mood I am trying to capture rather than exact details of a specific location.

Having generic titles works...usually. The other day I had a dilemma. I was asked directly about the location of a certain painting. They wanted to know where in the world that particular landscape was. I had to pause before I answered. What if I told them where it was and they were hoping it was somewhere else?  Maybe they didn't care and were just curious but the wrong answer might cause me to lose a sale. On the other hand I have had sales because the place name was in the title! How should we answer the location question?

This painting has the place name Nantucket in the title. Is it more desirable?
My answer to the location question is to say that the scene could be anywhere [ in the mountains, along the coast...fill in the appropriate blank]  I am more concerned with capturing the mood and spirit of a place rather than exact details. If it reminds you of a certain place then it very well could be that place. I explain that what is most important is what the viewer sees in the painting.

Today's painting is titled 'A Meadow Story'.  It happens to be in Taos, New Mexico but it was summer and I took liberties with the colors. It could be a meadow with distant mountains anywhere. It is about the flowers in the meadow and not a particular location.

I'd love to have a discussion about this dilemma. Do you include place names in the titles of your paintings? How do you answer the 'Location Question'? Share in the comments below!


Eden Compton Pastels and Oils said...

Nice painting Karen! I agree that a lot of people want to know exactly where a painting is referencing for whatever reason and sometimes it helps the sale of a painting. I name the location in about half my paintings but I don't think I will from now on. I just had an email from someone who claims he owns a house that is barely recognizable in an plein air oil sketch that was featured on my blog 4 years ago. He wants me to send him "all copies of the image in 50 days" or he will sue me! Hmmm. Wonder if he is suing Google Earth as well. Since most of my paintings are about a specific mood or atmosphere I think I will refrain from putting the location in the titles from now on.

Tim Moore said...

good question..i don't think i have ever named a painting!..but i can see both sides of the question. i think just a generic title like your "meadow" name would work better, because you can use emotive?, is that the right word?, words, to also get across your feelings in the painting.."Peaceful Meadow", or "Springtime Meadow' sounds much nicer than "Taos Meadow"...you get to paint the picture, then tell their mind its peaceful or whatever..Steer their emotions in acertain direction by the words you use?..

Marsha Savage said...

Hi Karen, I have often worried about using a place name in the title. Sometimes it just has to be that... but most times I think like you do... emotive is better. And, anyway... as you do, I probably change stuff in a scene for the better of the painting and therefore, it is no longer an exact scene somewhere!

Jo Castillo said...

I think the vague title helps. Someone often says, "Oh, I've been there, or it reminds me of .... " Sometimes if it is a specific building like a church, then the title is obvious. Otherwise, let the viewer decide.

Sea Dean said...

I think it depends whether you are a local artist that displays your work in local galleries and exhibitions, or if your marketing is heavily internet based and therefore should appeal to the widest population possible around the world. On the other hand, if someone is googling a specific location because they love it or used to live there or some such, they may be tempted to buy if Google finds your work. I think the latter is a supremely rare possibility.

Rebecca said...

Giving titles to a work is sometimes an intuitive process...When I am painting plein air, I most often title the piece as to the specifics of place, date time of day, etc...and then if I use that for a secondary inspiration, I tend to title it according to mood and what inspired me to take it to another place. I do think that naming a piece makes it more "salable" buyers like to have that hook, at least, I think they do!