Signing Artwork

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Stack of unsigned paintings.

“Put your name on your paper”. It’s literally the first thing you are taught. Even as a high school teacher, I repeatedly say “no name, no fame”. But I’m the kid that totally ignores the teacher. I procrastinate signing my art. Guilty as charged. Why do I put it off? What’s all the fuss with signatures? What’s in a name, anyway? Apparently, a lot.

It was a big deal during the Renaissance for individual artists to sign their art.  Before that, artists often worked in collective guilds. Historically, signatures can provide authenticity to an artwork. I recently watched the show Fake or Fortune (highly recommended). In Season 4, episode 2, there is dispute over the legitimacy of a Renoir because he never signed it! The provenance (the lineage) is easier to maintain with a legitimate signature.

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Inscribing signature into wet paint, alla prima.

Typically, the last time an artist puts brush to painting is to sign it. The act of signing may be the culmination of hours, days or months’ worth of work. When I sign, it’s like the entire process flashes before my eyes. So many thoughts and decisions go into a work. Often, as an artist, it’s sometimes hard to know when the work is finished. Inevitably, though, every painting says, “I’m done, please, no more!” An artist friend looked at my signature once and thought I was signing it to mimic that of a Grandma Moses because it is so primitive, lacking any artistic flair! I laughed, “No,” I said. “It’s just my name”. But then I got to thinking. I sign my work L. David. I often wonder if I should just sign David, and if changing the style is acceptable so I did some research. Yes! Turns out, artists signatures evolve over time. And it’s about time my signature changes. Maybe on the next painting.

So, you are done with your painting and ready to sign. How? Where? Are there rules? Standards? Yes, and no. Typically, a work is signed in the lower right or left corner in the same media the work was created in. The size is similar to the signature on a check. Some artists only sign their last name. Others sign the first letter of their first name, and their last name. Some sign meticulously. Their signatures are works of art. Others use an illegible scribble. It is preferred by the art establishment that the signature be legible.  Art collectors and patrons want art that is signed and legible. If they are spending big bucks on a work, they want bragging rights and a legible signature helps.  The signature should not dominate or take attention away from the art.

artist signatures

Artist signatures

Studio painters may wait until the painting is dry before signing. This allows more control with the brush. Plein air painters don’t have that luxury. They typically will sign on location by inscribing the work or simply signing wet on wet (alla prima). Collectors are thrilled when the artist indicates (on the back) where the piece was painted and perhaps a bit of information to go along with it. For example, I painted this today and inscribed it with a rubber tipped tool. It was painted partially from my car and partially from just outside my car. It wasn’t cold, a balmy 34 degrees. It was at Gurney Park, in Glens Falls, NY, just inside the Adirondack Park. Lucky for me, there was a sledding birthday party. I didn’t bring any cadmium yellow and had to make the best with the colors I had. The kids were screaming and laughing as they sped down the hill. While I painted, my husband rode his mountain bike on nearby trails. t took about an hour and fifteen minutes to complete. So, now you know the story.

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Sledding Party, 6″x 8″ Oil on panel, plein air painting. Gurney Lane Park, Glens Falls, NY

Eighteenth century landscape artist Jean Baptiste Camille Corot has the distinction of being the most forged artist of all time. Art news reports  “Corot (1796–1875) was extremely prolific: he produced some 3,000 paintings and roughly the same number of drawings”, Dieterle says. Even today, real Corots still come to light “in someone’s attic or basement, at a flea market or estate sale.”

I find art forgery fascinating! Christies auction house has a great article about signing art. 

True Story: I recently delivered some work to a gallery. Lucky for me, a customer wanted to purchase one just a day later! I received a call asking me to come in; apparently, I forgot to sign the painting. I apologized profusely and the gallery said not to worry, it happens often.  Looks like we need to add one more thing to the artist’s checklist! And remember, no name, no fame!

 

 

 

 

Tub O’ Soda

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Tub O’ Soda, 10″ x 10″ Oil on gessobord

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Original page from Michne Camping Log, 1971

My father kept our camping log all the years we camped. This page has the story of the day I won the “floating mattress!”

It was July 16, 1971. The perfect summer day as I recall. My father was hosting the annual work picnic. I won a green raft that day for my athletic ability in the egg race! It was my biggest claim to fame as a 9 year old. I remember reaching into a tub of iced cold soda with what seemed like every variety ever invented. It was sheer heaven- all the FREE SODA I could drink! Pull the ring tab- wear it on your finger for a bit before carelessly dropping it somewhere in the grass. Take that long first sip…..ahhhhhhhhhh. Life was good.

 

Who’s Thirsty?

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Who’s Thirsty? 10″ x 10″ Oil on Gessobord

We didn’t have water bottles- there was no sippy box, pouch or fancy energy drink. If you were outside playing, and you were thirsty, you would simply turn on the spigot, bend down a bit, wait for about 10 seconds until the cold water reached the end of the hose, then take a long, long gulp swallowing, swallowing and swallowing. Of course, you would then offer the hose to the next sweaty, out of breath neighborhood friend. If you were on your game that day, you might remember to turn off the hose. Or, your father might step in  huge puddle and yell out ” Who left the dam hose on?”

