Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How do you title your paintings? Revisited with Karen Nielsen-Fried


One of my approaches to titles is inviting specific people into my studio.  An artist with insightful vision, Karen  Nielsen-Fried is one of my "go to peeps" for my own work.

Here is her take on titles:

One of the wondrous mysteries of painting, for me, is the not-knowing, the necessary journey without a map, the allowing of the unfolding and blossoming of inchoate ideas into the substance and content of the painting. As i work, words and phrases often play inside my head and intrude into my wordless process; they are phrases that arise as my conscious mind tries to make sense of the intuitive and nonverbal process. I sometime experience this as annoying and I refer to it as "Intrusive Title Syndrome". To quiet these interruptions I make lists of the titles as they occur to me. (I have more titles than i will ever have paintings to title). Sometimes a particular title that comes to me while working sticks for awhile and seems, indeed, to name the painting; to put into words the essence of what I am trying to get at with the painting. I put these "good" titles on pieces of tape and stick them to the back of the painting as i continue working. These titles most often change as the process continues, and sometimes when I finish a painting there are 4 or 5 pieces of tape on the back. Very often i will consider and reject them all and then I will sit and look at and commune with the painting, trying to gather it's spirit and convey it by means of a few words.

I am something of a word geek. I love reading dictionaries and thesaurus(es?), love listening to other languages being spoken, trying to hear patterns and bits of meaning. I am intrigued by the subtle nuanced meanings of words; I revere poets who can distill from and articulate with a few words and phrases some deeply-felt truth. And often it is words and phrases, lines of poetry, titles of books, snippets of conversation, that will fuel a painting. It is then my task-- through the process of painting-- to understand the hold these words have on me, and why they are of such import at that moment, why I am moved by them.  I want my titles to be this same kind of distillation of the essence of my paintings, while still allowing enough ambiguity for a viewer to be able to have their own experience of finding meaning in the work.
For All We Know

  Marginalia

 We Are Always Letting Go

4 comments:

Maywyn Studio said...

Your thoughtful post helps me recognize a neglected treasure in reading dictionaries. Like your painting notes, I write down words as I read. I see it now a part of my poet process.
Thank you for sharing

Christine said...

LOVE this. It is something I also do(rely on my thesaurus) but you said it beautifully and clearly.
"I want my titles to be this same kind of distillation of the essence of my paintings, while still allowing enough ambiguity for a viewer to be able to have their own experience of finding meaning in the work." yes, yes, yes!
Lisa, thank you again for finding thought provoking topics to address, and thank you Karen, for putting into words a process that is close to my heart in my own work.

shirley fachilla said...

I am a representational painter who often, very often, works from life. My process of "titling" is much like yours.
Usually the painting tells me its name (sometimes changing its mind as I proceed). Whether a phrase from a poem, song lyric, memory or just a word with layers of meaning, the title, more often than not, allows room for mystery and for the viewer's own interpretation of the piece.

Sue Marrazzo said...

so Beautiful !!!!!