Often in our household when chatting and listening to the radio one of us then comments on what we are listening to by saying ‘that would make a good title for a song or a band”. The title for the band is usually something funny or completely off the wall. Words that exist on their own are good or, even better; short sentences that are strange, weird and usually comical all end up in our conversation for making a good band name. So how do I title paintings?
Artists refusing to title paintings
Paintings generally have a title when being exhibited. In the 50’s and 60’s some minimalist painters titled paintings; No 1 or No 3 or refused to give a title. It was argued that a title suggested too many things to the viewer when really what the artist wanted was for the viewer to have their own thoughts and not ones suggested by the artist. I have tried this but it wasn’t interesting enough for me and I need “narrative”.
My approach to titling
Is a painting inspired by a title? For me it can be, if I have a subject or hear a sentence I like then that can spur my imagination to go off on that route to investigate how I could put elements of the sentence into a painting, this is done through a series of drawings.
Balancing Act and The Swimming Pond
For these two paintings I found the title after I had started painting, so I had no title before painting. I was attracted to the poses of the figures, did a lot of drawings for possible paintings and then after thinking a lot about them decided on the title. This then revealed what the painting was really about, a type of summary.
Creating; Balancing Act was inspired by a pose I saw of a woman who was carefully finding her footing. I liked the way that the weight was distributed in the pose. Adding dynamic elements such as strong angles gave the balance effect that I wanted. After doing the drawings, suddenly the title popped into my head and it seemed right. I had almost discovered the painting through these few elements. On a personal level Balancing Act is what I have been doing literally. I suffered a type of vertigo for over a year and am familiar with a feeling of being very unbalanced and finding my feet.
So thats my approach to titles for paintings. There are other titles I have also been thinking up for years such as my own slogan to go on the back of a t-shirt when I am cycling - a type of message to car drivers. Depending on my mood that varies enormously, today it was “only choking” (for when I am behind a car waiting).
All of this you might think is totally unrelated to paintings, or is it, leave any ideas you have below just so I don’t feel like I am very weird in doing this!