Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Drawing in Precious (and Not-So-Precious) Metals: Silverpoint
By Judy Thomas

As part of our new "Teaching/Learning" schedule for CVABA meetings, Celeste Johnston and I recently gave an introductory lesson on silverpoint. This is the Old Masters' technique of drawing with metals, some of them precious.  Before the discovery of graphite (in around 1560), artists drew with metal on surfaces prepared with a ground, often made with marble dust, zinc and rabbit skin glue. The metal (with the exception of gold) tarnishes over time, deepening the value of the line.

Thank goodness, we can now buy a prepared silverpoint ground or use diluted casein paint (see photo above).  During the session, members found the process far easier than they thought it would be, though drawing with metals takes some practice, as the drawing is built up in layers, and there is limited ability to erase (it damages the ground).

Here are some resources I provided, including a link to some truly beautiful, contemporary silverpoint drawings:

More than you want to know about metalpoint:

How to apply pre-made ground:

Silverpoint drawing instruction, parts 1 and 2:

Some contemporary silverpoint drawings:

Golden's silverpoint ground:

Shiva casein paint, titanium white:

A basic book on silverpoint instruction:

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