Due to its precise, delicate line quality and subtle shading, silverpoint is used by artists to create very delicate drawings, mostly small in scale.
Silverpoint was widely used by artists in the late middle Ages and the Renaissance for their underdrawing studies and drawings but its favour declined in the late 16th century when the graphite pencil became popular.
Silverpoint is the term used for drawing with a silver point, which means dragging the metal tip across a paper surface that has been prepared especially for that purpose. For this purpose, the silver point is inserted in a lead holder in place of the lead.
I have prepared my paper for my silverpoint drawings with the traditional ground formula of adding zinc white dry pigment to gum arabic. The ground was tinted by mixing a very small amount of dry pigment with the zinc white pigment. Hot pressed 140 lb. watercolor paper is used, and a minimum of 4 very thin coats of the ground are brushed on to the stretched paper.
Although silverpoints look rather like graphite at first, they change color with time, that is they tarnish to a sepialike patina.
My silverpoint studies were drawn directly from one of the diptych sculptures of André Ferron entitled Chers petits anges.
This study measures 4 x 6 inches. I used hot pressed 140 lb. Arches watercolor paper and a very small amount of red cadmium dry pigment mixed with the zinc white to achieve the light pink tint. Some highlights were done with white gouache.
If you are at all interested in silverpoint, I suggest that you check out the very complete and interesting Silverpoint Drawing Website.