Signed, Sealed

Here’s the full 3+ minute video of me painting my signature on a new commissioned painting. Like many of the marks in each painting, the brushstrokes here required more than one layer. This clip shows the final pass with gold paint harmonizing these eight letters with a gold-toned canvas.

The pattern I use to sign my paintings is inspired by the chop marks and studio seals used by artists and printmakers for centuries. Although I first noticed this type of signature on the Viennese fin de si├Ęcle paintings that I admired when I was starting out as a painter, the amazing marks used on Chinese landscape paintings made my fascination permanent.

To read my last name in the mark, just start with the big S and read the letters clockwise until you get back to the S a second time.

Here’s a 19 second hyperlapse of the same video:

Art and artifacts

Ishamel by Randall Stoltzfus Install with Tibetan Hunting Tapestry
Ishmael installed alongside a collection of masks and a Tibetan hunting tapestry

My painting Ishmael now hangs alongside a powerful private collection of ethnic textiles and and ceremonial headgear from all over the world.

For me, the gathering of objects in this room resonates with the original religious use of the name Ishmael. In that use Ishmael was the son of Abraham and also a patriarch of Islam– in some way a bridge in the genealogy of several of the worlds great cultures. So it’s fun for me to see the painting resonating with these artifacts from very different places.

Particularly exciting for me is the Tibetan hunting tapestry that hangs nearby. I’ve long been working to make paintings that are true to the material fact of their textile underpinnings somehow. While it is difficult to say what success with that particular concern would be, I find the way the two large images work together encouraging.