Signs

Before:

After:

Another project done in getting ready for the renfair, I badly needed to repaint my sign. The original sign (first image above), a friend painted for me for last season. I really liked it and got nice compliments on it, but it was a little hard to read from a distance and it wound up flaking really bad by the end of the season. The first picture above is BEFORE sanding and the way it looked the end of last season. Not good.

Maybe I just needed a push. For these past twenty years, I’ve always had someone else paint my sign. First time, I paid a gal to paint me one. After a few years, just went back over and freshened it up. A few years later, my mom did a quick job. Couple refreshes every few years after. Then the pretty but flaky one last year. Hm, you know what? Maybe I ought to try it myself. Paint my own darn sign. I sketch jewelry ideas all the time, I should be able to come up with a sign.

First step, sand off the flaking paint.

Then I put down a coat of outdoor primer on both sides, then background paint coat. This was spread over a couple of days because the sign is two-sided and had to let one side dry between coats before it could be flipped to cover the other side. There’s a frame that goes back on, but it’s removed in the pictures so that I don’t have to worry about getting paint on it (natural wood).

While waiting for that to dry, mixed paints for the lettering and vine colors.

My counters at the fair are painted green with purple trim. The base of the paint I used for the sign was my counter paint, so it all goes together nice.

I took some white and mixed some of my green counter paint into it and it came out this lovely pale green.

The lettering is the counter-trim purple that I added black to darken it. It saddened it a little too much by the time I got it dark enough so I also added a touch of red and navy blue to keep it dark but brighten it up a bit, then it came out just right.

Above is my little rough-draft reference sketch I made for my sign idea. Below is what I sketched on the board as a paint-guide.

I used a T-square to lay out the lines for the text, then sketched out the lettering and vines. Once one side was laid out and looked okay, I flipped it over to do the other side.

Interestingly, it wound up being kind of a personal project and more of me in the sign than I expected. The letters are very close to my normal print hand, so that seems extra appropriate. The vines, those sort of echo a viney motif that’s been making a regular appearance in my artwork the last few years, across various mediums. Again, personal and appropriate. They also echo a little bit of the medieval illuminated manuscripts I sometimes like to reference for ideas. Not a bad presence on a sign for a renaissance fair, but with my own twist on it.

So, the final version wound up very similar to the second picture above. I did wind up taking the serifs off of the letters to leave them cleaner and not break up the energy of the letters. I also made the S on the first word thicker like the T on the second, partly to smooth it out (a little jagged in the picture) and partly to give it better visual weight. I also diminished the little sweeps on the large S because they detracted a little from the movement. Better now.

I thought about a little shading on the letters or veins on the leaves, et cetera, but decided to leave it flat. One, I liked the clean, clear look and sharp contrast. Important in a sign. Two, a more minor reason, most medieval illumination is flat and one-dimensional. If you want to be picky, the delicacy and intricacy of the vines isn’t really all that medieval, but more like later renaissance period. However, it’s the medieval-period illuminations where I find the best source images to adapt for inspiration in my art projects. But like many of my ideas, I borrow a little from here and there, then blend them together. So, a tiny personal thing there.

And what was happening between waiting for paint to dry?

Rory helping me glue flowers in my new window boxes for the second-story windows of my shop.

Here is the finished sign in its final version with its frame back on and hung at my shop.

Overall, pleased with the sign. It felt like a huge project to me, probably just because I’ve never painted anything like that. My friend that painted the pretty first sign above is probably rolling on the floor laughing to read that. She paints these amazing giant wall murals. My little sign probably felt tiny to her. It felt huge to me. I realized that most acrylic projects I’ve done have been very small scale before now. It’s all in the perspective. But in the end, it was fun and I won’t be as hesitant to jump off into the next one.

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