Cherry Kool-Aid

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Cherry Kool-Aid, 10″ x 10″ Oil on Gessobord

Making Kool-Aid was hit-or-miss. First, you had to have packet. Chances are, we didn’t have enough sugar to fill the measuring cup. Next, to find the pitcher- (dump out whatever old drink was brewing in that!) After accidentally snorting the unsweetened powder when you opened it, get your spoon, add sugar, stir, then pray that you would have ice in the ice-cube maker! If all was right with the world, you would have the perfect sugary cup of cherry Kool-Aid. All in a summer’s days work!

Saratoga Ginger

Saratoga GInger

Saratoga Ginger

Remember Saratoga Vichy Water? Well, they also made Saratoga Ginger Ale! Of course, everyone had the Vichy water. My mother had it for every “adult” party. Each time there was a spill, it was “Grab the Vichy water!!” Not gonna lie, we usually had Canada Dry Ginger Ale. I resurrected this bottle from the Round Lake Antique Fest and thought I’d put the little sister of Vichy in the spotlight. What is Vichy water, anyway?

Frozen Pink Lemonade

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Frozen Pink Lemonade

After  ripping  the plastic strip off the can, removing the aluminum disk from  the end, I would hold that can for a few seconds then wait for the “scccuuuupppppp” sound as the plop of pink creamy ice fell into the pitcher. I remember being in such a hurry to make it that filling 3 whole cans of water seemed like an eternity. The sticky, gooey mess would be left on the counter, along with whatever utensil could find to make it. Then, after selecting a glass as impressive as this pink drink, I would find the perfect spot to enjoy it. The ritual involved with pink lemonade hasn’t changed much and while buying a carton may seem easier, there is something about the canned frozen pink lemonade that remains  my prefered method of classic, summer-must enjoyment.

Coke and a smile.

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Coke and a Smile. 10″ x 10″ Oil on Gessobord

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Detail: Coke and a Smile.

I feel for this generation that didn’t get to experience the Real Thing. The commercial- apple trees, honey bees and snow white turtle doves. Everyone knows things go better with Coke. Especially the mountains! Taking a freezing cold Coke out of a galvanized bucket of ice- there is nothing more refreshing on a hot summer’s day. It adds life!  It’s a natural! This video clip says it all! Classic Coke Commercial- Thank you Don Draper!

 

(Mr. Harvey’s) Suntea

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(Mr. Harvey’s) Suntea

Mr. Harvey was my 5th grade teacher at Skano Elementary. He was the best. We made sawdust puppets, paper mache bowls and something using the wish bones from chicken bones. At the time, during the early 70’s, he was definitely ahead of the curve on “student engagement”.   I remember outside our classroom, he had this mysterious jar with the most beautiful colors.  He poured us all a cup in a little Dixie paper cup (after he added mint!). What teacher does this??? Every summer, I try to recreate the taste of that tea. After 40+ years, I think I nailed it!  Here’s the recipe: Put 8 or so tea bags in a glass jar, add water. Next add peaches, strawberries, an orange slice and a bit of lemon. Let it seep all day. Add a teaspoon or two of real sugar, add ice cubes with a sprig of mint, and there you go, Mr. Harvey’s Suntea!

Heads Up

Lisa David trees

Heads Up, 6″ x 6″ Oil on gesso

Walking among Adirondack pines, I can not help but feel I’m in my “happy place”. The fragrant smells as you brush pine trees, the chirping of  bird (which I can never find), and the sunlight that manages to break through the towering trees to reach the floor of the woods fills me with gratefulness. Looking straight up through the trees is its own experience-almost dizzying. As a kid, I remember going on a few hikes. We would fill a canteen and wear it around our neck. My father could identify every tree. He would pick up a rock and tell  you the  geological formation from which it originated. He could hear a bird and identify it’s call, if heard only once. He is pretty much a walking Almanac of information. It’s sad that the things so available in nature aren’t shared as much as they used to be. Now, we hike with our phones. I am guilty as charged-for without my phone, I wouldn’t have taken this photo. A short walk on Hammond Pond trail yielded the most amazing views…especially up.

Hoffman’s Playland Boats

Lisa David Hoffman's Playland

Hoffman’s Playland Boats, 6″ x 6″ Oil on gesso

Nothing is more regionally familiar to local families as Hoffman’s Playland, or should I say the boats at Hoffman’s Playland. It was practically mandatory for kid growing up in the area. Even with the recent move of Hoffman’s, I am sure the bells on those boats are still clanging! There was something mesmerizing about watching the boats glide round and round through the galvanized pool of water. We would grab the steering wheel and turn it with one hand, while ringing the bell with the other. It was about 3 minutes of nautical bliss…for a six year old!