Tag Archives: silverpoint drawings of Ellen Cathcart Trezevant

silverpoint composite underdrawing

Silverpoint Composite

silverpoint composite underdrawing

Composite silverpoint underdrawing, silverpoint on pastel ground over tinted acrylic gesso on HDF. Final size: 106.5 x 168 cm or 42″ x 66″

It’s taken me approximately one year to complete this series of sixty four panels. Not that it should have taken all that time – it’s just that life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans. However, all sixty panels are now completed such that the composite image can be assembled. And here it is. The final size is approximately 3 1/2 feet x 5 1/2 feet. So, almost life size.

I love the soft daguerrotype atmosphere that the silver creates. Also, how the somewhat fuzzy, sandpaper-like pastel ground that I applied over the tinted (acrylic) gesso panels adds to that softness. Drawing in silverpoint necessarily means a compressed value range, which in this case, I was able to increase through the addition of white highlights.

Silverpoint assemblage along the way.

Silverpoint assemblage along the way.

As I have insisted all along though, my aesthetic intention for these panels is that they serve as an underdrawing for the final painting – yet to come. Now, due to a number of technical considerations, I will need to perform a few experiments before I apply further layers of paint, fixative and/or varnish – not necessarily in that order. Thankfully, the University of Delaware hosts a forum, consisting of professional artists, expert conservators and product creators who freely offer sound, technical advice to geeky and experimental artists like myself. What a gift! Here’s the link for anyone who may be interested. So, though it may take awhile I truly hope I will be able to post the final outcome sometime in the (relatively) near future. Stay tuned. 😉

 

#13 Silverpoint on tinted panel, highlighted with titanium white.

Silverpoint underdrawings, batch #4

Perhaps because I haven’t posted in awhile, a number of friends have asked recently if I am still working on my silverpoint drawings. The answer is emphatically: “Yes!”. Since I’ve had a few other projects on my plate, I just haven’t done a post. So here is batch #4.

Actually, I am coming down the home stretch of these sixty four (underdrawing) panels (there are still twelve left to do). Each is a jewel in its own right, though clearly some are more interesting compositionally than others. I had  about thirty panels to sort through in order to select these five to showcase here.

As you’ll see, the panels that contain body parts with differing textures and conditions of light make for the most interesting compositions. It’s important to recognise that the silverpoint can never create a really dark line. The best that’s achievable is a 50% warm grey (which is drawn on a panel already tinted with a terra verte toned ground). So after transposing the basic form-describing lines, I fill in the dark values with silver cross-hatching. Through this process, the three quarter tone, deep shadow information inevitably gets lost however the composition does come to life when I introduce tints of (acrylic) titanium white.

Silverpoint underdrawing on toned gesso ground. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

Silverpoint underdrawings, batch #2

Silverpoint underdrawing #05 on toned gesso ground. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

Silverpoint underdrawing #05 on toned gesso ground. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

I’ve completed six more panels, so I figure it’s time for an update. Illustrated here are a few of those that I that have found to be particularly interesting/beautiful for various reasons. The most evocative appear to be those whose compositions include human beings or parts thereof. It’s as though each one is from some unwritten comic book – captions not included (HergĂ© would have understood). Additionally, the abstract panels cause me to wonder/admire anew at how the iconoclastic impulse of Islamic art continues to produce such interesting varieties of texture and pattern.

Silverpoint underdrawing #07 on toned gesso ground. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

Silverpoint underdrawing #07 on toned gesso ground. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

Further, one very general note. I feel I am serendipitously creating 21st century daguerreotypes(!). (Who knew?) It’s as though by using silver to recreate images based on a digital photograph the mechanistic process has come full circle: human to machine back to human. And again, because the drawing stylus is silver it’s almost impossible to achieve a line that is darker than a 50% grey value. All values are compressed thereby, necessitating a multitude of small decisions. Adding in the white highlights makes each panel come alive – my own gevoelsmatig pleasure.

Silverpoint underdrawing #11 on toned gesso ground. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

Silverpoint underdrawing #11 on toned gesso ground. 13.3 x 21 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.

The raison d’ĂȘtre for these remains as underdrawings. And I have no doubt that their beauty and subtlety will contribute to the whole in as-yet-to-be-experienced ways. However, some will be held back for individual display and appreciation. For this, I think I have a plan…