Strata #464, 2007, 18x18in, silver/brass/aluminum/copper/goldpoint on white Plike paper.
Silverpoint is a method of drawing with a piece of silver on a prepared surface. As the silver passes across the paper it leaves a thin deposit in the material used for the ground. A very sure hand is required, because no erasure is possible.
Very ancient in origin, this technique reached its artistic zenith in the Renaissance with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Bellini, Botticelli, Dürer and Cranach. Later with the availability of red chalk and graphite it fell into disuse, but was revived by the Pre-Raphaelites in 19th century England, and in recent times there has been a resurgence of interest particularly in the United States.
Artists in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance generally coated their paper with calcined bone in a medium such as rabbit skin glue. Ground seashells and egg shells were also used. Today the possibilities are endless: Chinese white watercolor, casein, traditional gesso, acrylic gesso and paint, as well as ordinary house paint. Metals besides silver are also useable and all of them (except for gold and platinum) tarnish, resulting in a considerable variety of colors that emerges sometime after the drawing is completed.
In her drawings and paintings Schwalb uses flat pieces of metals in addition to silver wire and often draws over an area to darken the metalpoint mark.
Strata 246, 1998, 18x18in, copper/brass/gold/silver/aluminumpoint on clay coated paper.
Harmonizations I, 2015, 24x24x2in. gold/silverpoint, green and yellow gesso on panel.
Harmonizations II, 2015, 24x24x2in, gold/silverpoint, carmine and yellow gesso on panel.
Harmonizations VI, 2015, 24x24x2in, silver/gold/platinumpoint, grey and yellow gesso, aluminum wool pad on panel.
Polyphony XIV, 20016, 24x24x2 in, silver/gold/copper/aluminumpoint, navy blue gesso on museum mount board on wood (Private Collection).
Quartet III, 2016, 16x16x1.75in, silver/aluminum/gold/copperpoint, violet gesso on arches on panel.
Quartet IV, 2016, 16x16x1.75in, silver/aluminum/goldpoint, red ochre gesso on panel.
Aurora II, 2016, 30x30x2in, brass brush, copper wool pad, black gesso, museum mount board on wood.
Intermezzo XXVI (for Paris), 2016, 16x16x2.25in , Silver/tin/goldpoint, aluminum, wool pad, graphite, carmine, blue and white gesso on panel.
A native New Yorker, Susan Schwalb was born in 1944. She received her BFA from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1965. Her work is exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally, including over 35 solo exhibitions. She was the only female, and one of just three living artists to be included in the recent history-making metalpoint exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (Drawing in Silver and Gold: Leonardo to Jasper Johns (2015); traveled to The British Museum, London). Her work is in major public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; The British Museum, London; The Brooklyn Museum, NY; Kupferstichkabinett -Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Germany; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England.