One of the most beautiful things about sighthounds are their huge eyes, and my rescue lurcher Rosie is no exception. I was out walking her a couple of days ago, and wondered what she would think I should paint, if she understood the idea. The answer was obvious: Squirrels! Squirrels are very important! So I thought I’d try creating an image to show off both her eyes, and her love of squirrels.
Here’s another of my animals, Gothmog Kitten. She’s about six months old now, and very playful: she loves to steal packing peanuts. They are just the right size and texture to be bopped with a paw, or carried around the house.
Not the easiest thing to paint black fur, but an interesting challenge.
The ghosts of two Balmaidens (female mine workers) haunting the ruins of Gunnislake Clitters Mine, not far from my house! Balmaidens often started work as children.
This was inspired by a challenge to paint inspired by the words ‘zeitgeist’, ‘ephemeral’ or ‘subliminal’. I thought of approximately 999 very depressing things I could paint for those words, but I wanted to paint something more cheering, so in the end I went for ‘Ephemeral’ and painted one of our old copper & arsenic mines which were once both deadly and blighting, but now are overrun with plants and beautiful in their own way.
Then I decided to push my luck and added a pair of balmaidens for ‘zeitgeist’ – either literally as time-ghosts, or in the sense of ‘well, things may not be perfect now, but at least girls are not routinely expected to take jobs working in arsenic mines at the age of 7 or 8 years old’. I used some of the photos on http://balmaiden.co.uk/ for clothing/ tools reference.
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.
My first ever sighthounds : Az, on the left, a whippet x greyhound lurcher, and Mollydog on the right, a retired racing greyhound. They say that greyhounds are lazy sleepy dogs, but I don’t think anyone had ever told Molly that, she was always up for a game and loved long walks!
This is a fairly small acrylic painting on canvas, and because I experimented with a gloss glaze over the dogs (but not the background) it’s photographed rather oddly. I should probably rephotograph, sorry about that!
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.
Since I’ve been doing some ink-painting and drawings in ink recently, I decided to attempt the Inktober challenge, and do a drawing a day. Because of the need to make something very fast, some of these have been slightly tweaked in software once photographed.
Here’s the official prompt list!
Day 1: a slight cheat, since I made this earlier. The prompt was ‘Poisonous’.
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!
I went to a demonstration of Chinese ink-painting by Kaili Fu this week, and came back keen to try some of the ideas and techniques. I didn’t have any rice-paper, or the proper ink or brushes, so I had to make do with indian ink, a book of hand-made paper that I happened to have had lurking about the place for ages, and a little acrylic paint.
This was the image I liked best, the third that I made. The bottom photo shows it from the side, to show a little how the gold acrylic shines, and the top photo shows it top-down. All the other colour is ink. The influence of Kaili’s ink-painting here is probably just to embrace the fact that the paper absorbs and the ink mixes, rather than trying to fight it! I only used blue, yellow and black ink, and a little water. (you can also see the difference that lighting makes to photographing these!)
This next one was entirely created in inks, and again, trying to embrace the fact that the ink spreads, particularly if mixed with water and applied from a wet brush. (warning, there’s a spider!) This one is a painting of another story from Tolkien :
Finally, this was the first I created, and probably closest to the demonstration. It’s a rowan tree. I think I could have applied the red ink with a dryer brush, so I got a more ‘berried’ texture, but I do like the purple swirly hills and the sharp, dry-brushed rocks.
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.