Wednesday, June 3, 2009


© Joanne Licsko
18"x20" oil on canvas

Giving a title to a work of art is not mandatory.  Some artists are content with no title, some will simply number their works.  In my own work, I prefer to give some direction to understanding where I my feelings were, or where the inspiration came from.   A title may prompt a viewer to take a second look, to go deeper.  To please myself, I strive for aesthetic pleasure, therefore, making it too easy for the viewer to assume the painting is just a pretty picture.  Usually, I have a theme, or a serious statement behind what I consider to be my better works.   An appropriate title will help make the connection I am hoping for.

Of all my paintings, my favorite title "Wrapture" came from a rapid fire, verbal duel with my friend Joe who possesses a great wit.  Showing the newly finished work to him, I mentioned I had not yet found a satisfying title for it.  He started in with all sorts of ideas, mostly humorous.  His playfulness took me out of my ineffective "search mode".  Spontaneously, and mindlessly, the title flew out of my mouth.  We both new instantly that it was perfect.

Rarely, the title for a painting will come before the painting has begun.  This can happen when a juried show has a theme, and one knows the subject before the vision.  

Most frequently, my muse delivers the title near the completion of the painting.  Sometimes, I think she must be on vacation, or having an affair with another artist, or maybe she just doesn't like the painting, because the work never seems to find a title with any sparkle to it. Example: Bowl with Peppers.

To my dismay, the painting shown above, sat on the gallery wall much longer than I expected.   The painting was the unintentional result of a late summer trip to my farmers market.  I had returned home with a big bag of exotic peppers knowing they would be greatly appreciated by my Hungarian born husband.  I poured the peppers into a stainless steel bowl, and placed it on a table already covered with a leopard print cloth.  The scene was lit by the late afternoon sun from a west window.  I fell in love with the sight, and a series of chance events became a painting titled "Bowl with Peppers".  

Recently, I changed the title.  I didn't tell my gallery, but in my computer files, I changed the title on all references to the painting to reflect what I at last understood was my genuine inspiration -  the harvest bounty, abundance.  Within two weeks of changing the title, it sold.  Coincidence?  Perhaps. 


  1. I've had a similar experience. I had a series of numbered landscape collages. Boring way to title things I guess, but so easy!! A friend remarked that one looked like the annual Kite Day at a local open space preserve. I renamed the piece "Kite Day at Windy Hill" and it sold within a week -- after sitting for months without a nibble of interest.

  2. Hi Joanne, one of my own painting titles was born out of frustration. I had been painting pears and looking at other artists perfect pears. Then putting aside all my preconceived ideas of pears, I knew exactly how I really wanted the pears, my interpretation. But I thought no one else would understand, so I called them 'rejects' and still think it to be the right title. Not sure what others think but I think wahtever title we give a painting some of it does colour the viewer's ideas about the painting.

  3. Lovely painting; really like the cloth design.

    I was in a hotel once with the owner who was a painter. He had paintings of his hanging and a hotel guest asked to buy one. She then asked him the title of the painting and when he told her, her reply, "Oh, I would never buy a painting with a name like that." Thus the name cost him a sale.

  4. Surely the title should only come from you? I also suggest that you should not "name" it so quickly rather paint, leave it and contemplate it for awhile - as you say you changed the title and I have done that on more than one occassion on a photograph which I put up on my blog... Painting is emotional largely and it is your emotion and perception, which needs time to solidify and settle... I like the work by the way...

  5. I like that you think about such things. It makes you interesting to me and I shall visit you often.


  6. Titles are illusive. At times I have had them fantasticlly fly out of my mind but most times-Ahh!
    Great blog and wonderful work