I haven’t really got going with Pembrokeshire landscapes since we moved – almost two years ago now, heavens! I keep taking quick snaps of things I’d like to paint, but don’t often get the time to actually paint them. But this time I have!
Above, Clouds over Cleddau a view from Hobb’s Point in Pembroke Dock, where the sailing ships used to dock when the town was a naval dockyard, across to the current sailing haven of the day, Neyland Marina with its fleet of small white-masted yachts.
I’ve taken several snaps of this avenue of plane trees in the Memorial Park at Pembroke Dock – I love the way you can really feel the prevailing wind direction from the shape of the trees, even when it’s still, and the way that the trees provide a frame for the distant sun.
I’ve been watching the new Amazon Rings of Power series, and I was taken with the character of Arondir, the stern-faced Silvan elf soldier who is captured by orcs. One detail mentioned about him is that he was born in Beleriand, so I thought I’d paint a few pictures of him growing up there.
The last image is of the war that brought an end to Beleriand and Arondir’s home.
Made a couple of images to illustrate that blink-and-you-missed-the-mention period in the early Third Age when Gondor conquered the South and East, and Harad paid tribute and had to send their young princes to live in Gondor as hostages.
Tribute to Gondor
I made this for the Scribbles and Drabbles 2022 event by @fall-for-tolkien on Tumblr and it came out better than expected, so I ended up doing more detail than I’d originally thought.
It was vaguely inspired by this quote from Gandalf, about Hobbits in the Long Winter, 2758-2759:
“I began to have a warm place in my heart for them in the Long Winter, which none of you can remember. They were very hard put to it then: one of the worst pinches they have been in, dying of cold, and starving in the dreadful dearth that followed. But that was the time to see their courage, and their pity one for another. It was by their pity as much as their tough uncomplaining courage that they survived. I wanted them to survive.”
Although it could also be the later Fell Winter, (T.A. 2911 – 2912), when the Brandywine river froze over, and white wolves invaded across it, and Gandalf and the Rangers helped the Shirefolk by bringing them food.
When I drew this I wanted to put some ornamentation around the two circles, and I chose ice-covered fern leaves for the hobbits, because of their skill in disappearing and the old story about how fern seed magically makes people invisible.
Then I needed something for the Wild Wood Across the River side of things, and I picked holly, because it’s a plant that is green with berries in mid-winter. But of course, holly is the sign of Eregion too, so it might be that the wolves are possessed by dead spirits out of Eregion.
Or maybe the Rangers use the berried holly in its traditional role as a charm against witchcraft?
Anyway, I don’t know if anyone will pick this one to write for, but if they do, I’ll be interested to see what they come up with!
I also made this one, which is more of a scribble, really! It’s called Cats! Gorgumoth, and it’s a drawing of the Halls of Mandos, with the Hound of Mandos perhaps rather unusually portrayed as a Yorkshire Terrier. I am convinced that the Halls of Mandos, where dead elves go, are full of cats, walking through the walls and generally refusing to get involved with the usual laws of physics.
I’ve been a bit surprised, with all the fuss and discussion over the new Amazon Rings of Power series, that apparently there are people who see Galadriel as someone who would not wear armour or wield a sword. I’ve seen her as someone who was in her younger days a fighter at least since I read Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales some time in the 1980s. So here she is: I enjoyed playing with the red colour, which stands for peaceful poppies and the fires of the War of Wrath.
I’ve been enjoying the 4th series of Stranger Things, and decided to occupy myself during the wait for the final episodes with some character portraits in watercolour. These are all A5 size, in inktense watercolour. Max, above, is the portrait that I’m most happy with.
Two attempts at Eleven, one with hair and one without:
Here’s a little watercolour of Elf prince Fingon from the Silmarillion riding, as an excuse to post a link to a charity auction to raise money for organisations working on the war in Ukraine. I’m donating a custom artwork to be made just for the winning bidder!
Details here: https://sunflower-auction.dreamwidth.org/13065.html – the auction ends May 30th! Please bid.
At the very end of The Lord of the Rings, there’s a tantalising mention that when Legolas sailed into the West, he took his friend Gimli with him.
I imagined them in the West beyond the Sea, meeting Aulë, the creator of the Dwarves in Tolkien’s legendarium, and Yavanna, creator of the Ents and effectively Tolkien’s nature goddess archetype.
This is a little A5 watercolour picture, I’m quite pleased with how much detail there is in it!
