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’ve been playing in a roleplaying campaign for five years now, run by my husband, and set in the world of Second Age Middle-earth. One great thing about roleplaying is that you meet lots of fascinating characters and get ideas for all kinds of exciting scenes. Some of these were painted in advance, but most of them were made pretty quickly during the actual campaign time, with the players giving their own ideas of what the characters should look like.
These are almost all A4 paintings, watercolour inktense pencil on watercolour paper, though the two bottom right are larger and were painted in acrylic on artcard.
Maglor from the Silmarillion meets Ilbereth, Father Christmas’s secretary from Tolkien’s Father Christmas Letters. Created for the Tolkien Reverse Summer Bang 2019 event, this work inspired this fabulous story by Narya-flame. This one is acrylic
I made a brief video of the last painting by photographing it as I went along!
I made this painting to practice painting mists, and also folded fabric, but I rather like the result!
The figure is taken from a stock photo by Marcus Ranum, the landscape is one I photographed in the Tamar Valley, and the general idea was inspired by the Ravenloft setting for D&D.
Here are some ink and Brusho paintings of Silmarillion characters that I made for Nolofinwean Week on Tumblr. These are quite small paintings on A5 watercolour paper, so not quite as detailed as my larger acrylic paintings.
Aredhel riding fearless through the dark forest of Nan Dungortheb:
Fingon fighting off a rather goofy-looking Glaurung (a wingless dragon, of course):
Survivors in the War of Wrath:
In the Halls of Mandos as the War of Wrath raged across Beleriand, Fingolfin Fingon, Angrod, Aegnor and Aredhel found this tapestry: Fingolfin’s wife Anaire in battle beside their cousin Galadriel. Now they can’t decide whether to cheer or bite their imaginary spirit-nails. There were not so many Noldor who survived Beleriand, and yet they sent a host to the War of Wrath: I believe that host was largely made up of the women who did not follow Feanor and Fingolfin.
Elros’s father, guiding Elros’s ship, with an Eagle figurehead, towards the Land of Gift, Numenor.
This painting of St Mark’s basilica in Venice was an exercise in painting misty buildings. I decided it would be better with tentacles.
Ulmo, Lord of the Sea, playing one of his great horns. I painted this very fast – it is A3, but I completed it in about 3 hours, and I was trying for a free style with lots of movement. Of course it looks better in real life than in the photo, but I’m still quite pleased with this one at the moment.
There are some marvellous wildflowers around at this time of year. I’m not sure why I decided that the perfect figures to set them off would be a lion, a unicorn and a sleepy human, but I did.
I’ve painted Tolkien’s heroine Lúthien Tinúviel before, but this time instead of painting her dancing in spring among the hemlock-flowers, I decided to go for an autumnal scene suggested by this verse:
He heard there oft the flying sound
Of feet as light as linden-leaves,
Or music welling underground,
In hidden hollows quavering.
Now withered lay the hemlock-sheaves,
And one by one with sighing sound
Whispering fell the beachen leaves
In the wintry woodland wavering.
This was my first version of the painting:
But I felt that it was a little over-bright, and since I happened to be photographing it in the afternoon, I wondered how it would look if I moved it into the light of a directional sunbeam coming in through an open door. It looked like this:
I decided, having looked at it for a bit, that I really liked the lighting, so I gave the painting a dark glaze to replicate the effect: this is the same painting, photographed this time in a dull north light, but painted to show the sunbeam.
This pen and watercolour A4 sketch was made for the Shop on the Borderlands. It shows an adventuring party meeting a great group of ferocious Xorn. I was deliberately trying for an old-fashioned role-playing -game look and feel here, and I’m told this meets the brief pretty accurately!
I don’t know who they are, or whether the dance is about to tip over into battle,but no question they are full of passion. Huge thank to Marcus Ranum of ranum.com for stock photos I referenced for the poses.
Here are two characters from Dungeons & Dragons (5th edition.) I am not sure if the lady knight and her adversary the red horned tiefling are fighting in earnest or if they are sparring – either way, the shadow shows that someone is approaching, and seems likely to interrupt.
This is an A3 painting in acrylic .
