The Art of Jerry Vanderstelt

 This week I’ll be looking at the work of a newly discovered Tolkien artist; Jerry Vanderstelt. I came across Vanderstelt whilst looking at art prints for sale on the Weta Workshop website earlier today and instantly found it appealing. As expected with being on the Weta website, Vanderstelt has used the actors from the movies to portray the characters from the Lord of the Rings.

Starting to draw at a young age and the discovery of fantasy literature in the form of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings led Jerry Vanderstelt into a career creating artworks for some big names in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres; some of these clients are Vivendi/Universal Games, Topps Trading Cards, Lucas Films, Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema.

Vanderstelt’s artworks are created using Holbein’s Aeroflash acrylic paint on Strathmore Hotpress 500 illustration board.

Starting with some of the sketch cards created for Topps Trading Cards –

the lord of the rings - lotr - sketch - art - topps trading cards -

topps cards - art - lord of the rings - lotr - art - sketch

This selection of wonderfully deatiled sketch cards would be a pleasure tow own for any collector of Topps cards, I myself am not one, however if I came across these there would be no two ways about it, I’d be buying them.

Vanderstelt manages to capture both the characters of the story and the actors portrayals of the characters perfectly, the resulting sketches have a truly brilliant quality to them.

I’m extremely fond of beautifully painted and finished artworks but equally, I can’t help but fall in love with sketchy drawings like these, qualifying as works of art in their own right and they are highly esteemed.

Now for a look at some of those beautifully painted and finished artworks that I mentioned before –

Galadriel and Frodo - Art - lord of the rings - lotr - painting
Galadriel and Frodo

To put into words the perfection of this work is a very hard thing to do, after all I’m an artist myself, and not so much of a critic or writer; I can however with my select knowledge base, discern that this piece of work is one of the loveliest depictions of Galadriel I’ve ever seen.

This work also gives a poignant reminder of the task facing Frodo and all that has happened up until the current point of the narrative; in fact the main beauty of this piece comes from the emotion that is evoked from that farewell kiss, it’s meaningful and solemn; a farewell that may be for a period of time, or may well be forever, the latter being the most likely.

Nazgul over Osgiliath - lord of the rings - lotr - art - painting
Nazgul over Osgiliath

As a lover of history and all things ruinous, I particularly like this piece because of the depiction of the ruinous buildings of Osgiliath, taking their stand and holding firmly against the legions of Mordor and not for the first time either.

I really like the sky in this piece as well, so much realness and detail has been captured in the thick stormy Mordor clouds slowly engulfing the last of the clear skies of Gondor, symbolism of the light versus dark that is ever apparent in Tolkien’s literature as a metaphor for good versus evil.


There’s a lot of detail held within what at first glance looks like a simple painting here, I like the blur of the candle’s flame as well as though it’s out of focus due to the eye being drawn to Strider’s face and the smoke coming from his pipe.

The effect used for the windows in the background is cleverly done and also upon closer inspection, his eyes are there in the shadow caused by the hood, rather than it just being a mass of shadow with nothing underneath as is the case in some artworks that use such an effect.


Sauron. The Dark Lord of Mordor himself, and looking at this piece really puts me in mind of the nobles of antiquity, commissioning artists to paint portraits of them, adding symbolism to boast their status and wealth in the process. This artwork looks exactly like that to me, ironic also that Vanderstelt uses Holbein paint.

Sauron is shown in his dark shadowy realm, his volcano Mount Doom shown in the immediate background, and further back in the distance, his dark tower of Barad-Dur. Those two symbols alone enough to project his explosive and heated nature, his power and supreme rule of the land, the phallic tower representing his masculinity as well as power and authority.

Sauron’s left foot rests upon the skull of one of his enemies, with others scattered about him, slain by his own  hand and that evilly painful looking mace in his hand, the pose of a victorious and fearless leader, who bows to nobody and either has people in subjection to himself or kills them.

The meaning and atmosphere of this work, coupled with the intricate detail and perfected finish make this my favourite piece of all of Vanderstelt’s artwork and one that could be the subject of an entire post and gone into much more detail about which I may well do in the future.


The final piece to look at is this painting of Gollum, another wonderful piece of art bursting with detail and atmospheric quality that I haven’t seen bettered anywhere else. Bathed in the moonlight, this sinister and desperate looking creature really does look in his element and ready to pounce at any moment, going in for the kill and the steal to fulfill his addictive desire of retaking the one ring for himself.

Other than reading the books or watching the movies, this is one sure fire way to see and feel the character that is Gollum and gain a glimpse of the ruined being that he has become, emaciated and dirty, wrinkled and plagued, driven to madness; but still there’s that gleam in his eyes of a creature with a mission or a dream to realise or die in the attempt to.

I hope you have enjoyed this post, I threw it together at the last minute just before publishing and I will return next Wednesday with another update on the project; until then, take care!


6 thoughts on “The Art of Jerry Vanderstelt

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