View Full Version : Signature help needed (horse painting)

05-10-2017, 06:09 PM
Hi everyone :wave: I've just gotten back into painting a year or so ago. Used to love creating art in all forms as a kid, but got too busy as an adult. I would love to do horse portraits as a business and have been trying to get in as much practice as possible lately. This weekend I will be visiting my parents for Mothers Day and my father wants to take some good photos of my paintings, so I'm trying to finish up some details including signing them! lol

Maybe this is a strange place to ask, but I only paint animals and I'm sure there are other portrait artists on here. Most of them I have an good idea where a signature would be appropriate, but this one has me stumpted:(

My last name has a lot of letters and my handwriting isn't pretty! The far right corner is nice and empty, but seems distant... On the horses shoulder seems like it would just ruin the painting. Best thought is under the head? I wish I had some cute little logo I could stick somewhere...

Any ideas would be appreciated! Also would love help on a color to use... background is nearly black, so would like something a bit opaque, I'd like to keep it small but also visible. There is actually more dark empty space to the right of the horse that I don't think is shown in the photo. Thanks!http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-May-2017/1989378-madonna.jpg

05-10-2017, 06:12 PM
Should also note, since this photo was taken I basically did a glaze of burnt umber over the background, making it even darker, and getting rid of that streakiness. Sorry about the glare, this is why I need Dad to take better photos! lol

Barbra G
05-10-2017, 06:33 PM
I love the dark background with a reflection of blue it makes the horse pop!
Re the signature - I usually go bottom right-hand corner, but, sometimes I write my signature on something transparent , then move it around over my painting until I find "the spot".
Good luck , this is a great start.

05-10-2017, 07:00 PM
Thanks Barbra! Testing it on something transparent first is a great idea.

I'm really concerned about the color. It is done in oils and I'd like something that I could put on over the dark in one layer and be visible. Maybe I should paint a scrap page in black acrylic and test a few colors. The colors used in horse are so transparent. Maybe something kind of goldish would work.

05-11-2017, 02:54 AM
I also have the same problem and am very reluctant to sign most of my work. I usually sign the back, which is not the best. I would agree with Barbra, the bottom right looks suitable. As for colour I think a gold would work very well on this piece. Maybe one that reflects the colours in the metalwork? Also if your surname is long, have you thought about initials? There's more scope then to play with a cursive approach to the lettering (and takes up less space).

05-11-2017, 06:11 AM
I have a long name, too, and tend to use my initials, PJW - they fit together and make a nice shape. Your horse is excellent. Did you see there are horses in the monthly animal and wildlife challenge?

05-11-2017, 07:48 AM
Nice Painting, I would sign it on the right lower corner where it doesn't interfere with the subject. But that is an artist decision and depends on your Ego.. :lol:
Seriously, You could only put your initials and the date( I do that). And you can do it in a dark gray if you don't want it to show much or in white if you want it to be seen.
Do not put it too much in the corner because it will be cut when framed, that doesn't look nice either...

Ellis Ammons
05-11-2017, 02:44 PM
Why not on the nameplate on the bridal? Or maybe some gold lettering on the peice going over the nose. Blend it well enough and it will look like its part of the portrait.

Vivien Maloney
05-11-2017, 02:49 PM
A warm welcome to the Animal & Wildlife Forum :wave:

Your horse painting is beautiful, gorgeous chesnut colors!
As for signing your painting.....Im going to be no help whatsoever, as I always consider "signing" my name and where to put my signature, the hardest part of the painting! I used to agonise over it for ages, then put it on somewhere stupid! :rolleyes: :lol:

Ok....so after many years of worry about it, heres my advice Ive discovered over the years - NEVER put your signature on the paintings subject, in this case the horse, NEVER!
Thats a gimick which many beginners try and the viewing public hate seeing it there and so do the Judges if you are entering it in a competition. I usually try to find a balance with the subject so in this case Id sign it in the bottom right hand side but NOT completely in the corner....if you sign too near the very corner, it looks like you were in a hurry to get rid of it and it could be cut off by the framing. Weve all been to Exhibitions where weve seen the public trying to squint at an artists tiny signature nearly out of the frame.

