Friday, August 28, 2009

What's in a Title

"Well, Art is Art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water---and east is east and west is west, and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce, they taste much more like prunes than rhubard does."
------- Groucho Marx, in Animal Crackers, 1930

These are some of my favorite things on a corner of my desk in my library.

What do you think these are titles of?
  1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
  2. I Can do Bad All by Myself
  3. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
  4. 9
  5. The Men Who Stare at Goats
  6. 2012
  7. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
  8. The Blue Tooth Virgin
If you guessed movies, you would be right. These are titles of upcoming movies due out this fall. And yes, in the movie THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS (George Clooney), there really are goats and there really are men who stare at them.
What do you think these are titles of?
  1. When You are Engulfed in Flames (David Sedaris)
  2. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Dave Eggers)
  3. Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight (Alexandra Fuller)
  4. All Over but the Shoutin' (Rick Bragg)
These are books on my shelf and all excellent memoirs.

This painting is an early attempt of combining assemblage with paint. Several years ago, when I started my big theme of exploring the passage of time and what remains, I did a series of paintings that dealt with identity. I would either include my hand print or my fingerprints in these paintings. When I start a series, I brainstorm lists of words. Some of these words usually become titles for those paintings. This one is titled AUTHENTICITY. I am always trying to figure out who I am, what I like, what I am searching for, and am I being honest with myself and my work. So, I usually have my titles and paintings planned out before I begin. I know the title, the colors I am going to use, the papers, the found objects, the imagery, words and so on before I even begin. Some artists come up with their titles after they finish the piece. Some artists don't have a plan and as they work on the piece, and as it emerges, a title might come out of that experimentation. Some artists get their titles from other sources, like movies or books. How do you come up with the titles in your work?


M said...

I was thrilled to read your post because my post today was also about titles for work. I thought your introduction with titles of movies and books was very interesting because my preferences for the names of books, movies etc. are never intriguing, long or catchy. Oh yes, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is also a book! It was a favourite of primary school children in the eighties.

Tess Kincaid said...

I want to reach out and touch those marvelous smooth stones on your desk! Your post brought to mind one of my children's favorite books, "The Adventures of Goat".

.Trudi Sissons said...

Interesting topic - and I'm fascinated by how you approach your creations. I haven't much considered how I approach titles but they are rarely decided prior to completing a collage. I have occasionally been inspired by poetry or more often lyrics of a song I've been listening to while I create. You've provided me with some intriguing brain candy to chew on. Thanks.

Now this photograph above of the stones and rabbit - is delightful. They are TOUCH stones.....from my view here!

layers said...

The small 'stones' on the corner of my desk in my library are small fossils called ammonites. The are circular in form and I love to collect them. They are millions of years old!

ArtPropelled said...

Donna, I really enjoy reading your posts. They hit the spot! Love the objects on your desk! Love the painting! Titles .... hmmmm ... sometimes they come first and some times while I'm working or days after completion but I do like to have some idea of the title in the beginning. With the piece I've just finished (Tree of Knowledge) I'm still not sure and I didn't have anything in mind when I started. The 10 minute collages I've been doing as a journaling exercise have produced some interesting titles that I might use for carvings.

Don't Lets go to the dogs tonight, was a good read.

Leslie Avon Miller said...

Even your dog and cat are in keeping with the colors you love….It has occurred to me that not only do you collect beauty; you also edit out a lot. I say this because as a person who has “inherited” a lot of things, I notice your collections are harmonious and don’t contain things that aren’t in keeping. Wisdom of the Collector – there is a title for a painting!
What a delicious blog you are creating! It is like a gift to come here and see what’s going on and to read about your art process.

Kelly M. said...

Awesome stones! What a wonderful desk -- I can't see mine as it's buried (ha). Titles usually arise somewhere midway or towards the end of the process, although I may have a notion before starting. But sometimes things change as the process moves me through it, seeming to take on a life of its own? What a fun entry, Donna -- truly appreciated on this rainy, chilly Saturday afternoon!

John M. Mora said...

I named the work I did before which were quilts - all named afterwards - soem p\oetically (I hope).

The blackberry photos now are untitled and I saw/edited one today and said to myself it deserves name and the idea passed....quickly.

I wan rtthem to stand alone...that title would have imnproved a less stellar image...hope that makes sense.

For good work, for me titles can tie the intellectual with the emotional...word and images can be a yang/ying.

John M. Mora said...

I particualrly love the bottom of Authentic. You ask questions and I get distracted....

Ruth Armitage said...

Cute photos of Kobe and the kitty :) I often find my title as I work, but when I don't I sometimes find it in my reading. If not, I sometimes resort to reading the dictionary or thesaurus. Many times my titles are used for more than one painting... Mother & Daughter I, II, III etc. Nice post!

Seth said...

Really interesting post. One to make you think. My titles usually come after the piece is complete...although on occasion they come to me in progress. Love the fact that as artists, we all have our own way in this regard.

Bridgette Guerzon Mills said...

sometimes the title comes to me while i'm working, but often it's only once the work is completed. I keep a journal that is purely phrases/sentences/words that have struck me. whether they just come to me, or I hear it or read it. I turn to this to help me title my works when it doesn't come to me immediately.

Lisa Ursu said...

I love this post! The white rabbit on your desk reminds me of the rabbit holes I jump into. Sometimes I never know where the creative process is going to take me! Thanks for sharing.

Egmont van Dyck said...

Your words struck a cord, a bit of a somber note I am afraid to say and that is all right.

Though the subject is about titles, which I find are road maps the artist must provides for the viewer to connect and understand their artwork, it is the process of the work itself that you have briefly touched upon and that I wish to ponder further.

You speak of trying to figure out who you are, what you like or are searching for and have this be part of your visual work, giving yourself the authenticity of an identity, that which is so important to us artist. Yet I dare to ask, how easy or how difficult is it to reach the level of freedom to express those emotions?

Is there a wall, the fear of failure that must first be overcome? Even if that wall were to crumble, what about the inability to allow oneself to be free?

Like you I have laid out before me the materials, the colours and tools. The mind knows what it wishes to express, the urges are there . . .

except the hands are tied, the voice silenced.

I have marveled at your work and that of other artist like yourself. Being able to read your accompanied thoughts have given me an appreciation and deeper insight of what I look am looking at.

I know I have been rambling on incoherently, please forgive me. I see that you are able to be in touch with your inner self and have this be part of your work. This is where I struggle as I wish to come to terms with my recent open heart surgery and express artistically my feelings.

For now all I can say is thank you for being there as an artist, sharing your work with us. I have connected with your work and found some form of inner peace because of it.

Thank you.

John M. Mora said...

thanks for the link...

layers said...

thank you Egmont and everyone for leaving such thought provoking comments. Finding self and identity in our work is an ongoing process and I have thought a lot about this and have lots of suggestions which I plan to post in the near future.