I have to admit I’m not the greatest fan of the way Elrond was characterised in the Lord of the Rings movies. Poor Elrond ‘kind as summer’ who welcomes everyone to Rivendell and never once gets angry in the books, should not be so grumpy!
This is a moderately large painting by my standards, on canvasboard.
50 x 40 cm, acrylic.
I went to a demonstration of Chinese ink-painting by Kaili Fu this week, and came back keen to try some of the ideas and techniques. I didn’t have any rice-paper, or the proper ink or brushes, so I had to make do with indian ink, a book of hand-made paper that I happened to have had lurking about the place for ages, and a little acrylic paint.
This was the image I liked best, the third that I made. The bottom photo shows it from the side, to show a little how the gold acrylic shines, and the top photo shows it top-down. All the other colour is ink. The influence of Kaili’s ink-painting here is probably just to embrace the fact that the paper absorbs and the ink mixes, rather than trying to fight it! I only used blue, yellow and black ink, and a little water. (you can also see the difference that lighting makes to photographing these!)
This next one was entirely created in inks, and again, trying to embrace the fact that the ink spreads, particularly if mixed with water and applied from a wet brush. (warning, there’s a spider!) This one is a painting of another story from Tolkien :
Finally, this was the first I created, and probably closest to the demonstration. It’s a rowan tree. I think I could have applied the red ink with a dryer brush, so I got a more ‘berried’ texture, but I do like the purple swirly hills and the sharp, dry-brushed rocks.
This acrylic painting was surprisingly quick to do – I was following along an art demonstration by Colin Pethick, who is both a great painter and an inspiring teacher. I added my own dragon, though and tweaked the skyline to suggest a more Northern setting, like Lake-town in The Hobbit.
I joined in with the 2018 Tolkien Reverse Fandom Bang, which is an online event where artists make art and then writers write stories to go with them. As a change from acrylic paintings, these all use pastel and pencil, with a little pen and ink here and there. You can find the stories (and many others!) in the collection here.
The Wedding of Hador & Gildis (with Fingolfin & his sister Lalwen).
And a later image from the same story, where Fimbrethil the Entwife meets some hobbits.
Can I give you a quick outline of who Maglor is? Let’s see…
The second son of the great Elven-smith Fëanor. He was one of the greatest poets and bards of the Elves, and a great soldier who ended up swearing a very badly-worded oath (to regain the Silmarils, three marvelous jewels made by his father) which eventually drove him into attacking his own people (several times) in a very tragic manner. One of these attacks ends up with him accidentally taking in Elrond (yes, that Elrond from Lord of the Rings) as a small child, and bringing him up. At the end of the story, Maglor wanders off along the beach, mourning for his lost family and all the innocent elves he killed in pursuit of his oath and the Silmarils.
So, in this painting, here he is standing sadly on the beach. The star of the House of Fëanor is shown either side of the painting, to represent his family and also the Silmarils which shone like stars. On the left is a harp, to symbolise his skill as a bard, and on the right a burnt hand, because by the time he regained the Silmarils, he had done such terrible deeds that the holy jewels burned his hand.
This painting was originally created as a ‘fifty brushstrokes’ exercise, to help me think about how to use a single stroke to create an effect. I rather liked it, so I developed it further.
This is Brythen, a brindle saluki mix lurcher I adopted from Forever Hounds Trust. Sadly, Brythen died relatively young last year at the age of only seven, but I have many photos and wonderful happy memories of him. This was painted from a photo of him playing with his favorite blue saggy football in the garden. I think I’ve caught the naughty glint in his eye!
I was doing some quick practice sketches, and ended up drawing three of my favorite characters from The Silmarillion: Maglor, Curufin and Maedhros, three of the Sons of Feanor. There is no movie or official art by Tolkien of these characters, so I’m free to draw my own ideas!
Maglor is the only one who survives the book, and I’m specially fond of him though it’s undeniable that he makes some very bad decisions!
Curufin from the Silmarillion. He’s inventing the swords that glow blue when orcs approach, like the one that Frodo has in Lord of the Rings.
Maedhros: eldest of the Sons of Feanor. Poor Maedhros goes through so much in the Silmarillion, even though he makes a number of unwise decisions, I love him!
This is a scene from the Tamar Valley between Devon and Cornwall, where I live. But there’s a slight twist – this scene is from 1906, when the paddle-steamer Alexandra used to travel all the way up the River Tamar to Weir Head. I adapted this by reference from a number of black and white postcards, although I’ve added a few elements such as the tree and the lighting. And the dog, too!
And this is a rather earlier work from a couple of years ago – a section through the Tamar Valley, showing all the secrets that are behind the mineshafts and the hidden doors! I keep meaning to draw a new version of this. That’s me in the canoe on the river.
Here’s a fantasy battle scene from the Silmarillion Fingon, on the left is charging into battle, and Maedhros, Amrod and Amras are chasing an army of orcs with the support of some Dwarf allies. This was drawn in pencil and inked with black and white ink. I added pastels for a note of colour.
I liked this scene, but I felt that all the complicated lines and lighting made it hard to see quite what was going on, so I decided to try a more Baroque style with Dramatic Lighting:
I decided I’d extend the technique and make some bubbles over a landscape (I painted the landscape a few years ago, it’s a view looking out across the Tamar towards Dartmoor. I felt it needed something to add interest!).
These five pieces were painted in reverse order: the bottom one was the first I painted, and the concept developed as I went on painting. The idea was to paint all the members of a growing family of Elves – of course, they are immortal, so once they are grown-up they all look the same age.
These are all inspired by JRR Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. They are Elves of the House of Finwe, in Valinor at the start of Quenta Silmarillion.
Elves Dancing in the Woods: left to right, Turgon, little Aegnor, Finrod, and Maglor. (yes, I know they would be going by Quenya names then!) I’ve re-painted the faces since I made this, I should re-photograph the work.
I call this one ‘Music Lesson in a Tree’ – in theory, Maglor, on the right is giving Fingon, in the centre a lesson in playing the ‘hearpe’ or Trossingen Lyre. But Maedhros has come too, and little Celegorm is trying to distract everyone!
And this was the first one I painted: Maedhros and Maglor visiting young Fingon. I still like little Fingon in this, though I think the quality of the rest of my painting has definitely improved since then.
Morgoth and Manwë
To paint Morgoth, I used black india ink and pouring medium with yellow, red and metallic gold paint, so that the Mightiest of the Dwellers in Arda catches the light and sparkles. Manwë is a little more subtle, but there’s a hint of shining bronze in the darker shades around his blue and cloudy form.
Uinen, Morgoth and Manwë are painted on boxed canvasses 20cm wide and 51cm tall. Aulë is on a boxed canvas 30.5cm wide and 25.5 cm tall.(The box is about 1.5cm deep)
A quick painting done for Shop on the Borderlands: an online shop selling roleplaying and boardgames.