THE NAMING OF NAMES
The Complex Process of Art Titles
I'm often asked how I determine the titles of my paintings and drawings. I never quite know how to answer because it's different with each piece – sometimes it's a direct idea linked with an image, an immediate knowing and other times, it takes quiet repose and time to articulate a visual concept into a stream of words, searching for the meaning behind the canvas. Other times, still, I reach out to gifted friends who seemingly bounce effortlessly with words and their craft helps to develop a title – I love these particular collaborations – working with poets, writers, visionaries, loving individuals who share their visceral responses to my work and thereby, add greatly to the art experience.
Many times, paintings are inspired by an emotion or a personal experience and the way for me to process it is through the creation of art. These art pieces hold extra meaning for me because they embody that particular time in my life. Art-making is very therapeutic and personal – a private exchange between myself and my fears, longings, joys, questions, secrets. I'm made stronger and more free having created the art piece and the titles have a hint of that personal moment in time.
A few examples to share:
“My Call To You Is In The Wind” – This drawing of a raven was sketched shortly after my father passed away and within my grief there was a deep and natural longing to speak to him one last time. On one particular day, the local ravens were highly vocal, calling to each other and I asked them if they would consider taking a message to my dad on my behalf. This art piece captures that day. Anyone can ask a raven or crow to send a message to a loved one. Carefully craft your message and kindly ask a raven for this personal favour.
“Every Time She Sleeps” – Every time she sleeps, she slips into a misty forest / trees embrace her like a long lost friend / Crow prepares her perfect pillow – For some reason, I've started adding a bit of prose as an extension of the title. This recent painting helped me through a time of deep transition and reflection. The old me was slipping away (“every time she sleeps”) a part of me was going into a deep sleep with the trust that I would awaken as a better person, a better artist (with Crow's help and nurturing – preparing my favourite pillow – this notion gives me a sense of family, even if only through an imagined art image).
“The Changing Winds” – the onset of the pandemic – uuuugh! I found myself changing my art techniques, messing things up (my version of messy) and painting the swirling changes to my world, our world! The raven looks skyward, it's body twisting in pose, wanting to take flight and at the same time, wanting refuge. The dualities inherent in this shared global experience – at times, both hopeful and dreadful, scared and strong, connected and isolated, vulnerable and yet, safe. Art helps us to makes sense of the world and our particular connections and experiences as little humans, awash in a crazy time.