New batch of pins have come in!

Look at those beauties! <3 I can’t stop staring.

You can find them in my Etsy shop! Check out Patreon or my newsletter for discounts. :)

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

For Maglor slew Uldor the Accursed

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Watercolour on Bockingford cold-pressed paper, 36×26 cm.

I recently asked my Patrons for suggestions for Maglor scenes, and his slaying Uldor came up several times. It’s such an unusual moment for the gentlest son of Fëanor, to be showing that he, like this brothers, was also a warrior.

Prints available!

Here’s a video about the background texture.

The Hunt

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The Hunt. Watercolour on Canson Vidalon paper, 19×39 cm.
Finrod Felagund joins Fëanoreans Maedhros and Maglor on a hunt in Eastern Beleriand. (Click to enlarge!)

After slowly easing back into art again with Inktober and the smallish and whimsical Newt Scamander piece this month, I felt ready to tackle a larger piece again. At first, I actually started it with gathering tons of reference, pasting and lightboxing horses and riders I’d photographed at reenactment events – and then I scrapped all of that and started the first stages loose, without reference, without correct anatomy, just to make sure it flowed the way I wanted it. (Much as I admire reenactors, they don’t flow. At least I can’t photograph them that way.) And suddenly everything just clicked into place again, the way it already had with the Newt piece. I then checked reference and reworked the figures and horses, but I’d once again found what truly makes me happy with my art.

Canson Vidalon paper proved a great choice for this. Its cottony texture allows very soft washes and keeps everything rather light; you really have to work hard for your darks and be very deliberate where you want them. The magnifying glass made another appearance, too. The detail shot below tells you just how small those faces are.

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Matted prints of these will soon be available in my Etsy shop – watch social media for more info.

A lot has been happening on Patreon recently! Ten new people have joined us, there’s been a giveaway for calendars and Inktober art, a livestream of painting this one with a Q&A, and the timelapse video for this one is available for my Patrons as well. Ever thought of joining, too? Take a peek!

As little might be thought

“For Maglor took pity upon Elros and Elrond, and he cherished them, and love grew after between them, as little might be thought; but Maglor’s heart was sick and weary with the burden of the dreadful oath.”

(The Silmarillion, “Of Eärendil and the War of Wrath”)

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Watercolour and gouache on Canson Montval cold-pressed paper, A3 size.

 

A re-run of an old sketch that never took off, so I was really glad when I was asked to revisit it as a commission! My son kindly modelled both Elrond and Elros. Don’t ask me which is which. XD

Harp lessons

This commission really took me some failed attempts – I couldn’t get two people and a harp to work without reference.

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It only worked when I grabbed my husband and daughter and had them pose for a few reference shots. My daughter’s cutely contorted feet then made it into the drawing. The harp ought to go between Elrond’s legs, I know – but hey, Maglor still has a lot to teach him. And I really, really had to keep those legs.

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The lineart:

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And finally, a light watercolour wash (that still took age to dry last night – the humidity was so high that it took over an hour. I had to resort to the hair dryer!)

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The harp no longer sings

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This is a concept that has occupied me for years, resulting in several pieces already. It’s symbolic rather than illustrative of any given passage in the text – Maglor, a remnant of the Elves in Middle-earth but excluded from his people, caught in a world of his own where music no longer brings consolation, surrounded by the ruins of the former greatness of the Noldor, whose downfall he had a part in.

I’ve never really done much with the “ruins” part of the scenario; half-hearted attempts at best, probably because I really struggle with architecture of any kind. Now, though, I’ve decided to give it another go.

This is a more refined version of the first sketch.

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Here’s the lineart:

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When I print the lineart, I tint the ruins in the background more greenish and very light, so that it will mostly disappear in the finished painting, and reduce the ruins to faint structures that could just as well be from a dream.

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This picture is a great excuse to make excessive use of my new Cobalt Turquoise from Schmincke. For the first background wash, I mix it with Chrome Oxide Green and a touch of Ultramarine and Cadmium Yellow, and apply it very thinly with a soft brush, lighter at the top and darker at the bottom.

