View Full Version : Any Advice on Signing Paintings

john Stenger
09-14-2004, 02:32 AM
Recently I have decided to start signing my paintings and to my surprise it's not as easy as I thought it would be! Painting and hand lettering is quite a bit different, I keep messing up my letters halfway thru my name, and I feel like this is ruining the look of the painting, Has anyone advice on an easier way to handle this task?

Mike Finn
09-14-2004, 02:51 AM

Good question... I just figured I would sign like I do a cheque... but it ain't quite the same :-) I sort of practiced breaking it down into sections and that kinda works... be interested to read more comments here. Maybe design a new sig just for paintings....??

Mike Finn

09-14-2004, 03:00 AM
Interesting question ............ I had the same problem so now I just put my initials AK and try to do them sorta fancy. Not as much chance of going wrong with only 2 letters!! :wink2: It will be interesting to hear what the experts have to say on this.

09-14-2004, 03:13 AM
I always sign my name using a script liner.......you'll find them anywhere they sell 'folk art' brushes.

I don't sign the same as I do my 'official' signature....I WANT buyers to be able to read it!! lol

09-14-2004, 04:46 AM
I have a problem with signing, too - I always thought there was something wrong with me, but it seems to be a common problem :).

I've been using my initials, too, since it's so much easier, but I still can't do it right. If only there was a pen that I could use...

Richard Saylor
09-14-2004, 07:39 AM
I use my initials in kind of a runic-looking monogram. Since it consists only of straight line segments, it's easy to do with a brush.

09-14-2004, 07:46 AM
LOL, I always feel ike my signature looks juvenile and I hope it doesnt influence the viewers opinion of the painting!

09-14-2004, 08:00 AM
I do initials as well, I figured if I ever sell anything I will just include a short bio taped to the back.

09-14-2004, 09:13 AM
Recently I have decided to start signing my paintings and to my surprise it's not as easy as I thought it would be!

For acrylics I use a dip pen (nib type) and thinned down color. LOTS easier than using a brush. I use one of those "Speedball" points, if you know what those are - calligraphy points that come in all sorts of mark-making shapes.

Incidentally, and I'll post this to the cafe forum too, there is an interesting article in the Summer 2004 issue of Artnews Magazine on page 162, titled "Sign Here" about various ways some reknowned artists sign their paintings.

09-14-2004, 10:05 AM
my signature is very influenced by the one and only Ingres painting i've ever encountered. His signature was like a work of art in itself. it was amazing. since seeing that painting, i've always taken the time to make sure my signature is exactly what i want it to be.

my signature does take on a couple of different looks. i tailor it to be a part of the painting. in other words, if the painting is pristine, so is my signature. if it is one of my poured on sloppy fun ones, so is the signature. in my opinion, our signature does say a lot about us as an artist.

lettering is not quick and it is something that needs to be practiced.....like art. slow down. don't expect what you do with a pen to come out with a paintbrush.

i normally use a small round and thinned paint (golden's acrylic glazing compound plus water). by using the glazing compound, i can take the signature off if i don't like it when i stand back and evaluate it compared to the proportions and style of the painting. i can easily wipe it off as long as the glazing compound is in there and the paint underneath it is dry before i sign. in an emergency, sometimes rubbing alcohol will remove any trace of a botched signature.

my signature on a work of art says that i am proud of and validate the work i've just done. that is my purpose for it. i think the purpose of the signature does or should influence how you sign. be proud of it and so take your time and do it with as much intention and purpose as the rest of your work.

(i'll cease rambling now :wave: )

09-14-2004, 10:32 AM
I designed my signature long before I started painting, I guess I knew I'd need it someday. It's a stylized version of my initials, DC. I use this as my visible signature on the paintings, and sign my full name with copywrite mark and date on the back.

