Sunday, 2 April 2017

Drawing day at West Dean: making gesso, pigment solutions and silverpoint

I am close to the end of the FDAD at West Dean, I have one course to do and an essay and on the way to the end I recently attended a drawing day and a monoprinting course.

The drawing day was very good - Frances Hatch, Evie Hatch and the conservator Judith Wetherall all brought something valuable to the day. We had a thorough introduction to making gesso using rabbitskin glue and calcium carbonate as well as descriptions of the use of pigment in the development of paint.

We were then ready to cover pieces of heavy card, water colour paper and a piece of MDF in rabbit skin glue used as size and gesso and once this was dry by the afternoon we could then apply marks using metal, mainly silver to create silver point drawings.

My sample pieces include elements incorporating textile fibres and organic matter. Here are the initial samples showing the use of pigment:

Three tests on a piece of sized card showing plain gesso, gesso with terre verde (a green pigment) and gesso binding down wool. 

Gesso samples on watercolour paper, the hairy section includes a gummed silk fibre.
As mentioned, in the afternoon we tried out silverpoint using a sharpened silver wire. This is an old method to drawing, used before the pencil was developed, and in the main it leaves a fine, subtle line, which artists such as Leonardo da Vinci used. You can use a broader tool such as a spoon to create a softer mark.  I am not a great drafts person and I like bold varying gestures, so this fine line effect does not sit naturally with me. I am glad I tried it, but will probably not be pursuing this technique in depth.

Paper with wool and gesso which I intend to use as a base for further work - in fact that is what a number of the samples will be for at some point.

A dried leaf with applied gesso and blue gouache.

A piece of thin worn plastic from the West Dean gardens applied to wet gesso with a little gesso applied over it.

Gesso made blue using gouache and then silver point lines and scratches applied.

 Blue silk and other silk and wool fibre.

A piece of gessoed water colour paper with gummed white and green silk fibre. I then drew with the silverpoint in lines echoing the fibre strands, and finally thin lines of rabbitskin glue with terre verde. The picture was taken in bright sunshine which cast fine shadow lines from the silk fibre.

No comments:

Post a Comment