Some years ago we decided on the conceit that the Shop on the Borderlands packing was done by orcs. (really, it’s done by me & PP, but orcs seemed more on brand. So each year since, I have drawn the orcs doing something vaguely festive, and here they are again.
These are not Tolkieny orcs – or at least, they don’t reflect the popular ‘once elves’ origin story of Tolkien orcs. They are old-school pigfaced orcs, creatures of very little refinement but apparently a great appreciation of Christmas Jumpers.
I’ve been watching the new Amazon Rings of Power series, and I was taken with the character of Arondir, the stern-faced Silvan elf soldier who is captured by orcs. One detail mentioned about him is that he was born in Beleriand, so I thought I’d paint a few pictures of him growing up there.
The last image is of the war that brought an end to Beleriand and Arondir’s home.
Made a couple of images to illustrate that blink-and-you-missed-the-mention period in the early Third Age when Gondor conquered the South and East, and Harad paid tribute and had to send their young princes to live in Gondor as hostages.
Tribute to Gondor
I made this for the Scribbles and Drabbles 2022 event by @fall-for-tolkien on Tumblr and it came out better than expected, so I ended up doing more detail than I’d originally thought.
It was vaguely inspired by this quote from Gandalf, about Hobbits in the Long Winter, 2758-2759:
“I began to have a warm place in my heart for them in the Long Winter, which none of you can remember. They were very hard put to it then: one of the worst pinches they have been in, dying of cold, and starving in the dreadful dearth that followed. But that was the time to see their courage, and their pity one for another. It was by their pity as much as their tough uncomplaining courage that they survived. I wanted them to survive.”
Although it could also be the later Fell Winter, (T.A. 2911 – 2912), when the Brandywine river froze over, and white wolves invaded across it, and Gandalf and the Rangers helped the Shirefolk by bringing them food.
When I drew this I wanted to put some ornamentation around the two circles, and I chose ice-covered fern leaves for the hobbits, because of their skill in disappearing and the old story about how fern seed magically makes people invisible.
Then I needed something for the Wild Wood Across the River side of things, and I picked holly, because it’s a plant that is green with berries in mid-winter. But of course, holly is the sign of Eregion too, so it might be that the wolves are possessed by dead spirits out of Eregion.
Or maybe the Rangers use the berried holly in its traditional role as a charm against witchcraft?
Anyway, I don’t know if anyone will pick this one to write for, but if they do, I’ll be interested to see what they come up with!
I also made this one, which is more of a scribble, really! It’s called Cats! Gorgumoth, and it’s a drawing of the Halls of Mandos, with the Hound of Mandos perhaps rather unusually portrayed as a Yorkshire Terrier. I am convinced that the Halls of Mandos, where dead elves go, are full of cats, walking through the walls and generally refusing to get involved with the usual laws of physics.
I’ve been a bit surprised, with all the fuss and discussion over the new Amazon Rings of Power series, that apparently there are people who see Galadriel as someone who would not wear armour or wield a sword. I’ve seen her as someone who was in her younger days a fighter at least since I read Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales some time in the 1980s. So here she is: I enjoyed playing with the red colour, which stands for peaceful poppies and the fires of the War of Wrath.
Here’s a little watercolour of Elf prince Fingon from the Silmarillion riding, as an excuse to post a link to a charity auction to raise money for organisations working on the war in Ukraine. I’m donating a custom artwork to be made just for the winning bidder!
Details here: https://sunflower-auction.dreamwidth.org/13065.html – the auction ends May 30th! Please bid.
At the very end of The Lord of the Rings, there’s a tantalising mention that when Legolas sailed into the West, he took his friend Gimli with him.
I imagined them in the West beyond the Sea, meeting Aulë, the creator of the Dwarves in Tolkien’s legendarium, and Yavanna, creator of the Ents and effectively Tolkien’s nature goddess archetype.
This is a little A5 watercolour picture, I’m quite pleased with how much detail there is in it!
Above, a selection of my own hounds through the years, plus Tolkien’s Huan.
A wingless Dragon – a bit pretty to be Glaurung?
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.