Titles, a Thought Experiment.

Water Pastel 150116_bSwimming in the Aegean

Today I thought I’d post some more drawings. I’ve been really enjoying working with oil pastels again. I’ve been able to do that thanks to a big piece of turquoise fake fur that I’ve turned into a curtain to keep the cold air out of the studo. Its almost like looking out into the turquoise-blue Aegean… ok, not really…

But from the pictures here it should be clear that we are looking out at the sea – or at least at water: you wouldn’t know it was the Aegean (or any sea, for that matter) unless I did something like title the painting ‘Swimming in the Aegean’, or something similar.

In fact, I hadn’t thought about titles for these drawings until I went to save the digital photos on the computer, which prompted me to ‘Save as.’

So I saved them as Water Pastel (date, a-z).

And I got thinking about the problem of titles again.

I’ve always hated when paintings are ‘titled’ Untitled. It seems to me such a breach of responsibility. One could argue, on the other hand, that a title gives to much ‘direction’ to the viewer, instructing them on exactly how to look at the work. In fact, I vaguley remember there having been times when I have used the strategy of not titling a piece because I wanted to let people find their own way into a work. Most of the time, however, I like to give some kind of instruction – althogh maybe ‘instruction’ isn’t the right word – maybe a title is more like identifying a field – like in charades, when you say (or sign) ‘film’, or ‘book’, or ‘whatever’ to let the other members of your team at least know what ballpark you’re playing in…

In other words, instead of just calling the drawing up above Water Pastel 15.01_b, I could have given it the title, Swimming in the Aegean.

Would that have changed how you looked at the piece?

I think it would have. Although I hate people who go to an exhibit and go straight to the little title card hanging next to a piecce before they look at the piece itself, titles can be very helpful in providing information that can bring a new or different understanding to how you see the work. Sometimes in very surprising ways.

So, let’s try a little experiment:
Here are some of my new oil pastel drawings, with some new titles…

Water Pastel 150116_b
Swimming in the Aegean

 

Water Pastel 150116_a
First Swim of the Season

 

 

Water Pastel 170116_a
Surfs Up

 

Water Pastel 170116_b
Making Waves

 

Water Pastel 150116_b
Look Before Crossing

 

Water Pastel 170116_b
One Down…

 

Water Pastel 170116_a
Drowning Migrant

 

Water Pastel 150116_a
Lonesome 

 

As always, your feedback is appreciated.

 

One thought on “Titles, a Thought Experiment.

  1. Love these oil pastels! Much of what I do isn’t titled. So difficult, when I tend to work on the same or similar, subject matter; how many names can you give a piece of fruit! 🙂 As for the “zillion” faces I draw, just numbering them seems a good idea. 🙂 Giving titles to works is always a bit of a task, when I display my work. Sometimes I write haiku and illustrate them, which can sort of work as a title for the artwork, though funnily enough, a haiku is not titled – traditionally speaking, though my haiku are not that traditional! I’ve enjoyed looking around your blog today; look forward to seeing your future posts. 🙂

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