Margaret has been exploring the art drawing in metalpoint and there are two examples of her silverpoint drawings in the gallery.
The art of drawing in silverpoint has its origins in the ancient history of writing. Metal stylii were used by scribes to make marks on a variety of surfaces such as wax or clay. As writing developed so did the supports and animal skins were used. In order for the skin to accept the marks of the metal stylus they had to have a ground applied to the surface consisting of a pigment usually white and a binding medium usually spittle. The pigments included chalk or bone ash from roasted animal bones.
It was not until the medieval period that metal points were used for art and it became the preferred method of drawing by Renaissance artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Durer who used it both for preparatory studies as well as finished drawings. These drawings retain a freshness and vibrancy today although produced over 500 years ago.
When a silver point is used for drawing on a prepared ground it will make a soft grey mark but gradually with exposure to the atmosphere the silver will oxidize and take on a warm brown hue. The fineness of the silver wire point enables very fine lines and soft gradations of tone to be made, these marks are however permanent and can not be altered or erased, therefore it is an extremely exacting albeit rewarding technique.