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.
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.
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.
These tiny canvases are just 15cm square, and were inspired by the thought of spring approaching, and by the Tolkien quotation: “Light from the shadows shall spring” which always seems particularly appropriate at this time of year when I walk along in the shadow of the woods, turn a corner and see daffodils, a blackthorn in flower, or a little stream bubbling along in a sudden sun-beam.
I need to put a featured image on this post, and I think this is the best of the three, BUT please bear in mind that it’s absolutely tiny: small-postcard size, so it may look a bit iffy if you are seeing it emblazoned across a screen much wider than the original 4 x 6 inches. But of course they all look the same size once they are photographed!
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:
Do go to Pete’s site to read the entire poem to see the context. The Well.
After painting a cold and snowy scene, it seemed like time to paint something a bit warmer and more snug. So here’s an inviting table in the warm, with a view of the frosty landscape, tea and cake.
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.
Finrod from the Silmarillion is one of my favorite Tolkien characters, and I like the idea that his home in the cave-city of Nargothrond was filled with complex patterns and beautiful things. This is an A4 painting, and I based it loosely on a photo of the young David Bowie.
I painted this from a photo that I took in January 2019 – the Tamar Valley in Cornwall where I live doesn’t get a huge amount of snow, so when it does, everything stops because the roads are icy! So I walked with my dog up to the top of Hingston Down to take photos of the mine in the snow.
It was a rather gloomy day, so I’ve adjusted the lighting here to make the brick warmer and more interesting, and added an old shovel.
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!
My saluki x Rosie Roo on a frosty Christmas day morning. Above is version 2, where I have adjusted her face a little, made some small lighting amends, and taken a new photograph. It’s surprising the difference that makes.
My original idea of a dog glowing with the winter light behind her, which I think looks perhaps a little flat by comparison (and definitely has the wrong eyes!)
And here is a smaller A4 painting of my Greek Harehound pup, Theo. He’s seven months old and surprisingly chill: he likes to watch the world going past as well as haring around like a loon. I didn’t like the background of the photo this was taken from, so I’ve added a woodland scene.
I wanted to practice painting fire and smoke, and for me, that also means DRAGON! I’m not sure yet who the small figure mysteriously watching it all is: dragon-friend or enemy or simply spectator.