Do you ever struggle with naming your paintings? Perhaps it comes easily to you; maybe they name themselves during or after their creation. Maybe you have some kind of system.

For me, naming paintings has generally been a bit of a challenge. Sometimes they do seem to name themselves, but often I’ll find myself mulling over possibilities and not finding anything that feels right. And I’m not a fan of ‘Untitled’!

So I’ve created a list for easy reference, and thought you might like it too. I even made us a handy printable version to keep in the studio {click HERE to download yours}, and a graphic to pin. :)

Some of these lend themselves particularly well to series, and could even be a starting point for a collection rather than something that happens after the fact, thus encouraging consistency in the work. I love the idea of a series of paintings named after stars, for example.

So here’s a list I brainstormed; may it spark ideas for you!

song lyrics

The title of my painting, ‘Meet me where the wild things grow’, comes from a song by Sarah Jarosz.

lines from poems {your own or others’}

I made a painting using words from my poem ‘Peace Underneath’ a few years ago.

affirmations

This would be a wonderful way to bring extra high vibes to a piece, or a series. I like the idea of a painting called ‘I choose peace’, or ‘I freely express who I am’. For affirmation examples, see Louise Hay.

snippets of prose

Sometimes I come across a phrase in a book that hits me right in the heart. Those phrases as painting titles would be a good way to keep them around and not forget them.

fairytale themes

A few years ago I saw a series of photos based on imagined ‘what happened after’ scenarios of well known fairy tale characters. It was confronting but also thought provoking, and offers an example of a way of theming a series.

box of words

I have a box of words I’ve been cutting from magazines for years. Sometimes I use it for vision boards, and sometimes just for randomly putting words together to invent phrases.

blackout poetry

A bit meta, this one, since it would require making art before making art! But a way to create truly unique painting titles. You could even incorporate the first into the second, or use it to show the titles in an exhibition.

street names

Another way to cluster paintings together in a series. This would be cool as titles for a series based on landscapes of your local neighbourhood, for example.

album titles

Just hop onto Spotify or iTunes for inspiration! Could make for an interesting homage to your favourite bands.

feelings

In Creative Spark, one of the lessons is about creating paintings based on specific feelings. And Express It Month was about exploring that idea. Again, a great opportunity for a series; imagine a display of a range of emotions in image form in one room!

first names

This would lend itself well to figurative or portrait paintings, either real or imagined. I love the idea of a group of paintings of women, all with names like Gloria, or Betty, or Constanza. It would work with abstracts too.

well known phrases

Eg. It takes two to tango; that’s what she said; forever and a day

childhood memories

This would work well with abstracts or ‘storytelling’ paintings. I imagine a painting called ‘that time we {fill in the blank}’, for example.

themes of, or phrases from, dreams

My dream life is vivid, complex, and nightly! If you’re the same, you have a wealth of painting title ideas right there.

take inspiration from tv show episode titles

For example, the episodes of Friends used to always start ‘The one with {the}…..’. And the episode titles from Bones all follow a pattern too. Another great series option!

clusters

Eg. stars, 7 Deadly Sins, Sanskrit words. More series ideas!

existential questions

Why not use some thought provoking titles to go alongside interesting or meditative paintings? Eg. Why are we here? What does it mean? Where do the lost socks go?

joke punchlines

I’m terrible at remembering these, but it would be a great way to bring humour to your work.

favourite places you’ve been

Whether you paint them directly or create abstracts from the experience, it would be fun to guess which location each place depicted! Mexico would look very different from Iceland.

book titles

Immortalise your favourite books in paintings, literally or otherwise.

movie titles

Lots of films have simple and universal titles like Love Story, or The Way We Were, or Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

words you love

If you’re a lover of words like me, this is a great opportunity to assign them a more prominent place in your life! Iridescent, languid, hypotenuse, bohemia, cerulean, vernacular, exuberant, betwixt, mondegreen, clandestine, shimmy, coptic, cavalier, baobab.

Bible or other sacred text verses

Whether you’re religious or not, holy texts have some of the most beautiful phrases.

 

And if all else fails, you can always try the Abstract Art Title Generator. ;)

Any of these spark ideas for you? How do you name your paintings?

 

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