But the main thing is, do sign it, because without a signature the painting has been painted by an anonymous artist and if you want to begin selling your work, the public needs to see your name out there! :thumbsup:

05-11-2017, 04:40 PM
Lovely horse portrait! I agree with what most people have said, and would suggest the bottom right corner. I would choose a colour that has already been used in the painting so that it ties in with the subject. :)

Yvonne Keogh
05-11-2017, 04:51 PM
Stunning painting!
Another signature suggestion might be at the bottom, sideways going up the horse's chest semi-hidden, but only if it's initials not a long name.

05-11-2017, 09:34 PM
Beautiful equine painting and best of luck with your business! Most people are right handed and the experts say sign with any color other than red, in lower right corner or up a bit. In another forum here, a discussion thread is going about this very subject. For those of us who paint and custom frame we can tell you that putting your entire name on the back is preferable and either initials, full name, or last name on the front works well. Many pieces are sold, traded, or end up in auction/estate sales with nothing more than an initial on the front, nothing on back. The new owner is beside themselves trying to locate the artist. Agree with Viv. Never sign on the subject or animal. Don't let the signature get too much attention away from the main subject.

05-11-2017, 10:23 PM
Wow, thanks everyone! A lot to think about. Never would have thought I'd get so hung up on this. I've signed everything else in the bottom right corner. I got weirded out about it on this one though, bc its such a dark empty space I was worried it would attract too much attention there. Going slightly left of there would feel like her nose would be pointing at it or something? Its on a wrapped canvas, so not really concerned about it being cut off by a frame.

Anyway I went ahead and tried under her head last night, before I'd seen all these responses (though maybe I DID do what Vivien mentioned... agonize then put somewhere stupid, lol). I tried a more golden color similar to her highlights and was shocked how bright it was. I went over it a bit with something more like her body color. It's still too loud for me, so think I will let it dry then try toning it down further with something like a burnt umber glaze. What a process, lol. If I don't like it after its toned down I can just block it out and try again further to the right.

On another with a foal in grass I signed bottom right in brown horse color and am now kicking myself for not using a dark green and making it blend in. I DO like the idea of kind of hiding it within the painting. I bet it could be fun to do in grass., might also work in some horses manes. Could potentially get pretty sneaky and really have to look for it. Would that be a gimick? I'd feel strange putting it right on her halter, but ironically the consignment that filly was in starts with the first 4 letters of my last name, and that was what was printed on that side of the halter, lol.

I really wanted to just go with initials but remember reading stuff a while back about copyright infringement and people not being able to figure out who artist were because some artists only used initials, etc. Not thatI expect many people will be hunting me down, but lol. I do have another painting I am donating to Old Friends (a thoroughbred retirement home) for them to auction this summer and was hoping if it gets some attention I'd like to have my name on it. Initials would be so much easier though, especially if I could come up with a cute way of doing it.

On another note it was pretty sad to realize just how bad my handwriting has gotten. Barely use a pen to do much more than sign or write the occasional check. I wanted to use my first initial with my last name, but they are both M. And even after practicing my Ms I rarely got one I liked, and found it impossible to get two Ms in a row that looked alike! Maybe someday I will learn to write a nice enough M to get consistent. Handwriting might soon be a lost art itself. So to give you guys a laugh here one of my pages of Ms.


I later found out that I could print fairly nicely on a flat page BUT a whole nother story on the edge of a canvas! Anyway thanks again everyone. Still a lot to think about. I DID see the horse in the contest and would love to try but schedule is packed right now so not sure I'll get a chance, I will try though. I'm also tempted to go look for the similar discussion in the other forum although if I overthink this anymore I might never get around to actually painting again!

Vivien Maloney
05-11-2017, 11:28 PM
Oh dear, MMMMM!!!! You do know that after youve succesfully completed a few paintings, you will get to the stage you will just sign them automatically? I think most of us went through the stage you are at...now I just bung my signature on, and hope for the best! After all its the subject of the painting that's the focus not your signature - dont overthink it!

Yes get it sorted as by your painting here, you are a very talented artist, and I can see you beginning to sell lots of your work.
Looking forward to seeing more paintings here.....and also looking forward to seeing how you sign them! :) :thumbsup:

05-12-2017, 02:51 AM
On this note, and I do appreciate this is not my thread, but I could do with the same help on this one. Could someone please help me with my recent drawing. As this is the opposite way round, it would naturally suggest that I should sign it on the bottom left. However, that just doesn't seem right to me. After such great suggestions I wonder if anyone has some thoughts for me. I will be signing initials CJH 17. I've thought about above the branch on the right, but that's a dark area and I don't really want to sign it in white.


