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.
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.
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 took this photograph back in the summer, and now the nights are long and the winds are cold, it seemed a pleasant subject.
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.
I had a holiday in Scotland, exploring the Caledonian Canal! We had some marvellous misty weather and sunshine slanting through the clouds. This was a view from one end of Loch Lochy.
But later on the sun came out. I painted this after an early-morning walk where the first sun was shining on the harebells and the cobwebs.
Sun on the water. I painted this from a photo that I took rather than from life, and I’m quite pleased with it. I love sparkles, and the very dark cold water of the lochs makes for marvellous sparkly waves.
A sighting of a Famous Resident of Loch Ness, plus a paddle-boarder and a ferry. I painted this from life. (Well. nearly 😀 )
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
I made a brief video of the last painting by photographing it as I went along!
I made this for the Give A Dog a Home Art Event. They sent me an anonymous profile of two of their fosterers who have adopted street dogs as pets, and I made art of it.
My idea was to suggest not just the joy that adopting a street dog and giving him a home can bring, but also the importance of spay and neuter programs to prevent there being too many puppies to find homes for.
I made this painting to practice painting mists, and also folded fabric, but I rather like the result!
The figure is taken from a stock photo by Marcus Ranum, the landscape is one I photographed in the Tamar Valley, and the general idea was inspired by the Ravenloft setting for D&D.
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):
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.
I spent some time experimenting with dry Brusho watercolour pigment powder, ink pencils, and spray inks. The picture above was I think the most successful, but I thought I’d upload some of the other works to record how I approached them.
The painting with the deer, above, I started with light. I used a spray bottle of yellow ink to make a spot of yellow in the middle of my picture that faded to white all around, and then a very small spray of red ink around it to create a slight darkening/reddening around the edges. Once that was completely dry (vital so the ink would not run! Ink stays put once it’s dry (mostly) whereas watercolour can be re-wetted and will run and move more.)
I painted the top of the image with plain water, and added Leaf Green brusho pigment to the top of the wet area. Then I sprinked Moss Green and Sandstone pigment at the bottom of the wet area, stood the picture up vertically, and dripped water here and there so that the wet pigment ran in mingled streaks down across the dry yellow ink sunburst.
I love the way the Brusho pigment makes random patterns and speckles of light when applied to wet watercolour paper. (You do need a thick good quality watercolour paper for this kind of thing, so the paper doesn’t crinkle.)
I brushed the pigment across the bottom with a wet brush, just to create a foreground, and added a little more moss green foliage at the bottom.
Then, once the trees and grass were dry, the last step was to draw a deer. I used a purple Inktense pencil for that, and then carefully washed over it with water. This allowed some of the yellow ink to show through the purple layer, and re-wetting the Brusho trunks underneath the deer gave the purple a good varied colour so it sat well with the rest of the picture rather than looking stuck on.
I tried the same idea here, but without the yellow ink undercoat and with a figure instead of the deer, but it didn’t work quite so well.
Before I started playing with the idea of drips forming trees, I first tried them creating the under-water stems of water-lilies. I think this would have worked a little better if I had given the lilies a bit more space and drawn them out more carefully. This was my first attempt at putting the Brusho colours onto wet watercolour paper, and then tilting the paper to make the pigments combine. It’s 100% abstract, but I rather like it. That’s how I ended up with the idea for the lilies.
And finally (this post is all the wrong way around) this is the first picture I made in this session. I drew the dog first, using Inktense pencils, then I masked over her with a liquid rubber mask. Then once the mask was dry, I water-painted the whole thing and started applying a mix of dry brusho powder to see what would happen. What happened was quite colourful!