Monday, January 31, 2011

Help, I need a title for it...

I finished, well- almost finished - an art project today.

I've been a potter, a ceramic artist, for thirty years. Clay is my art medium. I've done very little with brushes and paints and am in no way a painter. But I have been out of my pottery studio for almost a year now and have had a niggling need to do something besides bake and decorate cakes. So one day I bought myself some paints and started playing around with them. Around that time I read the newsletter from the gallery where I have been showing and selling my pottery for the last fifteen years. I saw that the February show is an open show with a theme (of square art) and I decided to use it as an excuse to experiment a bit. This is what I came up with in my spare time.

Samuel came into my studio tonight and I asked him for a comment on it. All he said was "I don't know what it means." 


How does he think that art should "mean" something? Mr. Dirtywrench looked at it, cocked his head and gave me that look that I knew meant I don't know what it means...

Okay. Listen. It doesn't mean anything. I am not going to scrape together some pretensions and come up with a high-fallutin' meaning for it. It is first of all a painting exercise and secondly a project that I did just for fun. It's a project that doesn't need me to labor in a cold studio with hazardous chemicals. I don't have to submit it to flames of intense heat and lose sleep over whether the results of my hard labor will be good or terrible. I get instant gratification with this project.

There is nothing original about the idea at all. This kind of thing has been done in fabric, in tile, and other media. I simply spent some time painting 12 x 9" canvas papers, I cut them into two inch squares and spent several days arranging them. The gallery might very well tell me to get that thing outta here. 

If they do let it stay in the gallery it needs some kind of a title. I need some help here. Does anyone have a good idea? I have one day to come up with something.


  1. Hmm. If it's not meaning, it's aesthetics, or the process, right?

    If you can find some word or phrase about one of those that means something to you or suits the piece, and could resonate or click with viewers, then you're set.

    Permutation? Rumination? (sorry; that came from a thesaurus search on "meditation") Change? Switch? (Since you switched or changed the squares around and also changed media for this piece).

    "[List of pigments] on small squares having undergone arrangement into a whole?" "No high-falutin' pretensions?" (All depends if you're interested in selling the thing; looks to me like something that could sell, in the right gallery.)

    Let us know what you do use, and what happens at the gallery! In my next life I want to be a gallery-represented artist -- but also independently wealthy. ;)

  2. It occurs to me that my last statement may be ambiguous. I'd just like to have enough dough to paint full-time without worrying whether I can produce or sell enough to contribute my part to the household.

  3. It's beautiful whatever you call it.

  4. SG- Thank you!

    a chris- what good ideas! Are you an artist? It was the process on this piece and I don't care to sell it but the gallery may make me put a price on it ($29.95?)I doubt it would sell anyway.
    I expected to see suggestions of "I Don't Know What It Means" ;-)
    Hhmmm....change. Changing Horses? A Horse of A Different...uh...Element? Media?


  5. Clever and pretentious at the same time.

  6. The two names that come off the top of my head are:
    "Of arc and iris" Yes, this sounds bizarre, but the word rainbow in Spanish is arcoiris, pronounced ark-oh-ee-rys.
    The other would be "Spectroscope squared", or possibly "Square Element", references to spectroscopes, which are scientific instruments used to measure light wavelength produced by certain elements in gas form. The spectroscope breaks the light down into primary colors, with each color having a specific wavelength. Elements can be identified by the wavelengths of light they give off. An example is measuring light wavelength of stars or gas clouds in the universe in order to determine their chemical makeup.
    Nerdy and pretentious at the same time.

  7. Well, what it is, is... reflected frost. I do like it. - Bill

  8. It's very pretty! When I read how you made it/ put it together I thought of a quilt. So that's my basic suggestion. "Quilt". Simple, unpretentious.

  9. Thank you everyone, for you input. The piece now has a nice black frame and is going to the gallery. I think I'll title it "Spectroscope Squared" for the reference to both the colors and the squares. The gallery show is called "Art Squared" . I will take photographs there later this week and post them so that you can see the other square art!

  10. It is beautiful, the undulations and graduations of color are just lovely. I was thinking "Prism". This is just the type of abstract art I so do love.

  11. I'd buy it in a heartbeat!
    I love it! Once when I was selecting paint for the bedroom I was pouring over the paint chips and the little booklets of suggestions you find at the hardware store. There was a page full of little squares arranged by shade. All the colors were beautiful and I thought how can I decide? I want all of them.

  12. It really is stunning. I love it! I have a feeling there are going to be lots of folks who feel the same way when they see it!

  13. Whoops, I'm just dropping by this post to see what happened with this painting.

    Have you put a price on it yet? I've been reading a little on this topic lately, and it sounds like perceived value is an important part of how much people enjoy their art purchases. If it sells at $29.95 I hope it's to someone who can't easily afford 5-10x more, and who will realize that was a very fortunate find.

    To answer your question: I'm not an artist at the moment (never say never, right?). My chosen career has been physics. Right now my attention outside of work is dominated by a two-year-old!

  14. I hear you, Chris!

    I've participated in discussions about perceived value, most recently at workshops for the Open Studio Tour, but with this, my first real painting, my first non-clay piece hung in a gallery, I really felt I couldn't be pretentious with the price. I didn't intend to sell it anyway. I made it purely for fun and a personal challenge. I thought I'd give it away with my kid's getting first chance at it if they want it. The gallery likes to see a price on the work in a show though, and I would like to support the gallery too (they get 40% of the sale) so I initially put $295 on it which brought objections from the gallery manager who raised it to $395. At the opening reception one person came up to me with an incredulous comment about the price being so low. I just think anything higher than that is too much for something by me. Everyone seemed to think someone will grab it and that's fine. If not, I'll give it away.

  15. Whew. I'm glad to hear that.

    If it does sell, good for you (and the gallery, in these tough times). If not, lucky for one of your kids!


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