Caroline Henry Art Blog
A natural bridge formation arches over churning seas. Where the ocean meets the horizon a line of clouds meets blue skies. White surf washes the beach where an orange hues sea star lies in the sand. The entire painting is a mere 5" by 7". Details were scratched from india ink coating clay-covered board and colors were added with water color paints. Once the work was completed, it needed a name. Does one choose the obvious or go beyond that?
Real titles, as compared to the descriptions one puts together for E-bay, can invite the viewer to see the painting in a certain way. There are those who go the "Untitled" route on the grounds that the painting should speak for itself, but this seems to be a rather weak out. It may suggest a sudden loss interest on the part of the artist, and it certainly makes it hard to discuss the body of work by an artist. Not good for marketing. So "Untitled" it is definitely not.
Actually I have showed this once, under the rather descriptive and obvious title "Natural Bridges Formation". It does depict the last of the arches left in Natural Bridges State Park near Santa Cruz, California. Once there were three. The title I finally came up with is allegorical: Permanent As Stone. Any one familiar with the shore line action of water and wind upon stone knows that over time cliffs are worn away until we get formations such as this, which will wear away to stacks, and finally to sand upon the beach. The title suggests we should not have too much confidence in great, permanent things; just check the economy if you don't "get" what I'm saying.
Other titles can appeal to the emotional impact of the painting. Many of Paul Gauguin's paintings have descriptive titles, but some of his Tahitian works such as "Where Art You Going?" and "Alone" invite us into the grief in the scene. Other titles direct us into the pool of cultural myth and experience from which a work comes. Imagine a painting of a beautiful woman of uncertain age gazing from a rocky cliff out to sea. Regardless of how she was dressed or draped, with a second look different things would go on in our minds it the painting were called "Woman Gazing out to Sea" versus "Penelope Waits" . Titles can give significance to particular details: most people with an interest in art would know just what painting I meant if I simply said, "You know, the one with the Pearl Earring". If you are stuck for other possibilities, what can you do with the colors in the painting? "Blue Evening", "One Red Blossom", "Bright Yellow Slicker", etc.
Some of us find titling works easy, and others of us always struggle with it. The main thing is to paint well. If you struggle with titles, you might look to others for suggestions or just pick works you like. If you call you still life with lemons something like "Rugby Rotation" maybe people will think you are a divergent thinking genius!!