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Let yourself be inspired! (or what is this about)


"I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds, and hands, wielding paint and music and drama."

Most authors dream of having their stories illustrated.
- Linda Hoyland, fanfiction author


We are a group that unites those who write fanfiction stories for the big and wonderful world of professor Tolkien, and those who draw or paint their visions of it. Our goal is to encourage artists to read and illustrate fanfiction, and collect such stories and illustrations.

We closely collaborate with the fanfiction archives Naice a Nilme and The Silmarillion Writers' Guild and fanfiction contest Teitho



:bulletgreen: fanfiction stories

:bulletgreen: poems

:bulletgreen: humorous and crack fanfics

:bulletgreen: fanfiction illustrations - the picture should have a link to the story or at least its title in the artist's comments. We also accept illustrations for roleplays, the Black Book of Arda and for fan movies (Born of Hope and The Hunt for Gollum)

:bulletgreen: Between the lines - here we accept pictures which themselves tell a story that is not in the books, or just hinted at, it doesn't have to have a link to a story (It can be an AU, original characters, or illustration of the characters before or after the events in the books/movies, a scene that was not showed but logically had to happen, etc.)

:bulletgreen: Teitho pictures: Teitho is a monthly fanfiction challenge, which gives you a theme to write about. Here, we challenge you to take the same theme, and draw a picture for it. It doesn't have to feature Aragorn and/or Legolas, like the written entries do. Your best pictures will be featured at the Teitho site as well.

:bulletgreen:B2MeM: Every year in March, the b2mem livejournal community organizes a Back to Middle-earth Month. This folder is for the entries created for it. (You can submit also entries from previous years)

:bulletgreen:The rest of Arda: because I hate declining pictures...

:bulletred:About slash and mature content: In both pictures and stories, mature content should be put under a filter, and comply with the dA policy:FAQ #220: What is Mature Content? and FAQ #565: You prohibit the submission of 'pornographic imagery'; what do you consider this to be?. Slash stories should have a warning either in the title or author's comments - authors and readers should be respectful to each other and their preferences.

:bulletred:Please, no Mary Sues in pictures or stories!



:bulletgreen: - Lord of the Rings section and Silmarillion section
:bulletgreen: Stories of Arda
:bulletgreen: The Silmarillion Writers' Guild


Gallery Folders

Fallen Fire by annamare
Innocence by annamare
Ruins of Annuminas: a valley to be exalted by Drollittle
Capture - Arwen's Heart by rstrider9
fanfiction stories

Mature Content

humourous and crack fanfics
Brotherly love I by Hemhet
Brotherly love II by Hemhet
Brotherly love III by Hemhet
Brotherly love IV by Hemhet
fanfiction illustrations
Digital Sculpting Thorin Oakenshield by Faerietopia
Glorfindel and Baby Arwen by alystraea
commission by anastasiyacemetery
Goldberry with water-lily by victoriaclare
Between the lines
Fingon with Falcon by Venlian
Sam's garden on Tol Eressea by MirachRavaia
Western Fantasy Challenge: Celeborn by ShizukaxxxSecret
Trees of Valinor inspired pendant by jessy25522
Feanor. Birthday. by Irsanna
Innocence by annamare
Fallen Fire by annamare
First meeting by AncaXBre
Arwen's cap by MirachRavaia
Tinfang Warble in autumn by MirachRavaia
Finrod reborn by Dreams-of-Arda
There she set her arms about Beren by Qitian
Between the lines CONTEST
The Hero by Starspirit42
Girly games by MirachRavaia
The Turquiose and the Burgundy by hallosse
Elves in Andunie by MatejCadil
Never seen before - contest
Goldberry's Feast by MoonlightPrincess
An Elven Wedding - Elrond and Celebrian by Faerietopia
The rest of Arda
Two trees bracelet by jessy25522


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Group Info

We collect art inspired by Tolkien fanfiction, and encourage artists to illustrate fanfiction stories
Founded 7 Years ago
Jan 27, 2012


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Fan Club

250 Members
276 Watchers
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Talks with Tolkien artists: sandzen

Journal Entry: Fri Feb 8, 2019, 5:18 AM

This issue of Talks with Tolkien artists is with a very interesting person about a very interesting art form. Joe Girard, :iconsandzen: - sandzen offers great insight into Tolkien's literary genius as a writer, and gives tribute to him through his "Lord of the Sand" zen gardens:

Elrond's Midnight Flight by sandzen
Bag End by sandzen
Minas Ithil by sandzen
Lidless by sandzen
The Fall of Denethor by sandzen

1. Hello! You are an accomplished writer, film-maker and much else, so I suppose it's a bit unusual for you to be approached over fan-art, but here it is  For the beginning, could you brag a bit and tell us something about yourself?

