The metal stylus can be a nib of silver, gold or other metal, or an object like a spring or a comb to make a different kind of line. All metal drawings appear grey on the ground and a darker effect is achieved by repeated strokes or cross-hatching, not harder rubbing. Some metals, like silver, will eventually tarnish turning the lines from grey to brown and sometimes the drawings are highlighted with a white gouache paint to add depth. The most challenging aspect to metalpoint drawing is that it is very difficult to erase, therefore each line must be carefully considered before the stylus meets the surface of the paper.
Although "Drawing in Silver and Gold: Leonardo to Jasper Johns" is not a headliner exhibition, it was one of the most fascinating and informative shows I've seen in a long time. The assembly of such a distinguished group of these rare works of art, including four loans from the collection of HRH Queen Elizabeth II, made a compelling case for the revival of this largely unfamiliar technique. An outstanding installation allowed viewers to truly appreciate the fine lines and extraordinary detail that can be only be achieved by metalpoint drawing and we left with a tremendous admiration for this under-appreciated medium.
Albrecht Dürer "A Dog Resting", c. 1520
Silver point and traces of charcoal over pale pink prepared paper