‘The Ringwraiths are deadly enemies, but they are only shadows yet of the power and terror they would possess if the Ruling Ring was on their master’s hand again’
The Fellowship of the Ring – Book II, Chapter IV – A Journey in the Dark
This particular illustration has been a bone of contention for me now for quite some time. since its conception and initial stages, until now that it is finally finished and ready to post, a lot of time has passed and a fair few other artworks have been conceived and completed.
However, this is a good time to post the piece, I have finally brought it to the point of ‘abandonment’ as Leonardo da Vinci once put it and it is like a celebratory relief.
Now for the interesting part, let’s dive into the words of Tolkien himself and see what he had to say about the Ringwraiths, through the character of Gandalf of course…
For a very long time now, since my last re-read of The Hobbit, I have been wanting to explore in depth the character of Bilbo Baggins; of all of Tolkien’s characters Bilbo is the one that I feel akin to and relate to the most.
Before I had made the second mark on paper, I knew that I wanted the final piece to be an ink drawing; ink is a medium that I absolutely love but don’t get to work with enough and thus my experience with the medium is somewhat lacking.
However, knowing that the final piece would be inked, informed my sketching process in a different way than usual and thus made me adapt to a different way of drawing to my usual charcoal and blend method.
“This is where we leave the open and take to cover,” said Strider.
Here we are, returning again to Hobbits, and a marsh, and a plan for a future oil painting with a heavy focus on the landscape this time around. My last painting of a similar scene was ‘The Passage of the Marshes’ but I intend to take this one in a different direction.
This new piece is inspired by The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring, Book One, Chapter XI – A Knife In The Dark. In this scene we join the four Hobbits; Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin as they follow Strider to Rivendell, before that though is the journey to Amon Sûl (Weathertop) which takes them through the Midgewater Marshes.
“Good Morning!” said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat.
“What do you mean?” he said. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”
– J.R.R. Tolkien; The Hobbit; or There and Back Again
Just recently I kicked back and did something that I haven’t done for too long…
I pulled out my sketchbook and blew the dust off it as though it was an ancient tome that I had recovered from the depths of a barrow and before the the tiredness overtook me, I started sketching.
Here we are at the final chapter of the Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two; just over two months since the Fellowship set out from Rivendell on their quest to destroy the ring and things take yet another turn for the worse.
Gandalf fell into the abyss whilst fighting the (wingless) Balrog and has been lost to the depths of Moria, still grieving, the rest of the guys have just had to up and leave the relative safety and comfort of Lothlorien after almost a month of being there.
So at this stage in the story, Frodo has done one of his famous ‘disappearing acts’ in order to give Boromir the slips but in the process given everyone else in the Fellowship a bad case of anxiety as to his whereabouts.
It was after nightfall when they had entered the Mines. They had been going for several hours with only brief halts, when Gandalf came to his first serious check.
After some time toying with the idea of revisiting the scene of Gandalf in Moria in more detail, I have finally managed to make the journey into the depths of the Mines and throw together a new artwork. It has been both an interesting and perilous journey, one full of inspiration and excitement and fair few lessons learned in the process.
For this illustration, we head to The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter IV – A Journey In The Dark.