Sunday, September 2, 2012


"By viewing nature,
Natures handmaid, art,
Makes mighty things,
From small beginnings grow..."
~Dryden - Annus Mirabilis~
(The above quote is used as text on this piece.)

 You might be wondering why you would need to title your artwork.  Many times you do see published works that are accredited to an artist but described as "untitled".  Titling your work makes it more memorable.  It leads the viewer to a suggestion of what you want the piece or pieces to say.  A title is a signifier, a thread, or an open door as a way for the viewer to approach the image and appreciate what the artist is trying to say. Titling your work is also important if you are presenting at a gallery, a show, in a publication, or when artwork is for sale.

For me, titles rarely ever come until the work is complete and I have had time to spend with the art looking at it and thinking about it.  It is kind of like writing a book, you always have a working title but often it changes once the book is brought to completion.
 (I used a contrast of hard and soft textures of metal and fiber to give this piece depth and dimension.)

Sources for titling your work are abundant from the actual materials you use to getting out a dictionary, thesaurus, a synonym finder, poetry phrases, lines of a quote, magazines, books, song titles or lyrics, anything that will connect to the image(s) of the body of work you are trying to title.  You want to seek out a title that supports your work, but that also challenges or engages the viewer.

Spend some time with your artwork once it is complete, look at it, study it, then ask yourself what you are trying to say or show through your piece.   Is there a hidden depth or meaning?  A message you wanted to covey?  Simplicity or beauty?   Is there a mood or feeling you you want it to express?
 (I like how this little egg sort of rolled right off the edge of the canvas.)

Find key words that tie your series together or express what your individual artwork is about and make a list of as many as you can think of.  Write down any ideas or impressions you get from viewing the finished work. Then, narrow the list down to a few descriptions that describe the focal point or message of your work.

Take a standpoint of a viewer of your work not as the creator.  Ask yourself what stands out the most or what draws you to the work the most.  Narrow your list even further by these descriptions.
 (I used same texture on texture and same technique on technique to add interest to this piece.)

You have to figure out what you want your work to convey even before someone looks at it.  What feeling or response do you want it to invoke in the viewer?  Narrow your list to the best of the best descriptions of your work.

TIP:  Alliteration (the repetition of a beginning sound) helps when titling, you want a title that flows off the tongue and creates strong imagery or emotion.

From your list you will be able to create a title for your artwork that is descriptive, meaningful, and sounds great.
(I also used a variety of hand dyed fabrics to enhance the design.)

TIP:  Invite someone else to view your finished work and monitor their response or ask them to make a list of their observations.

TIP:  You want to stay away from negative titles, such as "Rage".  Most people do not want to purchase or hang a negative titled work in their home or office.  You may well have been trying to express rage in your work but more than likely it will be a hindrance to a selling point.  Although there are a few select collectors who might want a negative piece for their collection.

Not all work will lend itself to a title and that is perfectly fine too.  Often there are series or individual works that are simply numbered and signed and that is perfectly acceptable also.
 (Piece three of the series complete!)

TIP:  You also want to stay away from a title that is too obscure or vague or has a meaning only to you that your viewer or potential customer will not readily recognize or relate to.

Now, I need to go and spend some time with my artwork, taking my own advice to titling this series.
 (The complete series hanging out in the studio)

 Do you have any tips for titling artwork?
Do you want to help me in that process?
Then leave me some ideas in the comments,
 I 'd love to hear them!

PART 1: Thoughts on Working in a Series can be found HERE
PART 2:Artistic Goal setting can be found HERE


bobbie said...

I'm no help right now on the titling... All I can say just now is:
So Beautiful!
I'll sleep on it ~

Amy said...

Good thoughts. I really like the woven hand dyed fabrics that mimic the woven paper background. The stitching over it really adds texture and presence. Hmmm . . . a title? I'll have to think on that.

Ellen said...

Your work is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.


Robin said...

This is another beauty Sandy, your colors, theme and textures make for an awesome series of pieces! I love the way the egg hangs off the canvas, great touch!! I'm sure you'll come up with an awesome title for your series.


Katherine Wolak said...

I love your piece!!! Its just as stunning as the first and has so much meaning to it. :) Lovely creation!


Vee said...

Now what I thought to be a necklace was not at is a woven chain capturing an egg... Always fascinating to see the levels of your work.

We who blog could use some of your naming techniques to help with blog titles.

While I might agree with you on "Rage" sometimes a work demands a more negative tone. I attended a quilt show one year and one quilt remains with me. It's name? Alzheimer's The quilt began in order and sequence moving on to disorder and fractured patterns.

The player is working beautifully...

Beth Leintz said...

Sandy, I've really enjoyed watching your process as you've gone through making a series. I think your work is just stunning, but I'm glad you shared the down side, too. It really made me think about stops and starts on pieces, do I have to finish everything, is it ok to put away a piece when I'm not having fun anymore.

I don't have any answers- but it has made me think and I appreciate that.

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh when you said to stay away from negative titles such as "Rage!"

I have seen titles like that before and they always get my attention, but I would never want to buy them:D

I love the bird in the nest-your work is so lovely and unique!

Dorthe said...

Dear Sandy-
I so admire your art works, and this beautiful series hanging with the most wonderful background in your studio is another admirable fantastic project.
I have folloved and read your posts about creating it, and am in awe over your skills, and way of seing and doing.
Thankyou for yet another amazing experience visiting your blog.

Catharina Maria said...

This is a little dream !
Love it so much !

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