Something most people learn about me pretty early on is my world records at Pokémon Puzzle League. I have the gold, silver, or bronze score in almost every game and minigame within the larger game. My friends and family used to joke that I’d sold my soul for my ability to play. As such, I happen to be one of the best Tetris players, as well. In the early days of The New Tetris, I held some records, but they’ve been surpassed.

2. What brought you to deviantArt and what was your experience on the site so far?

A bottomless respect/jealousy for visual artists, and a passion for modernity. Well, that’s what kept me here. When I met my partner, 14 years ago, she had an account for her photography and illustrations. I had an earlier account where I posted some really bizarre/abstract Microsoft Paint art, but it wasn’t until I began working for the Asian boutique, East Wind, where I discovered zen gardens, that I started to feel like I had something worth sharing. Then I discovered the poetry community here, and that sealed the deal.

I’ve never quite understood the folks who hate on devART (many of whom seem to be active members); for me it’s been a wellspring of inspiration and motivation. I’ve seen work on here that far exceeds (on an entertainment level) most of what gets published in professional journals and books—whether that’s poetry, photography or illustration, or what have you. The most applicable critique I could self-apply would be the way the nature of the site encourages me to create more for myself, than for larger audiences. I’ve since learned that professional artists are discouraged from posting their works here at the art school level around the globe, the idea being that you should have your own site, for the sake of professional appearances. But devART is still the best site for bringing artists of all stripes together, and I can’t help but see any opposition to that as inherently malevolent, whatever you might say about the site’s design.

I distanced myself in recent years, to see if it would lead me to take on more ambitious projects, at the risk of more immediate satisfaction, and I’m glad to say, that worked for me. Call it a sad reality of capitalism, perhaps. I’m also guilty of pulling myself in ten artistic directions at once, and devART stokes that impulse. Getting away from it has allowed me to zero in on much grander, and more cohesive visions, and to prioritize how I want to improve more select crafts. But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss it dearly. If I ever find the time again, I’d like to strike a better balance.

3. How did you enter Tolkien's world for the first time, and what impression did it leave in you?

I was assigned The Hobbit in grade four. It was the first year of what’s called the gifted program in Canada, a special kind of schooling seemingly designed to torment and pressure cook the impressionable minds of children who score well on flawed tests. At the height of its ambition, it serves as a way to bring bright youngsters together, but it’s really a luck of the draw thing if the class chemistry clicks or if sharp divisions emerge between different factions—so, probably just like regular school, with slightly harder reading and math. The Hobbit was the highlight of that horror. I struggled to understand everything he was describing, but it seemed like the kind of thing I wanted to do, explore another world in my mind. My first fantasy world my older brother and I worked on that year: a world where all the people were walking, talking eyeballs, ears, noses, or tongues. He drew the pictures and I came up with the legend. But, being children, we let that languish, and a couple years later I started work on a fantasy series, and I’ve been working on it ever since. I recently wrote out what I consider a rough outline of the 7000-year history of this universe, some hundreds of pages with an encyclopedic approach, and some think I should develop that into its own kind of Silmarillion.

Incidentally, how I got back into Tolkien, and ended up reading everything available of his (right up to The Story of Kullervo), was by listening to The Hobbit on audiocassette in the late 90s. With my condition (dyslexia), that was infinitely more illuminating, and drove me into the arms of the Unfinished Tales, and on and on. The Lord of the Rings was the last of his works I read (before new publications came out, like Kullervo), and I would strongly recommend that approach to the uninitiated. In fact, if I ever lost my memory, I would want to rediscover Middle-Earth in perfect sequential order. How have they not published that?

