What's in a name?
A classic 'chicken or the egg' scenario as to how a painting is named. It's something I'm often asked about and a question that doesn't have an easy answer. I hope it doesn't sound like a lame cop-out to say "it depends" ... but it does!
Sometimes the painting comes first.
Each painting has its own personality and needs to feel suited for whatever name I choose. I'm not sure it's always my call - I kind of feel like each piece is telling ME what it would like to be known as!
The colours and brushstrokes and scene often tell me what direction I need to go with in dreaming up a name. I wouldn't call a soft and gentle sky something big and bold (those names are for paintings like 'Wild Winds' - below).
As a reader and writer, I am a collector of words and phrases, snippets from poems and song lyrics. I keep a running list (err... lists - they're all over the place!) of possible ideas for titles. Once a painting is done and I'm letting it sit while I dream up a name, I will browse through my little book and see if I can play Matchmaker.
I love it when the perfect name is waiting there for whatever I have just completed! That totally happened with 'Dawning'. I had written it down (is it even a real word?) and knew it was exactly right for the morning light and warmth of that painting.
Sometimes words and ideas spark the idea of a painting.
In fact, starting with a phrase or title in mind is a great jumping off point on those days when I'm looking for somewhere to start. For example, when I was starting to play around with compositions that raised the horizon line to the upper section of the canvas, I had the title 'Highview' in my heart and with that, I ended up painting a beautiful memory of my days living in England and my lovely morning hike up a hill, through a field (past the cows ...pretty sure I was trespassing?!) on my way to work.
I have more title ideas than I think I'll ever manage to use, but there are definitely some at the top of my "I must paint this" list. To name just a few, keep your eyes out for 'Wanderlust', 'Apricot Summer', 'River Silence', and for a giant painting, 'Far-ranging and free'. One I'm holding close to my heart for now is 'Loch Fyne' - it's in Scotland where my parents ashes are scattered and a place, a feeling ... memories ... that I'll paint one day in some way.
A title also has to fit the 'style' of the painting
I have great fun coming up with names for my abstracts! With those I feel I have a bit more leeway to be silly and play around with words; my abstracts themselves are meant to be playful and curious. One of my favourites was 'Kneedeep in the Hoopla' - I have no idea where I got that, but I love it! And it seemed to fit the colourful energetic painting I had been commissioned to do.
And then there was the day I took a deep breath and pick the brightest, boldest magenta as the feature colour of piece - how could I not call this one 'fearless'?
Another abstract name I loved using was 'Riptide' for this bright blue one that feels like the thrilling, very alive and enticing swirl of rushing water.
I could go on and on about titles, where each one came from and why, but ultimately,
I think ...
it's the egg.
Or maybe ...
it's the chicken?
Follow this link to enjoy my latest collection of "Forever Skies". Choosing a collection name is actually really hard - to get one title that encapsulates each piece individually but also represents the collection as a whole is often a challenge ... but one that I love - it feels so great when it finally comes to me!