Viking Longship at Sea – Speed Paint Oil Painting Illustration

Sound An Alarm! Vikings Are Coming!

Some of history’s greatest seafarers, an inspiration to all those with an adventurous spirit, or a plundering one for that matter.

I decided to try something new with this small piece; a speed painting.

I really struggle to get a good amount of time in for a half decent painting session, working on one of my more thought out artworks and as a result, most of the time end up not painting at all. With that in mind, I had a couple of hours spare and decided to just go for it and try my hand at a speed painting.

Anyway, here it is –

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The Fallen Tower – Hadleigh Castle Ruins – Oil Painting Sketch – A Historical Fantasy Landscape Illustration

A retreat of Edward III, a muse for John Constable, a local ruin for inspiration…

Hadleigh castle is a place that I absolutely love to visit, it’s a 15 minute drive from home and is situated both strategically and beautifully nestled in the countryside of Essex, overlooking the Thames estuary.

For this post I won’t be going into the details of the castle’s history as this is merely a blog post to show an oil sketch that I have recently created and not a finished painting; that will come in the future.

The Fallen Tower - Hadleigh Castle - Oil Paint Sketch - Fantasy Histroy Landscape Oil Painting Art Illustration john constable historical artwork
The Fallen Tower – Hadleigh Castle – Oil Paint Sketch

As the summer draws closer I am making plans to spend a good bit of time around these ruins, sketching on site and hopefully doing a bit of plein air painting, working towards a definitive oil painting showing the ruins and the surrounding landscape in all their glory.

The part of the ruins shown in this sketch however, I intend to incorporate into a fantasy artwork, either as the main focal point, or a background piece depending on where the mood and composition takes me at that stage

The Farewell Speech!

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Until next time, farewell!


Morning Coffee & Sketch – Part VIII

Good Morning!

Welcome to Part VIII of my Morning Coffee & Sketch series, this morning I had the coffee percolator preset and ready for the moment I opened my eyes which is nice; for me one of the most encouraging things in the morning is opening the bedroom door and smelling the beautiful aromas of fresh coffee calling me from downstairs.

I am two cups of coffee in at the time of writing this post and there will be plenty more as the day goes on I’m sure. I’ll also be working on my painting today which I posted a progress post of not long ago; you can see that by Clicking Here.

Now to the task at hand, this morning’s sketch –

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Morning Coffee & Sketch – Part IV

Good Morning!

Welcome to Part IV of my Morning Coffee & Sketch series; I’ve prepared two quick figure sketches this morning, very loose and rough but very inspiring to develop further and transform them into strong narrative elements.

Today’s accompanying coffee was just a simple flat white and it done the job of bringing me to life this morning, it’s terribly dark and too cold for my liking in the morning here in the northern hemisphere at this time of year.

Without further ado, we’ll jump straight to the sketches –

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The Concept Art of Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed is one of few video games that has held a firm place in my life, from it’s release in 2007 when I first managed to get my hands on it; borrowing it from a friend, I was hooked. The beautifully rich world design, coupled with the intensely gripping story line has fed my gaming appetite and left me wanting more for a good nine years.

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John Howe – Concept Art Master

In a previous post I wrote briefly about some artworks created for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the books and the movies; created by the artists Alan Lee & John Howe and I have decided to take a more in depth look at John Howe for this post.

John Howe is quite possibly my favourite Contemporary artist and illustrator, I find his work extremely inspirational and inventive, his imagination is magically unlimited and his ability to transcribe his vision onto the page is awe-inspiring.

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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.

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The Art of Ted Nasmith

Nasmith started sketching and drawing at a young age his skill eventually being nurtured by the time he got to high school; it was whilst in his third year that upon his sister’s recommendation he began to read The Lord of the Rings; Tolkien’s literature became a focus for Nasmith and the inspiration that he found in Tolkien’s writing led him to drawing scenes and characters from the books.

