What is What is silverpoint?
AThe art of silverpoint, or more inclusively metalpoint, is an ancient drawing technique using gold, silver or copper (and sometimes other metals) in the form of thin wire inserted into a stylus to inscribe fine lines onto a specially prepared, lightly abrasive surface. The marks made by these metals, being rather faint, are built up in cross hatched layers to eventually produce subtle values resulting in a delicate, intimate image. This technique requires a steady hand and much patience as the marks cannot be erased and the surface is easily marred. Also interesting is the science behind the subtle color and density changes of the markings (excluding pure gold) as the metals oxidize due to humidity and air quality.
After an introduction to silverpoint drawing in a freshman class at Tyler School of Art as taught by Chuck Schmidt, I forgot about the technique for many years until I once again met up with my former professor and several area artists. As a result of interacting with this group I have spent the last few years immersed in this centuries old traditional art.
This is a rather limiting art form, but I consider it a challenge to see how far I can take it. At times I combine other mediums in the drawings to produce soft color effects while trying not to overpower the subdued marks of the metals.
I continue to experiment with ideas as learned through fellow artists, and with practice and creativity. I also teach metalpoint to others in order to help keep this little known, but beautiful drawing technique alive and growing.