After almost twelve years of working purely traditionally, I started using Procreate on the iPad this year, and I’m liking the results more and more. As opposed to Photoshop, Procreate almost feels like traditional media, and it allows me to zoom in and do details that I haven’t been able to do since the onset of my eye disease in early 2018.
Traditional colouring, but with the lineart done in Procreate:
Late 2020, I started working on a series of images for a setting I called “SquirrelPunk”, which I planned to turn into a book (of paintings and sketches accompanied by writing snippets). The project remains shelved for now, though, as financial contraints don’t allow me to work on a non-paying project for longer periods. Better days will come, and it shall be the days of the squirrels.
Over the locked-down Easter holidays, to stave off despair and depression, I did what any sane artist would have done: I drew dormice as D&D classes.
The Paladin Their heroic and undaunted nature makes dormice naturally suited to the Paladin’s calling, playing to their natural instincts to protect the weak and helpless, even if finding someone who is actually weaker and more helpless than the paladin may sometimes present a challenge. Tragically, many a dormouse paladin has seriously misjudged who was weak or helpless, with desastrous consequences.
The Rogue Dormouse Rogues are rare, because stealing something is so alien to the dormice nature (though they are suberbly suited to the profession due to their uncanny stealth). If there is anything that might entice a dormouse to go down the road of roguishness, it’s a fat, ripe raspberry sitting around without an apparent owner (at a very cursory glance).
The Ranger With her trusted companion, the Ranger roams far and wide through the wild, dangerous undergrowth of the field balk. Her green and brown garb makes the ranger almost invisible to the perilous denizens she stalks. Her bumblebee, however, is often forced to just hop from flower to flower, pretending to be just an ordinary bumblebee instead of a highly trained and intelligent animal companion.
The Cleric “Beware the masked swamp owl!” Dormouse parents tell their children. “If she catches you, she eats you whole and spits out your bare white bones, which will forever haunt the marshlands!” Indeed, infestations of undead are most often found near the nests of the short-eared owl, terrorising the local dormouse dwellings. This was the main reason why the Order of the Sacred Hazelnut came into being, whose clerics use the benign powers granted by the Deity to turn and the undead, and grant them rest.
Only the most fearless of dormice aspire to join the ranks of Barbarians. The origins of this class of warriors are lost in legend, as is the origin of their traditional weapon, the chiesnif (though legend has it that the first chiesnif was taken as prize on the myth-enshrouded raid on Pantree). On this raid, it is said, Teepweep the Unterrified, the first of his name, almost disembowelled a cat.
Barbarians of today still honour Teepweep’s name, and like him, they dress in the furs of enemies they have slain (or found). Nothing kindles their battle rage as surely as calling them adorable.
Dormouse Fighters are very liberal spirits. These seasoned, battle-hardened little creatures are most happy roaming the land with a week’s of provisions, sleeping under the eaves and bringing their courage and their tempered steel to anyone needing their help.
Malicious gossip has it that all they ever use their tempered steel on is raspberries, which is of course completely preposterous.
Dormouse Monks aspire to the highest level of inner peace, balance, and self-control. Their bodies are the only weapons they need (or so they say). Their final test, in which they give proof of their control over body and mind and demonstrate sheer incredible restraint, takes place while their masters and their families are already at dinner.
Many a dormouse Monk has found that she has the greatest level of control and restraint while sleeping. The trick is to remain standing and not curl into a ball, and nobody will notice.
Dormouse Bards are generally seen as the happiest little creatures alive (and that is not just down to their consumption of raspberry wine). Always eager to entertain and educate, they tirelessly hold forth cheerful songs and ancient lore, to sounds of the walnut lute. They pride themselves on always getting strong reactions out of their audiences (though, granted, sometimes it’s an empty bottle accompanied by a yell of “You’ll attract the cats!”)
The Wizard Dormice Wizards are rare, because most dormice lack the willingness to devote many years of study to the mastery of skills that have, in their opinion, little relevance for the important things in life (i. e., sleep and food). True Dormouse Wizards will be quick to point out that this is not true at all. In fact, to anyone who understands a little about arcane matters, it becomes clear immediately that dormice spells have rather more to do with sleep and food than magic in other parts of the world. Magic Missile, for example, seems to be a mashup of Magic Missile and Create Food. The great Wizard Avellinus has devoted his entire life to disentangling the unorthodox nature of dormouse spells and restore them to their original versions; to little avail.
Dormouse Sorcerers, like every other Sorcerer, trace their lineage back to semi-mythical sources that account for their native magical powers. Among the Big Folk, dragon, demon and tiefling ancestry is quite common; Dormouse Sorcerers are adamant that their magical powers stem from an ancient fairy link. They highlight this belief by their choice of garment and even behaviour.
Dormouse Sorcery is overwhelmingly benign (sometimes plain overwhelming) and always good-natured (unless by accident). Dormouse sorcerers are among the most easy beings to get along with, but for the love of all that is holy, don’t mention the horns.