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I then re-wet everything, and paint darker streaks, that will look like sunlight filtering through tress – or through water. I want the whole lighting here very ambiguous.

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After this has dried, I use the same colours – more green here, more blue there – very thinly to paint the detail in the ruins.

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To make it less monochromatic, I go in with a bluer tone, and paint the shadows in the areas between the streaks of sunlight. This is the point where my camera decides “This is all just green. Yeah, whatever.” I hope my scanner is more sensitive later…

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In all the following, excuse the turquoise colour mash, please.

Next, I add some Ochre to everything in the foreground – first the structures, to suggest sandstone or a similar stone.

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It gets a greenish-blue layer for shadows, to make it stand out less. I then decide Ochre will make a great foundation for the figure too. This looks very yellow now, but will mostly vanish under the greens and blues of Maglor’s clothing later, only serve as a “grounding” in the light situation around him.

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Some detailing in the ground – mainly with Ultramarine and duller Indigo, but with the brush dipped into Chromoxide Green, Cobalt Turquoise, and Ochre here and there for colour variation.

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Detailing on the leaves, again with the whole range of greens and blues used above.

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The skin is done with Burnt Sienna, as usual, but thinned down beyond recognition with my dirty water, which is now a nice green-blue concoction, rather thick too, as it’s dried overnight. Comes in extremely useful for making any colour fit the mood of my painting.

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I use the same principle with the hair tone, which is Sepia with a lot of dirty green water. The shadows are done with a touch of Indigo, too.

(Give my camera a kick here, please. Thanks.)

On the image on the right below, I’ve re-drawn the eyes and brows slightly with a Sepia marker, as the lineart was starting to dull under the paint.

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Below left: Next, I put in the base tones, very light, of Maglor’s clothes. I choose a mix of Cobalt Turquoise, Ultramarine, and Chromoxide Green for his tunic, and a more Indigo-heavy tone for the cloak. The hose is just my dirty water at this point. ;)

Below right: First layer of rendering. I build the shadows up slowly, mostly with Indigo, to avoid getting too dark too soon, and adding another layer here and there to add depth.

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Below: detailing on the arm guards. (I love doing Maglor’s arm guards.)

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After darkening and shading, and detailing, we arrive at this.

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Final touches include painting the falling petals with white gouache.

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The Oath has been awakened…

Finished piece (here’s the process). The post was becoming so long that I decided not to hide the finished image at the bottom!

Click to enlarge!

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‘A Silmaril of Fëanor burns again in the woods of Doriath’; and the oath of the sons of Fëanor was waked again from sleep. For while Lúthien wore the Necklace of the Dwarves no Elf would dare to assail her; but now hearing of the renewal of Doriath and of Dior’s pride, the seven gathered again from wandering…

Detail shots (click to enlarge):

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The Oath has been awakened – painting

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In painting this one, I was facing the challenge to have a lot of reds, even in the sky, and horses – which sometimes leads to dangerously girly-calendary motifs.

So far, I seem to have succeeded in not falling over on that side of the fence. I know that because my daughter, a great fan of horses and pink, keeps looking at the picture on my desk and walking away without saying a word. That’s her way of saying, “Really, mum, such lovely horseys, and such ugly colours. I’d tell you so but I’m afraid of hurting your feelings.”

Yay!

Note: The colours on the photographs deviate really far from the actual ones at times. When I used the flash, they’re too yellow; when I didn’t, my daylight lamp resulted in too bluish tones. The entire pic is too large to be properly photographed with the means I have.

The lineart is, again, pencil, scanned, tinted and photocopied onto watercolour paper. See here if you have any questions.

My daughter would have loved the first stage. I overlaid the whole pic with a warm light red wash composed of Madder red and Ochre, dabbing some paint off the horses and figures, particularly the upper parts, allowing all those twenty-eight horse legs to blend into the rest.

