View Full Version : Silverpoint?
07-04-2000, 04:35 AM
Just wondering if anyone here has used silverpoint and what their opinions are on the subject. It sounds really neat, but I'm wondering if it's difficult to draw with...I hear it's permanent, so that could obviously make it a little more difficult than pencil, as there's less room for error and correction. Can you draw something in pencil then go back over it in silverpoint?
07-04-2000, 08:40 AM
Hi Cassandra - I have also thought that silverpoint looks like an interesting way to draw. I am sorry that I don't have knowledge of this medium..but it reminds me of something like etching. (?) There are many people here with a wide range of knowledge...I hope you will see some answers to your questions here before very long.
07-05-2000, 09:10 AM
I'd be pleased to discuss silverpoint with you. It's not just silver, but a variety of metals -- gold, copper and platinum that are used to make, what are called metalpoint drawings. If you have ever inadvertantly rubbed a silver or gold ring against a wall and left a mark, that's metalpoint.
The first thing to understand is that the metals are harder than the graphite in pencils, so the resulting lines will never have the range of darks we see in pencil drawings. That said, they have a charm of their own and, I'm pleased to say, are attracting a growing market of serious collectors. I see metalpoint drawings of skilled, but not well-noted, artists selling for upward of $15,000. It's the rare master's drawing that approaches that level.
The actual act of drawing is not that much more difficult. The ground must be prepared to accept the metalpoint. Some artists are satisfied with working on gesso (the real stuff, not acrylic). Most silverpoints sold are simply a thin metal wire sharpened at the end. Holding that thin (16 gauge) wire causes your hand to cramp. Last year we designed and had manufactured a holder specifically for holding the metal wires. That has allowed artists to work for hours without straining their hands.
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The actual wires are sharpened easily with sandpaper and brought to a point in which the sharp point is dulled down to a slightly more rounded shape. This still allows a fine line to be drawn. The ground should have some tooth to it. We have formulated a nice mixture of dolomitic limestone, bone white and sweet rice starch which is mixed and heated with water to make a thin paint-like ground which has a soft antique white color and a wonderful tooth. If you wanted to apply it to paper, the paper would have to be wet and then stretched, as you would watercolor papewr. Otherwise the ground will cause the paper to wrinkle and cockle. You can also add pigment or watercolor to the ground to tone it.
Silver lines look much like fine pencil lines, but over time they begin to tarnish and take on a special quality that makes them stand out on a wall of drawings. Gold and platinum do not tarnish whereas copper goes through all sorts of changes and an individual drawing might contain several variations of tone.
The overall effect of a metalpoint drawing has to be seen to be appreciated. It's an easily mastered technique and it's also a great way to lay in drawings under for later painting in oils.
I am pleased to see the increased interest in this classic drawing medium and am delighted that we have had some small hand in its revival.
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