Drawing is visual art in which an artist uses instruments to mark paper or other surfaces. Drawing instruments include graphite pencils, pen and ink, various kinds of paints, inked brushes, colored pencils, crayons, charcoal, chalk, pastels, erasers, markers, styluses, and metals (such as silverpoint).
What tools are used to draw?
A drawing instrument deposits a small amount of material onto a surface, leaving a visible mark. Drawing instruments include pencils, pens, sticks, brushes, and metal points. The most common support for drawing is paper, although other materials, such as cardboard, wood, plastic, leather, canvas, and board, have been used.
What is silverpoint?
Silverpoint and metalpoint drawing is one of the oldest methods of drawing. It was a common method during the European Renaissance and the ancestor of the modern graphite pencil. Silverpoint is a drawing instrument composed of a small, pointed metal tip, usually of silver, encased in a holder.
Learn More About Silverpoint and Metalpoint Drawing
Silverpoint was commonly practiced during the Renaissance by artists such as Jan van Eyck, Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer, and Raphael, and is the ancestor of the modern graphite pencil. Silverpoint is a drawing instrument composed of a small, pointed metal tip, usually of silver, encased in a holder...
Silverpoint is rarely used today except by a few persons who take an interest in traditional artists' materials, yet it was a favorite technique of the old masters. The disuse of silverpoint, after graphite sticks came into use during the 17th century, is one of the most curious details of technical art history. It is peculiar that an instrument once used by the most famous artists who ever drew on paper should have come to be neglected and despised by their successors...
To prepare grounds for metalpoint or silverpoint drawing technique, you will need a rigid support. Select a heavy, smooth-surfaced paper, paperboard, parchment, or wood panels, such as plywood or hardboard. Paper with a rough texture or smooth glossy surface is undesirable for silverpoint and metalpoint drawing...
The Ancient Medium of Silverpoint in Contemporary Art
This live episode of Art Materials Advisor features exclusive interviews by George O’Hanlon and Tatiana Zaytseva with silverpoint artists Koo Schadler, Lauren Redding, Erin Kono, and Michael Paul. Learn all about these artists and how they created the remarkable artwork they’ve achieved with the ancient drawing medium of silverpoint. For the full-length artist interviews, visit these videos below
In this Art Materials Advisor, we feature an exclusive interview by George O'Hanlon with silverpoint artist Koo Schadler. Learn about silverpoint drawing from master artist Koo Schadler artists and how she creates remarkable works of art with the traditional medium of silverpoint.
Silverpoint Artist, Lauren Redding
In this Art Materials Advisor, we feature an exclusive interview by George O'Hanlon with silverpoint artists Lauren Redding. Learn how she creates remarkable works of art with the traditional medium of silverpoint.
Silverpoint Artist, Michael Paul
In this five-part series of Art Materials Advisor, we feature exclusive interviews by George O'Hanlon with silverpoint artist Koo Michael Paul. Learn all about silverpoint from artists and how they create remarkable works of art with the traditional medium of silverpoint.
Silverpoint Artist, Erin Kono
In this five-part series of Art Materials Advisor, we feature exclusive interviews by George O'Hanlon with silverpoint artists Erin Kono. Learn all about silverpoint from artists and how they create remarkable works of art with the traditional medium of silverpoint.
Silverpoint drawing is a historical drawing technique that involves using a silver tool, typically a thin silver wire or rod, to make marks on a surface that has been coated with a ground such as gesso or lead white. The marks made by silverpoint are delicate and light and can be erased or modified, but not in the same way as graphite or carbon. The technique was popularized during the Renaissance, but its popularity declined in the following centuries with the advent of new drawing materials. Despite this, many contemporary artists are still interested in silverpoint drawing for its directness, aesthetic and expressive possibilities. Read articles in the Artist Materials blog on the process of silverpoint drawing and the challenges and unique aspects of the technique.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is silverpoint and metalpoint?
Silverpoint and metalpoint are drawing techniques that involve using a metal tool (typically made of silver or other metals) to make marks on a surface, such as paper or parchment. The marks made by silverpoint are typically light and delicate, while those made by metalpoint may be darker and more pronounced depending upon the metal.
What materials are typically used for silverpoint and metalpoint drawing?
Silverpoint drawings are typically made on surfaces such as paper or parchment that have been coated with a ground (such as gesso or lead white) to prepare them for drawing.
What are the differences between silverpoint and metalpoint drawing?
Silverpoint drawing typically produces delicate, light marks that can be modified but not without some difficulty. Metalpoint drawing, on the other hand, produces marks that may be lighter or darker depending on the metal, and more pronounced marks are more difficult to erase or modify. Additionally, silverpoint is typically made with a silver tool, while metalpoint can be made with a variety of different metal tools.
Are there any special techniques that need to be used when working with silverpoint or metalpoint?
Both silverpoint and metalpoint drawing require a steady hand and a delicate touch. It's important to work on a smooth surface and to use a sharp point to make precise marks. Additionally, it's important to use the right type of ground for the surface you're working on.
Is it possible to erase or modify marks made with silverpoint or metalpoint?
Marks made with silverpoint and metalpoint are typically difficult to remove because the metal particles embed in the porous surface of the ground. The difficulty depends upon the absorbency of the ground and the type of metal used to make marks.
What are some examples of famous artists who have used silverpoint or metalpoint in their work?
Many famous artists throughout history have used silverpoint and metalpoint in their work, including Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer, and Jan van Eyck.
Are there any health hazards associated with working with silverpoint or metalpoint?
Handling metalpoint materials may cause exposure to toxic substances such as lead, so it's important to take precautions when working with these materials, such as wearing gloves and working in a well-ventilated area.
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