Tag Archives: New Mexico Cancer Center Foundation

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?

Finishing a Painting

Last summer, I spent three weeks in June at an artist residency in Sonoma County, California. During that time I painted seven paintings that I considered finished when I left and one that I knew was incomplete. My task, finishing a painting.

Because I got off on another painting tangent, I have not paid much attention to that series. I have been recently been asked to hang 7-10 paintings for the New Mexico Cancer Center Foundation Annual art exhibit in March. My summer series seemed perfect for that exhibit, so I took a long look at them again, and decided to complete the one that I had not finished.

Here is how it looked when I left California. It needed a lot of help.

Evening #1

Evening #1

Here is how it looked after working on it for several hours.

Evening #2

Evening #2

And here is how it looks for now. I think it is finished, but I have to live with it a while.

Ann Hart Marquis-Evening at Chalk Hill- finishing a painting

Evening at Chalk Hill, acrylic and ink on birch wood panel, 18 x 24 1.5 inches.

After working on this, I started to look at the remaining paintings. I really liked three of them, but the others I thought needed a touch-up here and there. I painted these paintings almost eight months ago. During that time my painting style has evolved. I have some paintings or have sold some paintings that I still would not change a brush stroke. It seems to be an arbitrary arrangement for me.

So now with this painting finished and the others resolved, I seem to be almost ready for the exhibit. But it is almost three months from now. Where will I be then?