Friday, 19 December 2008
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
I do not think they know themselves. I wonder.' He fell silent, his head bowed in thought.
The others looked at him. A gleam of sun through fleeting clouds fell on his hands, which lay now upturned on his lap: they seemed to be filled with light as a cup is with water. At last he looked up and gazed straight at the sun.
It seemed to me to be a very beautiful image for a painting and also a way to depict a more vulnerable side to Gandalf, who has returned from unimaginable terrors in Moria that the others, as yet, know nothing about. It also reinforces the idea that his return is like a miraculous blessing. It's one of those small moments that keep me going back to the book because I will always be struck by something new.
Thursday, 27 November 2008
This next one isn't quite so wild and has got the usual spiral in it because I can't seem to stay away from them, no matter how hard I try. It's an imaginary prehistoric landscape. Very imaginary. I expect any prehistoric shaman happening to wander through it would be wondering what the hell it was all about:
Coming soon - Gandalf in a very unGandalf like moment....no spirals....
Sunday, 16 November 2008
This didn't start out like this but sometimes these paintings have a way of taking their own path. So a tree on a hill became The Midnight Tree. Don't ask me what a Midnight Tree is or does. I suspect only the Tree knows. But it's got to be something deeply mysterious....
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Well, I've just come back from exhibiting some of my paintings at the Tolkien Society's annual Oxonmoot gathering at Christ Church, Oxford. This year's exhibition was really packed with some fantastic art to enjoy. There were two new Ted Nasmith's including a wonderful scene with the eagles viewed from above, a new Ruth Lacon of Mr Bliss in his car with 'exploding' cabbages plus another chance to see the amazing 'Niggle's first site of the Tree'. There was also another chance to see Jef Murray's vividly imagined work (which needs to be appreciated as originals to get the full effect of his use of oils), some amazing blue/green beaded jewellery inspired by Ulmo, new portrait drawings by Anke Eissman (I loved the Gollum) and a lovely intricate drawing from Becky Carter-Hitchin inspired by the Riders of Rohan, plus much else besides. Becky also organised the exhibition, for which I'm very grateful. The highlight for me, though, were two original Cor Blok's brought by their owner 'Fangorn' (lucky man) showing marching ents and Treebeard in his Ent House with the Hobbits. The marching ents were extraordinary - as always with Cor Blok they were totally original, humourous and full of his incredible imagination. An amazing privilege to be able to see them.
I exhibited 'Old Man Willow', 'Telperion's Children', 'Tom Bombadil' and 'Goldberry', which was a quite a weight to lug along with my suitcase! But it was worth it as they were well received, giving me a lot of encouragement. Very daunting to exhibit in such company! I also now have giclee prints of 'Old Man Willow' (also 'Silbury Harvest' - see below) and was able to take a sample. It's great to finally have prints to offer - it's been a long haul getting to this point and finding the perfect place to have them done but they look wonderful, so it's hopefully been worth the wait!
Of course, Oxonmoot is much more than an art show and I'll be writing a much fuller report soon..
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Monday, 21 July 2008
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
Yesterday I thought they were all wonderful. Today I realise that they are all c***. Such is art....
Sunday, 6 July 2008
Watch this space. It could be anything by the end of the week.
Saturday, 21 June 2008
© Sue Wookey
I've always wanted to paint Old Man Willow (good practice for the Ents) as, like Tom Bombadil, I've never really seen a painting of him that I really liked or seemed creepy and frightening enough. I wrestled over whether or not to give him a face but decided in the end that a) if he's to look like he's lullabying the Hobbits he needs a mouth and b) every gnarled old tree you see has got a 'face' somewhere, sometimes several!
Thursday, 12 June 2008
Thursday, 5 June 2008
Sunday, 1 June 2008
© Sue Wookey
I'm intending to exhibit both Tom and Goldberry at the next Oxonmoot at Christ Church.
Saturday, 24 May 2008
I've also given him the circlet of autumn leaves that replace the hat he wears when the hobbits first see him. Tom is a very difficult character to capture, so much larger-than-life, and I've never really seen an illustration of him that's really satisfied me or quite caught the spirit of him. At least in my picture there are no distracting oversized bright yellow boots!
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
Thursday, 8 May 2008
Here is Gandalf the Grey on one of his many journeys:
Gandalf the Grey
© Sue Wookey
© Sue Wookey
I'm hoping to add other character portraits to this series. Maybe they'll make nice cards?
Thursday, 17 April 2008
I recently travelled with a friend to the lovely, yellow-stoned Cotswold town of Moreton in Marsh – just north of Oxford – to visit the Castles in the Mist JRR Tolkien and Fantasy Exhibition. This is held every year at the Redesdale Hall, a wonderful mid-nineteenth century building that dominates the market town. The exhibition is organised by ADC Books owner Andrew Compton. This year, as well as art by Ted Nasmith and Ruth Lacon, there were paintings from Jef Murray (familiar to many Tolkien fans for his many vibrant covers for The Tolkien Society’s Amon Hen and Mallorn) and Roger Garland.
