Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I've been thinking a lot lately about words and the power they hold. They seem so simple...just a bunch of straight or squiggly lines strung together and yet they have the potential to break a heart or send it bring us near or to scatter us like leaves in the squeeze a tear or to make us laugh uncontrollably. A spoken word, whether a shout or a whisper, can change the world. I keep a list of words that move me and sometimes I will come across one in my sketch book and be inspired to create a piece of art just because of that single word. For me, that is powerful.

Then there are names. I also keep a list of great I might bestow upon a dog if I ever get one...or an inspired name for a boat, (I once saw a tug boat in Seattle named EARNEST, I just love that)...or a piece of property...or a business. I especially love titles of artwork and have a pet peeve with art named, "UNTITLED #37". I know that some of my artwork has sold because of it's title. The words were the initial hook...maybe they stirred a memory or maybe they acted as a bridge of common experience so that the viewer could relate to me on a heart level without really knowing me.

My friend, Daniella Woolf, is an encaustic artist and used to use "untitled" on her work. One of her paintings was of brightly colored randomly placed dots from small to large. She decided to title that piece, "WHEN MAMA SPILLED THE BUTTON JAR". At her next show there was practically a fight between customers over that painting. Many of us grew up with a mom and her button jar...we can relate.

My friend, Kim Morris is another example. She weaves beautiful rugs with exquisite color. One rug is named "PICKING PEARS". When you see the rug you are struck by the beauty of the craftsmanship and by the gorgeous color combinations but when you read the title you can actually smell pears ripening in the late summer sun. Another rug is titled, "PERSIMMONS IN A BLUE BOWL". You can just imagine.

Linda Jarvis, a mixed media assemblage artist, and I often bat titles back and forth over the telephone like we were playing badminton, always hopeful to find a great double entendre. We both know the value of a good title and we both get frustrated when our work has occasionally been displayed in a gallery setting without a title.

So I guess this post is just an encouragement to all of us to use our words. To speak and to write from the make our words be meaningful and memorable.

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