4. What creates the image of Middle-earth in your mind? Is it more influenced by the books or movies, or maybe other artists, and did it change over time or remained the same?

The Jackson films (including the Tolkien Edit of the The Hobbit films) rest at #4 on my top 1000 films of all-time list (…). I just did my annual watch-through, and it’s pretty astounding that, in this near-post-GoT world we’re in, those films hold up majestically, and with proud self-assurance. Mortensen imagines, in one of the featurettes, that remakes of the franchise are inevitable, but I seriously have to wonder if there’s a point in recasting Gollum, Gandalf, Galadriel, or numerous others, frankly. I almost feel that to surpass the characterizations by Serkis and McKellen and Blanchett you almost have to change the tone of the entire project.

I wish I could say that Tolkien’s words painted clearer pictures than they do feelings and philosophical perspectives, but, for almost ten years, the image that lived closest to my heart was the John Howe art for The Two Towers, which my older brother brought into the house. It scared the daylights out of sensitive little me, as did my brother’s descriptions of the Nazgûl. The films do a good job of not skirting around the issue of Tolkien’s sense of abject horror, but nothing from the films thrilled me in quite the same way as those illustrations (with the possible exception of the “I am no man” sequence).

Howe’s aesthetic was then deeply reinforced for me thanks to my near-equal love of Yoshitaka Amano’s art for the Final Fantasy VI game.…

So, it isn’t so much an issue of changing, or staying the same. It’s an issue of accumulation. Which visions of Middle-earth have jived with my inner eye, and which haven’t. I’ve dispensed with those that haven’t. The upcoming television series may work for me, and it may not. But what I’m hoping for is not another trip down Jackson/Walsh/Shore/Lesnie/Major/Henneh/Selkirk lane, endless as my respect for them may be. I’m hoping for a gentler, sadder, softer vision. My favourite story of all Tolkien tales is Narn I Hîn Húrin, which, for me, is one of the five most gut-wrenchingly sad tales ever told. The effect that GoT has had on global audiences will be hard for the producers as Amazon(?) to ignore, and that’s going to be the sharpest of double-edged swords in the wrong hands. Fingers crossed.

5. Some of Tolkien's books can be hard to read, being more of history annals than fiction. Do you enjoy the scholarly side of studying Tolkien's world as well?

I’ve probably answered this implicitly, but I want to be clear: that became my favourite part. The overarching dramatic form of Middle-earth is ingenious, of course, especially for anyone who’s studied Joseph Campbell. For many years, my partner and I only had to say “Of Beleriand and its Realms” for one of us to double over at the ridiculousness of Tolkien’s attention to detail, or my pure love of it. But you don't really go to him for his Mamet-level dialogue, or his Chekhovian dramas.

I’ve also worked for libraries much of my adult life, and the problem that a lot of men have generally with reading fiction is many writers don’t write as if they believe utterly in what they’re saying. They tend to express this as some variant of “It’s just a story. It’s not real.” My dad once said to me about his family-famous status as one who had not read a book in his life, "Why would I be interested in something that never happened?" Yuval Noah Harari, the author of Sapiens, has spoken out against mankind’s love of stories, but perhaps never so succinctly as this, “Biology enables, culture forbids.” Many narratives leave room for you to wonder what the author actually thinks about existence or morality. I think this can come across as a pointless cop out, or worse, a deliberate attempt at incepting you with some ideology you’d rather protect yourself against. I think men can sometimes struggle to understand the applicability of an unreliable narrator, or parody, or even just an author with an open mind, who can see things from multiple perspectives (like, say, Ursula K. LeGuin). That straightforward clarity of vision is where Tolkien really shines. None of his characters who suffer inner conflict delude themselves on the nature of this conflict. Sméagol is cozened and warped by a barrage of psychological warfare. Saruman is open about what he sees being his logical calculus for succumbing to the dark side. Aragorn openly frets over his bloodline, and submits to the humility he sees coming with it (I've often wondered if Tolkien imagined Aragorn becoming less humble as Elessar, but the kneeling to the hobbits at the end seems to speak to that). Denethor might be the most deluded character, but we only really know him as a man addled by grief and self-pity. And it’s never unclear that the larger story is a tale of the hope of the beneficent versus the decay of the malevolent.

