A Title Can Make It Art, or Make It More Fun.


I think that what separates a work of art from a painting, a sculpture, or a macaroni refrigerator cozy is a good title.

Okay, I know that a painting can be art without a title (usually pretentiously titled, “untitled no. 23“), but think of what a good title can do to an ordinary drawing!

Take this crappy still life I painted a few years back at one of my evening art group gatherings at Artists Repertory Theatre (which included drinking beer, eating happy hour pub grub, and painting for a couple of hours–art groups are something I highly recommend, and will explore a bit more in a future post):

still life

These are objects taken at random by four different artists

still-life painting

This is the resulting “art” from that still-life

Now, this still-life is pretty darn boring. The objects are all theater props that we grabbed at random in the props storage room.  It seems to carry off some kind of Southwestern theme, but I never planned to give it a title, because it is so cheesy.

Well, after showing a friend my painting, we got to talking about how it resembled a cover from an old western fiction book, so I whipped up a suitable title, based on the items in the photo. Keep in mind that, although this is more for humor, the title I think gives it a bit more depth and purpose than its original “painting of a garage sale explosion.”

Here is the photo with its title:

still-life painting with titleNow, I know it completes its total cheese factor, and that’s alright, but I definitely think it achieves a higher function: it is semi-amusing (smile, dammit!), and isn’t that what art is meant to do–evoke an emotion, make you wonder, create a world where one didn’t exist?

Okay, maybe this one isn’t a great example–especially since the title is emblazoned across 30% of the picture.

So, I’m including another photo of one of my paintings, and I’ll offer a possible title, and let you mull that over and come up with your own. I truly hope that whomever reads this offers up a title.

footsteps from the barn

I painted this picture of my backyard when I used to live in a rural area in Oregon.  We had a snow, and I loved how the white of the snow contrasted with the red color of the barn.

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Now, I wouldn’t consider this “high art.” It’s basically a Norman Rockwell-type scene, but that doesn’t mean we can’t give it some kind of title to give it a bit more mystery.

I’m going to title it “Last Walk.”

With that tile, I want to give this ordinary painting a bit of a darker tone.  Hopefully, it might make you look at the picture and ask “why the last walk?” or “whose last walk?”

See, now the art has begun for some of you– others may not need a title, or find them to direct the mind too much.  In this case, the title is only meant as a catalyst–to get the ball moving in a direction I (as the creator) want you to go.

So, what could another title be?  What would YOU title this?  Leave a comment on this page or at my Facebook page.

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Jason Sipe Jason Sipe (68 Posts)

Jason Sipe is an artist, craftsman and writer. He has spent the last 20 years working in the art and media fields. He now turns to this blog and helping others learn about creating art as his main focus.

2 thoughts on “A Title Can Make It Art, or Make It More Fun.

    • Nice! Thanks, man! Our conversation about your painting of two trees is what inspired this post.

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