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Then, I added streaks of more red into the sky, and blotches of Chromoxide Green, Madder red mixed with Ultramarine, and Burnt Sienna into the ground, for the colours of heather.

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Next, some Ochre, Sepia, but my violet mix from above for the stones. Later, they’ll be lighter than the rest.

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Next, I proceed to paint more heather. I mix more Madder Red with Ultramarine, and paint the upper edges of patches of heather…

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While the paint is still wet, I rinse my brush in the orange-y dirty water in my water container, and drag the paint down with it. The jagged top edge remains unaffected, the rest…

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… is blurred and diluted.

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Patches of heather:

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I proceed to muddy the sky (and frustrate my daughter), and add a dirty wash of Burnt Sienna and Ochre to the top margin of the painting, drawing it down with more dirty water.

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The ground now gets a second wash of my violet mix with Burnt Sienna, darkening it and softening the edges of heather.

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I allow it to bleed into the horses’ legs, to merge them with the ground. A while ago, I used to cleanly separate every element of the image, and sometimes, that would result in cut-and-paste looking picture elements.

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This is a sort of middle stage, from which I can start to add layers. It’s also the sort of stage that’s already starting to look good, and which I can safely leave on my desk without cringing whenever I walk past it…

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After a good night’s sleep, I decide that the ground is too light, and add another darker layer, effectively killing my detailed heather. Which isn’t so bad. It’s still there in a blurry way, and will look very organic when I’m done.

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Now, for the sky. I rewet the upper portion of the picture, mix some dramatic dark violet (with Madder Red, Ultramarine, Indigo, Sepia, and Burnt Sienna) and paint streaks into the wet areas, allowing them to run.

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The ground is dry at this point, and I start to paint the orange shrubbery around the stones. For this, I use gouache – watercolour wouldn’t have been visible. I also redo my heather in the same way I did above.

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I then add some highlights, again with gouache, to the shrubs and stones, and paint a few stray patches of wild wheat.

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Then I go as daring as I get and use green to paint the sallow thorn and the far hills, adding a few berries into the branches.

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Now, finally, the figures. I start with some reds and ochres to see how it looks. Yup – looks good!

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I paint the figures and horses with a fair deal of island hopping, working on whatever spot begs my attention (and is dry), mostly sticking to one colour at a time, more or less.

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More detailing.

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Just to show you how small some of the bits and pieces here are… The entire piece is 65 x 32 cm. … That’s one cent, btw.

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Some final touches with white gouache to spearpoints, hair, fur.

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Finished piece and detail shots: https://goldseven.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/the-oath-has-been-awakened/

One little, two little, fifteen little Noldor

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I sat down yesterday for a reality check. Am I deluded? These all look different to me, even without their characteristic hair. So yes, they are all related (fathers and brothers and sons and daughters and cousins), so they are all immortal and ageless, and they are all beautiful in the same ethereal Elven way, and yes, there are some that are less characteristic than others. But to me, they look exactly as they should. Maybe I’ve become too much of a shepherd. Or, alternatively, it’s just that I don’t see Tolkien’s characters as wildly individual (bordering on cartoonish) as, for example, G. R. R. Martin’s.

‘What!’ cried Bilbo. ‘You can’t tell which parts were mine, and which were the Dúnadan’s?’
‘It is not easy for us to tell the difference between two mortals’ said the Elf.
‘Nonsense, Lindir,’ snorted Bilbo. ‘If you can’t distinguish between a Man and a Hobbit, your judgement is poorer than I imagined. They’re as different as peas and apples.’
‘Maybe. To sheep other sheep no doubt appear different,’ laughed Lindir. ‘Or to shepherds. But Mortals have not been our study. We have other business.'” — The Fellowship of the Ring, J. R. R. Tolkien

Or, in the words of the immortal Hiro Nakamura and Ando Masahashi: “They all look the same to me.” – “That’s racist!”

The Drawing of the Sword

(Drawing the Drawing of the sword always results in semantic weirdness.)