So, through his agonizing histories and geographies and biologies we get an unavoidable quest for truth. An early attempt at moral science, perhaps. Does Middle-earth pass your test for what feels like a true world? If so, then you can begin to extrapolate true meaning, and apply it to your life. Essentially, it performs the same job as a myth or a religion, but without the arch “You Must Believe” essence of myths and religions. Despite the zealous fervour of some superfans, Middle-earth is a fantasy you can play with.

6. Who is your favourite Tolkien character and why?

Jeepers. That’s a doozy.

I tend to think the most on the suffering of the tragic cases. Sméagol, Túrin Turambar, Denethor, even Fëanor or Frodo.

I’ll answer from the writer’s perspective: I think Sméagol is his grandest conception. Dramatically, he’s the most mercurial and interesting, the ultimate trickster. But unlike many trickster figures, his trick is somewhat on himself, as we watch his inner war unfold. He’s the most unclear: is Gollum a fragment of his shattered mind? Or a kind of alien growth within his mind, borne of the ring’s innate evil? Or something else, like a projected subconscious dream of Sauron’s, a representation of Sauron's all-consuming desire to reclaim the ring? It’s a question that is unanswerable for a character who is always believable and works. Why does he work? Well, Gollum works like a mirror, reflecting darkly on Sméagol’s naïve aspirations, while at the same time, they both mirror Frodo’s struggle, and shade in the hidden torments that lead the resilient hobbit to make his own pathetic 11th hour choices. And if you jive with Tolkien’s moral vision (centred, self-assured self-application leads to growth, inner duality and subservience to force and power leads to decay), it’s pretty spectacular that he was able to envision a character who embodies everything he would stand or caution against, and not only made him sympathetic, but even introduces you to him in the Lord of the Rings as someone worthy of pity.

7. Are there some topics in Tolkien's works that you are particularly passionate about?

I’ve never liked the term “world-building”, because the way most people use it, it’s like when someone says, “I know everything there is to know about music: I listen to the radio.” Tolkien himself was wowed by the response he got from fellow science-types, who would write in to him to ask exactly how the Oiolairë flowered, or whatever. He never saw the series getting to that level of detail. I think for him it was enough to know who god was, who the gods were, the music of the Ainur, the story of creation, and the order of creation, and then he used that as a kind of mirror-template upon which to conceive the way all the other rivulets of story and theme could course along. In other words, I like anything in his work that shows how he conceived and built this world. His logics as a writer, his moral compass, his purpose as a myth maker. I like how when you go back to his earliest works, there’s the drive to create unity between his writings, but not the conception for how that was possible. Once that moment of inspiration occurred (the birth of Middle-earth as a self-contained reality), I imagine it infused the whole rest of his life with purpose, which I find beautiful to imagine. So I guess my answer is a bit meta, but that’s the most wide-reaching part of it for me.

On a related note: I love how he approached the issue of multiplicity. Like, does all of fate really have to do with two hobbits wrestling on a stone platform above a lava pit? Well, yes. But the issue of how that turned out, has to do, in one way of other, with what many, many other people were up to. Indeed, what all of history was up to, until that moment. How the ring came to exist has its history with Sauron, which couldn’t have happened without Morgoth. Aragorn wouldn’t exist without Isildur, who also helped create Gollum by dying. Shelob and Ungoliant. Galadriel and Eärwen. Frodo and Bilbo. And on and on. The interconnectedness is at once organic and properly dramatic. As a science-minded fellow, I would say that most myths and religions live and die by how well they test against our science of the day. Tolkien created a myth where everything flows out of an evolving relationship between everything with everything. Even the different races tell us things, broadly, about the way he regarded biological evolution. The further you delve into his mechanics, the more ingenious the gears seem to turn. His geometry is tear-jerkingly beautiful in its simple elegance.

You can quibble, of course, and that’s why we have A Song of Ice and Fire. Actually, just one more note: I think Martin is doing a better job of incorporating a real sense of evolution into the mix. In LotR, when you surpass the War of the Ring, you get the sense that this was always meant to represent the closing of the Music of the Ainur, which really invokes the question, “Was the point of all time and history purely the laying waste to all of Melkor’s essence?” Like, if the dissonance that Melkor brought to the Music of the Ainur was consistent, then there should really be no moment of history untouched by that dissonance. All of existence should wrap up after the last person who was touched by that dissonance passes on. And when that happens, is it a good thing? Will all the good peoples of those days be thrilled at the prospect that their world is coming undone? So, despite its moral virtues, the overarching reality is still kind of bleak in a way.

