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If a Painting Could Speak

It’s Good to be Home, 36×36 acrylic on canvas;
available now at Powers Gallery, Acton, MA

I’ve often heard people say they love the titles of my work. Thankfully they love the work too, but they also make it a point to mention how much they love the title. It happened so often I needed to understand why it was happening with such frequency. I wish I could remember at what point my titles went beyond describing what was in the painting–to the idea of what it could say if it could speak. As though I am divulging a secret of some kind.

As I recall comments about my titles happened when I gave my fisherman a girl in 2014 or so. I began to think of the people in my work and what situation I had positioned them in. I developed a little story between them and thought it would be interesting to look at the work in light of the title. Sometimes the title would be a bit philosophical, hint at a religious sense, or be playful or hopeful. Or even what the painting might say about itself.

It’s not easy to choose one to six words as a title (my personal preference for word count). It’s similar to designing a brandmark or logo that I have done for many years as a graphic designer. There is something both difficult and satisfying about winnowing down multiple options to just some key shapes and letterforms. I think finding thoughtful words that work as titles is a similar process–before, during or after the painting is completed. For sure though, by the time the painting is wrapped and shipped off to a client or gallery.

Lesson learned: Be creative in everything.

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