It was in early 1994 that I realised this scene was one tough cookie. Two Elves, one at an arm’s and a sword’s length from the other? That means a bit of Elf at the margins of a picture and rather a lot of nothing in the middle.  I realised that this was an iconic scene from the Silmarillion, but I abandoned the project after this quick sketch.

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(Yes, I was under the impression that Fingolfin was blond.)

One and a half years later, I was doing my first ever watercolours, and I had found out that Fingolfin was dark-haired. I also found that a wider shot would solve part of the problem. I probably realised, theoretically, that foreshortening was called for, but this is 1995 we’re talking. No foreshortening in 1995, no, sir.

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So, this year, I took on a commission of this precise scene and knew I would have to deal with foreshortening and some clever positioning.

In the first sketch, I still had to resort to a carefully draped cloak in order to cover up my foreshortcomings. Then I got some terrific help from the guys at comicforum.de, and managed to pull the pose off sufficiently for me to go with.

A progress shot from the lineart proper: Underneath, you see the sketch printed out in pale yellow, so I can filter it out later.

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Second progress shot.

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Final version of the lineart (plus some parchment texture):

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Left to right: Finwë, Fingolfin, Fingon, Turgon, Argon, Fëanor, Maedhros, Maglor, Celegorm, Curufin.

Now for the Painting of the Sword!

… or, how to avoid cluttering up mass scenes. On your second attempt.

In this painting, I have such an amount of detail in the lineart that I have to be careful not to kill the picture with it.Let me give you a fun example of how *not* to do it, from exactly ten years ago when I still signed my pictures with PJ: Messy goblin battle

Why is the colour job in that one such a train wreck? Because I didn’t know yet that the sharpest contrast of an image goes where you want the viewer’s eye to dwell. And only there. Contrast draws the eye. And light and dark contrast draws the eye most. Dark and light contrast across the whole of a picture draws the eye in a sort of crazy polka from which it will want to break as soon as possible and leave the dancefloor. Permanently.

There are loads of ways to avoid this; here is one that works really well with any medium, but requires a bit of planning beforehand. In fact, I had planned this even before I drew the lineart. In even more fact, this only worked to full satisfaction on the second attempt.

My first stage is nothing unusual if you know my workflow: An even layer of a single colour covering everything, to tie the eventual colour scheme together and avoid glaring white highlights that tear the finished image apart. I choose a mix between Yellow Ochre and Sepia with a bit of Cadmium Yellow.

While the paint is still wet (rule of thumb: wet enough to glisten on the paper, not so wet as to form puddles), I go in with a tissue and dab off the paint from the areas that’ll need to stand out later, like Fëanor’s and Fingolfin’s faces, and, most definitely, the sword.

Please note: Sometimes, the colours in the photos here are pretty far away from the actual ones, especially the later images. Too much distraction and not enough light for my silly old digicam.

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This is the finished first layer with the faces dabbed lighter:

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I want the statues to be lighter than the background, to look like alabaster (and discourage any go-go-girl connotations). Therefore, I paint the background behind everybody slightly darker, but still translucent.

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Now I’m going to make sure that all the detail in the background, while still being noticeable, will not distract too much from the foreground.

To that end, I mix a duller colour with more brown, and paint the background figures and arcs with a uniform layer that only leaves out the alabaster statues and the foreground figures.

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So we’ll cleanly separate the different grounds – fore, middle, and back. I also add some handsome splashing to the bottom of my darker figure layer, which will stay even when all the rendering is done, to serve as “lost edges”. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of lost edges, read what the great Mattias Snygg has to say about it.

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Now, the detail is still there, and we have an image that is well readable and ready for the next stage – colour.

I then made a mistake. Th idea was to force myself to stay light in the background, so I went against watercolouring etiquette and started with the darkest part of the background figures – their hair. That way, I had something to check every other colour against – nothing must get darker than the hair. The idea was good, but the choice of material was not. I used liquid watercolours, as I have for months now – and they tend to cake up, and lose all of the lightness and transparency that a watercolour should have. And that’s what happened here.

