Dungeons & Dormice

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. 

The Barbarian

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.

The Fighter

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.

The Monk

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.

The Bard

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. 

The Sorcerer

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.

The Druid

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.

“Utúlie’n aurë!”

Then when Fingon heard afar the great trumpet of Turgon his brother, the shadow passed and his heart was uplifted, and he shouted aloud: ‘Utúlie’n aurë! Aiya Eldalië ar Atanatári, utúlie’n aurë!’

Watercolour and gel pen on Fabriano No. 5, 19×33 cm. 

Prints available!

The Death of Fëanor

“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.

Prints available!

“He sang a song of Valinor”

Start-of-year Silmarillion spree commencing!

“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.

Prints in my Etsy shop! Original is sold.

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!”

New pin designs in 2020!

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!

“Stand together”

“Stand together”
Watercolour and gouache on Bockingford Torchon paper, 16×21 cm

Prints and original painting available!

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.

Inktober 2019: Curls and Elves in Brocade

I never follow any Inktober lists. My overall theme usually manifests itself on day three or so. It’s “Elves in Brocade”. Obviously.

I’m really happy with my output this month. My one goal was to do more pieces than last year (which was easy) and to stick with ink (which was easier than I thought).

All of these are fineliner/brush pen with watercolour, most A5, some A4 size. And yes, haha, I made myself a new signature in between…

Maedhros
Lúthien
Fingon
Thranduil
Finarfin
Glorfindel
Arwen
Aredhel
Fingolfin
Finarfin (I)

Elrond
Melian
Finrod
Feanor
Maglor
Maedhros
Fingolfin
Éowyn

Busy and hodgepodge times

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!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/717467506/the-professor-t-shirt

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.

Artist pins on the way!

I’ve finally done what I’ve been wanting to do for ages and designed my first artist pin!

pin-design3a

I’ll be celebrating my four-year anniversary on Patreon next month, and decided to do something special. Can’t wait to see what they look like! I was sure the manufacturer would whistle me back on the design, but they said it was fine like this. =O

Want to know more? Click here!

Testing KWARTSCreations watercolours

I recently got an extremely sweet collection of handmade watercolours from Katie of KWARTSCreations, and I really love how vibrant the colours are! They’re also nicely transparent. Katie also does paints with minerals and pearlescent pigments; I’m not too wild about those and asked for transparent earth tones and blues – but she included a very cool tone called Vivanite, which is the granulating earthy blue you see in the paintings below. Thank you so much, Katie!

I got wild with these in my sketchbook and they’re such fun! The little tin is also great to take along and paint with a water brush.

sons-of-nerdanel

“Sons of Nerdanel”, following a line of thought that evolved in a thread on my Patreon. I used many of the paints here; they harmonise wonderfully in their earthiness, with that brilliant Prussian Blue thrown in.

 

fingolfin

Next up, a little portrait of Fingolfin. More Prussian Blue, and Vivanite in the background. Plus a bit of white gel pen.

 

eye

The Vivanite felt perfect for Elven grey eyes, and I decided to do my first ever watercolour eye painting.

A better, scanned version:

eye2

These watercolours are really, really fun, and very well made. Sure, they don’t look as polished/perfect as the ones you buy in a store, but that is their charm, and the translucency and handling is excellent! Something that confused me at first but that is quickly growing on me is that they are ever so slightly clove-scented, as they’re made with clove oil.

Katie has a huge array of colours in her shop, and the pearlescent ones look really cool as well – she included a little gold pan as an extra, and its opacity is excellent, close to the Mica paints that I usually use for gold bits.

Tears Unnumbered

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“Thus ended Nirnaeth Arnoediad, as the sun went down beyond the sea. Night fell in Hithlum, and there came a great storm of wind out of the West.”

Maedhros realises that everything is lost – the realms of the Noldor, their armies, their hopes, and his best friend.

Watercolour on Bockingford cold-pressed paper, 18×29 cm.

You can get it as a print in my Etsy shop! The original is available too.

I’ve come across quite a few renditions of Maedhros with a dead Fingon in his arms after the Nirnaeth; and while I appreciate the drama, I feel sure Maedhros didn’t learn of his friend’s death until days after the battle, and that he was too far away from Fingon while he and his brothers made their escape after Uldor’s treachery.

A little Silmarillion spree

Those always feel like coming home!

