Choosing Titles For Paintings

I am in the process of preparing for my fourth exhibition within a year’s period of time (it opened Sept. 7 at Fresh Paint Art Gallery in Culver City, Calif.). Selecting titles for paintings is an essential part of that process.

My workshop students and collectors often ask how I title my paintings.

Titles are very significant to me, and I take time to really think about them. It is my opportunity to share words with the viewer that suggest some direction. The titles come from something that may be going on in my life, something that influences me at the time when I am working on the work or I have a sense of what I want to name them as I am looking at them when they are completed. One of those “aha moments” where the paintings just reveals a name for itself.

For an example, a painting that is in this show is called Mesmerized by the Sky. I painted this work while spending a month in Santa Fe, where I lived for six years before moving back to South Florida two years ago. One thing that has always amazed me about Santa Fe is the sky, and after being away from it for two years, when I finished this particular painting, I looked at it and thought of this name immediately. I was feeling mesmerized by the sky during my return to this enchanted place!

As a mother of three children I am currently experiencing my first child going off to college, my middle child driving and my youngest going into middle school. Again I work out my feelings about these transitions in the studio. The painting at top, Enhanced by Transition, will also be in this show was painted in Santa Fe this summer too. I had the usual opportunity to spend some time alone with my oldest daughter who will be attending college.

My other two children were away on summer excursions for a month. This was another painting that when I looked at it I immediately thought about my feeling of this transitional time and how it can enhance everyone in my family in some way. My thoughts were how change can be difficult but that you can always find with it an opportunity for growth.

I always have an ongoing dialogue with my work. Alone in the studio maintaining concentration and focus, it is often quite clear what the title should be. I select titles that do not destroy the mystery of the work or the viewer’s ability to create their own connections and stories about the work.

Here are a couple more works I did during my time in Santa Fe, which will be in an upcoming group show on Women’s Work at Turner Carroll Gallery in Santa Fe, NM in Nov. 2013-Jan 2014.

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