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.”
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!
(Anyone who caught the Pratchett reference, have a cookie!)
I’m in an exciting phase with my art. I’ve felt a latent unhappiness with aspects of it for several years, and this SmArt School class is such an amazing ride. I’m shaping up my stuff for submission to galleries, I’m learning loads, I’m trying out new things, I’m having my butt kicked by truly remarkable people.
These are small, coaster-sized pieces done using very close reference for the basic figure work and facial structures, but then deviating from them for almost everything else.
Freya, with a peregrine falcon. Watercolour and gouache on Clairefontaine Nuageux paper, 13 cm.
Tears of Isis. Watercolour, gouache and lavish gold leaf on Clairefontaine Nuageux paper, 13 cm.
These little beauties are available from my Etsy shop, readily framed and matted!
“Jenny bowed her head again. For a moment, the rough clang of blade on blade filled her ears. She remembered that noise, and the cry of the dying, atop a high hill beneath a scorching sun. Black armor and a bloody blade. And the battle. Such a battle, one worthy of the world’s ending. And hadn’t it been? The end of a realm, of a world, of a dream…”
Watercolour and gel pen on Fabriano paper, 28×38 cm.
The battle of Camlann – the calm before the storm. From an upcoming novel by Paul Leone, merging a Victorian vampire tale with Arthurian legend.
It’s been a crazy summer, with a lot of unforeseen stuff that ate up my summer holidays completely. This is the only full painting I got done during that time, which is slightly frustrating, but it’s also another bit of proof for my conviction that breaks in your art transform you. Months ago, I resolved to try a softer approach to colouring than the one I had developed over the last four years (not fully intentionally either). I tried it, but it didn’t work – I just slipped back into old habits. Now, after three months with virtually no painting, it was incredibly easy to incorporate new habits. So – the break was a good thing in the end.
Inspired by Claudia Gray’s novel “Bloodline” (which I haven’t read yet – exam marking season), which discloses that, just a few years prior to TFA, Luke Skywalker was travelling the galaxy in search for the first Jedi temple – with Ben Solo.
“Search for the lost temple”
Watercolour on Cotman cold-pressed paper, A4 size.
The chronology majorly messes up some of my headcanons, as does the fact that Rey doesn’t seem to be related to the Skywalker family. I was extremely flattered, though, to read a review of the book that discussed the timeline of events and expressed regret over the fact that “that Jenny Dolfen painting” was now obviously AU. Wow. I mean – wow. I’m pop culture!
“They laid him to rest in the ship with his sword upon his legs; and as he drifted home downstream, there came seven black swans, their trumpet calls guiding him to the Otherworld.”
Some work (loosely) inspired by Arthurian legend that I’ve been wanting to paint for years. The clothes and burial gifts of the warrior are inspired by the Sutton Hoo treasure (as is the build of the ship, though much smaller). Watercolours on Fabriano Grana Fina, 29×39 cm.
Original for sale – contact me if interested!