Because my titles can seen a bit weird!
If you've followed my artwork for a while, you'll know that all the titles relate to something specific about the place along the coast where I was when I sketched it. But how do I choose a title? Here are my top 10 ways to title paintings:
1. The place on the map.
Sounds obvious! Many paintings are of a place with a cool, quirky name that comes straight from a normal map. Examples would be Pagham Spit, Spurn Head, or Saltwick Nab.
|Spurn Head, acrylic on canvas 100x120cm|
2. Nearby feature.
If I've painted a place more than once, or am painting different aspects of one place - then the one place name doesn't quite work for both paintings. So I'll try to find old historic maps online to find the out-of-use names for rocks, cliffs or features around the area.
Stair Hole from the Lulworth Cove, Dorset paintings is a good example of this - the title of the painting is the actual name of that bridge-like rock formation over the water. Hambury Tout is also the actual name of the hillside on the Dorset coast.
|Stair Hole, acrylic on canvas 100x120cm|
3. What leads to the coast?
When I was on the New Jersey coast I painted a lot of works from a single stretch of beach that was a few miles long. So the problem was that I was only in one town (Ocean Grove) and one season (winter) and most of them were blue! There wasn't a lot to differentiate specifically. So instead I picked out the spots on the beach and then looked at the street maps.
This is how I titled Heck Avenue Splash and Sixth Avenue Splash - the places where I sketched the splashes were at the ends of those roads.
|Heck Avenue Splash, acrylic on canvas, 40x30cm|
4. Place plus feature.
Sometimes I like the place name but it's just too general. So I might just add a little identifier of the feature I've drawn - the colour, horizon, beach, rock, or cave. Good examples are Whitby, Cavern or Frinton Blues.
|Whitby, Cavern, acrylic on canvas 100x100cm|
5. What time is it?
A good fall back for description of a place. Place name plus season! Like Deal, December - winter light on the water but the alliteration makes it more poetic. Or New Year Night to describe a very specific moment watching surf in the dark in New Jersey.
|New Year Night, acrylic on canvas 80x80cm|
6. Human reference.
While I usually leave out any hints of people or buildings, a structure nearby might define the view I've painted.
At Fisherman's Pier shows the pattern of water around the pier on the shore in Ocean Grove, though not the pier itself. Sotto il ponte refers specifically to shadows under an unseen bridge in Venice. The human elements are left out, but the titles gives a hint.
|Sotto il ponte, acrylic on canvas 80x80cm|
7. Going technical.
When I'm feeling very curious, I'll pull out geology maps. I have the sedimentary maps of the whole of the UK (North and South maps) and also the map of seabed geology around the UK. Finding the place where I painted, I'll see if any outcrops, layers or special sequence name appeals to me.
Late Lias is this sort of title - named after the Late Lias period of rocks that appear in the part of coast I painted.
|Late Lias, acrylic on canvas 50x50cm|
8. Going local.
I always Google the area I'm in to see what locals are saying about it and often there are nicknames for things they know well. Two fun examples of this are Infinity Window and Submarine.
Submarine is actually the local name of Black Nab, because it actually looks like a submarine! At high tide the top sticks out like a submarine tower, but at low tide the exposed lower part of the rock is wider and ship-shaped. Infinity Window is the side of a cliff on the Dorset coast, and is named after a rock climbing route up the face of the cliff.
|Submarine, acrylic on canvas 150x130cm|
9. Sketchbook notes
As I walk along the coast I'm constantly taking notes and jotting down thoughts alongside the sketches. Those notes often make no sense creatively but still sound like nice titles.
Night beyond the Ice was a reminder of when I drew the sketch of Lake Michigan. Sea Between was a colour note to remember that the blue water went between the two white rocks. And New Salt was simply a reference to this being a new idea for a Saltwick Nab painting - but I liked the phrase!
|Sea Between, acrylic on canvas 150x100cm|
Then there are the names that seem a bit random. Not quite on maps, not quite specific references. Two of my newest Yorkshire paintings have these names because I keep painting the same rocks and cove - I've run out of direct references as names.
Near Black Nab rock is a shipwreck, the name of the ship was the Von Tromp. So Von Tromp's View is a painting of the Nab seen from the wreck's vantage point. Standing in Saltwick Bay you're surrounded by remnants of an old brick harbour wall, built to protect the alum quarry. A datestone marked 1766 can still be found amongst the rubble, giving name to my painting 1766.
|1766, acrylic on canvas 80x80cm|
Have a title you'd like to know the story behind? Let me know and I'll answer it here.
See the coast paintings tina-m.com