Here we are, yet another year away from the fall of Sauron and the destruction of the One Ring, on Tolkien Reading Day 2021. The Tolkien society have set the theme of Hope and Courage for us to dig into in some depth, and there is certainly an abundance of both qualities throughout the legendarium, and especially in the Lord of the Rings.
One of the greatest arcs throughout Tolkien’s entire legendarium is that of Samwise Gamgee. From humble gardener, to Samwise the Brave, Orc-slayer, ringbearer and Mayor of the Shire. Sam is also the character that popped into my mind when I saw the theme for this year’s Tolkien Reading Day, and a particular point in the journey that I have been chipping away at in preparation for an upcoming addition to my collection of Lord of the Rings art.
So in the good old fashioned since of killing two birds with one ring, this Tolkien Reading Day has covered a lot of ground for the research needed for my upcoming artwork depicting Sam and Frodo in Mordor.
The idea behind this article is one that has been rattling around in my planned posts pool for quite some time. Every single time I grab the pencils, inks or paints, I simultaneously select a podcast to listen to while I work and get settled into the process.
Podcast statistics show that in 2020 there were over 850,000 active podcasts and over 30 million individual episodes, that statistic tells us that there is a lot of choice. In fact, in preparation for this post I ended up going down a vast network of rabbit holes and diving into some powerful podcast statistics.
Now you might be looking for a great podcast to listen to while you’re at work or being creative and have different tastes to mine, I have prepared this piece to appeal to a few different subjects; after all chances are that if you have ended up on my website, we have some shared interests. I’ve diligently filtered the over 850,000 active podcasts down to four of my favourite go to listens.
“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.
“They are the Nazgûl, Ringwraiths, neither living or dead. At all times they feel the presence of the ring…drawn to the power of the one..they will never stop hunting you.”
– Aragorn explaining the Nazgûl to Frodo, Pippin, Merry and Sam
Some time ago, I began working on a piece depicting the scene of the attack at Weathertop. I trawled through reference material and put together a few different elements in order to come up with a composition that I liked.
The outline roughed in, the main elements in place, the piece was abandoned as I began work on different projects like ‘The Road Goes Ever On’ and ‘The Grey Pilgrim’.
After a long and turbulent journey through my Lord of the Rings Project we have finally reached the end of the road. It started off as just an idea and some simple sketches, gradually evolving into a depiction of my favourite scene from the narrative, invented and recorded by the genius J.R.R. Tolkien, then brought to life in the cinema by Peter Jackson.