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After the stage above, I added a second layer of detailing to the background figures – which killed the piece. Beyond redemption. No matter how lightly you apply liquid watercolours, they always come out more opaque that watercolours from tubes or pans. With my latest pictures, that never bothered me enough to actually scrap a painting, but here, it was inevitable. The second background layer became too dark, killing the detail, clogging up the lineart, and making it almost impossible for me to get the foreground darker and still more detailed than the background.

Before I started painting Fingolfin’s tunic and hair below, I already realised the painting was lost. The foreground didn’t stand out against the background figures any more – they already were too dark.

Lesson learnt: play to the strengths of your materials. Use tubes where you want light and feathery colours. Use liquids where you want it dark and don’t mind opaqueness.

When you arrive at a stage where nothing will save your painting, you take it between two thumbs and forefingers and close your eyes, and only open them again after you’ve heard that RAAAAtttttsch! sound. Makes it easier. Good thing I still had the lineart.

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I started anew and went back to this stage above. I used only watercolours from tubes this time, which really avoided that caked look.

This way, instead of doing the light background first and then forcing me to go ever darker in the thing that was more important in the painting, I started with the foreground – so Fëanor and Fingolfin would determine how light the background would have to be. A terminus post quem non, so to speak.

I started with Fingolfin’s tunic, with a wash of Ultramarine damped down by a touch of Indigo and Madder red, leaving lighter some edges to the right, where the light hits. I then mixed some Sepia with Indigo, Burnt Sienna and Madder and started on Fingolfin’s hair, still using only tube-paint.

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The picture below shows the second, darker, detailing hair layer.

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Then comes a part that’s both very laborious but still rather meditative. People are often amazed how I can have so much patience with patterns. Well, I could never understand why people paint Mandalas! But I suppose it’s much the same.

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After the mandala, sorry, tunic-pattern painting. You’ll see I’ve also added some light skin tones (Burnt Sienna with Madder), and started detailing the beads in Fingolfin’s hair.

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You’ll notice when painting around the patterns with darker colours I didn’t pay much attention to light and dark, leaving the tunic more flat-looking than in the first stage. So, more shadows are in order. For that, I now use some liquid watercolours, to make the colour more solid and dark. Rendering is easier with liquid watercolours, I find. I add quite a lot of purple to the mix, and start at Fingolfin’s right arm.

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And this is what the finished tunic looks like:

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I then mix in some darker brown and purple and give the hair the same darker treatment, adding depth and shadow with liquid watercolour:

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Then, some detailing on the belt, with Sienna and Ultramarine.

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Fingolfin is finished. Time to tackle Fëanor. The overall colour scheme will be blue for the Fingofinians, and red for Fëanoreans, so I start with an oxblood colour on Fëanor’s tunic, mixed from Madder red with some Indigo and Sepia. Tube paints, of course, for transparency.

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I then mix much the same colour, plus some darker purple, for the shading – in liquid watercolours for rendering:

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Some detail work that I tend to get lost in – hence, no in-progress shots for the metal parts and plumes on his helm. The paint dries so fast that I can work on the next layer almost immediately after painting the first, so I rarely take photos in between. All the colours below are again tube ones.

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Some more work on this clothes. I’m undecided with the cloak at this point; I want to make it very light to have Fëanor stand out even more, but for that, I have to check back with the client, so I leave it for the time being. I just add some very delicate gouache to lighter bits on his greaves and other shiny details:

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So the foreground figures are as finished as I can make them for the time being, and this is the overall result:

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With just a hint of Bunt Sienna and Madder red (tubes, of course, for transparency), I then do the faces in the background, leaving out areas where the light hits. They won’t get a shadow layer at this point. Just a single colour/rendering layer. I can always get darker later if I think the pic can handle it, but I can’t get lighter, as I found out the hard way on the first attempt.

