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.

JGlover

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British Mythology/Folklore – Art Project

I’ve structured my days now to help me with my efforts to self-teach different aspects of the art that I wish to learn; the aspects that I have decided to learn are anatomy, figure studies, drawing in many aspects such as observational, still life and drapery, perspective, architecture, and again human form. I also spend time trying different techniques with watercolour paints and I’m slowly experimenting with oil paint; which ultimately will be my medium of choice.

I also have more theoretical subjects to learn and my rotor for those at the moment consists of symbolism in art, colour theory and artist research. Those are the artsy theoretical readings, I’m also always researching history, reading about the ancient Romans in particular and I’m presently reading a book about King Charles I which I will review once finished; as well as Greek mythology, these last few are more for inspirational reasons.

However the reason for that two paragraphs of information is that every month I intend to issue myself a project to work on alongside these other subjects to keep me motivated in creating my own work rather than just all work and no play, I therefore intend to create at least one final work for each project I give myself. I’m thinking ahead a bit here as I don’t intend to issue myself this project until 5th July; that said though, I can here announce my umbrella theme which others will fall under.

My main theme, the subject of artwork that I intend to create for the foreseeable future is British myth, legend and folklore. As an enthusiastic reader of the work of J.R.R Tolkien, it’s my understanding that he created his body of literature around the basis of giving Britain a mythology of its own, one to rival the Greeks and even outdo them in the long run (let’s face it, we’ve all heard of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and Gollum; how many average people can name four Greek deities). This thought process inspired Tolkien to create the most incredibly well crafted epic fantasy saga that was bursting at the seams with richness and remains the most influential piece of literature of the modern age (that’s my opinion I’m not certain how it stands nowadays with Game of Thrones growing as much as it has). I am of a similar vision, but what I intend to do is bring to life and recreate the existing British mythology and interpret it into a series of visual narratives, both figurative and landscape and breathe new life into our forgotten history.

There is already a wealth of subject matter available to me to work with, more than enough to ensure I’m kept busy for the rest of my life in fact, and who knows, one day I may even start writing my own mythologies and legends of British history, but that’s an idea for a time in the far off future yet. My main inspiration for British myth/legend/folklore/history is the Arthurian legend. Some historians say he lived, others say he didn’t, most scholars deny his existence because of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s fabrications. I stand in an area where I do believe he existed, just that the story of his existence has been contorted somewhat over the centuries since his age, akin to Chinese whispers these legends grow and have bits added and taken away to the current point where some people are expecting Arthur’s second coming; elevating this long dead king to the status of the son of God. The most convincing and realistic telling of the Arthurian legend, albeit a work of historical fiction, was the brilliant saga of books written by Jack Whyte A Dream of Eagles (original series title in Canada) or Camulod Chronicles (USA series title) or Legends of Camelot (UK series title). Without going into too much detail about this incredible series of books on this post, here’s the link to a short review I wrote about them previously.

With Arthurian legend being my main source of inspiration however, I don’t intend to just limit myself to being known as a painter of Arthurian legend, like I said I want to revive as much of British mythology as I can so I’ll also be focusing on other areas as well, it’s just the that Arthur story is the one I am most drawn to.

All that said then, my next post will probably be before my scheduled post, and will be to announce the exact nature of the project I intend to create. I will post everything related to my project including sketches, research, thoughts and such and then follow all that up with the final piece that I create. So if you have happened to stumble across this post, then please check back every fortnight or so to see updates and some new artwork.

Until next time…..

JG

Featured Image: Edward Burne-Jones – The Last Sleep of Arthur in Avalon – 1881-1898