Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Seafront II, Two Deckchairs and a Blue Towel or I Should Keep Better Records

 Two Deckchairs and a Blue Towel - 10" x 7" - Watercolour

The trouble with bland, prosaic titles is that they are not memorable consequently there is a risk of using the same title twice. I knew an American artist, an exquisite painter, who kept a book of titles. If she thought, overheard or read a phrase that appealed to her she would write it down and use it when the right painting came along. I envied her for this. Her titles were poetic and almost as beautiful as the paintings. My titles are either simply for cataloguing purposes or perhaps to demystify the paintings or maybe to make them more mysterious, I am not sure which.

This painting was originally titled “Seafront II” until I realised that I had another painting with the same title which is coincidentally featured in an earlier post entitled "Some More Oars". I renamed it “Two Deckchairs and a Blue Towel” but I have this nagging doubt in the back of my mind that somewhere out there, there is another painting with that title too. I should keep better records.

Monday, 17 October 2011

What's In a Name or My Best Title Ever

111cm x 79cm - Acrylic on Canvas

My parents were very supportive about my decision to be an artist but my father often complained about the titles I give my paintings. “Too prosaic!” he would say. He once suggested that, had I painted it, I would have titled Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' - 'Seafront VII'. He had a point but I deliberately choose bland titles because I don't want to influence the viewer's reaction to the work. For example I rarely specify the geographical location and I resist emotionally charged words or descriptions. I prefer titles that are lists of some of the objects depicted in the painting or an unemotional description of an activity in the picture. Of course this in itself influences the viewer but a part of me hopes that the viewer will be so unimpressed by the title that they will forget it or pay it no heed while they look at the painting. If I was really confident I would just number the paintings. In fact the first big oil painting I did at art school is called 'One' which is coincidentally my second favourite title. However this is the outright winner even Dad approved of it. It is my best title ever – I called it 'Painting'.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Some More Oars

Seafront II - 7" x 12" - Acrylic on Paper
Here are the same oars as those in the previous painting. Everything else is different, even the type of chair, only the oars remain the same. There is a link here to the later Degas paintings of dancers. I always liked his use of space. I wanted to construct a couple of paintings where the design was more important than the subject. I don't think these are those but Degas is in there somewhere.

Saturday, 1 October 2011


Seafront I - 7" x 12" - Acrylic on Paper

I had just bought a pair of oars for our boat. It's an inflatable, old and patched, designed as a tender but we use it with an electric outboard to explore the local rivers and canal. The oars are for when the battery runs out. I liked them so much that I decided to paint them and this is the first of two paintings in which they are included.