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.
Well, I fell out of Inktober about Day 21 : I felt I was rushing, and the quality of the things I was painting was going down, so I decided to give myself permission to stop drawing every single day for a bit. Here are some of the things I made:
Above, a portrait of Luthien Tinuviel, inspired by a photo of Tolkien’s wife Edith who inspired the character of Luthien. This was drawn in biro with the golden flowers ink-painted.
An inkpainting for the prompt : ‘bottle’ which reminded me of this song from Lord of the Rings:
Ho! Ho! Ho! to the bottle I go To heal my heart and drown my woe. Rain may fall and wind may blow, And many miles be still to go, But under a tall tree I will lie, And let the clouds go sailing by.
Inktober 18 : “swollen”
“ As Sam stood there… he felt himself enlarged, as if he were robed in a huge distorted shadow of himself, a vast and ominous threat halted upon the walls of Mordor…
The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.” Sam is tempted by the Ring.
Inktober prompt 14 : Clock. Andreth as an old woman spinning by a sundial, with bonus cat.
“Frodo and Sam halted and sat silent in the soft shadows, until they saw a shimmer as the travellers came towards them.
There was Gildor and many fair Elven folk; and there to Sam’s wonder rode Elrond and Galadriel. Elrond wore a mantle of grey and had a star upon his forehead, and a silver harp was in his hand, and upon his finger was a ring of gold with a great blue stone, Vilya, mightiest of the Three. But Galadriel sat upon a white palfrey and was robed all in glimmering white, like clouds about the Moon; for she herself seemed to shine with a soft light. On her finger was Nenya, the ring wrought of mithril, that bore a single white stone flickering like a frosty star. Riding slowly behind on a small grey pony, and seeming to nod in his sleep, was Bilbo himself.” — Return of the King : The Grey Havens
This is an A3 sized painting in acrylics on artboard. It was actually painted in September but I’ve only just realised I didn’t upload it here!
This picture is based on modern Glastonbury Tor and Burrow Mump (the foreground hill with the attached church) but I’ve changed things around a little. I thought I had added the water in the foreground for a more ancient and Arthurian feeling, but later I discovered that there actually is a water on the land under Burrow Mump after all, though I’m not sure you can see it all together like this from any one viewpoint now. Perhaps before the land was drained and the more recent church (now ruined) built on Burrow Mump?
This is an A3 sized painting in acrylics on artboard.
I have to admit I’m not the greatest fan of the way Elrond was characterised in the Lord of the Rings movies. Poor Elrond ‘kind as summer’ who welcomes everyone to Rivendell and never once gets angry in the books, should not be so grumpy!
But I was inspired to try drawing Grumpy Movie Elrond by a conversation on Tumblr, and here are two takes on him: one as an indignant child;
And then another more like his grumpy movie self:
A little while ago, I also drew Thorin Oakenshield from the Hobbit movies: they have their flaws, but there’s no question they gave us a rather magnificent and kingly Thorin!
This acrylic painting was surprisingly quick to do – I was following along an art demonstration by Colin Pethick, who is both a great painter and an inspiring teacher. I added my own dragon, though and tweaked the skyline to suggest a more Northern setting, like Lake-town in The Hobbit.
I joined in with the 2018 Tolkien Reverse Fandom Bang, which is an online event where artists make art and then writers write stories to go with them. As a change from acrylic paintings, these all use pastel and pencil, with a little pen and ink here and there. You can find the stories (and many others!) in the collection here.
Can I give you a quick outline of who Maglor is? Let’s see… The second son of the great Elven-smith Fëanor. He was one of the greatest poets and bards of the Elves, and a great soldier who ended up swearing a very badly-worded oath (to regain the Silmarils, three marvelous jewels made by his father) which eventually drove him into attacking his own people (several times) in a very tragic manner. One of these attacks ends up with him accidentally taking in Elrond (yes, that Elrond from Lord of the Rings) as a small child, and bringing him up. At the end of the story, Maglor wanders off along the beach, mourning for his lost family and all the innocent elves he killed in pursuit of his oath and the Silmarils.
So, in this painting, here he is standing sadly on the beach. The star of the House of Fëanor is shown either side of the painting, to represent his family and also the Silmarils which shone like stars. On the left is a harp, to symbolise his skill as a bard, and on the right a burnt hand, because by the time he regained the Silmarils, he had done such terrible deeds that the holy jewels burned his hand.
I was doing some quick practice sketches, and ended up drawing three of my favorite characters from The Silmarillion: Maglor, Curufin and Maedhros, three of the Sons of Feanor. There is no movie or official art by Tolkien of these characters, so I’m free to draw my own ideas!
Maglor is the only one who survives the book, and I’m specially fond of him though it’s undeniable that he makes some very bad decisions! Curufin from the Silmarillion. He’s inventing the swords that glow blue when orcs approach, like the one that Frodo has in Lord of the Rings.
Maedhros: eldest of the Sons of Feanor. Poor Maedhros goes through so much in the Silmarillion, even though he makes a number of unwise decisions, I love him!
Here’s a fantasy battle scene from the Silmarillion Fingon, on the left is charging into battle, and Maedhros, Amrod and Amras are chasing an army of orcs with the support of some Dwarf allies. This was drawn in pencil and inked with black and white ink. I added pastels for a note of colour. I liked this scene, but I felt that all the complicated lines and lighting made it hard to see quite what was going on, so I decided to try a more Baroque style with Dramatic Lighting:
These five pieces were painted in reverse order: the bottom one was the first I painted, and the concept developed as I went on painting. The idea was to paint all the members of a growing family of Elves – of course, they are immortal, so once they are grown-up they all look the same age.
These are all inspired by JRR Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. They are Elves of the House of Finwe, in Valinor at the start of Quenta Silmarillion.
Elves Dancing in the Woods: left to right, Turgon, little Aegnor, Finrod, and Maglor. (yes, I know they would be going by Quenya names then!) I’ve re-painted the faces since I made this, I should re-photograph the work.
Here are Maglor and young Caranthir playing a board game, while their brothers ride along the skyline. This is a double panel, two pictures designed to be mounted one above the other.
I call this one ‘Music Lesson in a Tree’ – in theory, Maglor, on the right is giving Fingon, in the centre a lesson in playing the ‘hearpe’ or Trossingen Lyre. But Maedhros has come too, and little Celegorm is trying to distract everyone!
To paint Morgoth, I used black india ink and pouring medium with yellow, red and metallic gold paint, so that the Mightiest of the Dwellers in Arda catches the light and sparkles. Manwë is a little more subtle, but there’s a hint of shining bronze in the darker shades around his blue and cloudy form.
Aulë, the Great Smith
Uinen, Morgoth and Manwë are painted on boxed canvasses 20cm wide and 51cm tall. Aulë is on a boxed canvas 30.5cm wide and 25.5 cm tall.(The box is about 1.5cm deep)