Ringwraiths, or Nazgul are the horror element to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings story, and the scariest they ever get is quite possibly in Chapter 11 of The Fellowship of the Ring – A Knife in the Dark. With this oil painting, I wanted to capture the fear they induce and put into those who face them.
“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”JRR Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring – Book I, Chapter 4 – A Journey in the Dark
A lot of what we learn about the Ringwraiths we learn fairly early on, Tolkien gives us a nice amount of detail through the words of Gandalf the Grey, as he explains to Frodo:
“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?”
– 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.
The Breaking of the Fellowship…
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.
Why Doesn’t Gandalf Remember Moria?
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.JRR Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring – Book II, Chapter 4 – A Journey in the Dark
The question of why Gandalf doesn’t remember Moria is one that comes up a lot and there is a ton of digging that you can do in order to find out but in short, it had been a very, very long time since Gandalf’s last trip to Moria, and also he had entered through a different, and not so secret doorway. Not forgetting that it wouldn’t have been as dark, filled with orcs and trolls not was he transporting the carrier of the One Ring wit the fate of Middle-earth hanging in the balance.
So that’s the short answer to the question, I will in the future dig into this in much more depth. I would like to create a series of artworks depicting both of Gandalf’s trips through Moria as well as the many battles that have happened there.
Many years ago I worked up a very rough sketch of a version of this scene and ever since I intended to work up a more detailed drawing. This piece is the next phase of that and I plan on revisiting it again in much more detail and originality of vision, as noted above.
Every exploration of Middle-earth brings a bounty of new art and my own journeys into the depths of the Mines have been both interesting and perilous, full of inspiration and excitement with many 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.
‘I have no memory of this place…’
Over three years ago now I sketched out the piece below with a sanguine pastel and I recently decided that I would like to revisit the scene as it is a favourite of mine.
The journey through the Mines of Moria is a truly pivotal moment for the Fellowship especially with the fall of Gandalf less than a month after they all set out from Rivendell.
“I have no memory of this place at all!” – Sanguine Dry Pastel on Toned Paper – 2015
The Breaking of the Fellowship!
A poignant scene in the final chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring – Book Two has served as the inspiration for a new artwork that I will be working on in oil paints in the coming months; for now though I have worked up a preparatory drawing in charcoal that will serve as my go to reference for the work ahead.
For this post I won’t be delving too deep into the writing itself, I like to save that for the final post with the finished painting like I did recently with ‘The Passage of the Marshes’.
I will however do a little bit of digging in order to set the scene nicely!
‘The Passage of the Marshes’ inspired by JRR Tolkien’s epic fantasy; The Lord of the Rings. This scene is taken from The Two Towers and tells part of the journey of Frodo and Sam as they head to Mordor to destroy the One Ring.
We pick up the story at the point where Smeagol has been captured by the two hobbits, Frodo and Sam and has been tamed, swearing a promise to ‘”serve the master of the precious.”‘ Although both hobbits are reluctant to trust him, they request that he guides them to Mordor as he knows the area.
The final paragraph of The Two Towers: Book Four Chapter I –
In the deep of night under hard clear stars they set off. Gollum led them back northward for a while along the way they had come; then he slanted to the right away from the steep edge of the Emyn Muil, down the broken stony slopes towards the vast fens below. They faded swiftly and softly into the darkness. Over all the leagues of waste before the gates of Mordor there was a black silence.
Now moving onto The Two Towers: Book Four Chapter II –
My Art Sale Has Begun!!!
I rolled my cart full of wares into the beautiful and bustling marketplace in the village of Bree this morning and have set up shop with the intention of staying until the end of October!
The Prancing Pony Inn has some ‘nice, cozy, Hobbit-sized rooms available’ and the drinks come in pints!
Click Here To Be Taken Straight To My Marketplace!
Here is a lowdown of the artworks that are presently available to buy –
The Nazgul Have Returned!
Well, in terms of my latest oil painting on the easel anyway…
I’ve been getting up earlier than necessary for work over the past week and sneaking in a 30-40 minute painting session in order to work my way back into this piece and make some serious headway. It’s proved productive and the painting is now at a stage where all I need to do is go over the figures and the render the finishing details, not long now and we’ll have another piece for the portfolio.
Anyway, let’s get to the artwork!