“Ever since I discovered Natural Pigments some years ago I have been delighted to use their materials for silverpoint drawing. It is wonderful to have such a resource in one place for this medium.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Schwalb was born in New York City and studied at the High School of Music & Art, and at Carnegie-Mellon University.
Schwalb’s oeuvre ranges from drawings and artist books on paper to paintings on wood panels. Her work is represented in most of the major public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the National Gallery, Washington DC, The British Museum, London, The Brooklyn Museum, NY, The Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Kupferstichkabinett - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Germany, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT, Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, and The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
Susan Schwalb has been in residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (2010,’07, ‘92,’73), the MacDowell Colony (1989, ’75,’74), Yaddo, 1981 and in 1994 had two residencies in Israel at Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv Artists’ Studios. She has had over 40 solo exhibitions nationally as well as internationally.
Her work was included “Drawing with Silver and Gold: From Leonardo to Jasper Johns”, opened at the National Gallery of Art, Wash. DC which travel to The British Museum, London. Schwalb was one of only three living artists included in the show. In 2018 a retrospective entitled “A Luminous Line: Forty Years of Metalpoint Drawing by Susan Schwalb” will be exhibited at the Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock. She is the co-author of “Silverpoint and Metalpoint Drawing: A Complete Guide to the Medium”published in 2019 by Routledge/Focal Press, UK and NYC.
Photo by Sungwon Hun
My primary medium for over 40 years has been the Renaissance technique of silverpoint and metalpoint drawing. Juxtaposing a wide variety of metals (silver, gold, brass, copper, platinum, pewter, bronze, and aluminum) I obtain soft shifts of tone and color. Horizontal lines evoke an atmosphere of serenity, and the shimmer of light on the surface, created by the metals, is quite unlike any of the usual effects.
I have been working within a square format almost exclusively since 1997. An even grid of narrow horizontal or diagonal lines forms the basic structure and serves as a spatial context for irregular events on the surface.
Many of my works have musical titles, which evolved intuitively. It is not only because I live with a composer and love music, but also because there is a parallel in the fact that music is abstract like my work. My paintings and drawings are always done in series and each work is generally inspired by the piece or pieces created before it.
All the series are a testimony of how the abstract and straight line can create movement and a visual sound, simply through a variety of compositions. What I want the viewer to do when standing in front of my work is to notice all the subtle differences on the surface and to experience the effect of an abstract universe composed of lines and reflections of light.
SUSAN SCHWALB ON NATURAL PIGMENTS
Ever since I discovered Natural Pigments some years ago I have been delighted to use most of their materials for silverpoint drawing including tools, metal points (aluminum, silver, and nickel silver), grounds and metallic wool pads in my drawings and panel works. I especially love the metallic wool pads which I have used to create light and dark tones in my drawings. I often use the aluminum and bronze wool pads along with the copper. The dual stylus tool that they sell is quite useful for having two metals in one holder—one thick and one thin. It is wonderful to have such a resource in one place for this medium.