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.
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.
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?