Druids are among the most respected (and well-fed) people in Dormousedom. They know all the incantations for every shrub and tree (those that matter, anyway), how to make their branches grow into thickets, how to reduce their thorns, and most importantly of all, how to speed up the ripening of berries. If you have ever stood at a raspberry or bramble bush with fat ripe berries, and you could have sworn that the fruits were all green and tiny when you walked this way yesterday, that was most certainly the work of a Dormouse Druid.
I’ll probably end up putting together a booklet of these, as soon as the world is back to normal. And as soon as we have all found out what “normal” means.
“Then his sons raised up their father and bore him back towards Mithrim. But as they drew near to Eithel Sirion and were upon the upward path to the pass over the mountains, Fëanor bade them halt; for his wounds were mortal, and he knew that his hour was come. And looking out from the slopes of Ered Wethrin with his last sight he beheld far off the peaks of Thangorodrim, mightiest of the towers of Middle-earth, and knew with the foreknowledge of death that no power of the Noldor would ever overthrow them; but he cursed the name of Morgoth thrice, and laid it upon his sons to hold to their oath, and to avenge their father. Then he died; but he had neither burial nor tomb, for so fiery was his spirit that as it sped his body fell to ash, and was borne away like smoke; and his likeness has never again appeared in Arda, neither has his spirit left the halls of Mandos. Thus ended the mightiest of the Noldor, of whose deeds came both their greatest renown and their most grievous woe.”
Watercolour, gel pen and coloured pencil on Fabriano #5 paper, 24×30 cm.
“Then in defiance of the Orcs, who cowered still in the dark vaults beneath the earth, he took his harp and sang a song of Valinor that the Noldor made of old, before strife was born among the sons of Finwë; and his voice rang in the mournful hollows that had never heard before aught save cries of fear and woe.”
Watercolour and white gel pen on Fabriano No. 5, 23×31 cm.
A lot of these ideas have been triggered by the Prancing Pony Podcast (which I cannot recommend highly enough!), and the next ideas have been voted on by my lovely Patreon supporters, so soon, we will see the Prophecy of the North, the death of Fëanor, and the ever-awesome “Utúlië’n Aurë!”
Over the Christmas holidays, I’ve designed six new enamel pin designs for this year! More may come later, too. Here’s some adventure, the Elven rings, Éowyn, and one I call “Tinfang Warble”, which refers to a pretty obscure poem Tolkien wrote when he was pretty young. It’s one of the words that I catch myself saying just for the sound of them. (“Tevildo Prince of cats” is another one, usually addressed to my Loki).
These new pins should arrive in my shop in a month or two!
So, here’s the trilogy come to a close. I somehow keep having to defend myself for liking it, and yes, I could have done with 30 minutes and one McGuffin less, but overall, it was fine Star Wars, and I like how Ben Solo’s redemption arc played out. I never expected him to survive, and was glad to see him get a scene in which he sacrifices himself for what he loves, not trying to kill what he hates – a nice nod to a major thing in TLJ, which I would have loved to hear referenced more clearly, but I loved that turn.
I’ve done a lot of little things here and there, none of which really warranted a blog post. Those of you who follow me on Patreon or on my mailing list already know that the artbooks are delayed due to the poor quality the printing company put out for the (large) batch I ordered. I still hope that they’ll be well in time for the holiday season. :)
I’ve also ordered a large badge of T-shirts with the Birmingham design. They’re in my Etsy shop and going fast! Please note that it’s unlikely that any of them will come back in stock – I’m a one-woman business, and can’t store large quantities of anything. :)
If you order a shirt, please make sure to read the item description with the into on sizes!
I have a few commissions on my plate, as well as a heap of things I want to draw… and just not time to do it. September is always a tough month because school occupies so much of my time, and fighting with printing companies and wrapping up five T-shirts a day doesn’t make it any better. Here’s hoping for October! I have no plans for Inktober this year – I just hope to get some art done at all.
Another Silhou…rillion! I am planning to do a few more of this sort, and of course they’ll be in my shop after my holiday. Right now, I’m still working off the last old orders and am packing, framing and signing stuff for Birmingham!
Aredhel the White. Watercolour on Stonehenge Legion cold-pressed paper, A5 size.
I was given the great honour to design the official T-shirt for the Tolkien2019 event in Birmingham, a four-day conference for the fiftieth birthday of the Tolkien Society next month. These shirts will be exclusive to the event, but I will sell prints later. :) Keep an eye out for them or join my mailing list to be sure!
Watercolour on Legion Stonehenge cold-pressed paper, 29×39 cm.
The newsletter is a good idea if you want to stay up to date – there’s a lot of stuff happening at the moment. I’ve just finished work on a new artbook collecting my works from 2015 to now, which will be available later this summer or in autumn. I’ve been pretty busy with that, and the pins, but I hope that now there’ll be an uptick in watercolour/pencil art again! Thank you all, as always, for supporting my work. <3