To dial us back from grandiosity, I’ve been an environmentalist and a vegetarian for much of my life, so whenever those themes pop up, I get pretty jazzed.

8. Now, let's talk about the part of your work that might interest Tolkien fans (not that other parts wouldn't ). Sand gardens is a rather unusual form of art. What brought you to it and what does it mean to you?

The shop I worked for would get about a customer per hour, and I worked alone, so when I didn’t have any chores, I would play with the different things we sold, like the gardens, or the Buddha Boards, and read up on Asian culture and history from our book collection. Eventually, I started using the shop as a way to practice my photography, and the gardens were my first subject. Obviously, I took less time to refine the photography aspect than I did refining the gardening aspect.

Traditionally, the stones in a garden represent islands, and the lines represent waves. You’re not supposed to allow the rings from a smaller stone/island to overlap the rings from a larger stone/island. So, my gardens were an attempt to break free of those dictums. And to make them look more beautiful to the customers: which proved effective, incidentally.

Stealing from my answer to the last question, I think Zen gardens express the elegance of simple geometry. I’ve always been drawn to minimalism and geometry. But also parody and satire. So I guess in a sense I was introducing unserious concepts to a solemn art form. I also enjoy artists who’ll combine two unusual things to create a new effect, like Alex Colville or Charles Addams or Max Ernst. So I tried out a variety of concepts, like using the board to express iconic cartoons, constellations, and then moments from the world of Tolkien. Zen of the Rings or Lord of the Sand, or whatever you want to call it, just seemed like the best way to bring my fandom into the gardens beyond, you know, a Totoro face, or the Cliffs of Insanity. And I think that speaks to the rudimentary nature of so many Middle-earth moments, even in the way Tolkien himself drew them. That saga, better than any other I considered, plays really well into a geometric reimagining.

9. What's your creative process from picking the theme to finishing (and in this case also destroying, I guess) a sand garden?

I’d set the board in the traditional fashion, dragging out a canvas of straight, evenly-mounded lines as best I could, and then it was basically between whether I wanted to try weaving a new pattern around an old arrangement of stones (one of my favourite patterns is two stones tall and three stones across, evenly spaced from one another, like points on a Go board), or if I wanted to express something more unique to my past work, or something more organic/chaotic. I never liked doing anything that couldn’t be done freehand. But I also hate the way those, what we might call, hesitation marks show up in photos, so I did develop a few techniques for creating smoother curves.

I rarely started with the theme in mind. It was more like, let’s see what happens when we play. Of course, you don’t randomly end up with a No Face mask, or an Om or a Shirivasta.

Sometimes destroying them is a sad affair, but if you don’t play regularly in your Zen garden, you get dust bunnies, and there’s a lesson in that, I guess.

10. You already gave one interview about writing, so I will just ask - would you like to add something to it here?

Our Poet of the Month: AugustHello guys, this is miserabel, newly in charge of the Monthly Member feature, which will pop up every second Monday of the month! :woohoo: If you know of a member of PoeticalCondition who could do with some more attention, then please note me about them and I'll check them out (and possibly feature them in a future blog)!
This feature is supposed to bring talented writers to your attention who haven't recently gotten a DD or DLD; in other words, the well-hidden gems of the deviantart literature community!
August's pick is:
:spotlight-left: :iconsandzen: :spotlight-right:
Go check him out, folks, it's worth it! Not only is his writing definitely note-worthy, he also gave very interesting responses to my questions and some epic advice for aspiring writers further down.
:star: hand-picked favourites out of their gallery:

:star: sandzen's favourites:

Tell us

I don’t remember anything I said in the one you’re thinking of, or if I still agree with any of it. But I don’t think there’s any one piece of advice more broadly helpful or time-tested than this: if you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write. Stephen King said that, and I’ve heard many a novice writer rebuke it…only to never get published. They say getting published is harder than meeting the pope. That’s a fact. Depending on your standards for what "being published" means.

