Most unusually, since we moved to Wales, so has someone else, a wandering Walrus, who has been dubbed Wally. I saw him a few weeks ago, quite randomly on a visit to Tenby. A passing walker said to us as we admired the view: “Have you seen the Walrus?” And there he was!
By coincidence, the Silmarillion Writer’s Guild challenge of the month was ‘Words of Wit and Wisdom’ – focussing on the words that Tolkien worked on for the Oxford English Dictionary, one of which was Walrus. I did some drawing for some of the works:
First, this for Words for Wally, the Wandering Walrus of Wales: a poem by Wander.
The Walrus that Went South, by Himring
This is an acrylic painting of Lirael and Sameth from the Old Kingdom novels by Garth Nix, with Mogget, and the Disreputable Dog. They are camping on their way down the Ratterlin at the start of their journey to try to rescue Nick. Sameth’s clockwork frog is catching bugs: an asset to any riverside campsite!
This painting was created for the Fandom for Oz charity auction, thanks to my lovely recipient for being patient about the development in this very odd period of life.
Here are a couple of sketches that I made when I was developing ideas for the painting:
I made this A3 size painting as a prize for a competition held by the Shop on the Borderlands. It illustrates a key event for the group, where one of the party has been killed and they are waiting to see if he can be revived. To make sure I had the right idea for each character, I sketched them out in pencil before assembling the finished painting: you can see the various head-sketches below.
The painting above is inspired by a photo I saw of a girl from Kazakhstan at the World Nomad Games. The two below are sketches done for fun, and without references.
Someone suggested I should paint the opera singer Jessye Norman as Varda, from the Silmarillion, so I did. It was a lot of fun making the clothes and sky matching shades.
I asked people on Tumblr whose portrait I should paint, for practice, and my friend Narya nominated Loretta Devine as a hobbit. So here she is!
This one was painted during a workshop on ‘painting like Turner’. I’m not sure I quite managed that, but I’m still pretty pleased with the light in this lovely painting.
A little pencil drawing of a group of Elves wandering ‘amid the world of woven trees’ with the stars overhead showing through the branches.
Completed version of this commissioned painting of a D&D party: first the quick A4 sketch:
And then the final painted version: I’m told the adventurers are pleased with it. The Innkeeper on the right is based on the GM (Game Master), who commissioned the painting and was lovely to work with. As you may have guessed, the lighting and composition was inspired by Caravaggio’s wonderful painting, The Calling of St Matthew: I thought I might as well aim high. But this little painting is just A3 in size, whereas Caravaggio’s original is about three meters square!
With commissioned paintings, I would usually discuss ideas with you, then email you a photo of a rough sketch, then later, email a small first-draft incomplete painted version for discussion, and then finally a completed high resolution image.
I am open to making paintings that are only supplied digitally, if you want art to print out yourself and don’t want a physical copy. However, in this case, the person who commissioned the painting did want the original as well as the photo, so it was sent out to them by post.
Upcycled Demilich! This round board came to The Shop on the Borderlands as the base for a rather tired bunch of very old miniature figures.
The figures were removed & stripped of their old paint, and I have made this painting on the base. I kept the bumpy texture, which has interacted interestingly with my palette knife, and I’ve used a semitransparent gold paint to pick out details and add the ghosts of adventurers trapped by dark enchantments. The ghosts change in visibility as the light moves. Quite pleased with the flame-ruby eyes.
And here’s another famous D&D monster: a Beholder, with dagger-teeth and many eyes. I painted this because I wanted to practice painting flamelit flesh tones, and was tired of painting human figures. I’m particularly pleased with the ring on the adventurer’s finger.
I’m doing some portrait practice at the moment and since I much enjoyed The Witcher TV show on Netflix, I thought I’d paint a couple of the characters. These two are both A4 portraits in acrylic on cotton watercolour paper (which seems to work OK for acrylic too!)
I think this is another Silmarillion character: one of Mahtan’s sisters, Nerdanel’s aunts. She has a number of names, but most people call her Sarezelle, for her love of green stones. She is one of the elves who sometime takes the things made by the friends of Aule to market in Tirion, but she’s more of a thinker than a maker herself.
My poet friend Pete Clark sent me his tragic fantasy poem The Well, wondering if I might feel inspired to make some art for it. Did I ever! It’s got some fabulous vivid imagery and so I dived into making these three watercolours with enthusiasm. I think the one above is probably my favorite, but all three were a lot of fun to make.
We had some discussion about what the setting should be like. I felt that the setting seemed Eastern Mediterranean, but the contrast of shining blue streams in a valley with red rock mountains reminded me of photos I’d seen of the Little Colorado River. This was what I ended up with:
And then this painting of the two protagonists of the poem is of course inspired partially by the ancient Roman statue known as the Dying Gaul (a copy of a lost Greek original).
Do go to Pete’s site to read the entire poem to see the context. The Well.
I wanted to practice some portraits, so here is an A4 portrait of Crowley, played by David Tennant, in Good Omens. I’ve loved the book of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman for many years, and it was a delight to see it brought so faithfully to life on the screen. Below, Michael Sheen as Aziraphale. These two are both acrylic paintings.
Another much-beloved book – well, series of books, really, is Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series (I’m eagerly looking forward to the last book!) So here we have Helen, Queen of Eddis, with her short curly hair, dark skin and broken nose, set against the mountains of Eddis. Irene, Queen of Attolia, with her pale sad beauty, and her land rich with grapes and grain, and in the middle, the Queen’s Thief himself, Gen (Eugenides) who will marry Irene and become Attolis, the King of Attolia.
These are inktense pencil watercolours, apart from Helen’s face, which I made a horrible mess of on the first attempt and had to re-paint over the top using acrylic paint.
These are small A5 paintings in inktense watercolour pencil and ink. I think the goblins staggering home after a good night out have worked pretty well, but the painting below was supposed to be a goblin too, and most people seem to think she has a bit more of a werewolf air about her. I like her anyway!
I wanted to practice painting fire and smoke, and for me, that also means DRAGON! I’m not sure yet who the small figure mysteriously watching it all is: dragon-friend or enemy or simply spectator.
Here is Tolkien’s Cirdan the Shipwright, looking out across a wild sea into the uttermost West. Cirdan was eager to travel to Valinor; when the Teleri went without him, he wanted to sail after them, but was told to wait. He built ships for other people till the last ship sailed from Mithlond.
I made this acrylic painting after watching a demonstration by Emma Carter Bromfield at a Tavistock Group of Artists meeting this week.