Before You Sign Your Painting: Think About It!

A recent artist forum asked the question, “Where do you sign your painting?”

Javan, son of Japheth by Stephen Hall, watercolor on paper

If you’re a traditional painter, there’s basically only four places — top left or right, and bottom left or right. As a graphic designer, I would say sign in the corner with the most negative space. It calls attention to your name without taking anything away from the painting.

The abstract artist, however, has more freedom as to where she places her ‘nom de brush’ — perhaps even weaving it into the composition itself. See the drawing, Javan, at right. Again, I primarily look for the negative space. See second drawing, Madai, at right.

But for me, the more important question is, When do you sign the painting?” 

Madai, son of Japheth by Stephen Hall, sumi ink on paper

Once my picture is finished, I generally wait a few days before signing it. During this period, I flip it around several times looking for the top of the painting. Oftentimes, when the painting has been flipped on its head (or side) the original composition improves — top becomes bottom and bottom becomes top. By this time, I feel it’s safe to sign. Edge of the Word, below, was originally painted as a vertical, but has a more positive vibe as a horizontal. I still haven’t signed it yet. When I do, it will be in the negative space of the upper left-hand corner.

Edge of the word
Edge of the Word by Stephen Hall, acrylic on paper






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