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After the faces are painted, I use an extremely light (tube!) layer of Sepia for the hair. And some Burnt Sienna for Maedhros, and some unidentifiable mix for Celegorm, so everybody can pick out a hair colour for him and be happy…

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Next, the sons.

I’ve just bought a very nice tube of Cobalt Turquoise, which is blue enough to qualify as “Fingolfinian” but still very different from what Fingolfin wears, and I use it gratuitously on Fingon, Turgon, and Argon, adding a hint of gold here and there to keep them from becoming too monochromatic.

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The Fëanoreans get a similar treatment with Madder Red and Burnt Sienna, with a touch of purple and gold here and there. Mainly water on the brush, with just a spot of paint, avoiding the mistakes from the first attempt. And all tube paints, of course.

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Next, I do the statues with a very dull mix of Sepia, Madder Red, and a touch of Ultramarine, only painting very light shadows.

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Next, I splash around with rather a lot of purple tones on Finwë. Some redder, some bluer, to show how torn he is between the followings of his sons.

In the end, Fëanor is given a pale gold cloak, and some minor touchups to shadows and such follow… and we’re done! Please click for full view. :)

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Ahem… and as I frequently do when a new year begins, I changed my signature. People keep telling me to include “Dolfen” somewhere; and I keep finding that my previous “Jenny+Year” was fine for pencil but difficult to do with brushes.

Detail shots:

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So, I wish you all a Happy New Year! Drawing Runes this New Year’s Eve brought me Isa, Ice, the Rune of Stagnation. I suppose there can be worse things than stagnating on the level I’ve reached last year (brought to you by Inguz, Rune of Fertility, drawn a year ago). Better than the Rune of Bottomless Plummet or something.

Fëanorean sketchdump

Loads of leisure at school to scribble stuff in between lessons!

Maedhros trudging back to his own people after his rescue and recovery;

Maedhros being welcomed by his brothers with what borders on exuberance (for guilt-ridden Fëanoreans),

Fëanor in full armour. And a horse. No, I don’t know what it’s doing there. Except maybe demonstrating that a horse without a head is indeed a perfect square.

Maglor sketch

Maglor son of Fëanor. He occupies rather a lot of pages in my sketchbook with some rather good portraits. I think Maedhros is getting jealous. (All there is of him in my sketchbook is after being captured, being tortured, being rescued with his hand cut off… you get the picture. I don’t know why, seriously.)

My colleagues all pity me as I have three free periods on Mondays… but I have to say they do come in handy. I can write down oral marks, mark vocab tests, go shopping, prepare the next lesson, and still get sketches done.

I’ll make this one available as special edition prints for Ring*Con! With some added whites done by hand.

Grand Old English Wash Brush or: Painting of Maglor

If you read my last post about art slumps, you already know that this piece gave me a lot of grief.

Part of the reason was that the colours insisted on caking up. Even the royal blue that comes out pretty transparent. On any kind of paper and with any kind of brush, I found I could not give the background the lightness it needed to have.

Then, on Monday, I found the solution to all my problems.

Now this, my dear friends, is an English Wash Brush. (Don’t say this with your mouth full.) The hairs (Russian squirrel) are so incredibly soft that you almost don’t feel them. It cost a fortune (thanks, mum, for helping me out there, you saved my life!) but it’s another of those cases where quality does come at a price, and is worth every cent.

Why this one is better than a synthetic brush? Even a sable brush? I wouldn’t have believed it, but this soft miracle adds a wash of paint while leaving the paper completely intact. Now when you paint, there’s always some amount of friction of brush on paper, resulting in a roughening of the paper. Rougher paper results in a caked look. The more water, the more layers, the poorer the paper quality, and the harder your brush, the more your paper will cake up and lose transparency.

No longer.

The colours I’ve used throughout this piece are: Royal Blue, Indigo, Cobalt Blue, Yellow Ocre, and Sepia, and a spot of Alizarin Crimson for the skin. I’m working with liquid watercolours (Rohrer/Klingner, Docmartin’s, and home-made ones. Nobody stocks any Indigo or Sepia.)

