Fell and Fey

Some Silmarillion in between, though at least slightly inspired (as probably shows) by Star Wars – ever since I saw Kylo Ren’s costume, I felt Fëanor would really look great in a high collar and flowing coat-tails. I’ve put him in black and gold before, so that was something that always belonged to him, for me.

And though you might say otherwise, the hair is 100% Fëanor, too. ;)

feanor_col

Gold leaf (22 karat, a slightly paler colour than the 23 karat I usually use):

feanor_wip4

Watercolour, gouache, and gold leaf on Canson Montval, 42×30 cm (painting itself an inch smaller).

Original available here

Prints with gold leaf available here.

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”)

aslittle_col

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

Calendars for 2016!

Calendars are here! A beautiful A3 sized wall calendar, and a little calendar of thirteen postcards. Now available in my Etsy shop!

Avari

wp_avari_col

20×29 cm, watercolour and gouache on Schut Terschelling hot-pressed paper.

“But many refused the summons, preferring the starlight and the wide spaces of Middle-earth to the rumour of the Trees; and these are the Avari, the Unwilling, and they were sundered in that time from the Eldar, and met never again until many ages were past.”

Gold leaf, copper, and a redhead

There were several things I saw this month that made me want to try out gold leaf (and ImagineFX magazine accounted for several of them).

It didn’t take me long to decide I loved the effect, and needed more metals. Obviously, copper was an early choice. Also obviously, Maedhros was happy to be my guinea pig once again. (That Elf has been my guinea pig for watercolours, coloured pencils, acrylics and even oils over time, but he’s asked me not to mention the last two ever again.)

I’ll be safe mentioning this one, though. :) Still learning how to apply it best, on what surfaces, and in what weather (34°C seems to be suboptimal), but I just love the effect!

wp_coppertop_prints

Prints here!

And he knew he had tarried overlong

“But when the autumn came he saw seven great swans flying south, and he knew them for a sign that he had tarried overlong, and he followed their flight along the shores of the sea.”

J. R. R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion

Size 38.5×23 cm. Watercolour and some gouache on Canson cold-pressed paper.

Original for sale on Etsy!

Nienor upon Haudh-en-Elleth

This piece has been a while in the making, and on my mind even longer. The sketch originated on a class trip in April, and since then, I’ve tried to see the colours for this – which only worked when I decided not to make it a thunderstorm lighting scene.

Watercolour and gouache on Canson Montval, 19,5 x 28 cm.

wp_nienor_col

Some earlier stages:

There’s a time lapse video of the process up on Patreon.

(For as little as $1 a month, you get access to these vids, plus other stuff – take a look!)

Aurë entuluva

wp_aure-entuluva_col

Last of all Húrin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield, and wielded an axe two-handed; and it is sung that the axe smoked in the black blood of the troll-guard of Gothmog until it withered, and each time that he slew he cried: ‘Aurë entuluva! Day shall come again!’ Seventy times he uttered that cry; but they took him at last alive, by the command of Morgoth, for the Orcs grappled him with their hands, which clung to him still though he hewed off their arms; and ever their numbers were renewed, until at last he fell buried beneath them. Then Gothmog bound him and dragged him away to Angband with mockery.
Thus ended the 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.

The Silmarillion: Of the Fifth Battle

Full step by step tutorial can be accessed at Patreon! :)
http://www.patreon.com/creation?hid=2162456

Speed now this feathered shaft

Maedhros therefore, being in anguish without hope, begged Fingon to shoot him with his bow; and Fingon strung an arrow, and bent his bow. And seeing no better hope he cried to Manwë, saying: ‘O King to whom all birds are dear, speed now this feathered shaft, and recall some pity for the Noldor in their need!’

wp_speed-now_col

J. R: R: Tolkien, The Silmarillion: Of the return of the Noldor

Watercolour and Ecoline on Canson Vidalon cold-pressed paper, 23×33 cm

Steps:

The Darkening of Valinor

This is a commission I took on last November (…!), for a wonderful guy and one of the greatest clients I’ve ever worked with. He wanted a painting of Fëanor holding his slain father, and the scene quickly evolved from there.

