I was thinking this morning about naming my latest painting and how to convey in a few words a title that could possibly express my emotions around the image I created. When I created the artwork, I was creating from some other indescribable place in my mind. Another dimension, if you will. I believe this place is also where we dream, where we go when we don’t use words very often but mostly symbols, visuals and actions taken.
To try to boil it all down to a word or a group of words, really, if you think about it, you are translating received transmissions into English (or whatever language that you are going to use). Translating images, emotions, feelings, thoughts that weren’t words to begin with into a different dimension: Words.
Why do we do this? We want people to be engaged with our artwork, our writing, our belongings…Just the way we do things here on this planet. For example, have you ever seen a painting called “Untitled” and it didn’t quite hit you the same way as if it were named “Passion” or “Accidental Love”?
What if you named your child “Unknown”? I mean, you connected with this beautiful soul for at least nine months, and I bet that you even thought about your children’s names since you were a kid.
“Oh, I’m definitely going to name my kids Mark and Alexandra when I have kids.” I remember telling my brother all my plans of having two kids and what I would name them. I loved the idea of calling my daughter “Alex” and people would turn their heads not knowing if you had a boy or girl. Bizarre to think about that now.
What about naming your plants? Have you ever done that? I have. Maybe I’m a rare breed, but isn’t it fun to name something you live with so that you can talk to it?
Tangela was a cool plant that my daughter and I named because her hair was made up of the spider-plant-looking tendrils from her leaves. We got her from IKEA. She lived for a long time at my office until I decided to take her home one day so that we could enjoy her at home and my daughter could see her too. I think that my home just didn’t cut the mustard when it came to enough light. To think that she enjoyed the fluorescent light more at work! Pshhhh!
Anyway, in the long run, she had to be put to rest in my compost pile, a most proper burial. She died on the kitchen counter and it was a slow painful death. I’m very sad to say.
Today I did actually come to a great name that boils down my sentiment with my latest piece of work: “Intimacy” You should go look at it. It will be posted on my fineartamerica.com page as soon as I get it properly scanned and uploaded. I’m very proud of it as I put in my thoughts of sensual feelings, intimacy and how it feels to “savor” your beloved.
There are no words that can properly describe the images and emotional connection that I can have. I will never perfectly get it right, which is ok with me. Life isn’t about perfection anyway.
So when I name something “Intimacy” it allows the person viewing my work to wonder about why I named it that.
“Did she name it that because she feels these body parts equal intimacy?”
“Did she name it because she doesn’t have enough intimacy?”
“What does intimacy actually mean to me?”
“I don’t think someone’s leg is sexy, come on! Especially men’s legs. Sheesh. Gross.”
“Well, I think intimacy is about the actual sex parts! Why doesn’t she have the parts on her painting? Ugh, she just put that name on it to conjure a cheap image in my mind about what it might be!”
“Oh lovely, she thinks intimacy is in her hands! How beautiful. I might never have thought of placing the idea of finding intimacy in just her hands.”
I actually don’t have all these thoughts about what others think of it when I do my artwork, nor afterwards. It has been very interesting to ponder AFTER I named it that, what someone might put out there once they see the pairing: Painting plus title.
A psychic channeller/therapist told me once: “Intimacy is ‘into me you see’.” I love that. It really breaks it down. Having the ability to allow someone to see into me and just let that be what it is, be what I am is really potent. Potency.
Hey, that’s a great title for my next painting. (remind me later)
Curious, when you see art of any kind, what do you look at first, the title or the art itself? There’s no right answer, of course, but I often wonder how my own brain works with that. It’s really a mind game to get more interactive with the artist, I think.
Then if you really want to dive deep, start to explore the artist’s biography. (nodding to myself, yes, I need to do this more) Have you seen the movies, for example about Picasso? How about Salma Hayek’s great role as the great Mexican artist Frida Kahlo? Although, I’ve read interviews with her talking about how she was treated on set and I’ve changed my mind about recommending the movie even though I loved it.
Seeing Frida’s work, each piece is complete even without looking at the titles, but to me is like icing on her cake of a creation. Even her “self portrait” titles are complete and don’t need to be any more “creative.” At least she named them “self portrait”.
Yes, I am critical of artists who cop out and name their pieces “untitled.” Shame on you! Come on! You didn’t finish your piece! It’s like you made this amazing creation but didn’t have the heart to finish it and you didn’t think it was even worthy of having words, or maybe you thought the audience (like me) didn’t deserve to have any more of your creativity!
“Pssshhhhh! I don’t need to make a title, I’ll just throw ‘untitled’ on there. They can get all of it from just the art piece itself. My art is the masterpiece and is complete! Oh shit, the gallery wants a title? Dammit, I’ll just throw ‘untitled’ on it…”
Yep, that’s how I view you guys who do that. Not sorry! Even if you named it, “Cat” guess what? You’re going to have everyone talking about it, or at least trying to figure you out in their heads.
“Hey, why’d she name it ‘cat’? There must be something I’m missing! Oh I’ll take a closer look. Maybe it’s the new trend to name your artwork something hidden! Hey, Betty, do you see a cat in the painting? I HAVE to know NOW!!!” Both women are now scrutinizing your artwork and possibly didn’t have a care about it in the first place but now are mesmerized because of your title.
OK, ok! So I get it. All of you who have used the name “untitled” probably have created a whole lot more artwork than I have, possibly didn’t know what to name your piece, don’t care what I think and maybe will never hear my roar of frustration.
For those of you who don’t know what to name your creation, let me offer you some tips I have gathered over the years of coaching and research I have done.
First thing is, yes, it’s important. Second thing is, just get it done.
Here are some of my methods of madness: Quickly (I mean no more than 30 minutes), search online for topics that you are writing or painting about and see what words come up in the search. Look over titles of art on fineartamerica.com, etsy.com or other websites that have creative pieces. How about writers websites like medium.com?
Crank out 25-30 ideas that you can skim over and also allow your brain to just relax, that spewing out titles doesn’t have to be perfect from the get-go. If every time you squeaked out a title (like typing live into your blog site) and then deleted it, then typed something else, then got nervous that you didn’t save your blog title yet and oh no, I better save the draft in case something crashes or goes offline. (looking at myself. Yes, I’ve done this too many times)
Once you’ve written out those drafts, just look down the list and see which one stands out to you the most (click-worthy, sexy, mysterious, catchy, controversial, meaningful, gut-feeling-right, goofy, what are you looking to achieve?) BOOM. You’re done. Really. Move on, please.
You’ll get better at it, I promise.
Here you go, introducing “Intimacy,” the not-final photograph of my latest heart-felt piece. Have a blessed, my friend.
May you title all your things of value and have much success. Tell me your craziest names!