How To Sign An Oil Painting?

Varied renditions of oil paintings have reigned the art landscape for time immemorial. With an avalanche of oil-on-canvas pieces, launched time and again begs us to question how artists have marked their painting as their own.

The most common method to go about is signing one’s oil paintings in a unique yet flowy, beautiful way to distinguish it from others. This practice is as old as the world and yet is still relevant and remains a classic identifier of an artist. 

While it might seem like a mundane and simple activity, there are lots of details that make it right from wrong. Let’s dig our nails into the do’s and dont’s on how to sign oil paintings alongside glancing at the signed works of famed artists. 

Do’s while signing an oil painting

Anything that sits on the artwork is as much part of it as the brushstrokes and color palette, making the signature an equally important component of the whole composition. Firstly, it is ideal that your signature balances out the painting and is placed away from its focal point/subject. So if a lot is going on the right side of the composition, sign away on the left side to even it all out. 

Other than balancing out the artwork, the sign should be made in a color that is a dominant one in it. Coming to the actuarial signature, names are as commonplace as anything so it is imperative that your signature is not just true to your artistic style but also unique. The aim is to make it as memorable and distinguishable as can be. 

To let your signature not be groggy, invest in some additional art supplies to ensure its freeflow. Oil medium can perfectly serve the purpose to ensure your signature has a certain fluidity on your oil-on-canvas composition. It is also advisable that you opt for thinner brushstrokes with tiny bristles to make your mark more distinct and precise. 

 Dont’s while signing an oil painting

The very first mistake artists end up making is not signing on their artworks altogether. While it may not seem like a blunder at the present moment, but decades later it might when your artwork is rendered unidentifiable. Moreover, your signature sitting around on your artwork honors it while also documenting your art journey. 

While the artistic license should be as free as the forces of nature, do not apply it to your signature. It is perfectly fine to play around with your signature to make it in sync with specific artwork. But, going overboard with experimentation may make it confusing for the onlookers and it is less prone to stick in the public’s minds. 

I think the need to mark your artistic territory on your compositions is well established now. But what remains in the shadow is that your signature should not become a dominant presence. If you make it too big, it may distract you from the entirety of your artwork, ironically failing to make an impact. 

Signatures of famous artists

The best place to start drafting your unique signature is to look back at some of the greatest artists of all time and draw inspiration from how they did it. From Vincent Van Gogh, Monet, to Rembrandt, let us have a look at these famed, signed works. 

Rembrandt Van Rijn

Rembrandt is golden in the pages of history as a master artist and equally, note-worthy was the many signatures that graced his artworks. He started with penning down just his initials ‘RL’ where ‘R’ stood for Rembrandt and ‘L’ presumably meant Leiden. His signature evolved with his artistic stance and his final signature had a ‘D’ in his name, purely for the sake of visual pleasing. 

Claude Oscar Monet

Paintings of the Impressionistic birth-giver, Claude Oscar Monet could be spotted by a mile away. But, the artist still felt it important to make his mark so he signed his paintings on its lower left side or the right edge. What made his signature standout was he always put the date of the painting right next to his abstract yet readable signature. 

Vincent Van Gogh 

Vincent Van Gogh is a name particularly synonymous with modern art and is renowned for making unstoppable ripples in the art industry but sadly, only posthumously. Van Gogh did not sign all his paintings but only the ones he sold, the number of which was paltry. He signed only his first name and what was intriguing was that he never signed in a particular side but at peculiar spots like a flower vase or on boxed trunks, etc.  

The Bottom Line 

Signing oil paintings like these is not just a territorial deed of ownership but also comes with the commitment and confidence that your artwork is good enough to be signed. 

The simple task of signing comes with its own set of complexities as well as many hit-and-trial. A cheat trick to remember is to keep it memorable, short, and precise to leave your mark. 

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