The Passing of Arwen
Watercolour on cold-pressed Waterford paper, 19×27 cm.
“I shall not go with him now when he departs to the Havens; for mine is the choice of Lúthien, and as she so I have chosen, both the sweet and the bitter.”
I’m getting closer and closer to the feel that I’ve always wanted to achieve in my art, and, starting a few months ago, finally began to reach. This is another piece squarely along that road!
Elros and Elrond were taken captive, but Elwing with the Silmaril upon her breast had cast herself into the sea. Thus Maedhros and Maglor gained not the jewel; but it was not lost. For Ulmo bore up Elwing out of the waves, and he gave her the likeness of a great white bird, and upon her breast there shone as a star the Silmaril, as she flew over the water to seek Eärendil her beloved.
The Silmarillion: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath
Watercolour and gouache on Canson Vidalon paper; ~26×35 cm.
Video of this soon on Patreon, along with print discounts! Take a peek :)
Experimenting with new (or old) techniques – I broke out the old toned paper again, together with red/brown and white pencil. I love how you can get beautiful sketches and drawings full of life that still look finished. It’s also great to work without (or with minimal) reference again.
All of these are available as matted prints from my shop. The originals all sold straight off the easel, so if you’re interested in purchasing original art such as these, have a look at my Patreon page – all my Patrons get first dibs at original art and new prints!
We went to see “The Last Jedi” twice during opening weekend, and I absolutely loved it. The plot problems didn’t bother me much; I loved what was being done with the characters – particularly Rey and Kylo Ren.
I confess that I didn’t trust the movies to develop in a way that would feel satisfying to me – psychological depth had never been the strong suit of Star Wars. I certainly didn’t expect for the movie to go the route it did, but I was delighted to see it.
“You’ll stand with me”
Watercolour and gouache on Saunders Waterford cold-pressed paper, 15×25 cm
I had managed to stay almost completely spoiler free, and I really didn’t see this scene coming. I confess I yelped aloud in the cinema when it played on the screen. And all the while, hanging on the edge of my seat, watching Rey and Kylo Ren dissecting Snoke’s guards and cheering for them, I had a little voice at the back of my head: “But I don’t want it to be that easy. Don’t let them ride into the sunset together now.” I loved the way my wish was granted. I can’t wait to see what happens in IX.
Something that really impressed me was the handling of the “fear” theme in the plot. It was fear (however contrived…) that made Anakin turn to the dark side, it was fear that made Luke break off his training, it was fear that drove him to almost kill his own nephew, and it was that fear that fully turned Kylo Ren to the Dark Side.
I love the way they spun this plotline further, and I love the way how Rey turns it upside down. She isn’t afraid, not in the sense those others were, insecure, afraid to lose someone. She grew up depending solely on herself, and while she is cautious and brave and sympathetic towards others, she lacks that desperate streak that those other Force-others had which spoke to the Dark Side in themselves. How I would love for the end to be a true balance, with the Dark being a necessary part of the Light that needs to be understood and worked with rather than feared and avoided!
Yoda understood that; he had some of the best lines – about failure being the greatest teacher, and this truly remarkable line that resonated with me as a teacher and as a parent: “We are what they grow beyond.”
My first ever Inktober! Inktober’s rules are simple: Post a piece drawn in ink, every day of October.
Initially, I did try actual ink, pen nib, and brush. After day 2, however, I decided that my inking skills were so lacking that I was in danger of totally frustrating myself, especially after almost a year of hardly any art at all. So I decided to stick with what little comfort zone I had left, and do these pieces in ballpoint pen.
I also had the idea that sustained me throughout this month: I decided to dedicate Inktober to my personal heroes of page and screen – all the film and book characters that have fascinated me in my life.
A couple of days in, I had to ask myself: Do I want to have 31 top notch pieces at the end of October? That was my fuzzy mental idea when I started out, and I had to bury that as early as October 2nd. It was marking season; my desk was buried under a hundred exams. I thought about quitting. Then I decided to make this my personal “DO THIS” project. No matter how busy the day was. No matter how little time you have. No matter how crap the drawing is. Do it. Post it. Inktober is all about forming habits. I wanted to show myself that I could still art.
The only one I missed was 15 – we went to see Bayer Leverkusen play VfL Wolfsburg. In retrospect, I should just have done a scribble in the stadium. Today (Oct 31) I would. Two weeks ago, that prospect still felt daunting.
Here are the results, along with my thoughts and comments on each as I first posted them. You can navigate through them by just clicking on the image that’s open.
Inktober has been an incredibly valuable experience for me – over the last few years, with two small and then borderline teenage kids, a taxing day job and sky-high levels of exhaustion, I had a lot of excuses for not being creative. Those excuses had become so ironclad that they effectively kept me from creating for about a year. Even the things I did draw and paint were a huge effort. At times, over the summer, I felt that maybe it was time to stop being an artist. The most frightening thing about that thought was that it didn’t frighten me at the time.
I was totally sure I would never finish Inktober (as with the ill-fated Junicorn I tried one and a half years ago), so I hardly advertised it, and hardly prepared for it. Maybe that was good. It definitely took the pressure off me, and uploading even the pieces that were sub-par in my eyes proved unexpectedly cathartic.
A wonderful asset of Inktober has been the flow of positive vibes I’ve been getting through social media, talking to people about the films and books we love (and even encountering some of the authors – talking to Tamora Pierce and being shared by Guy Gavriel Kay and Tad Williams).
Thank you! <3
The Knight of Flowers.
Turner acrylic gouache on Etival cold-pressed paper, 20×30 cm.
This piece was done for a scholarly work titled “The Heroic and Chivalric Codes of Westeros”, by Dr. Carol Jamison.
It’s also another media experiment. This time, I gave acrylic gouache a go. It’s something that a lot of people have never heard about (and that a lot of stores don’t stock), but it’s actually really, really cool as it combines several features that I like about both watercolours, and acrylics, and gouache.
Left: I did a lot of detail and shadows first (unlike with watercolour, where you’d do those last) and then glazed over the detailing with thinly diluted colour washes; the detailing remains intact.
I had a clear “where have you been all my life” moment yesterday. After using gouache quite satisfactorily on Gil-galad, not just for highlights but also for some rendering, I decided it was time for another stab at gouache.
Gouache is often described as opaque watercolour (and indeed, many languages use no separate word for it), and can either be applied thickly and even paste-like, much like oils, or in thinner washes, much like watercolour. I’d often thought about trying around with the former, mainly because I’d been using only the most transparent of watercolours in recent years and felt that going opaque was just the opposite of what I wanted. One and a half years ago, roughly, I bought a book on painting animals in gouache, and faithfully copied the examples. It worked, but I didn’t like it. My gouache tubes went to the bottom of my art cupboard again.
I’d been thinking about the medium again and wanted to take another shot at it, when I looked at some paintings in my “inspiration” folder whose technique had always baffled me and it hit me: They weren’t watercolours. They were thinly glazed gouache paintings.
Gouache has a pastelly, fuzzy quality to it that I’d never really given much thought.
I immediately decided to try that. My mother had asked for a picture of Sam Gamgee roasting a rabbit, and it looked like just the thing to try in gouache.
I painted very much the way I always do, except that I mixed in white instead of relying on the white of the paper. The white gouache made for a fuzziness that just turned blending colours into an absolute dream. The greenery in the background also just fell onto the paper effortlessly. The only thing I’ll do differently next time is that, instead of a thin blue shadow map, I’ll do a bolder, more neutral shadow line the last time, and drop in the blues later, while it’s still wet.
I recorded the painting process and uploaded it as a timelapse here.
The original painting is available in my Etsy shop!