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.
Eärendil’s Star: 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.
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.
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.
I have been enjoying hanging out on Tumblr, but this week we got the unwelcome news that Tumblr has decided to ban all ‘adult’ images from the seventeenth of December – and they seem to be really very overzealous about it too, since their automatic detection software is flagging up all sorts of things as forbidden, including archaeology, art, pictures showing elbows, ankles etc. I am rather uncomfortable with this kind of censorship, and I think human bodies are natural and rather beautiful. So I decided to paint some topless ladies. The one above is called ‘The Sleep of Yavanna’
“Excuse me, Madam,” Bilbo said very politely, trying not to stare, for the clothing of the Vanyar of Valimar was not quite what he was used to. “I seem to have lost my way. Could you direct me to the house of Lord Ingwion?”
“Of course,” the Vanyar lady said, turning to address him with swift attention. “You are heading the wrong way, I fear. If you make your way back towards the Bell of the Unicorn, and turn just where that very tall person with dark hair down to her ankles is going, you will find the House of Ingwion straight ahead of you.”
“Ah!” Bilbo exclaimed. “So that’s where I went wrong. I was admiring the gilding on the unicorn, you see, and I must have walked straight past. Thank you!”
He hesitated for a moment.
“Was there something else?” the Vanya enquired in her voice that was like the sound of bronze bells, as the scent of strange spices wafted down the long shining street under roofs of gold.
Bilbo coughed, “I was just wondering why you were carrying a spear,” he said. “Hasn’t it been thousands of years since the Vanyar went to war?”
“It has!” she told him, and shook the spear fiercely, her golden hair tossing. “Yet the Enemy is only banished. One day he will return, and we will be ready!”
“Oh,” Bilbo said. “Jolly good. And thank you kindly for the directions.”
As he wandered back towards the turning he had missed, he could not help but wonder if the Vanyar could not have employed their spears usefully against the spiders of Mirkwood, or the goblins of the Misty Mountains. But as he admired the lilac flowers that hung in elegant sheets from the archway in front of him, he thought that you could see why people who had ended up in a place as delightful as this would want to stay here.
He trotted into the house to see if Elrond had got back from visiting whichever relative it was this time, to ask if he might fancy a spot of lunch.
This was a challenging painting! I painted it for a friend who is writing a story about Goldberry, from Lord of the Rings. She had a vision of a character who was brown-skinned, with a slightly hooked nose, and long blonde hair that was naturally wavy but relatively coarse in texture. And eyes that were hazel in colour. So I had to take inspiration from a number of references to combine these various ideas!
Also, Goldberry is the River-daughter, so I gave her a kingfisher feather to wear in her hair, and a water-lily to hold in her hand.