Silverpoint drawings by Renaissance masters like Durer and da Vinci have been part of my inspiration. Those artists and others had to have amazing drawing skill, since once a mark is put down with silverpoint it's not going to change. You simply must draw well.
Here is a copy I made of a da Vinci silverpoint from the 15th century. The support I used is a small hardboard panel primed with traditional gesso measuring 6 by 8 inches. With this one I simply picked up the panel and stylus and made the drawing. It took perhaps four hours. The photograph is a bit dark; the gessoed panel is white.
|Head of a Warrior in a fantastic helmet, after da Vinci|
As to my silverpoint works, besides the Leonardo copy here are several, all done on small gessoed, toned panels. The faint toning of the panels was done with transparent watercolor, applied and wiped to avoid too much soaking into the porous gesso. Although it's often been said that silverpoint suffers from an inability to achieve a wide range of values, that hasn't been my experience. Instead, the ability to differentiate value depends on the quality of the metal (softer and finer), the abrasiveness of the surface, and the pressure applied by the artist. Further, you can darken and widen your line to assist in development of depth. Overall, it's a wonderful medium for drawing, if indeed unforgiving.
|Head of a hound, after a 15th century Durer original|