Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What's in a Name...Artwise

"The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names." -- Chinese proverb

At base, it many seem like a simple thing. That is, giving an object a name. We do it all the time for our pets, our children, sometimes our cars and, well, sometimes for certain body parts. Sometimes we do this without much thought. For example, pets' names like 'Fluffy' or 'Fido' or 'Polly' (for parrots, obviously). Children (usually) get more thought put into their names or, sometimes, too much thought. For instance, Moxie Crimefighter Gillette, daughter of Penn Gillette and wife. Was it too much or not enough thought in that instance? You decide...

I've always been fascinated by names, probably because I've always been fascinated with words and how they work, sound and blend together to create something beautiful, something ugly or something magical. As a writer, I've often come up with the title first, and everything else falls into place. Sometimes, however, a written piece culminates in a stressful quest for 'just the right name/title'. Have I always been successful? That's anybody's guess and part of the subjectivity inherent in art.

It's no different for works of art in all media, at least IMHO. I have it on good authority that da Vinci's original name for the Mona Lisa was "Peevish Babe in Black". Hmmm, not a name that would've gone down in history, conjuring up romance and mystery--and probably upsetting his benefactors, the Giaconda family. Or, at the very least, would've given poor Nat King Cole and miss rather than a hit song.

No matter what I create, I often try to give a piece an appropriate name. Sometimes for aesthetic reasons, sometimes for marketing reasons, but always for the right least, to me. When I painted the above portrait of the Fab Four I did it at a very confusing time. One month after Lennon's assassination and two months after I married my adorable husband, Mark. On one hand, the painting was cathartic. On another, it was a celebration of life and creativity and how creativity can be a healer of wounds. After much deliberation, I decided on, simply, "January 1981".

Designing jewelry, from the standpoint of naming an object, hasn't been any less challenging, most of the time. The daisy bracelet in 'coffee' -type shades (also pictured above, as I can't get the photos to show up where I want them in the layout!) was relatively easy and the name I chose certainly was an improvement on "Dried Flowers in a Puddle" or "Rhapsody in Browns". But, who knows, maybe you think differently? That's another beautify of creativity and the joy of individual thought.

So, help me here. I want to give the pink bracelet a name because of its support of the fight against breast cancer. Everything I've thought of to date has been, well, too obvious, too twee, or just to0 'cutesy' for a work that's already a bit over the top in a Seinfeld-esque 'Schmoopy' sort of way. Right now, it's nameless. I'm still hoping to reach the 'Aha!' moment before it (hopefully) sells to a happy customer.
At the same time, someone clue this late baby boomer in as to how to get photos to publish where I want them, rather than always at the top of the blog. Much appreciated!
Right now I live with four cats: Stella (named after my grandmother...long story), Henry (after England's Henry II), Kip (after Tom Hank's character in the 80's sitcom 'Bosom Buddies') and Whiskers (more typical than usual, but named by my two youngest grand kids, making it good enough for me). Yes, names are important to me. And I think they are important to more artists/crafters who 'name' their work. So, appreciate the effort put into that activity.
After all, it ain't always easy!

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