Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Sweat and Blood of an Art Student

Forgive the monotonous undertones of this post; it's past 4:00 in the morning for me and I feel like getting this post out of the way so I can work on other things.

For those of you who haven't read my profile summary, I'm an art student.

Every third semester, I have to submit my portfolio for review to the Department of Fine Arts. They ask me to pick three or four pieces of my work created at any point in those three semesters as a representation of my progress (in other words, I am allowed to submit anything I have made in the past three semesters - no sooner and no later). Seeing as how the only times I've made anything were during the last two semesters, and the former of which were pretty much experimental projects, I decided to take them all from this past semester.

Thus, they all followed the same theme that I was adhering to for my courses in painting/graphic design. This was, of course, heavily influenced by the Lord of the Rings series, as we have all been reminded of it by the most recent addition to the trilogic (an unidiomatic word which apparently does exist) prelude, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

"Climbing with Galadriel"
The first piece I displayed was named "Climbing with Galadriel." For those of you who followed the series, it's fairly self-explanatory. The unnamed character with silver hair climbs the stairs ahead of Galadriel at the walls of Caras Galadhon. For non-book followers, she appears several times in the movies and is played by Cate Blanchett. I thoroughly enjoyed working on this piece in particular because of how enchanting Lothlorien always seemed to me, and while I feel Peter Jackson did an excellent job of depicting the world, I wanted to avoid the city and emphasize the mystic nature of the forest. Perhaps the city itself will come in a future work, but for now, this is what I wanted to display. A few friends of mine who are also Tolkien fans tried to pluck my eyes out for not focusing so heavily on Galadriel's divine beauty, but had I drawn her with fairies and stardust levitating her beyond the forest haven, it would've taken away what I think is more beautiful than the aesthetic appeal of an elven woman.

"Caverns Beyond the Forest Realm"
This next piece is a simple continuity, perhaps into another world I was intending to create. I honestly don't remember my intentions in painting this piece, but I like where I was going. I named it "Caverns Beyond the Forest Realm" for self-explanatory reasons. I envy Tolkien for one thing: never once in my writing have I ever been able to conceptualize and bring to life the extensive depth and sheer power of a new world. Tolkien created a new world, and essentially gave that world a Bible to tells of its origins, its Ages, and all you need to know about the history of middle-earth. Many stories can build off of the existence of Earth and use its vast cities and landscapes as the basis for the setting, but to create a fantastical new world to seat your imagination and expand upon it? That takes a skill that I know I'll never reach, but am more than content to honor in another writer.

"A Simple Walk Into Mordor"
Named in jolly mockery of what is probably one of the most famous quotes from the Lord of the Rings (next to "You shall not pass!"). This would be the line where, at the Council of Elrond, after suggesting that the One Ring be taken to Mount Doom in the land of Mordor, Boromir replies:

"One does not simply walk into Mordor. Its black gates are guarded by more than just Orcs. There is evil there that does not sleep. The great eye is ever watchful. It is a barren wasteland, riddled with fire, ash, and dust. The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume."

The description of Mordor imposed a deep sickness in my stomach, and so I attempted to capture the treacherousness of the land. For this, I omitted including the Eye of Sauron, simply because it would take away from my goal of depicting a dark, horrific and dangerous land; it would just become another painting of Mordor. In all honesty, when I first read the books, I thought the existence of the Eye was completely metaphorical in that it was just Sauron watching from beyond the physical world, waiting for the ring to come into his grasp. I didn't realize there was a giant tower that literally had the Eye on it. You can pick on me for that all you want.

I actually made this one with the thought in mind of turning it into a poster. I'm proud of it, because I paid a lot of attention to the color, the platforming, and specifically how subtle I would make that "poisonous fume." Of course, I don't think anyone, including myself, would plan on simply walking into Mordor with this interpretation (or really any interpretation for that matter - it has an active volcano and the Nazgul for Christ's sake). Nonetheless, I enjoyed painting this with the impression of Sean Bean's face and the memes that ensued in the back of my mind.

I may or may not post other works of mine in the future here, but I felt that I would at least give my readers a perspective of what my style is.

Thank you for reading (and browsing).

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  1. Lex I think your work is so amazing. I never really got into the Lord of the Rings, but that doesn't prevent me from absolutely adoring these pieces. They feel so magical and take you straight into these worlds. Your ability to use lights and darks, colors, and contrast makes each work breathtaking and unique. I really wish I could visit the worlds your art depicts (except maybe the last one, lest I die...) because of how wonderfully created they are. Yes you deserve all this praise I'm giving you. Your art professors better have been blown away, because I sure am.
    I really love your work and can't see what other extraordinary things you will produce :).

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Mykala. :)

  2. Amazing work! Especially the last piece of Mordor. How did you make it?

    1. Thank you! It was oil on a 16 x 26 canvas paper, using an acrylic primer. I remastered it in Photoshop, and intend to mount it on board soon.

    2. 16'' x 26''? I don't mean to sound rude (or like a nag for that matter) but why the unusual dimensions?

    3. Not rude, nor naggy; I enjoy curiosity. Although I don't always stick to my concepts, when I envisioned the painting, I had already planned on making the tall, spiky towers, thus I planned on using a taller canvas ahead of time. I also, as I mentioned in the post, imagined it being a poster when I created it (although that doesn't say much because posters vary in size as much as paintings do).

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Val, be sure to check out my gallery too!


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