Metalpoint - Silverpoint

Detail of a Silverpoint drawing on board (16" X 16")

Metalpoint was a way of drawing in the Renaissance (15th century). Lead or graphite was not in the tool box yet. I have been fascinated by the technique, so I thought I would try it. My husband made a silver nib for me to start with. Other metals such as brass, aluminum, gold and copper may also be used. Silver comes in different degrees of hardness, and they make lighter or darker lines. When drawing, there is a depositing of metal on the abrasive surface and this metal will oxidize over time. Silver turns into a nice brown. I may work in some copper for a bit of green and brass for light black. The surface needs to be prepared with a gesso ground. The gesso can be tinted a color. For best results, the support should be hard and rigid. I used a wood panel, sanding each layer of gesso smooth after they dried.

Sometimes, I am so excited about trying something new that I jump into it too quickly. Once I began, I noticed that I really should have put another layer of gesso on for a smoother surface. There are bits of roughness that interfered with the detail. To fix that I took some watered down gesso and applied it with a small brush. Then I could go back in with a light touch of the silver nib to make corrections. After jumping in with drawing freehand right away with the nib, I took a step back to continue the rough in with a graphite pencil. I was very light and minimal with placing those graphite marks just to give me a sense of the proportions.

My plan is to put in some light color accents; especially to bring out the blue eyes on my beautiful niece.
The color will be very slight using a color pencil. I am still formulating in my mind the images for the background. Still learning as I go, I will blog the completion with notes of challenges.

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