I had intended this hulking monster to be an orc, but Pp, who is versed in these matters, thinks he is an ogre. With a kitten friend. (My husband says: “You said you were going to paint a monster, but you have painted the world’s SOFTEST ogre!” Which is, I suppose, true.)
This was a bit of an experimental piece, using brusho dry pigment and acrylic pouring medium for the background, and titanium white acrylic for the overpainted face and figure. It’s quite highly textured and more glossy than a lot of my work: I love the random mix of blues and greens that I achieved here.
The inspiration was this poem:
Snow-white! Snow-white! O Lady clear!
O Queen beyond the Western Seas!
O Light to us that wander here
Amid the world of woven trees!
Gilthoniel! O Elbereth!
Clear are thy eyes and bright thy breath!
Snow-white! Snow-white! We sing to thee
In a far land beyond the Sea.
The Anglo-Saxon period of British history is really interesting, and I find one of the particularly interesting things about it is the few tantalising remnants of old beliefs that have now almost vanished.
I decided I’d like to practice a sort of portrait / still life type painting, and so* I painted an old lady preparing to practice the healing charm Wið færstice ‘against a sudden stabbing pain’. It’s a bit of a mish-mash of ideas : her clothes and beads and knife are from Anglo-saxon Wessex, I think, but the bottle, candle and the glass globe full of melted butter are clearly more or less modern. I think the cat could be from any period. There’s no dating cats. She also has feverfew, red deadnettle and some plantain plants, though you can’t see them very clearly through the steam.
*I’m aware this is a non sequitur but I’m hoping if I type it really fast you won’t notice
I started this as a quick portrait-painting exercise, but I ended up quite liking his expression, so I gave him a silk tunic and an elaborate background, and decided it was Maedhros, from the Silmarillion, in Valinor when he was young. This is an A3 painting in acrylics.
And here he is again, with his cousin Fingon, after being tormented, rescued at long last and now volunteering to defend some of the most dangerous part of the frontier.
This was painted as an illustration for a scene from a fanfic by Narya_Flame: The Ways of Paradox. It’s set in modern St Andrews, Scotland. It’s a gentle and delightful story where Maglor from the Silmarillion meets some really engaging original characters, beautifully written with a real feel for both the Scottish setting and also daily university student life.
This painting is of a scene where Maglor & Claire talk at dusk at the end of the pier while the wind blows wildly. I actually painted the figures twice: the first attempt was this one, but I felt the figures were a bit awkwardly located, so I moved them left a bit. This did mean I had to re-paint Claire’s face, and of course it didn’t quite come out the same. But I think the final version, above, is better in terms of composition…
The next one is an entirely fantasy scene, set on a beach beyond the world, where the sea shines blue beneath the stars.
Angrod, Aegnor and a mermaid friend on the beach near Alqualondë. They were building sandcastles with Finrod and Turgon, but it all got a bit intense and competitive so Angrod and little Aegnor decided to go off and talk to a mermaid in the phosphorescent sea instead.
This is another one in my ‘Grandchildren of Finwe’ series illustrating characters from The Silmarillion, and the number of figures got a little out of hand!
I’m quite pleased with Huan the giant dog, but on an A3 painting, the tiny background faces ended up so tiny that they were hard to get right. Still, I like the lighting.
I’d been using the Tumblr social media platform for a while. It had always been a system which didn’t have restrictions on the kind of images you were allowed to show there, until they suddenly decided to ban all ‘Adult’ images. Obviously, since I’m naturally contrary, this made me want to paint nudes.
So, this is Yavanna, Tolkien’s nature goddess character, showing some of her creations to her friend Varda, the goddess of the stars.
This next one is a scene from my story The Eldar That Were Faithful. Finrod, on the right, has returned from death somewhat traumatised, and without clothes, and encounters his aunt Nerdanel.
And finally ‘The Taming of the Steward’
I was chatting about possible titles for a story about Eowyn and Faramir, and someone suggested a steamy romance novel. So I made a cover for it. above, the painting, and below, the Novel Cover. If I ever paint an actual novel cover, I must remember that you need more space around the main image than you think you will.
All these paintings are A3 size in acrylic on board.