By the way, I titled the painting posted below (on 12/4) Flicker
. This alludes to both the glowing, emberlike colors of the orange panel and the dance of the insect forms across the surface. When I brought Flicker
in to Circa Gallery
last week, Wanda, the director, said, "haven't we had that title before?" "No,"I said, but I've brought in Flutter
, and Skatter
, so I can see why you'd be confused.
Titles can be a bit of a challenge. Here is a link
to an interesting analysis of titles by painter Robert Genn, who posts a bi-weekly essay on his site, The Painters Keys
. According to Genn, titles can be classified in five ways--as Sentimental, Numerical, Factual, Abstract or Mysterious. Personally I try to avoid Sentimental and also anything that seems too self-consciously Mysterious (or Cosmic) for my work.
My favorites are simple words that are open to interpretation, such as Core
. I also like place names, like Taos
(a volcano and nearby village in Costa Rica)...I lean towards these when a painting, through its colors and textures, has strong associations for me with a particular location. Lately I've been using a new catagory of words, signs of the zodiac (Pisces
.) It's not that I'm so into astrology, but I like the way the signs are grouped into earth, air, fire and water symbols. Often my paintings evoke one of these elements, and perhaps convey a sense of the associated character.
Last but not least, I will reveal one of my great sources for titles--vehicle model names. I check them out when I'm waiting for a light to change or walking through a parking lot. This isn't as weird as it may seem...car companies spend a lot of time and effort coming up with words that are poetic and interesting, without being too specific, which is often just what I'm after. So in years past I've had Geo, Horizon, Contour
and more recently, Echo
(#1 and #2.) And I've got a few more jotted down for future reference. There are plenty that will never make the cut--Windstar
??--way too Sentimental! Grand Am
?? I don't think so. But it's a decent source, at least as good as randomly sticking my finger in the dictionary. Which isn't always so bad either.