Sometimes I write! This is a novel-length story I wrote for fun. It’s free to read and download. When I finished writing, I was pleased with it, so I made it a book cover to celebrate. Details and links to the story below!
The Once and Future King sleeps in the hills, waiting to return in Britain’s hour of greatest need. This much we know. Arthur’s name echoes down to us out of the Dark Ages. But why? When that terrible hour finally comes, what will happen?
My theory involves an ancient Volvo, a lot of bees, Arthur in pyjamas from Marks and Spencer, a random dog, some very old Anglo-Saxon magic, doom, death and the serpent-spawn of a dark god.
Read online -|- Download epub -|- Download PDF
Above, a selection of my own hounds through the years, plus Tolkien’s Huan.
A wingless Dragon – a bit pretty to be Glaurung?
It turns out that moving house is pretty time-consuming and although the move itself has gone through OK, I’ve been so busy with all kinds of things that I just haven’t had much time for art. Still, here are three Christmas cards – the first for the Shop on the Borderlands, and the second two inspired by things we can see from our new Pembrokeshire windows!
These are all quick watercolour and ink doodles. The first, The Plants Need Me is a doodle of a ghost who still has things she must be getting on with.
This is Transformation, a pencil and watercolour doodle of Léonie de Saint-Vire from Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades, shown, first, as a ragged and fearful boy, and later as a lady in a beautiful eighteenth-century gown.
Shadow and Flame
Far into the blue shadows where strange things lurk, she wanders, fearless and alone…
In the gloom of the deep forest, flame comes to her bidding, holds its fierce golden heart contained for her comfort. She builds a house for herself in an hour. Who is it here that is strange and terrifying, filled with powers beyond imagining?
Up She Rises
Sailor looks down, merperson comes up.
A Silmarillion doodle with Maglor, one of my favorite characters, and Ulmo, lord of the Sea.
Oh no, another complaint?
Ea-Nasir, the famously dodgy copper merchant of Ancient Ur, adds to his collection.
Most unusually, since we moved to Wales, so has someone else, a wandering Walrus, who has been dubbed Wally. I saw him a few weeks ago, quite randomly on a visit to Tenby. A passing walker said to us as we admired the view: “Have you seen the Walrus?” And there he was!
By coincidence, the Silmarillion Writer’s Guild challenge of the month was ‘Words of Wit and Wisdom’ – focussing on the words that Tolkien worked on for the Oxford English Dictionary, one of which was Walrus. I did some drawing for some of the works:
First, this for Words for Wally, the Wandering Walrus of Wales: a poem by Wander.
The Walrus that Went South, by Himring
After twenty years in the Tamar Valley in Cornwall, we decided that the middle of a global pandemic was just the time to move house.
Well, it wasn’t quite like that. I have two day jobs. One is running a small website development business, Clare Associates. This had a lot of travel / tourism customers, and so did not thrive in an environment where nobody could travel anywhere. The other is helping out with the Shop on the Borderlands, an online shop that sells new and second-hand tabletop role-playing games and accessories worldwide.
The Shop has been really taking off recently, and we’d got to the point where we just couldn’t fit any more stuff in our house, meaning no more room for the shop to grow. That, combined with a touch of lockdown fever, was enough to make us decide it was time to relocate, and in Pembrokeshire, just outside Pembroke Dock, we found somewhere with more room for the vital stock shelves, and as a bonus, this fabulous view of the Milford Haven waterway which I am sure will inspire many paintings in future.
This is an acrylic painting of Lirael and Sameth from the Old Kingdom novels by Garth Nix, with Mogget, and the Disreputable Dog. They are camping on their way down the Ratterlin at the start of their journey to try to rescue Nick. Sameth’s clockwork frog is catching bugs: an asset to any riverside campsite!
This painting was created for the Fandom for Oz charity auction, thanks to my lovely recipient for being patient about the development in this very odd period of life.
Here are a couple of sketches that I made when I was developing ideas for the painting:
I made these six small paintings in inktense watercolour pencil, which I love for the brilliant translucent colours, with some brusho powder watercolour. The strip above shows my saluki x lurcher, Rosie, and the strip below is my Greek Harehound, Theo.
I made this A3 size painting as a prize for a competition held by the Shop on the Borderlands. It illustrates a key event for the group, where one of the party has been killed and they are waiting to see if he can be revived. To make sure I had the right idea for each character, I sketched them out in pencil before assembling the finished painting: you can see the various head-sketches below.