09-14-2004, 11:26 AM
I thought of using a Sharpie ultra fine permanent marker for my signature, but wondered what permanent marker ink would do on acrylic--does anybody know? :confused:

09-14-2004, 02:02 PM
i have a tiny brush that i gave a drastic haircut to... leaving only three hairs. Thinning down the paint to almost ink thickness, seems to give me more control when signing. My sig. is a simple stylized "Ree" so is rather easy. Placement of the sig. on a painting, tends to be where-ever i think it fits into a painting, not always consistantantly in the right lower corner.

i was once told that some artists seem to have great difficulty in signing or any type of painting including numbers or letter. i was told to think of the letters, not as letters, but as another subject matter to paint. sounds silly, but works for me. ;)

09-14-2004, 03:24 PM
It's nearly impossible for me to get a decent signature using paint. If I painted it with a brush, the sig would take as long as the painting itself! So I use pens. On paper, I use either a technical pen with black ink, or a fine tip gold metallic paint pen. On canvas, it's always gold metallic. The gold signature has become my logo. I like the look of gold, because when the lighting on the painting is good, the gold is subtle. Sometimes you have to look for it to find it. But when there's glare on the surface and you can't really see the painting well, the sig pops out. I like that lost and found effect.


09-14-2004, 03:37 PM
I sign my last name, printed letters, I use the shortest haired, round brush that I have.
It works well for me.

09-14-2004, 04:14 PM
However you do it make sure it's readable. You never know when you may become famous!

Also, make sure you print, sign and date the back of the painting; even more ammunition for art dealer/auctioneer/restorer in the future :)


jerry lucey
09-14-2004, 04:15 PM
I have been using a Sharpie - fine point and it seems to work. Will it last - the manufacturer has said yes, but for me it seems only time will tell. Anyone have a bad experience with Sharpie....jerry

09-14-2004, 04:57 PM

i had a situation, where the sharpie sig. smudged when you ran a thumb over it (even after it was dry for 24 hours) i believe my problem was the fixative/sealer that i had applied before signing. i tried one more time, (remembering to sign before the sealer.) and still had the problem... i think it was because of the off-brand acrylic i had used? dunno....

09-14-2004, 05:03 PM
Jerry, it depends on which Sharpie you use. The common dye-based Sharpie will turn greenish, and after a year or two, a yellow halo appears around the marks which can bleed up to a third of an inch from the mark itself. I've had the yellow stain bleed through paper to the back, and have even seen it bleed through painted and gessoed canvas. I'm not sure if its due to acid in the marker, or something else, but it can't be good for the art.

For that reason, I prefer pens loaded with paint, instead of dyes. Sharpie makes a line of paint pens, as do other manufacturers. I remember Sharpie used to make an "autograph pen" which was archival, but I haven't seen one in awhile.

A few years ago, I took a workshop from a well-known sports artist, someone who has had a huge influence on my own painting style. I was shocked to learn that the black lines in her paintings were done with a common Sharpie! In the workshop, she did a little drawing for me to illustrate some changes she felt I needed to make in my painting. Just a little sketch, but it's the only original I have of her work, and personal, so I treasure it. But she used a common Sharpie, so it's an ugly mess of yellow stains now. :(


jerry lucey
09-14-2004, 06:57 PM
Noma: Thanks...

I know of an artist that loves to travel and fills sketch books with watercolors on the go. He floats the color on a line drawing done with a sharpie - have to check with him and see what his experience has been....he keeps the sketch books as a guide to late work, which he sells. ....right now I have put my 2 sharpie pens away. Who needs an unplanned bleed.....jerry

09-15-2004, 07:02 AM
I never liked the way I signed my paintings so a few months ago I decided I would carve a rubber stamp with my initials in a small circular chop as the Chinese call it. I stamp it in red in the corner of the painting and it looks great! Solves the problem and works for me! :)

09-15-2004, 07:20 AM
what a great idea.

jerry lucey
09-15-2004, 11:02 AM
I would second that, the chop sounds like an interesting way to go. Could be there is a side-line here. For those of use not handy with knives, we might be interested in buying a chop....jerry

09-15-2004, 01:37 PM
Remember to put the signature "up" where the frame won't cover.Using fine script or pen always sign the same way, full, initials etc. and use a color just in tonal quality of where it will be. You may go up the side of painting inside a little or bottom of a subject under it.(building ex.) Or in the "air" but not black and bold..fine and nice.Practice printing , writing. Scrolling..Bridges

Silent Jaguar
09-15-2004, 01:48 PM
Only my first name is used for my signature, as it is 10 letters long. All my signatures are in printed in capitals with a spotter brush and not handwritten. The paint generally complements the painting, which stands out, but flows.

09-15-2004, 01:58 PM
I sign all of my work on the back. I have been doing that for about 10 years now. I believe a signature can detract from a painting many times. This came about because of the problems so many of you have stated. My name is very long and has mostly curving letters.