We both decided to take the train rather than face a long drive. The Cotswold line is lovely, taking you through everything that Tolkien loved about the English countryside: gentle hills, winding rivers with overhanging willows, old villages built in the distinctive warm, yellow stone of the Cotswolds, little country stations which still had their old black and white station signs, lambs running around the fields on black knobbly legs. It was a great way to arrive in Moreton in Marsh – almost like journeying back in time.
We had no trouble finding the Redesdale Hall which dominates the centre of the town and as soon as we arrived outside we bumped into someone I’d met at Oxonmoot so we got a very friendly welcome. The exhibition is free and there is a sort of genuine fellowship at Tolkien events that springs from the Fellowship and Tolkien himself. I’ve felt it at everything I’ve gone to and it really is remarkable. We went in as soon as we learned that Jef Murray had already started talking about his art. The whole hall was full of colour with Gondorian and Rohan banners hanging everywhere and had a magnificent high pitched wooden roof.
Jef Murray is from Georgia and his work is very vivid, textured and glowing. He has his own website at Mystical Realms. In his talk he explained how he uses oils because he can keep manipulating and blending the paint on the canvas. This is every different from Ted Nasmith and Ruth Lacon who use faster drying acrylic and gouache. There was some chat between Ted and Jef about this technique which was very funny with Jef acting out the panic of trying to get something right before the paint dries. Everyone has a medium that they are personally comfortable with and one they hate. Ted gets round fast-drying acrylic by meticulous planning, Jef goes more with the flow by using oils and seeing where the paint takes him as he moves it about. He described how paintings often go in unexpected directions, becoming things the artist never expects them to be. To Jef, painting is very mystical. He prepares with carefully selected music, candles to create atmosphere and readies himself for the muse to take him – being open to inspiration which may come or not come. But there is a discipline in being ready, giving painting a regular allotted time, so you don’t miss the moment because you’re not attentive or because you’re off doing something else. He likened paintings to a window to another mystical or mythical world, and the act of painting like being in a sacred space which is out of time with our busy lives. He made a comparison with Icon painting (which is done under specific, prayerful conditions with the part of Orthodox Church where Icons are displayed being regarded as a sacred realm beyond our own). To Jef, painting is a spiritual pleasure and you can see from his site that he does, indeed, do some paintings that are in the Icon tradition.
His talk was very inspirational and also funny, describing the moment when you are so absorbed in a painting you completely lose track of time and get brought back to earth with a bump, and the moment when you are so into a painting that you fail to notice some mammothly big error until someone says – ‘hey, is her arm really supposed to be as long as that?’. Ted Nasmith recommended holding your painting up to a mirror to get a different view – which I know can give you the most horrible shocks – and Jef described turning one of his paintings upside down because he thought something was wrong with it only to discover that all the towers where leaning sideways.
After the talk we went around the actual exhibition, heading first for Jef’s stuff as we were so interested in what he’d been saying. He’d completely emptied his studio (his wife had said it was like losing a lot of old friends) and there were a huge number of his paintings on display. They are all quite small in scale and like bright jewels. From a distance they made an impact like a huge stained glass window. I loved his painting of Smaug looking both smug and evil in one go. He does terrific dragons!
We then had a look at prints of Roger Garland’s paintings and it finally gave me a chance to see his fabulous panorama of Middle-earth on a large scale. There was also a wonderful painting of Tom Bombadil leaning over a stream looking at a dragonfly. It was exquisite and detailed, and was one of the many paintings there that I really wanted to own.
Then it was on to Ted Nasmith’s paintings which were a mixture of prints and originals. Most of his newer originals are sold almost as soon as they come out. There were lots of his smaller gouache studies for sale (done as prep for his bigger paintings). His set of new paintings of fantasy castles are just amazing. I was fascinated by them. Ted’s paintings, especially his extraordinary landscapes, are whole worlds I could lose myself in and his technique is simply stunning.
The final artist was Ruth Lacon, who is inspired by medieval art (like Tolkien’s favourite artist Pauline Baynes) and Persian miniatures and carpets. Her view of Tolkien’s world is filtered as though the stories have travelled to far away parts and been retold through Eastern eyes. It’s a very distinctive vision and very, very beautiful. I could look at them for hours and if we hadn’t been fainting from lack of nourishment I probably would have. Her newest painting is a large scale one of ‘Niggle’s first sight of the Tree’. It’s wonderful – even overpowering – with birds of all colours and squirrels in the tree and with every leaf painted in. I think we were both transfixed and it’s just as well the original was already sold otherwise I might have gone completely mad and reached for my cheque book. She left the border at the top left unfinished in the same way that Niggle’s Tree could never be finished. I also fell completely in love with her Mumak of Harad.
It was a fascinating exhibition with a wonderful opportunity to talk to the artists involved. Boy, have I got a lot of work to do and a long way to go!
Wednesday, 16 April 2008
Welcome to the Galley Hill Art Blog. After years of painting for myself and hardly letting anything escape the house, I've finally decided the time has come to take it all a bit more seriously, create a website, do the Blogging thingy, exhibit more, sell stuff. How will I get on? Who knows. But I think there is a lot of fun to be had in the trying. So this is a blog about trying. Indeed, it could be very trying....! We shall see.