As usual, the fist sketches I made were digital, so I could shift around elements and try out what looked good where – digital thumbnailing. In the margin, quite a lot changed; the centre was pretty clear for me right from the start. Only Fëanor’s head went all over the pace during the sketching phase.

wp_finwe

wp_finwe2

At this stage, I took it to pencil and paper, lightly sketching out Fëanor and Finwë.

finwe_ln_headraised

In the end, I had everything where I wanted it (and had corrected Fëanor’s leg and Finwë’s head wound). For the centre image, I had been working in A4 format, which I find easiest to handle. (Especially on a desk otherwise overflowing with unmarked exams – school really kept me away from drawing for the better part of 2013. But you probably noticed that from the absence of pictures this year.)

wp_finwe_ln_final

I then started on the background. For this, I printed out the centre piece on an A3 sheet of drawing board, in light orange, so I could filter it out digitally later and put the two different elements together but was in less danger of smudging anything. I wanted the centre piece there with me, because the entire piece was to have a unity (Fëanor was to be in direct eye contact with Morgoth across the different picture elements, and later, I continued certain flow lines across the borders- such as Fëanor’s clothing continued in Manwë’s clothing behind Nienna).

wp_finwe_wip2

Drawing Morgoth.
wp_finwe_wip3

Outlining the Valar. Ungoliant would be redrawn completely – she looks absolutely wonderfully terrifying, but I assembled her wrong – the legs are attached between the head and the main body of a spider, not on the main body. I can’t believe I studied spider anatomy for this image, and actually desensitised myself (huge arachnophobic here) enough to be able to google wolf spiders and draw them as terrifyingly as I could make it. Incidentally, the desensitising effect was enough for me to clean the basement floor for the first time since we moved into this house. If I’m feeling particularly daring, I might scrounge up the courage to pack up the spider-infested tent that has been lying around in the laundry room since last September.

Apart from arachnophobic concerns, another huge topic was how to portray the Valar. I’m really glad that the client gave me completely free reign with this. I had a hard time finding back to my view of some of them – I’ve seen entirely too many Morgoths, Mandoses and Manwës looking entirely too pretty. Many will disagree with me for Manwë, and feel free to, by all means – I know that “they took the forms of the children of Ilúvatar”. And yet, Tulkas has a beard, and when I first read the Silmarillion, I imagined the Valar like Greek or Norse Gods, with Manwë definitely in the tradition of Odin and Zeus.

wp_finwe_lineart

Fun fact: Nienna, for me, has always looked like the woman in the video of “Babe” from Take That. The song was in the charts in 1993, while I was reading the Silmarillion excessively during my last year at school, and the video featured a solder coming home from a war (?) in a wintry landscape, where a woman clothed head to toe in some sort of black gauze was walking through the ruins of a Russian palace covered in snow, usually with her head in her hands. I’d never been much of a Take That fan (my teenage tastes were rather unusual – Maedhros, Hannibal and football players instead of Mark Owen and Gary Barlow), but the video fascinated me visually. And gave me a clear vision of Nienna.

 

Next up: Watercolours!

Harp lessons

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

wp_mag+elr_sk

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.

wp_maglor-elrond

The lineart:

wp_maglor-elrond_ln2

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!)

wp_maglor-elrond_sh

 

 

 

Fingon and Aredhel – mixed media experiment

I doodled a very nice Fingon and Aredhel into my sketchbook yesterday – with coloured pencil, which yielded some really charming results. I decided to try watercolour on top of those – only to realise that my coloured pencils were water soluble.

wp_brother-sister

So I printed the sketches out on watercolour paper again, and got to work, spraying the entire paper with water and then laying down a Quinachridone Gold wash.

tut_fa_1

A bit of flesh-tint with Burnt Sienna and Madder Red.

tut_fa_2

Some Ultramarine for the shadows.

tut_fa_3

More reddish and bluish tints. I really like this effect. Maybe next time I try this technique, I won’t do it on a character with dark hair.

tut_fa_4

Painting the hair with Ultramarine, Madder, and rather a lot of Shadow Violet.

tut_fa_5

Some final touches with paint, and later some more with Polychromos and white gel pen.

 

Finished:

wp_aredhel2_col

 

wp_fingon2_col