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Monday, March 1, 2010

The Naming of Names

I promised some more writing about the processes I go through with my art. Obviously naming the piece is an important part of that process. It's one of the joys of being a creator. I'm sure God got as big a kick out of naming Adam as I do naming my pics.
I was asked the other day while dropping some paintings off how I come up with names for my work. The buyer was particularly impressed with the name I had given one specific painting, felt it was completely apt and wanted to understand my thinking.  I fear however that she was disappointed with the answer.
I wish I could pretend that there was some really intellectual process that I go through in picking my names; that I dwell on each painting, obsessing for hours over what it should be called. The truth however is a lot more prosaic and rather self gratifying.

Generally I name my paintings this way:
  • Frequently I use the name of the song that is going through my head and being played frequently while painting that particular picture.  I listen to a lot of music while painting and there is no question that there is a relationship between what's happening on the canvas and what's happening on my speakers.  Somehow, in my mind, the painting becomes imbued with that music and becomes a visual representation of that musical expression. Sometimes the song (or rather the sentiment of it) has even inspired the painting,  ... Okay, now that I read all that back to myself it sounds a lot deeper that it feels when I actually do it. Trust me, I'm only marginally "deeper" than the average bath.
  • Sometimes, there may be something within the painting that resonates strongly with some event or something going on in my life and I will name the painting accordingly. ... See? How boring is THAT?
  • When I'm doing a series, the name is generally related to a my art life, and what I am trying to achieve with that series. Example? Bygone Era. I always associate the term with those old sepia tone photographs, the tones wrong, the highlights blown out, and yet there is something sentimental in those photos. Particularly old wildlife or safari photos. They capture something of the romance and adventure of a time I always felt I belonged to. Sentimental old me. (Hint ... this is why Avant-garde and I don't see eye-to-eye, I'm far too self absorbed ... but more of that next post.)


    "He Was the Moon"(L) & "She Was the Sun"(R)
    (Named from the lyrics of a Minnie Driver song)
    Oil on Canvas
    20cm x 20cm x 4cm

    Usually, I know what a painting will be called before it is signed. Are there times where I feel I have 'misnamed' a painting? Once or twice, but hardly ever. And hey, I'm the creator, if I want to rename it I will!

    Carl is:


    Anonymous said...

    'THAT' is not boring, not deep either, but gives the viewer a better understanding of the psychological prosess that takes place before the brush hits the canvas!!!

    Anonymous said...

    Well that's a lot less boring than "Still life with apple"!
    And how come the series have stopped?
    I really need to get painting again, and this motivates me to get those half finished paintings finished!
    Keep it up.

    Carl said...

    Thanks for the comments.
    I'm glad you see it that way. :) (Hoped you would.)

    ... and actually the series haven't stopped altogether. I have just been a little lazy in giving full names. The most recent series name is Chiaroscuro ... see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiaroscuro ;)
    And yes! get those canvases finished!