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Betrayal

Watercolour on Legion Stonehenge cold-pressed paper, 29×39 cm.

“So Fëanor has sealed his betrayal with fire. He will not return and has abandoned us here, as we all secretly feared he would. And Maitimo – where do you stand now? Did you bow to his will, do you stand by him, as you did when he broke the peace, as you did when he swore that terrible oath? Have Morgoth’s lies stamped out the love that once bound us, or do you still remember our friendship? Or was it Fëanor that stamped it out? I never had any part in any quarrel. The estrangement of our fathers never concerned me. When we meet again, will you remember our friendship? Will I?”

“How blind have I been, to think my father would ever turn back to bring hither the ones he left behind! How did I ever believe he considered them more than needless baggage? How can we hope to prevail without aid in this strange land, and how will we ever forgive ourselves for all that has passed? To the blood of the Teleri on our hands we now add that of our brothers and cousins, for surely they will now perish either by the vengefulness of the Valar, or in their attempt to cross the ice. Findekáno… I will never even be able to beg your forgiveness for this betrayal. You will meet your death hating me, and I will always know I deserve it for my inaction.”

(Writing is mine.)

Prints available, as is the original! Drop me a line if you’re interested!

sketchbook_mae

Maedhros sketches. Quick ones in my watercolour sketchbook. I’ve done quite a few recently – you can see more on Patreon!

 

they-prepared-to-die_col

“And they disguised themselves, and came in the night to the camp of Eönwë, and crept into the place where the Silmarils were guarded; and they slew the guards, and laid hands on the jewels. Then all the camp was raised against them, and they prepared to die, defending themselves until the last.”

Watercolour (Payne’s Grey and Golden Barok Red) on Hahnemühle Expression paper, cold pressed. 18×25 cm.

Limited prints available!

The Last Alliance

Gil-galad was an Elven-king.
Of him the harpers sadly sing;
the last whose realm was fair and free
between the Mountains and the Sea.

His sword was long, his lance was keen.
His shining helm afar was seen;
the countless stars of heaven’s field
were mirrored in his silver shield.

But long ago he rode away,
and where he dwelleth none can say;
for into darkness fell his star
in Mordor where the shadows are.

The Last Alliance. Watercolour on Clairefontaine Etival cold-pressed paper, just under A3 size.

Ever since painting my last “Gil-galad”, I felt I’d given him short shrift. standing there all alone in a blue field and not doing anything but looking mournful. I’ve been wanting to do exactly this piece for two years, with the low angle looking up, but I was afraid to tackle it. I’m so glad I finally had the nerve!

Prints available! Original for sale – contact me if you’re interested!

If you’re puzzled, or sad, or furious about his hair colour, please read this. http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Gil-galad

I’m a little tired of hair colour debates.

Where do Unicorns go?

unicorns_col

In the sea the fish have learnt to fly
on a moonlit night
on wings of silver
as the enchanted stars sail serenely by
Do they know
Where do unicorns go
Where winged horses fly
narwhals lost at sea
and never seen again
Go, go and ask the magpie
where do unicorns go

Watercolour and white gouache on Canson Aquarelle cold-pressed paper, 20×20 cm

Original sold!
Prints are available in my Etsy shop.

The Faerie Wands – card art

odd-fae_col

Art for an upcoming card game called Olde Fae, from Changeling Artist Collective, It’s a multi-artist project based on “Old Maid”, where every artist picked a symbol (wand in my case) and interprets two playing cards depicting the Faerie of the Seelie Court as well as the Unseelie court. I decided to have fun with birds, and chose types of birds slightly off the beaten track: swallows for the Seelie side, shrikes for the Unseelie.

The project will come to Kickstarter later this year – I’ll keep you updated!

Watercolour on Canson Aquarelle paper, A3 size.

odd-fae_sc-colodd-fae_uc-col

Thrice he rose

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Thrice was Fingolfin with great blows
to his knees beaten, thrice he rose
still leaping up beneath the cloud
aloft to hold star-shining, proud,
his stricken shield, his sundered helm,
that dark nor might could overwhelm.

J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lays of Beleriand

Schmincke watercolour and a bit of gouache on Etival cold-pressed paper, 27×35 cm. Making use of a newly-discovered site of reference photos, posespace.com – so helpful!

Painting video can be found here!

Click here for prints!

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