Drawing With Silver

3 May

Portrait in silverpoint.

I’m very lucky to have been invited to study on an intensive two-day course in Renaissance drawing. Today was day 1 and I did some work in Silverpoint. I’d heard about it and admired reproductions but I’d never seen a Silverpoint tool before. The handle is a smooth barrel of wood like an etching needle but the point is a piece of silver wire, apparently 99% pure. It can be used flat or as a very sharp point, but you have to be accurate because it can’t be rubbed out. It seems that Renaissance artists didn’t use the technique for quick scribbling, it was for careful studies. The paper is coated with a special Silverpoint Medium; I don’t know what’s in the modern one, but back in the day it was supposedly ground bone in some sort of animal glue. Nothing wasted eh?

The drawing room was very full so I moved in close to the model. She wore a wig which had been elaborately plaited – daVinci was particularly fond of drawing plaits. I loved it. It helps that I normally draw directly in ink, without sketching in pencil first, so I had the confidence to get stuck in without worrying too much about accuracy. It’s a small drawing, about A5 onto prepared hand-made paper and took about 20 minutes.  I like the technique so much I might put a Silverpoint tool in my letter to Santa. 🙂

18 Responses to “Drawing With Silver”

  1. Magill May 4, 2012 at 18:54 #

    So wonderfully delicate…this is a beautiful piece.

    • Rosie Scribblah May 4, 2012 at 21:43 #

      Thanks, I’m really impressed with the technique – I think quite a few other Swansea artists who were also there, might be adopting it too.

  2. mississhippi May 4, 2012 at 13:25 #

    There is such grace in this sketch. The plaits are done so well – you wouldn’t know you hadn’t used silverpoint before – except you told us lol

    • Rosie Scribblah May 4, 2012 at 21:44 #

      Thank you – I think it helped that I almost always sketch in pen, so it gave me a lot fo confidence with the silverpoint

  3. Helen Cherry May 4, 2012 at 09:57 #

    Such an elegant picture and thanks for telling us about the technique…fascinating..

  4. Drew Kail May 3, 2012 at 23:57 #

    Very cool. I want to try that. And the drawing is fantastic.

  5. Alli Farkas May 3, 2012 at 23:03 #

    Had never heard of this, so of course I had to look it up. Got a ton of information on every aspect of silverpoint drawing, from stylus to paper preparation at this website: http://www.silverpointweb.com The artist obviously did a lot of research and loves the process.

    I really liked the way your drawing came out and hope you will do a lot more for our viewing pleasure.

    • Rosie Scribblah May 4, 2012 at 08:47 #

      Thanks Alli, unfortunately the silverpoint belonged to the university, but I might just treat myself to one. Thanks for the link 🙂

  6. ziggyshortcrust May 3, 2012 at 22:27 #

    Wow Rosie, that is fantastic. I look forward to seeing the results of day 2.

    • Rosie Scribblah May 3, 2012 at 22:52 #

      Yeah I can’t wait – we’re doing Renaissance drapery tomorrow

  7. jhv57 May 3, 2012 at 20:58 #

    What a beautiful drawing. Really shows your skills. I think Santa must buy you a silverpoint tool!

  8. Clouds of Colour May 3, 2012 at 20:39 #

    Love the way youve done the hair, really amazing work 🙂

    • Rosie Scribblah May 3, 2012 at 21:02 #

      Thank you, I really enjoyed it, more clarity then pencil and more delicate than pen.

  9. kate wilson May 3, 2012 at 20:11 #

    Fascinating! I’ve often wondered how silverpoint worked but I didn’t realise it was still being done.

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