After completing this painting recently, I needed to find a name for it. Some artists may have a name in mind when they begin a painting, but I never do. It's not until I photograph it after it's finished, usually, that I come up with a name. At that point, some images suggest a name immediately, like this one:
With canvas #46, however, no name immediately came to mind. But I was listening to a Leonard Cohen album, and the words "what they meant" struck me. This phrase is abstract enough that it works as a title for abstract art. Here's the painting on my website: What They Meant.
Do titles of abstract paintings really matter? When I was young, I refused to name my paintings because I didn't want to influence what the viewer saw in them. Some non-objective (non-representational) painters give their canvases numbers rather than titles for this reason.
But it is unwieldy to use numbers, and I believe my clients would prefer to have a painting with an actual title rather than a number. In fact, sometimes the name is a big influence in the sale. Someone purchased a print of my painting, "Laughing Lotus" because of the name. It was a gift for the owner of a yoga center. I'm sure the buyer also liked the painting, but they found it by searching for the word "lotus" on the internet. Here it is:
Since I am bipolar, and sometimes depressed when I paint, there were times when I would give a painting a name with a negative connotation. I did a series of "death paintings" for example, in which the word "death" appeared subtly in each canvas. I titled them "Death Painting One . . . Two . . ." and so forth. Now that is an extreme example of how not to name your art if you want to sell it.