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Why call it "Ghost Notes?"

Recently I had someone ask why I titled my most recent commissioned painting, "Ghost Notes" and it occurred to me that this might be an opportunity to use my website blog to talk a bit more about my work and where my inspiration for certain pieces comes from. You see, I consider the titles to my paintings to be nearly as important as the marks that I create on the surfaces. Some artists say they don't like to "direct the viewer with pre-conceived ideas," where their titles are concerned. Personally, this sounds a bit like an escape route to me because we as painters are directly influencing the viewer as soon as they set eyes upon our piece. That being said, it seems only logical that adding an appropriate title is a pretty basic addition to the experience they are already confronted with. Others have told me that they simply can't come up with titles to their pieces and therefore choose to go with the all too common "Untitled 1, 2, 3" and so on. Again, for me this appears to be a disservice to the painting itself, but perhaps that's just me. I believe if it has been created then it deserves a name.

When I am in the 'zone' my mind either consciously or unconsciously, is considering titles. It may be as simple as how I am feeling during the process or if I have a specific situation, recollection or anticipation on my mind. No matter what, somewhere a title is brewing. Like an author who often uses a "working title" while writing, I too use this tool when creating a new piece. That's not to say that it won't change by the time it's completed, but it's a certainty that there will BE a title at the end. If my goal as a painter is to create something from nothing and expect the viewer to be affected in any significant (or completely insignificant) way, then the title is the cross of the 't' and dot on the 'i' to my work. There is always a clue to my state of mind during the creation process found in my titles.

The big painting shown below measures a nice 40"h x 60"w. It's my most recent commissioned work and it was immensely satisfying to paint. A mixture of oil paint, spray paint, wax oil pastel, ink and gold leaf flowed out of me and came together on the surface like a symphony. Although I had several working titles while creating, it was upon completion that the gold leaf elements provided the pauses in the composition that brought the final title to fruition. The reflective nature of the gold leaf combined with the movement of the viewer creates rests and marks that would otherwise be absent, so like a rest in a symphony these "Ghost Notes" became the obvious choice for the title and as a title should, it completes the piece perfectly.


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