The Silverpoint Composite Underdrawing

June 6, 2022

The silverpoint composite. Silverpoint over Golden's Pastel Ground (over a tinted acrylic gesso ground) on HDF. Full size 3 1/2 feet wide by 5 1/2 feet tall or 106 cm x 168 cm.

Silverpoint on tinted acrylic ground. 3 1/2 feet wide by 5 1/2 feet tall or 106 cm x 168 cm.

I’ve finally completed the sixty-four silverpoint underdrawings in preparation for a painting – as yet to come. The panels were developed individually – and were based on a black and white sectionals of a photograph. The HDF panels were all prepared with an acrylic ground tinted with a mixture of dry pigments to simulate terre verte, because the actual dry pigment, terre verte, reacts negatively with acrylic rendering it unworkable – in that medium. Of course, I could have used a tint of white for my ground colour but I already knew how much I enjoyed working from a toned ground. The silver lines could be used to subtly create linear form while then the addition of an acrylic wash of white highlights could help it to “pop”! In addition, I coated each tinted gesso panel with a transparent covering of Golden’s Pastel Ground, in order to create a fuzzy toothless.

Assembling the panels on the backing board.

Now, since this level has been completed I’ve encountered two main problems-to-solve: 1) in the areas of darkest value which required a lot of cross-hatching of the silver particles, the image now possesses a reflective sheen. Is it possible to minimise this reflectivity?; 2) even though silverpoint has the reputation for leaving an indelible mark, I have found that that is not the case. Both water and a kneaded eraser can, in fact, diminish the image. So, before I proceed any further, I want to “fix” the drawing. What material should I use to do this? A traditional pastel fixative or a matte acrylic varnish? In addition, would this proposed fixative help to diminish my sheen problem?

After some research and consultation with the experts at the University of Delaware’s MITRA forum, I have decided to spray an adequate covering of Lascaux (an acrylic medium containing B-72) Fixative over the whole assemblage before proceeding any further. Because I anticipate further layers of abstraction using a Liquitex transparent titanium white spray over the image my silver sheen issue may take care of itself?

TBD. More images and information to come.

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