The signing of a watercolor painting is one of the last creative steps, but also one of the most important ones. You have to make sure you don’t ruin the composition or distract the observer from the painting and still have your signature clearly visible.
To sign your watercolor painting you need to find a spot that isn’t crowded, so your signature remains visible, while also not distracting from your composition. Sign on a piece of tracing paper first and test out where you like the signature the most. You can use a ballpoint pen, ink, paint or a pencil.
How to find the perfect spot for your signature
You have to be really careful when placing your signature. A wrong spot can easily ruin the entire composition and put focus on a part that you never intended to.
I would advise to take a piece of tracing paper, sign it and try out a lot of different places where to put the signature. Ideally you should step away a bit to have a clearer way from a distance.
In the beginning it can be quite difficult to see where your signature would fit best so you just have to test around a lot.
You shouldn’t sign in a very crowded area of the painting, since that may overcrowd it and make your signature barely readable.
Instead you should try to pick an area, where the signature won’t distract from the painting because it’s in a focal point, but is still readable.
Ideally you should ask 1-2 other people for their opinions to make sure to get a neutral look. After painting for multiple hours it’s possible to lose this neutral perspective.
Common signature spots professional artists use
Now let’s take a look at how the pros do it. Where do the best of the best sign their paintings?
The most common spots are without a doubt the corners. I see a ton of people put their signature in the corners of their works, mostly the bottom ones.
The reason for that is that most people don’t put a lot of important aspects of their painting in those areas. Therefore, a signature there will not disrupt their composition.
Additionally the observer won’t get distracted as most people look at the centre of the painting first (or the obvious focal point).
This piece by Jensen Cheong is a great example. He decided to sign his work at the bottom left area. It doesn’t distract from the busy city at all, while still being quickly readable, as the background is pretty light.
If he were to put it in the bottom right corner, it wouldn’t be as easy to read because of the people that he painted there
Also, his signature gives the artwork a certain weight, where it didn’t have weight before, while not taking any attention away from the main composition.
The 4 best materials to use for the signature
A lot of people use a ballpoint pen or ink to sign their works. They will stick nicely on the painting and will have no problem covering the watercolor underneath.
A pencil is another possibility, while I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s easily erasable and won’t cover the colors that well, so I choose to avoid those.
A very creative idea would be to use paint. That’s by far the most difficult one, as it’s pretty easy to screw up and you’re probably not used to signing with a brush.
So I would advise you to practise it a bit beforehand, so you get the hang of it. Also, you should use a pretty fine brush with a strong, dark color, so it’s clearly visible in the end.
Standing out with a unique and perfect signature spot
If you would like to stand out with a rather unique spot to sign, I would definitely encourage you to do so.
One possible place would be next to the face/over the shoulder of a portrait like you can see here in a work by HumidPeach:
She decided to sign her work with a pencil, probably because of the light color it provides. Her composition is so strong that her signature right next to it doesn’t affect the painting in any negative way.
If anything it makes the painting more interesting as it disrupts the perfect symmetry it had before.
But you definitely have to watch out when using such a spot to sign. It can distract the observer immensely if you choose a place where the signature doesn’t fit at all, so I would absolutely encourage you to ask for the opinions of people around you.
Additionally you could also hide your signature a bit, so it can only be found when the viewer really takes a close look at your work.
If you do so, I would advise you to try to implement such a signing strategy in all your works as it can really help you stand out, by not standing out at all.
Try to find a spot that doesn’t distract the viewer from your composition but rather encourages him/her to take a closer look. Test out various positions with a piece of tracing paper before making a decision.
If you’re unsure, ask friends and family for additional opinions. To make your signature unique, try to find unusual spots in your painting that fit the criteria I just mentioned.