Perhaps I’ll add this: write as a way to understand yourself. I’m not saying don’t be inspired, but if emulation is all you’re after, you probably won’t understand why you make what you make. When you look back on old writing, it’s the stuff that Tarantino calls “the truth the truth the truth” that will make your older heart sing. As a simple metric: if nothing you write embarrasses you sometime shortly after you write it, you either aren’t being honest with yourself, or you’re supremely confident in your humanity. In which case, how on earth are you a writer? Why aren’t you fighting sharks in a volcano aboard your time machine?

11. As a multi-talented artist, do you like experimenting with new art forms? Which have you already tried?

I just came through some years of tending to my dying mother, so I’m emerging from a creative dead zone. I was having the hardest time believing in any idea I’ve had for the past four years, and one night I wept over the sink when I was talking to my partner, and it hit me just how many ideas I’ve let slide through my fingers over the years. That’s probably what lead to one of the two enormous projects I’ve undertaken over the past year, the likes of which I’ve never tried before. The one was a poem-a-day project with a very unique point of inspiration. I can’t say more about that one, because the editing stage could go on for some time, and then I need to find a publisher. The other is a book of film analysis, which I’d like to make into a documentary series. I’ve done almost nothing else for the past five months, which means that besides the 500-page analysis, I’ve also watched the same movie about 200-300 times in that same period, so I’m a little stir-crazy, and I could probably use a shakeup soon with something fresh and exciting.

If I just list all the forms I’ve dabbled in, that could get boring. It’s a long, tedious list. I think it’s more interesting to say that I try to create things I’ve never seen before. The Zen gardens are a prime example. My parodies of old poems is another thing I've never seen done.

12. Do you have some tips and tricks you would like to share with the other artists and writers?

Well, my recent, prolonged journey through excruciating artist’s-block was not aided by my persistent self-crucifixion for the struggle. So, if you find yourself in a similar predicament, please take my partner’s wise words to heart, and be kind to yourself. If you think that self-torture will speed up your recovery time, that’s a hard no, I’m afraid. Being kind to yourself may not help you create the way you’d like, but it’ll ease you up to receiving the good ideas that are worth pursuing, in ways you should trust your instincts to sense are possible.

I also happened to read Sally Mann’s What Remains, a book of photos with an introduction about passing through the horror of her father’s similarly slow death. She talks about how his death just laid her out, useless, on the floor of her apartment for a year. If you’re like me, it can be hard to take comfort in knowing these things happen to people who are way more accomplished than you, because you don’t feel normal if you’re not creating. But that notion did become talismanic for me.

Oh, also, try never to be afraid of either tools that enhance your art or learning more about your art. The world puts a lot of pressure on artists to be brilliant right out the womb. Learn about techniques as much as you can, and when you see someone else doing something cool, why shouldn’t you put that into your own work? Modern civilization wants everyone to think that tools and tricks and techniques “belong” to the artists who “own” them, but it’s just an illusion, a byproduct of capitalism.

13. Could you tell us, which
- "Lord of the Sand" garden(s) you are most proud of?

I don’t really think of myself as an artist, usually, so I love the freehand work in It’s Raining Men. And The Hideous Face of Shelob has that 2x3 stone arrangement I love so much.

It's Raining Men by sandzen The Hideous Face of Shelob by sandzen

But I think I have to give it up for The Gates of Moria. Not just because of all the favs, but a) it’s the first one I think of when I think of that series, and b) I know just what people mean when they say they can tell who’s who just by looking at it. And there’s a lot of art I really admire where the artist took a recognizable character and interpreted them some other way, like making Miyazaki characters into Bento Box art, or those minimalist movie poster reimaginings, or even Pop figurines, honestly. And I kinda thought I pulled that off here just by picking out the best nine stones for that board.

The Gates of Moria by sandzen

- other visual art piece(s) you are most proud of ?

I made a 240-page book out of all my old related journal entries, poems, and photos to celebrate my 10-year anniversary, with my partner, Simone. Needless to say, she was completely stunned, and took it everywhere with her for some months. and Bookwright was how I composed it. I’m currently considering making one to commemorate my mom’s life.

- poem(s) you are most proud of?

