December 06, 2007


Signature Detail

The subject of signatures comes up from time to time so thought I'd toss out my take. I really don't have a preference as to how other people do or do not sign their works, a signature (whether it's there or not) is about personalizing your work, your way. This is one area that should be totally up to the artist. I went through the evolution of my own just for fun:

In the beginning my first initial and last name (hiding my gender?) were properly painted in the lower right corner as I was taught and as every other artist I knew of "signed" on to.

Later I'd dropped the initial and rather than sign in an empty spot near the lower right corner, I liked to position the signature near a center of interest. This is just below and to the right of center.

I focused on serigraphs for about ten years and the ease of signing with pencil has stuck with me ever since. When I celebrated the completion of an edition by taking it into the dining room with a few sharp pencils and a glass of wine... the signature began to take on a life of it's own.

I moved on to working in watercolor exclusively for another ten years and the pencil sig worked there as well. It also allowed for a more elaborate, free wheeling 'J' which has only become moreso with time.

When I went back to canvas, it was with a highly patterned image and I must have stopped signing on the front altogether. I did, however, sign and date on the back... in pencil, with flourish. I also included a properly printed and readable version along with the title, medium and dimensions on 'verso'.

As my work became more abstract and a bit more minimalist (there was some heavy duty pattern going on for a good long while!) I began to rely on assorted mark makers from charcoal to crayon to graphite to jazz up those empty spaces. Line became part of the process, I still lean heavily on it's structure. The line might be gestural or ruled; I see it as energy released. Sometime during the process and I have a nice ebony pencil in my hand, I let out a slash of a signature. It might get painted over a few times, I might forget to go back and resign, but it's always there amid the other marks... somewhere. I was told recently by one of my galleries that it's become something of a ritual hunt to find it. Works for me!

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Looks like I have the spackle/texture problem solved. The main ingredient for both spackle and plaster of paris is gypsum or calcium sulphate and they seem to handle the same way mixed into the very thick gesso I use so I'm a happy camper again. I appreciate all the suggestions.

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In reference to my earlier post re: The New Museum... here's a fun review at Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof's Artblog.


Daphne said...

Hi Karen.

It's been a while since someone has written about signing work. Yours is by far a more creative addition to your work.

I tend to feel like my signature ruins the over all design, so I've started just noting everything on the back of the canvas...which, really doesn't seem like enough.

And it was good to hear that you have changed the way you've written your name over the years.


p.s. I inadvertently downloaded your re-do image. For some reason my browser won't just pop open larger images anymore and I have yet to figure out what the problem is. I'm sure it's a simple fix...

Oh, and I think the re-do is beautiful. It glows.

Annette Bush said...

Whether using a brush or pencil, my signature remained pretty consistent over the years. So much so, that a gallery called once to ask if I used a rubber stamp. Seems a client was concerned! I used both first and last names until I began to work on canvas and I just used ABush.