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Inspiration for Art Titles

January 25, 2010

Since my last post about art titles, I’ve been amusing myself by making a new list of anything and everything that could possibly be a title for a painting or inspiration for a new piece.

I’m always on the lookout for anything funny, ironic, or thought-provoking — just not too serious or deep. It could be a snippet of a song, quote from a movie, line or title of a poem, or phrase from a book. When something grabs me I will add it to my running list for future use. I don’t normally start with a piece of text as inspiration for the art. But many times if I have a good list, it can improve my titles.

So today I went to and started searching through novels for words and phrases that might jump out. I looked for actual book page excerpts. Since not all books have individual excerpts available, I also scrolled down and read some of the literary reviews and even customer reviews. I also looked through song lyrics for more inspiration.

Here’s the Fun Part

I now have a beginning list that I will continue to build on, and I’m matching up some of the “titles” with existing art of mine to see whether or not I could have improved on the original titles. However, I could use these to think of ideas for new paintings if I chose to do that. I have already discovered that I’m more drawn to the non-serious titles and things with possible double meanings.

“The Song Inside My Head” – Acrylic on Canvas, 36 x 36″
The original title is “Footprints.” Maybe the new one is just a step above.

“The Sizzle Factor” – Collage, 5 x 7″
Original title, “Horizon.”  I thought the new-and-improved title conveyed more of these hot colors and desert feel.

“Sweet as Banana Pudding” – Acrylic on Canvas, 30 x 24″ – SOLD
Original title is “Barbados.” Well, the original title was fine, but isn’t the new and improved one more fun?

“Just Passing Through” – Collage, 5 x 7″
Original title was “Time.” Boring! Definitely changing this one.

“Ran Into an Old Flame”, Acrylic on Canvas, 60 x 48″
The original title is “Eclipse.” This painting is in my inventory and I seriously think I will change it.

Your turn to play: The Rules (there really are none!)

If you’d like to play this game with me then create a blog post with jpegs of some of your existing images matched with new titles you’ve found using this method. I’m sure you can come up with more ways to find random phrases that happen to be great art titles. (Mad Libs, anyone?) And don’t forget to try this Art Title Generator.  Then comment with the link to your post. Have some fun! I would love to see what you come up with.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. Sandra permalink
    January 25, 2010 6:51 pm

    LOVE your new titles, especially Ran into a old flame. What a great idea. I find it hard to get ideas sometimes and intend to try to see if it works in reverse – perhaps if I find fun titles they will give me fun ideas to paint.

    • January 25, 2010 9:18 pm

      Sandra, I definitely plan to be more proactive with my list. The longer the list, the better the choices, I think. And I agree with you that they might inspire a new idea.

  2. January 25, 2010 7:12 pm

    I don’t know if I have ever commented before but I just love all of your posts. The one about titles I find to be very intriguing. I have the same problem with completing multiple paintings in a series and then getting stuck on the titles. I have started doing lots of word play on the theme and lots of internet searching as well. I like the idea of double meaning and some inner soul searching to be revealed in my title but the comedy approach is very good too. I think titles do make a difference. My most favorite title ever, and I lost the postcard, but it was a nude lady lounging in a chaise and the title “Not a damn thing to wear” hiliarious!!
    Thank you for all you do! You are very inspiring!!

    • January 25, 2010 9:24 pm

      Judy, that is perfect! Love, love it. I really do feel titles enhance the work. That’s a great example.

      You brought another one to mind. A friend of mine made a large ceramic sculptpure of a voluptuous nude figure of Eve, complete with heavy makeup and fig leaf. The title: “Hi, Remember Me? I’m Adam’s Wife.”

      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you enjoy the blog.

  3. January 25, 2010 7:18 pm

    I often find interesting name prospects when I am reading other artist blogs, art magazines etc. Your abstracts are poetry in colors…how’s that for one???Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

  4. January 25, 2010 7:44 pm

    ooo i love the idea of the generator … am off to explore … just wanted you to know i started this same/similar idea in the new year … I hand stitched a book of 12×4″ and with 20 signatures (of2folded pages = 8 per signature)being all of 1.5″ in width – long and thin – just enough space for short titles …

    this book is yet to be ‘covered’ … will load to my site later this week … anyhoo I created this book with the intention of collecting snippets … for titles to artworks and prompts for poetry … they kinda work in tandem i think … titles like the paintings are poetry …

    lovely idea and i am off to explore ye generator … thanks for that !


    • January 25, 2010 9:46 pm

      Gina that book sounds like great fun. As a poet, you have a head start on titles! Have fun exploring.

  5. January 25, 2010 8:21 pm

    Great titles, Martha! “Just passing through” is great fun!!!! What a creative way to come with titles for your wonderful art. “Ran into an old flame” …….perfect for that painting.

    • January 25, 2010 9:49 pm

      Thank you, Sondra! If I hadn’t gone through that exercise, I would never have found “ran into an old flame” and am so glad I did. I felt it worked even better since the painting is so large and in your face.

  6. Mary Lou permalink
    January 26, 2010 8:34 am

    Here’s a fun site for titles:

    • January 26, 2010 10:23 am

      Thanks Mary Lou! Yes, I did have that link way at the bottom of my previous post, but am going to put it into this one too. I love it!

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