Poetry is definitely the art form where I’ve explored and covered the most ground, so it’s hard to even give a shortlist of ones I’m proudest of. Pulling off a solid pantoum or parody poem is where I get the most personal satisfaction, I’d say. I performed The Werewolf Monologue to a rapturous crowd at my writer’s circle not long ago, and got no critiques, which was a first for our group, so that certainly had me glowing for a while. The subtext of Spacefeint, I recently learned from my therapist, turns out to have a lot of backing in the science of psychology, which actually surprised me; I had intuited it, purely. But as much as I love form, I’ve always wanted to write great free verse, and The Beautiful Suicide of Narcissus is probably still my reigning champion, personally.

The Werewolf MonologueI ever was a momma’s boy,
but ever too a two-faced coin,
to flip and flit my whole life through,
a man, a monkey in a zoo
of bodices and big bow ties,
of pistols, pistons, pigs, porkpies…
A beast, my burden: land, two hands
and teeth enough to ward that land.
A foul assault, a viral press
of souls against the soulless less,
a knowing owning, righteous reign.
Who would forestall advancement? Gain
an extra sense, a curse of heart,
and jam momentum? Throw back part
of himself? Keep the side that rusts,
the brain, devolve the side that lusts,
the loins, discard the side that trusts…
The soul. I am a yokeless egg,
a shirtless line of tightened pegs,
a banker with an empty vault,
a drunkard drinking virgin malt.
Now nothing sates me, stirs my joy,
but then, I am a momma’s boy…
And there’s my purpose! “Be a man!”
she cries at dawn. Weak-kneed I stand
and face the sun, a naked babe
whose every faculty outgrabe.
And once upon a moon so blue
SpacefeintThe astronauts had no rear-view, lying vertical,
eyes to instruments affixed, octopoid arms aflight,
moving eerily as one
practiced organism.
Like college-bound teens, they didn't look back,
the mother's faint tears smothered by
the thunder of flaming engines.
Old films and space museums first alerted their minor selves
to the intoxicating blue of the earth's
throbbing albedo.
In the simulator, they swigged digital earthshine,
complex watertanks faking weightlessness --
the sim just wasn't the same.
Belts unbuckled, floating on ballerina feet, a speechless face
in each porthole, no one noticed the captain's
syncopal silence.
His hypoxic brain unbetrayed by gravity, his limp spine
erect, his outstretched hands drifting clouds,
his eyes wide shut.
In his dream: father sat stiffly at breakfast,
the paper clumped in each fist, with
amnesiac headlines.
Long before Jupiter's great red beauty spot, the iron
hearts of stars, the moon's cephalic
sea of tranquility:
an unbuttered crust of bread,
The Beautiful Suicide of Narcissusthere was nothing left
to do with the peak
conquered all that came after
was a shallow petty thing life
gone from bees trees
now wrappings fill the earth
with air the drunk oil invents
an atmosphere of hollow costs
what price momentarily
perfect lost perception
of a generation fogbound
at the water’s edge splashing
to make the best reflection
even better telling ourselves
what our minds can’t see beyond
the other children our children beyond
the other lives our lives beyond
the other realities our lies
important beyond doom
the lone jammer tries
to focus wifi scrambles
thoughts passing through you
like neutrinos can’t take it
with you isn’t logic
stopping anyone from trying
suicide was sitting there
staring like a mirror
you don’t see porn
to thieve experience as
fleeting as a compliment
you imagined wealth
unknown all around but on what
Narcissus did you spend
your value

- picture or poem was hardest to create?

The hardest poem was definitely Come Home, which took an entire year to create. It's a pantoum, and I think I had the first stanza about a week after our one anniversary, and I liked it so much, I knew I wanted it to be perfect, so, whenever new lines came to me, it felt like lightning hitting twice, thrice, and so on. But if memory serves, I ended up redrafting parts of it over and over, and then finally committed something like every waking thought to it for some weeks leading up to our next anniversary. I guess I'm a bit of a Romantic...

14. Would you like to thank somebody here? What key people in your life, (on or off of dA) have been inspirations to you, or has supported you, as an artist? You can also tell us why, if you want.

