What's in a name

I've always put dates on my work. However, in college and for some years after I signed my pictures Julia or simply J.

At that time, I thought using my first name only was straightforward and unpretentious.

Sometimes, beyond the date, I never signed them at all.  The visual "handwriting" of the piece, I reasoned, was its own signature.

For my first solo show in the 1990's, the paintings were signed with just my first name. Most of the pictures in that show sold, several to customers in California.

Early this year, one of those customers tried to reach me. He had a devil of a time, but at last he googled "Julia, northwest, painter."

By the end of the week I had sold four more paintings.

Not long after that first solo show, Kent Lovelace, my boss at Stone Press, told me a story. He said he had been admiring an enormous seascape on the wall of a building downtown and went up to see who painted it.

The name was illegible.

He then told me if I wanted to sell my work, I should grow up and start signing my paintings "Hensley".

"It's a good name," he said. "You should use it."

"And none of that illegible bullshit," he added, "sign it so I can read it!"

I thought a moment about someone seeing a piece of mine and not knowing how to reach me.

I've been Hensley ever since.


Meadowbrook, Oil on Panel; 9 3/4" x 7 1/4"; 2006 Detail