Art is hard
Gee, I just looked at my last post … I must have been dreaming. Compared to creating the art itself, creating titles is a piece of cake. Art is hard. “If art is hard, it’s because you’re struggling to go beyond what you know you can do.” That’s from “The Painter’s Primer: A Survival Kit” in LINEA, the Art Student League publication.
And if that doesn’t describe what I’m going through right now, nothing does. Two days a week I have an abstract sketch class with Frank O’Cain at the Art Students League. And instead of using the time to paint something on my own with the benefit of his critique, I’ve been experimenting with trying to create an abstract sketch of the model and fabric setup using an ArtGraf water soluble black carbon tailor shape disk and lots of paper.
So, 14 pieces of paper later, I have a grand total of 2 sketches which are acceptable:
I know it doesn’t look like anything recognizable (it IS abstract, after all), but I look at it and I remember the man and his distinctive hair, the stool, the loops of fabric, the easels…
This one looks a little more like something real (a running man), but still pretty abstract.
I like working with the carbon black. It’s easy to work fast (essential with 5- and 10-minute poses) and you can get the dark, solid black just by dipping the disk in water. No details, just basic shapes, of course but, hey, there’s no time anyway.
The challenge for me now: what do I do with these sketches? Sketches are usually a prelude to a painting. How do I transform these into paintings? How do I go from black and white to color? What color(s)? Aargh!
Did I mention this is hard?!? I certainly have my work cut out for me if I continue down this road…
Painting titles are hard
There’s a lot of advice out there about how to name your paintings. Problem: it’s often contradictory. Painting titles are hard.
First piece of advice: describe the painting in the title. If it’s a red barn along a country road, don’t call it Serenity, Call it Red Barn on Country Road. Or, if the painting is based on a bay in Iceland, call it Breiđafjörđur. Okay, I’ve done that.
Second, call them all Untitled, because it doesn’t matter what the artist intended. What matters is what the viewer (hopefully, buyer) sees or feels. And the artist can never know what that will be. Sorry, but I’ve never done that (although I’ve been tempted). It just feels like a cop out.
Third, name the painting after the feeling it evokes (hopefully). I’ve tried that. When what I captured is a feeling of mystery and there are no words to adequately describe it…
Finally, you just do what you think makes sense. Painting is hard. Titles are hard. You go with whatever works. And sometimes your first choice doesn’t work and you have to change the name.
I just finished two paintings: one I really like, one not as much. The not as much one I was going to call Ebb and Flow. It was based on rain water washing across a concrete surface. The first, the one I really like, I couldn’t figure out what to call (Untitled did come to mind). Actually, the more I thought about it, Ebb and Flow made more sense for the first painting. But then, what to call the second? So I asked my husband what it made him think of and he said, Asia. I decided to call it China Flow. And here they are:
Do you have better titles?