Carolee S. Clark
Newsletter February 2014

"Tapestry Hill" landscape painting by Carolee Clark
© Carolee Clark, "Tapestry Hill," 30" x 30", acrylic
What’s in a Name?  Try naming over 1,000 Paintings!

Many artists I know have a difficult time bestowing a title upon their paintings.  Believe me, I get it!  In the past five years I have painted over 1,000 paintings, each needing a distinct and interesting name.  Some of the names have been inspired and then there are the rest.

Why name a work of art?  There are many good reasons for adding a descriptor to a painting including connecting the viewer to the work in another way, adding more information about the image, and helping with recollection of the image when it goes into inventory.  It is difficult to recall a painting when it is named “Untitled #965” not to mention that it really adds nothing to the experience. 

That being said, how does one come up with a name?  Although some people think of the title before they paint it, I think this is quite rare.  Sometimes a name pops into my head in the middle of the painting as a working title and sticks.  Most of the time I need to assign a moniker at the end.

I love when I can inject a little humor or use a double entendre.  My paintings are quite joyful so I like to continue this feeling into the name of the work.  I stay away from dark and foreboding names and from anything too sappy.  I’ve included a few of my favorite painting names with their images
(click here).

A lot of my street scenes I just chose a name of a street that I think is fun.  After all, how many Main Street, Jefferson and 2nd Streets are there?  A few years ago, I went to see a show of a friend, Bets Cole, when she had a showing of her portraits.  Many of these had been painted during our portrait group so I knew that the name of the model had not been Emily, Zenith or Ashley but she had simply chosen names creatively.  It gave me new insight and permission to name my work something other than its location or who it had been. 

I have named some of my paintings after characters in the books that I have listened to while painting … Jeeves, Sherlock or Zed.   Others have been gleaned from Shakespearean poetry.  I do keep a list of interesting possibilities, but more often than not, nothing on this list fits quite right.

Although I think that naming a painting is important and can help a viewer connect with the work and even help it sell, for me to do it properly and creatively, it can take a huge investment of time.  I admit it … too often, quick and easy wins.

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