Note – the colours in the photos come out WAY off. There’s a definite green-yellow tinge even under my daylight lamp, sigh. In Latin, you call this way of working lucubrare – working in artificial light. That’s the curse of a working mum artist. ;)

First, I put my new brush to good use and went about painting the same background a seventh time. I used a light Royal Blue wash with a touch of Cobalt and Indigo, dabbing off the paint with  tissue while it was still wet where the crest of the wave would go.

My goal was to give the entire image a blue, cool, otherworldly tint. This piece is a sort of companion piece to “It ends in flame“, so where the other one is fiery red, this one will be cool blue.

I then used some masking fluid to preserve the whites of the gulls and the crest of the wave. You may remember my previous trouble with masking fluid; I’ve avoided that by mixing the fluid with water. This way, it usually comes off fine.

The masking fluid I now have is tinted blue. Very convenient, as the clear/white fluid is often really hard to see.

I wait for the fluid to try – this takes about half an hour – and paint the darker portions of the sky.

The wash I use for the darker sky portions is made up by Indigo and Royal Blue. To set off the sea later, I’ll use more Cobalt and Royal Blue and less Indigo. My first attempts at this were rather monochromatic but they didn’t cut the mustard. They can still be found in the bin.

I dab off paint again for the clouds.

While I wait for the sky to dry so I can rub the masking fluid off, I paint the  rocks with a bluish wash as well. That way, the rocks will later fit into the overall blue colour scheme though they will have some yellow in them.

I use a large brush and paint mostly into the corners and edges that will be in shadow later.

When everything is dry, I rub off the masking fluid.

Next, I paint the  sea. As stated above, I use Cobalt and Royal Blue, and paint around jagged bits that’ll create the illusion of waves. I make the smaller further back and bigger towards the front.

I then paint the insides of the rising waves with a darker blue containing Indigo and Cobalt. I use the same techniques as in my “Schimmelreiter” picture I painted two years ago, drawing up rising shapes of shadow and leaving lighter circles inside them to indicate foam.

Now it’s time to add some more colour. I mix Yellow Ocre with rather a lot of all my blues as well as Sepia to tone it down, keeping the different drops of paint in separate portions of my palette so the wash turns out slightly different with every brush stroke. I use more yellow in the portions to the right of the rocks. I don’t do any detail work yet.

Of course, the rocks in the background get the same hue, only with more blue to indicate that they’re further away.

I then painted Maglor’s coat. I stuck to the same basic hues I already had in the background, to make Maglor blend in with his surroundings and make him meld into them, as if he wasn’t really there any more and was becoming part of the seascape. Here, I mixed Cobalt with a touch of Yellow Ochre to gave the coat a more greenish tint.

For the ornaments and boots, I used pretty much the same tone as for the rocks.

I left Maglor for the time being and turned to the rocks again. First because they’d dried by then and second, because in the past, I’ve frequently become caught up in one portion of the pic, rendering it to death before I really came to my senses and got a good look at the overall thing again. It worked for most of those pieces, but here, I needed a rougher, more dreamy feel.

As I found out with all the ivy in “Ossiriand“, the only way to suggest detail is… to actually paint it. For this, I googled for barnacles to see how they were structured. In the lineart, I had already suggested barnacles in some portions of the rocks but not in others, to create lines through the pic and lead the viewer up to Maglor. I painted the shadows around the barnacles darkest in those places. I gradually added three darker washes in the shadows, getting smaller and more detailed with each one, while leaving large portions of the rocks un-barnacled. Just some squiggly lines so they don’t look bland and smooth.

There. Barnacled glory!

I grew up on the North Sea, so for seascapes, I can always draw on a good amount of experience mixed with memories and emotion (and smell). I had the smell of barnacles in my nose all night.

