silverpoint

Different eyes, same area by Jeannine Cook

Yesterday, I talked of artwork that Marjett Schille and I created as Artists in Residence on Sapelo Island, courtesy of SINERR, the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Sitting virtually side by side, we created very different views of the same Green Pond area, because we are individuals, each bringing to the subject matter our own life and artistic experience and our artistic eye.

Another example of our different reactions to the same scenery is shown by two other pieces of art we created on the wonderful wild sand dunes fronting the Atlantic Ocean along Sapelo. We both focused on these sand dunes with their special ecology, so valuable to the protection of the island lying to their west. But these images show up the differences in approach.

Mafrjett Schille, Sapelo Dunes, mixed media (Image courtesy of the artist)

Mafrjett Schille, Sapelo Dunes, mixed media (Image courtesy of the artist)

 Sand Dune Colony, Sapelo, silverpoint, Jeannine Cook artist

 Sand Dune Colony, Sapelo, silverpoint, Jeannine Cook artist

My silverpoint of A Sand Dune Colony, is a huge contrast in approach to Marjett's lovely watercolour of the sand dunes themselves. Just looking at her image reminds me of the sea breezes softening the hot, hot sun beating down on us as we worked.

Each of us artists can produce a wondrous diversity of work from the same material. It really allows one to echo the French, "Vive la différence"!

New Horizons beyond Shimmering Silverpoint II by Jeannine Cook

Yesterday, I started exploring the ways that artists are moving beyond silverpoint itself to expand its scope. I ended by talking about the combination of silverpoint with touches of watercolour, a mixture which requires a balancing act not only technically but also in the careful use of colour because it can easily overwhelm the silverpoint.

Lost my Marbles! silverpoint, Prismacolor, Jeannine Cook artist

Lost my Marbles! silverpoint, Prismacolor, Jeannine Cook artist

Coloured pencils can also be a path to touches of colour. If the drawing surface ground is acrylic, however, it is best to avoid pencils with a high wax content because each layer can soon obliterate the layer beneath. By the end of drawing these marbles with Prismacolor, I felt indeed that I had Lost my Marbles!

Silver foil, applied judiciously, can add another dimension to a silverpoint drawing. The foil will eventually tarnish, depending on its quality. It needs to be protected with a seal if its original look needs to be retained.

(Remember, silverpoint drawings will also eventually evolve to a warm golden brown as the oxidize.) Metal dust also offers interesting effects, especially when included in the ground prepared for the silverpoint drawing.

Te Saluto, Carolyn, silverpoint, silver foil, Prismacolor, Jeannine Cook artist

Te Saluto, Carolyn, silverpoint, silver foil, Prismacolor, Jeannine Cook artist

August Moon, silverpoint, silk, Jeannine Cook artisst

August Moon, silverpoint, silk, Jeannine Cook artisst

Many other silverpoint artists are using a variety of media and supports in combination with silverpoint, from silverpoint on globes to cut-outs. Others combine different metals, in realism or abstraction, to achieve very contemporary effects. The Silverpointweb.com website lists a number of silverpoint artists who are doing very different, interesting work in the medium.

Silverpoint is showing itself to be more versatile than its traditional reputation would suggest. It is an interesting challenge to extend the vocabulary of this beautiful medium. In essence, just as in any art from, an artist can have fun mixing history and traditional techniques with today's idiom and interests. But a warning: Silverpoint's shimmer can be addictive!

 

Thinking out loud on paper by Jeannine Cook

I am back to drawing in silverpoint, tackling a large study of lily seed pods which have been "talking" to me for some time since I rescued them from the winter struck garden last year.

Since silverpoint, a medium that makes marks with a silver stylus on a prepared ground, precludes any erasures and thus requires a little thought and planning, I found this quote resonated : "Drawings were always ways for artists to think out loud on paper...". This was said about an exhibition of Old Master drawings in the Scholz Family Works on Paper Gallery at the Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame (www.nd.edu/sniteart/collection/printdrawing/index.html), where it was also pointed out that drawings were called "studi, schizzi, pensieri" in Italian.

It is true that one does think, possibly out loud when alone, in the midst of drawing. As I started working with these majestic seed pods of a Madonna Lily, I kept thinking of the role of the Madonna Lily in all the Renaissance Annunciations paintings that I have seen over the years. The famous ones, by Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticello, Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio) or Fra Filippo Lippi, are joined by many others painted by Italian Renaissance artists on canvas or fresco. The custom that the Angel who announces the amazing news to the Virgin Mary should carry a spray of Madonna or Regale Lilies seems to have pertained from the mid-1400s onwards, for about 50-75 years. Looking at a large selection of images on Wikipedia Commons (http://www.commons,wikipedia.org/wiki/category:Renaissance_paintings_of_Annunciation), it is fascinating to see how "standardised" the lilies were for all those artists.

Beyond the Renaissance memories, I keep thinking that these lily seed pods are metaphors for proud, elegant women who have born children and grown in stature and grace as they watch their progeny disperse. Their bone structures are refined and beautiful, they hold themselves erect, despite advancing years, they epitomise distilled, condensed wisdom and lore.

Enduring Elegance, (regale lily seed pods), silverpoint,  Jeannine Cook artist

Enduring Elegance, (regale lily seed pods), silverpoint,  Jeannine Cook artist

But as I think these thoughts, and many others, as I draw, I am left wondering if I will convey any of this when I finish this drawing... who knows? I can but hope so, but, in the meanwhile, I still have a lot of drawing, and thinking, to do!

"Art is everywhere" by Jeannine Cook

American sculptress, Louise Nevelson, once said, "I always wanted to show the world that art is everywhere,except that it has to pass through a creative mind."  I find that a wonderful optic for an artist to embrace, because it gives one carte blanche to seize upon any and everything as grist for the mill in creative terms. It means that ideally, one's antennae are up and working all the time, because you never know when you will find a new idea that leads to doing something creative.

Not only does one needs to be attentive to the world around one, but also, I personally find, there needs to be time to be quiet and not particularly active in thinking about creating art. It is at almost meditative times- when ironing, walking, lying half-asleep at night, etc. - that I find ideas comes floating into my head, or connections between things I have seen or heard are made that can lead to something creative. More and more, I understand that art-making, for me, seems to be a function of being comfortable in one's skin and head, so as to speak, when trust exists in what might float up and happen, leading to ideas and new dialogues. You never know what will surface, but you just need to know that indeed there is art potentially everywhere to be welcomed. It can be the most humble of things or the most amazing of sights. Frequently, I will pick up something on a walk and get a look of surprise from my husband. But later, the resultant art will be greeted with a nod of understanding!

Sapelo     Lichen,  silverpoint, white gouache highlights on tinted ground), Jeannine Cook artist

Sapelo Lichen, silverpoint, white gouache highlights on tinted ground), Jeannine Cook artist

When you think of what Louise Nevelson picked up by way of discarded "rubbish" and then turned into amazing creations, it gives every artist licence to use any and every resource as a bridge to creation. Not only creation, in fact, but the new interpretation and/or version of whatever has been created serve potentially as a source of fresh dialogue and understanding between people around the world, transcending borders and cultures. Art is everywhere and its presence allows more art to flourish in the future.