“Tolkien had long since had a very profound effect on me, and helped lead to much that I now count most significant in life. It opened up in me a dormant love of lost and misty times, myth and legend.” – Ted Nasmith

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The Art of Alan Lee & John Howe

I recently wrote a Featured Artist post that was a review of an artist named Matthew Stewart who uses a lot of Tolkien’s literature as inspiration to create artworks from, an amazing artist and it was writing that post that inspired me to carry out my own project based on The Lord of the Rings. However from this point on I’m going to look at the works of some artists/illustrators who are recognised by the Tolkien estate (a rare instance as they seem to hate and sue anybody doing anything with their predecessor’s literary masterpieces) artists who have created artworks for board games, calendars, illustrated books, and other Tolkien Estate approved merchandise.

Alan Lee & John Howe
Alan Lee & John Howe

The two artists that I’m focusing on for this particular post are Alan Lee and John Howe, two men who were already well recognised for portraying Middle Earth and Scenes from Tolkien’s books for all of the above mentioned merchandise; they were also hired by Peter Jackson as the concept artists for the films; the Lord of the Rings Trilogy as well as the Hobbit trilogy. Amazing artists with incredible passion, insight and a magical ability to be able to turn words on a page into some of the most stunning visuals created for this literary legacy.

We’ll start with some of Alan Lee’s artwork:

Alan Lee - Farewell to Gandalf
Alan Lee – Farewell to Gandalf

Now Gandalf too said farewell. Bilbo sat on the ground feeling very unhappy and wishing he was beside the wizard on his tall horse. He had gone just inside the forest after breakfast (a very poor one), and it had seemed as dark in there in the morning as at night, and very secret: “a sort of watching and waiting feeling,” he said to himself.

This beautiful painting by Alan Lee shows his incredibly skillful imagination in bringing written word to life in a visual form, the trees form a stunning composition, capturing and framing the narrative scene.

This is the sort of artwork that drives my own mind and imagination.

Alan Lee - Lady Dwarf Sketch
Alan Lee – Lady Dwarf Sketch

For all of us who have wondered and tried to envision, Alan Lee has again used his imaginative technique to show the world what a female Dwarf looks like,  very interesting concept and a totally unattractive female as a result.

Now I’ll just add more artworks with their caption or otherwise this post will end up becoming a book, it’s extremely hard to choose certain artworks from these artists as I can’t say there’s a single piece from either artist that I don’t like.

Alan Lee - The Stone Trolls
Alan Lee – The Stone Trolls
Alan Lee - Moria Gate
Alan Lee – The West Gate of Durin
Alan Lee - The Mirror of Galadriel
Alan Lee – The Mirror of Galadriel
Alan Lee - Leaving for the West
Alan Lee – Leaving for the West
Alan Lee - The Battle of the Hornburg
Alan Lee – The Battle of the Hornburg
Alan Lee - The Witch King of Angmar
Alan Lee – The Witch King of Angmar

As for Alan Lee, I’m going to leave that there, the above artworks are just a minute handful of a lifetime’s work inspired by Tolkien’s narrative, there are several books and collections of both Alan Lee and John Howe’s works available to buy and easy enough to find by searching on Amazon.

For the next stage now, I’m going to share some of John Howe’s work:

John Howe - Eowyn and the Nazgul
John Howe – Eowyn and the Nazgul
John Howe - Orthanc Destroyed
John Howe – Orthanc Destroyed
John Howe - Gandalf comes to Hobbiton
John Howe – Gandalf comes to Hobbiton
John Howe - Gandalf the Grey
John Howe – Gandalf the Grey
John Howe - The Witch King at Minas Tirith
John Howe – The Witch King at Minas Tirith
John Howe - Legolas & Gimli at Helm's Deep
John Howe – Legolas & Gimli at Helm’s Deep
John Howe - The Balrog Falling
John Howe – The Balrog Falling

The pictures of the artworks that I have shared in this post were sourced from a Tumblr account that I found whilst looking for concept art for the movies a while back, it is full of Alan and John’s artworks and is definitely worth a look at if you’re interested in either artist. Click Here to be directed to the site containing all the works, there are several categories as well so it makes it easier to find artworks for specific books, or artist.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed the content of this post and feel free to re-blog or comment if you want to discuss any of the above artworks or any others.


Featured Artist – Matthew Stewart

A couple of years back, whilst doing some research on concept art and fantasy art I came across an amazing artist/illustrator from New Jersey called Matthew Stewart. Inspired after reading ‘The Hobbit’, he set his mind on creating fantasy artwork and has made a successful career by doing so, working for book publishers and gaming companies over the years.

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