Okay, this is where the smell of vodka drowned out the smell of barnacles. I painted Maglor’s cloak with a mix of Indigo and Cobalt, with some Ochre thrown in to dirty it. The vodka was to make his clothes look faded and old. (And this is why you should always stay away from vodka, kids.)

Some faded texture on Maglor’s coat. I wanted this double effect of clothing that looks at the same time richly ornamented and old and worn.

Credit for the beautiful pattern on the coat goes to Marco Schüller and a painting he did of Columbus, who had a coat in the same pattern. I threatened that I’d send my Elven ninjas to steal the cloth from him. They’re as good as their word. Well, maybe not quite. His looked better.

I then added shading to the ornamental borders on Maglor’s clothes, doing squiggly stuff again. Squiggly stuff is wonderfully versatile. It can suggest barnacles or knotwork depending on the amount, size, and shape of squiggling.

The skin, by the way, was painted with a mix that doesn’t look like skin at all – Alizarin Crimson, Sepia, Cobalt Blue, and some Yellow Ochre. An actual “skin tone” would have looked horrendous here.

The hair was mostly done in Sepia, and needed next to no detail work, as most of that had been done in the lineart.

More darker Indigo for the cloak. And more vodka.

Plus some detailing down the sides of Maglor’s legs to indicate a seam.

The finished image, in its actual colours.

Detail shots (click to enlarge):

Pain and regret

Some people have remarked to me, over the past few months, “You haven’t posted in a while – wow, can’t wait to see what massive project you’re working on!”

I’m sorry to say there was no massive project other than keeping sane. The last weeks at school were bad, and the next year won’t be much easier. I’m currently trying to get what comfort I can from the fact that it’s the holidays. For weeks, I didn’t even have any inspiration to draw. I hope that’s over now.

Carefully easing back into Silmarillion art with a long-planned picture of Maglor by the waves.

My Green Problem turns into my Green Period

So, after years of sparking puns aimed at me for avoiding the colour green in my paintings, I’m endeavouring to tackle that fear of mine. The funny thing is: This seems to be a common thing among artists. James Gurney calls it “The Green Problem“.

This year, I’ve set out to overcome some of my problems. Specifically this. It was weird to look at an overview of my galleries and see the entire spectrum of colours with the sole and very pronounced exception of green. Especially if you illustrate mostly Tolkien and still don’t grant Middle-earth at least a bit of green.

So now we’ve had vibrant, fresh greens:

 

 

 

 

 

 

sickly, evil greens:

 

 

 

 

 

 

and now I’m going for soothing, bright greens.

Still very much in progress and scared the hell out of me, but hey, you gotta face your fears. Especially the green ones.

And green is a lot more fun than I thought. Yay! :D

Sketches from the edge

A few absolutely incredibly taxing days. Class trip with one hundred twenty-six twelve-year-olds. Three days of sitting a bag of fleas, as we say in German. Some very touching experiences, some rather disheartening ones, and having to be “on” for seventy-six hours on end.

Drawing was a lifeline to sanity.

New Silmarillion picture ideas

I can’t seem to stop. O_o

Maglor and Maedhros after the latter’s rescue.

And one that I’ve been wanting to (re)do for years – the Prophecy of the North.

“Tears unnumbered ye shall shed; and the Valar will fence Valinor against you, and shut you out, so that not even the echo of your lamentation shall pass over the mountains. On the House of Fëanor the wrath of the Valar lieth from the West unto the uttermost East, and upon all that will follow them it shall be laid also. Their Oath shall drive them, and yet betray them, and ever snatch away the very treasures that they have sworn to pursue. To evil end shall all things turn that they begin well; and by treason of kin unto kin, and the fear of treason, shall this come to pass. The Dispossessed shall they be for ever.”

One Maglor, please. Milk, two sugars.

So, decided to look into coffee painting today.

Really handles a lot like watercolour, only stains more and does very interesting things at the edges. Forms harder edges too. Background painted in leftover of hubby’s morning coffee (Onko, der Milde), figure in Jacobs Instant Espresso.

I’ll definitely be doing more with this.