How to choose titles for paintings


31st May 2022

The beauty and strength of abstract, or even semi-abstract paintings, is that each viewer sees something different in the painting, based on their own background, experience and memories. I don’t want my titles to be a reflection of what I personally see in a painting. I’d rather have an open title, non-directive and non-specific. But how, for example, would you choose a title for this painting? 

At first when I started painting again, I chose to number the paintings, rather than use titles. But somehow, this didn’t seem to work very well, it wasn’t popular with customers, and I found it hard to remember paintings by their numbers. I tried using musical terms, like Largo, Berceuse, or Andante, but I found it hard to link the paintings with their titles in my head. I have used titles related to colour, like ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, or ‘Purple Pizzazz’, and for a white I used verbs, ending in ‘-ing’, for example ‘Gathering’, ‘Connecting’, and that worked quite well, plus I liked the sense of movement that such titles inevitably bring with them.

However, I have recently started using made-up abstract words, that mean something to me but not necessarily to the buyer. The purple painting in the photo is ‘Siramo’, and the one in the headline photo is ‘Arden’. This is the method of title choice that I’m really happiest with. The names relate to some aspect of the painting that means something to me, and I can easily relate titles to paintings, yet it is loose enough to be non-directive for the viewer. And it satisfies my quirky mind to have an abstract title for an abstract painting! How do you choose?