The ART of Signing a Painting
A reader suggested this topic after wondering about my signature on my paintings. Thanks, Hal! The Art of Signing a Painting
So here goes: I started out signing my paintings the same way I signed my bank checks, or my legal name: Joan E. Springer. It felt ok for awhile, but then I decided that my artsy self wanted something shorter and easier. So I tried different ways of signing my artwork for awhile until I felt comfortable. For you folks with unique first names, that should be sufficient as your “brand.” But Joanie is anything but unique. And my last name Springer, as proud as I am of it, that wasn’t right for me either. So I tried my initials JES and that was feeling pretty good, but …. At the time I was getting dozens of books of Asian painting out at the library too and was equally intrigued and mesmerized by the chops used on the paintings, often more than one. I’m sure you’ve recognized them, they look like this:
and are applied with a stamp and ink like this
I loved the whole concept, and though I was only fortunate enough to take two art lessons with an Asian master, she suggested I have a chop made up for me, but as I thought about it more and more I realized that making up my own signature as a quasi chop was exactly right for me. She didn’t agree, but a girl has gotta do what a girl has gotta do. And as I’ve just shared, it evolved…from what I was doing at the time. Being inspired by Asian art, but at the same time recognizing that I am a Westerner thru and thru….and wrapping all that experience into a personal expression. I do love signing my paintings now. It feels authentic, love the shorthand (i am one who loves to get to the point without a bunch of babble) and there you have it. My story. Now what is yours?
So my sig turned into this:
1. i draw a box
2. add a J for Joanie
3. add the S for Springer
4. then add 3 strokes for the E of Elizabeth.
Here's how I construct my “Sig” below:
Oh yes, one last thing, the placement of a signature:
For me it is part of the artwork, so I don’t always leave my mark at the bottom of the page. Though Modigliani, one of my greatest inspirations, painted his last name at top right of each painting pretty consistently. Start observing where your favorite artists sign.
I always stop and look and see where my “logo / signature” will fit into the design, as it feels a bit “other” than a signature since it’s a graphic now, so I try to place it where it feels it belongs within the overall composition.