According to the view of the well-known and respected British portrait painter, Lucian Freud, "The only point of titles on the whole is to distinguish one painting from another." However, I do not totally share his sardonic view of this important part of the painting process... for my Self at least.
Assigning a title to a work... is in fact, the final act in the "play" that we artists fashion through our varying processes of thought and activity.... just as signing the work draws our explorations to a point of closure. The title can reflect a wide variety of considerations ranging from simply describing the subject as it is visually presented... through to humour... deeper spiritual, political, intellectual... or reflective motifs. It depends totally upon the thinking process that the artist undergoes... and develops to further encourage and engage the viewer.
In a recent visit that I made to the blog site of an artist, whose work I deeply admire... I was greatly surprised to hear that artist... so prolific and evocative in her children at the beach imagery admit that creating titles was an unpleasant and difficult task for "Her". I was surprised... because her beautiful passages of children at play... "speak" so eloquently and effectively... without any need for words being attached.
I left a comment to that effect to encourage "Her" to think beyond her usual "perspective" of the artist... and "to shift" her thinking/ perspective to perhaps that of the children she was depicting in her images. What would they "say"? Perhaps a wonderfully accurate and novel title might come out of that small "shift in perspective".
In my own case... "I" very rarely suffer from this problem. Often, "I" already have the title in mind before the work is underway... whether in the studio... or en plein air. On many occasions my paintings and their titles owe their presence to a poem... a phrase... or a quotation encountered during my reading. I collect title "Ideas" for future use as paintings or themes in my sketchbooks... so they don't get lost to Time.
On many... many occasions "I" actually pair a painting... with a poem and title that I have created as either a primary or secondary response to something "I" have seen or felt. Encouraged by friends... collectors and family members...I have gathered a number of them together and self-published them in a volume entitled "The Paintings and Poetry of A.W. Bruce Sherman". It can be previewed on our web site http://www.thepaintboxgallery.ca if anyone is interested further in learning more about that process.
This brings "Me" to today's post subject: "Coming and Going".... the title for the final product for my current and freshly completed 36x30 inch canvas which explored my ramblings and adventures in the ancient fishing village of Crail in Fife, Scotland. The concept of ..."coming and going " can be applied at so many different levels in relationship to my experiences in Scotland... and in regard to Crail in particular.
It was here... in this village... viewing "The Hen's Ladder"... that this "Idea" started to take form. My first sketch... or "impression" done on my first visit to Crail records "The Coming". My perspective was very low for this sketch... looking across and up at The Hen's Ladder". After completing the sketch, I worked my way completely around the harbour to the very base of this "ladder".... and in so doing... began to more fully understand why it had its unusual name. One mounted a succession of shallow steps that reached flat planes at intervals... allowing one's ascent/lift to this great elevation... to be more gradual and comfortable to climb.
Midway up... "I" was confronted by a rose-laden stone cottage... the visual impression fairly knocked the very wind out of me. "I" paused... sucked it all in... took some reference photos and then continued the ascent further. Wedged between an ancient waist-high stone fence and a wooden picket fence... festooned with leafery and flowers... "I" turned.... "shifted my first perspective"... from my earlier perspective below... and was greeted by the one-of-a-kind scene that is the subject... "Coming and Going".
"The Going" part of the title was created... when "I" turned my back on that beautiful site and made my way back to the bus stop and back to my B&B "digs" in St Andrew's. I was not to return to this place... though "I" vowed to. My main reason for coming to Scotland was to "be"... with Allison... to celebrate her accomplishments there. The remainder of my time would be given entirely to that purpose...... freely... and joyfully. We shared wonderful and memorable time together.
The excitement of returning to the place from which my Grandparents had come to find and make a new and better life in Canada made my "Coming"... worthwhile and meaningful to "Me".
My "Going" was made easier by the fact that the images... people... events and memories "I" would carry with "Me".... would sustain "Me artistically and spiritually... for the remainder of my days.
"Coming... and Going". We all come... and must go.
Life... full of paradox where one state cannot exist except with the other.
"I" am deeply blessed!
Good Painting to All!