I Was Told Not to Sign and Date My Paintings…Why??


Signing and dating your paintings….so what’s that all about?

I don’t know everybody’s personal goals on here…but if any of you ever thinking about getting commissions for your paintings….you know a signature is important. I know no masterpiece is fully complete unless it is signed by the artist. It’s the only way of making it “official”, your signature brands it, by you.

Well, that’;s nothing you didn’t know. But even if you’re -either for now, or eventually – you’re just painting for personal enrichment, do you still sign your work?

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signing artwork

I know I sign all my work. Every last bit of it. And yes, I even extend that into sculptures. Before the clay bakes or cures, I take a minute to carve my initials into the bottom with a skinny piercing tool. And the year too. So yes you could say, I always sign and date my work!

Why a Signature is Important?

Now I have been told I should not sign AND DATE my work….why is that?? When I asked, I was told that if I wanted to participate in any contests (I have done that, yes) many times very recent entries are accepted…usually it’s within the last 2 years. I always wondered if people who do the judging at these things have this idea that you have to have “fresh” skills or work, if I trundled out something I did in 2002 and it’s 2011, maybe they’re thinking I’m just trying to play catch up? I have no idea, but that’s my thoughts on that one.

Irregardless, I always put the date on my work because of one major reason – I always liked to track my progress. I wanted to look at a painting i did in 2003 or 04 or even 1993, and compare it to a piece of work I did more recently and see if I’ve improved, or declined somewhat, and in what way?

Also, like some artists have transitional phases where a certain subject matter will predominate. I did a lot of pastoral nature scenes in 2001-03. It always made me feel serene and so I gravitated towards portrayals of the outdoors.

I also used to look at some of the dates on my old work and see if I could connect it with a major event – tell me I’m not the only one who does that? I remember one time I was probably working on a painting on New Years Eve, yes believe it or not and after the clock struck midnight I would grapple with “should I put ’95 or ’96 or this thing now?”

Yes, I’m sure there is something I was working on during a major event like 9-11 or Hurricane Katrina, (stressful events like that will definitely make you want to reach for the art supplies that much more amIrite?) That last one came to mind because I think it was on August 29th which is today’s date.

How to Sign Your Paintings

But enough of all that, I almost sound like I am dating myself here…hahaha….Anyway, on the question of signing and dating your finished paintings, what’s the best way to do it? Well, there’s no “right’ or “wrong” way to do this, your signature is your very own.

where to sign and date your painting

I usually put my initials, or sometimes “J Morris” and the date in month/day/year format if I’m feeling extra generous, or sometimes just the month and year. I also put my signature in the bottom right corner. I always feel like an artist signature goes in the bottom corner.

There have been times I’ve put it in the top, but I like the bottom better. And the right, always, I’m right handed of course, but a lot of people are too, and the eye is trained to look in that direction. if that makes sense. I also use a very fine liner brush to sign my name, usually a no. 3 or 4.

If you add a flourish, yes, do that too. Anyway, that’s my take on signatures and art. Hope this helps.

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