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!
Here are a few nude figures of elves from the Silmarillion (or at least, that’s what I was aiming for, though there’s sadly something of a lack of elf figure models available). I’ll leave you to guess who is who!
These were all small A5 paintings made with watercolour pencil.
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
And here’s a second illustration of Maglor on Magdalen Bridge – this time in ink with inktense pencil colour.
I made a brief video of the last painting by photographing it as I went along!
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):
Love Across the Ice:
Turgon & his wife Elenwe, who died crossing the Grinding Ice:
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.
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.
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.