By Any Other Name…

Rose in the GardenWilliam Shakespeare said it, and we’ve all heard it. In fact, we’ve all probably said it a time or two in our lives:

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

It’s true, of course. A rose is a rose is a rose, and no matter what we call it, it’s still going to be a rose forever and always and it’s always going to smell sweet. Enough said about roses.

Roses are not my favorite thing to draw or paint, and this post actually has nothing to do with flowers, and so, let’s move on.

Back in June 2016 I posted several questions about abstract art — which is the topic for today. Among my questions were these:

  • Should an abstraction be given a name?
  • If we title a painting, won’t that suggest what the viewer should see?
  • Or more to the point, won’t it affect what the viewer does see?

I’ve been doing several abstract works this summer, and I have given a name to each. Still, abstract expression remains a puzzle to me, so I’m always searching for answers.

What got me thinking again about titles for abstract art were these words of Molly Herman in a recent article about abstract composition:

Naming a work comes last for me…usually after looking at the painting and free associating. (My former teacher, Jake Berthot said, ‘Every painting is a Rorschach test.’) I try to find a name that directs the viewer’s attention into the painting but also touches on an idea, often metaphorical, that expands on the painting’s physicality.”

So it seems that abstract paintings should have titles and that the right title can become part of the viewer’s experience.

I’ll be doing more abstract art in the future — I’m beginning a new project today — and I’ll give Molly Herman’s words a little thought when it comes time to name my paintings. Recently I even had a dream about painting an abstraction. I loved the colors in the dream, and I hope I can re-create that vision on my canvas. We’ll see.

And just for fun, here’s a link to an online Rorschach test. Note, this is really just for fun, nothing serious, nothing scientific.  Maybe you’ll get a few laughs out of it. I sure did.

Happy drawing and painting!

 

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