Tag Archives: Healdsburg

Painting Titles

For the last two weeks I have been writing about metaphor and how a creative work can have different meanings to different people.

Coincidentally, several days ago I posted an announcement for my upcoming exhibit at the New Mexico Cancer Center on Facebook. The announcement also contained this painting.

Ann Hart Marquis- how painting titles influence a viewer's response

The Ravine, 18 x 24 x 1.5 inches, acrylic and charcoal on birch cradle.

I gave it no title on my Facebook post and said nothing about it. Within two minutes my friend Robin Sanders, an ex-Marine who lives in Texas, made this comment about the painting. He obviously didn’t give it much thought, he just pulled an association from his life.

“The struggle is real for these surviving five lone trees. Set among the desolate but green hills, they are what’s remaining… SURVIVORS.”

This is not what I was thinking as I painted the scene, but because of this young man’s experiences, he came up with a different metaphor than I would. He probably would title this painting “The Survivors.”

This painting is part of a series that I did at my artist residency in Healdsburg, CA in June. I could have called it Hill Oaks, or Looking East, but I chose to look at the painting from a different perspective. My metaphor? Perhaps looking into the future, being in awe at all of the open space or wondering what was beyond my sight.

Titles

Which brings me to painting titles. With some paintings, the title reflects the metaphor that I am trying to project. Some paintings just get a descriptive title. In any case, I think that titles or art work deserve a little thought or introspection. I don’t title a painting until after it is finished because I don’t know where it is going or how I will know when it is finished.

In Lisa Pressman’s art blog  she says that painting titles “are crucial—not only for the viewer but also for myself. They are a suggestion, a signifier, an open door, a thread, the light: to a way to approach the image.” I couldn’t have said it better.

Do painting titles influence you?

Artist Residency Completed

Ann Hart Marquis-Chalk Hill Russian River-artist residency

Chalk Hill Russian River, acrylic on birch panel, 20 x 20 inches, 2015. ©Ann Hart Marquis

I spent the last three weeks at an artist residency in Healdsburg, CA. The Chalk Hill Artist Residency is located in the rolling hills of Sonoma County on 250 acres of vineyard. It was a beautiful location and what made it especially lovely for me was that it is about 12 miles from where I grew up.

I stayed in an old 5-bedroom farm house complete with a covered front porch with spectacular views. I also had a large studio that looked out over a nearby pond. Since I was there alone, I had nothing to do but create, walk along the Russian River, read art books look for wildlife and meditate.

My only responsibility was to paint whatever I wanted. I choose to paint the landscape that surrounded me. I had never painted grape vines before or California Oaks. It was enjoyable for me to try to capture them both.

Ann Hart Marquis-Chalk Hill Oak-artist residency

Chalk Hill Oak, acrylic on birch panel, 20 x 20 inches, 2015. ©Ann Hart Marquis

There are many artist residency programs available both nationally and internationally. If you ever decide to pursue one, I hope that yours is as meaningful as mine.