Pond with Bald Cypress, Jo-Ann Sanborn, 2011
acrylic on canvas, 5"x7"
I sign and date my paintings with charcoal pencil on the back. This practice probably comes from owning a small painting of an uncle dated 1942. It’s a painting of some pink roses in a basket, darkish background, light on the flowers, with a couple of bees flying around. I wonder if the flowers were real and the basket of roses sat on a porch scenting the warm summer air drawing bees while my aunt sipped lemonade and chatted with my uncle as he painted. I wonder why he wasn’t at war, and how he had time to paint during that difficult year. I like knowing the year.
So I sign and date and name my paintings on the back with a charcoal pencil, knowing there’s a risk that someone may refuse to purchase because the painting might not be my newest work. Usually paintings sell within a year or two, but sometimes one hangs about the studio for a while, just waiting for a collector who will immediately identify with the work, love and understand it where no one else has felt that connection.
Occasionally, however, familiarity breeds a desire to improve, and I’ll take up my brush and alter the painting in some way. Curving a line a little more, or adding a spot of light might enhance the value or the composition and doesn’t really change things and the painting is better because of it.
Sometimes, however, a painting just hasn’t reached the point of being all it can be, and major redevelopment occurs. What do I do with the date when this happens? Usually nothing, if the adjustments are minor, but if it’s a major revision, I’ll note that on the back. Why not? To call yourself an artist is to grown and learn, and when that happens, there’s no shame to admitting it!