The naming of art

Firstly; my very best New Year greetings. I hope it's a wonderful and creative one for all of you. No matter how grim the news (up to a certain point!) you'll definitely feel better if you create a little something, whether it's the Sistine Chapel ceiling or a delicious chicken soup you will have made the world a better place.

I am currently in the process of painting a body of new paintings to show in Britain and France and have been agonising over the titles of some of them. Normally titles are very important to me and I could never just call something 'Untitled' (actually, I could and fully intend to but it will be in the context of a specific piece), it would feel like showing an unfinished painting or turning up at the Private View without a shirt. However, on occasion, a picture will arrive from nowhere and demand to be painted and these are the ones that are almost impossible to title. They simply defy any attempt at naming and as they hang on the studio wall I get the awful feeling that comes over me at social events where I am left to make make small talk with a very distant and boring relative/acquaintance. That ghastly rictus smile as my mind races through the possible subjects of acceptable conversation before blurting the first useless and daft thing that comes to mind. The picture hangs there looking at me reproachfully and I duck and dive, looking at it from every angle trying to work out what on earth I was trying to say with this image. I have created something which now has no identity, it has no name, no effective reason for its existence. It seems daft to spend a long time on a complex painting, only to treat it as casually as a doodle.

So it's back to the studio wall while I gaze thoughtfully at a recalcitrant painting and wonder just what the heck it is trying to tell me

The headline picture is called "Still life with no peonies" and is a study for a larger piece

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