Vivien Maloney
05-12-2017, 04:30 AM
I'd sign it in the left hand corner - not too much into the corner. It would balance the painting if you sign it there. We always need to think of balance in our paintings - always remembering our signature is just the finishing touch and not the focus of the whole painting.

05-12-2017, 05:18 AM
Graig, You can sign it in black too, actually you could even use a Pen... (use a Drawing Pen (Edding, stadler... etc), NOT any Pen)
The signature is important to set or connect to the author of the work of art, it can be located anywhere, even in the back if you don't want it in the image. Of course if you decide to put it in the image, take in count for it not to distract the viewer, not to interfere with the subject. I also advice to add the finish date, or at least month and year, to have a reference of the artist development. This things add value to the art with time.
If you sell them It would be also nice if the client gets a list of materials used, just in case they need restoration. These sort of details add value to the work and to the artist. :) Enjoy :D

Yvonne Keogh
05-12-2017, 08:32 AM
Why don't you just google images of horse paintings and pick the signature style YOU like?

05-19-2017, 01:55 PM
Oh dear, MMMMM!!!! You do know that after youve succesfully completed a few paintings, you will get to the stage you will just sign them automatically? I think most of us went through the stage you are at...now I just bung my signature on, and hope for the best! After all its the subject of the painting that's the focus not your signature - dont overthink it!

Yes get it sorted as by your painting here, you are a very talented artist, and I can see you beginning to sell lots of your work.
Looking forward to seeing more paintings here.....and also looking forward to seeing how you sign them! :) :thumbsup:

Lol, thanks Vivian:lol: I'm sure signing will become more natural to me. I think so many of the paintings I've worked on may quite well be "done" but I have a hard time deciding they are finished, so haven't had to worry about signing many! The few I did sign in the past were much busier in general, this one freaked me out bc it felt like the signature would be so visible... and could only mess it up.

05-19-2017, 01:59 PM
Why don't you just google images of horse paintings and pick the signature style YOU like?

I guess the problem I learned on this painting is that on such a blank background, where my signature will be more visible, I *want* a cute/pretty signature, but never worried about that before and its harder for me than it looks, lol. Nothing like ruining a tidy painting with a sloppy signature.

This has given me flashbacks to when I was a kid... someone gave me a calligraphy kit, with all these markers with special tips... I DID use those markers... to draw lots of HORSES!!! Never for fancy handwriting!!! :lol:

05-20-2017, 01:42 AM
I later found out that I could print fairly nicely on a flat page BUT a whole nother story on the edge of a canvas!

Here's a little trick. Find a book or some magazines approximately the same thickness as your canvas. Position the book so that it butts up against the bottom edge of the canvas. Use that to support your arm while you sign. It will feel more like printing on a flat page.

05-20-2017, 07:49 PM
I have the same problem....lol
Don't want to ruin the art with my signature... lol

05-25-2017, 03:35 PM
That's a fabulous portrait and I envy your talent.

The signature can make or mar a painting, and I often swear that the thing I struggled with most was the signature... no kidding! I've laboured, rubbed-out, laboured then rubbed-out again... sometimes wondering if I'd ever get the job done. But it has to look right... And what's so hard about it? Well making it look as though it was easy, that's what!

You'll hate me but I'm not keen on capitals in a signature myself.... to me they look clunky; in my view, the best ones are those which look as though they were dashed off... and by that I don't mean hurried. The ones I like are the stylish 'autographic' type...like Picasso's... yet they aren't just for modern-art; to me, the addition of an easy, informal yet stylish signature would look much better on this lovely, lovely painting, which itself looks so effortless in its execution. Also I'd have put it much nearer to the corner... a couple of inches from the edges so as to allow for the deepest of frame rebates, as has been mentioned. But you're the painter.

I'm sorry I'm late with all this... I've only just found this forum so I'm new here, and I hope you'll forgive my presumption. Also, my further presumption in posting this, which I did quickly and with a pencil, just to show what I'm getting at. You may hate it, but it's the kind of signature I like to see, that's all. The hardest thing, though, is to then take something like this and paint it on with a brush, only making it look as though it was done easily and with a flourish :) I think these kinds of signatures rarely are!


Yvonne Keogh
05-31-2017, 12:02 PM
Another idea I read somewhere - is to varnish the painting WITHOUT the signature, then paint the signature on top of it. If you don't like it, you can wipe it off without damaging the painting and try it somewhere else.

06-02-2017, 10:27 PM
above the branch, on a slant