Why do I resist signing my name to a painting? I can’t be the only artist with this problem. I wait and wait, sometimes years, until I can barely recall when I actually completed the work.
One reason is that the painting was painted without a signature so the signature is just inserted as an afterthought. It has to be placed in the right position so as not to throw-off the balance of the composition. Right side or left; up or down? A decision has to be made. Sometimes, the signature can be placed to draw attention to a particular motif in the work. Other times, it can be used to offset a slightly imbalanced composition.
Then there is the issue of color. I favor a soft black like bone black. Carbon black can be too strong. Then there are times that black does not work. A Paynes Grey might be less harsh. What can be very difficult is a light signature on a dark background. It just seems, and often is, out of place.
I know there are artists out there that would say that the contrast, the juxtaposition of the signature against the painted field adds yet another plane or dimension to the work. I see that collage effect, and appreciate it. But oftentimes the painting doesn’t need another dimension.
Then there is the act of signing itself. Some artists have special signing brushes. I have one that I prefer but that doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes (too often) have to sign a painting a number of times until it is right. Getting the paint the right consistency helps, as does using the brush tip, but neither method is foolproof. Paint smears. Letters disappear. Numbers become indistinct. The actual signature may have to be rewritten three or four times.
Perhaps I am most resistant to signing my name is because signing is an act of ending the process by which the painting was made. I am always changing my work as my idea of it changes in time. Every part of the work is subject to radical revision. A signature means that the process is ended. Yes, I know I can quickly paint over the signature and begin again. The problem is that I don’t want to sign the work because there may be something else, even months later, that needs to be reworked. I confess, it is not rational.
My actual signature I have worked to reflect my style of making art. I sign the way I was taught penmanship in PS 273, East New York, Brooklyn. Clear; elliptical; straight; distinct capitals and lower case letters. I purposely practiced this childlike handwriting because it works with my naive way of drawing. My signature is, as an unschooled artist, another manifestation of my Brooklyn roots, the mainspring and inspiration of my artistic style. I remain “ the boy from Brooklyn.” That is what I tell myself as I work.
I won’t sign-off on this blog. It is a draft that I will be editing and re-editing it for quite some time to come.