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Finding the Perfect Title

Most artists struggle with finding titles for their completed pieces. While sometimes the title arrives with the idea for the piece, more often the perfect name for a finished work of art is challenging to discover.

The usual advice is to use the title to direct the viewer to the most important element in the artwork or the underlying meaning you wish to convey. This title should also be fairly short, catchy, and original. And it shouldn’t be too obvious—there should be room left in for the viewer to add meaning.

All of this is more easily said than done. But here is the thought process behind some pieces from members of the Anderson Artists Guild and some reflections on their word choices.

“I usually like to keep a title short, no more than three words,” said Carolyn L. Gibson. “Only Chimneys Remain (photography) is a tribute to the chimneys that remain at the ruins of the old mill sites. I have always been fascinated with monolithic

structures from Stonehenge to 2001: A Space Odyssey. As I drive through Anderson, they always catch my attention.” Her use of the word “only” helps reinforce the sense of desolation she finds in the ruins.

When Truth Surrendered to Lies (mixed media) is intended to reflect our current political state in this country as far as truth-telling is concerned,” said Dann R. Ward. In the political arena, anyway, lying or saying truth carries equal value. Obviously, there is enough abstractness to allow for other interpretations.” In this title, the use of the word “surrendered” makes clear the artist’s perspective on the current sad state of affairs.

“Back in May I took a trip to Ireland,” said Jane List. “Part of that trip included a visit to the cliffs of Mohr on Ireland's west (Atlantic) coast. It's very majestic and home to assorted sea birds including puffins. So the painting “Incoming” on the Cliffs of Mohr (watercolor/gouache) is based on several photographs taken by myself and a friend as well as what I saw through some high-powered binoculars. A puffin was preparing to land on a high grassy and flowered section of cliff—hence 'Incoming' and then the location.” In this painting, the unexpected use of the word “incoming” conveys an unusual tone, overlaying a lovely natural scene with something more intense, such as a military attack.

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