My partner, Simone has been my greatest critic, editor, inspiration, and audience. I write first for myself, second for her, and for the world, always third. But she knows how grateful I am.

15. Is there something else you would like to tell to the fans of Tolkien and your art?

Just that my perspectives on Tolkien's works are my own; I'm not pretending to be JRR's personal mind reader. I once had the honour of attending a class where everyone had been asked to study one of my books of poetry, and the kinds of ideas the teens had seen buried in my work were really stunning, and a clear indication of the old saying that people will see themselves in art. And I could tell that some of the kids thought I was being evasive and cheeky, but really, no, I know exactly what inspires me to create what I create, and what some of them were saying was 100% their own idea.

That said, I find dissenting opinion the most interesting, so if anyone reading this has other ideas about Middle-earth, I'd be glad to hear them.

Finally, a big thanks to you, Mirach, for having me. This opportunity to reflect on my passions, was a complete joy and honour for me.

Thank you as well for your time and answers!

Coding by Felizias Drawings by ebe-kastein Borders by PhoenixWildfire
Banner 01 by MirachRavaia

Our theme for February and March is Stranger.

The most famous stranger to Frodo's mind might be Strider, booted and hooded, quietly puffing his long pipe in a corner of the Prancing Pony; watching most carefully and far from chance-met. Eomer, bristling, replied to Gimli, 'the stranger should declare himself first' for strangers (even three of them!) can spring up unexpectedly out of long grass. Dark days in the Third Age made Men wary, suspicious of prying eyes or chance slips of tongue, so that the Steward ordered no stranger, even a Rohirrim that fought with Gondor, could see the path to the Window on the West.

This uncertainty of those-we-do-not-know began when the world was new and young, when the Eldar, the Firstborn, met Men and came to understand that they die indeed-- calling them 'the Guests' and 'the Strangers'. Turgon, Lord of Gondolin, decreed that no stranger, be he Elf or Man, should ever depart the Hidden City. What might lead a Green-elf to let themself be seen to a Man of the House of Haleth? How would a young Elrond and Elros learn to trust the stranger who took them in? The Southrons were strangers to the Men of the West when at last peace was achieved in the Reunited Realms. How could a chance meeting help bridge a gulf of history and animosity?

In fiction, strangers can be catalysts, bad or good, juggling distance and proximity to provoke or open up possibilities to change. To be a stranger can be an escape, a chance to start anew, to walk to where your clothes, your voice and your songs, are unfamiliar to the world around. It can also be the state of being entirely unaccustomed to a feeling, an experience, or situation. Perhaps you'd like to explore more how the Dwarves felt about being in Rivendell? Or how a drunk Legolas adjusts to a new 'tingling in his fingers'? New parents certainly sometimes feel the little one in their arms is a stranger!

For this prompt you can write about stranger as an adjective. We say of someone 'he is no stranger to controversy'. Or 'truth is stranger than fiction'. A young hobbit might well feel so on reading the Red Book for the first time. Whatever aspect of 'Stranger' you choose, please do not be a Stranger and write by March 31st for this prompt!

Send your entries to The contest is anonymous and the entry can't be posted publicaly until the results of the challenge are announced. Please mind our rules when submitting your entries for the contest.

Happy writing and drawing!

Your Teitho-moderators,
Mirach, Carawyn, Karri, Sian22 and Lotrfan    

Banner 02 by MirachRavaia

Talks with Tolkien artists: Mellaril

Journal Entry: Mon Jan 28, 2019, 1:59 PM

This week I talked to :iconmellaril: - Mellaril (and you will be surprised what that username means if you keep reading :)) about her views of Tolkien and art: she is both traditional and digital artist, as you can see in her gallery:

Voyage of the Vingilot by Mellaril Idril by Mellaril
Father (Eol and Young Maeglin) by Mellaril Earendil and Elwing in Eldamar by Mellaril
Fingon the Valiant by Mellaril The Boy on the Wall (Maeglin and Idril) by Mellaril
The Cave Hewers (Finrod with Dwarf Companions) by Mellaril

Hello! For the beginning, could you tell us something about yourself?

You bet! I'm a 26-year-old Taiwanese-American woman and an amateur artist. I love painting, Tolkien (obviously) and books in general, horses (I rode them competitively in college!), music of all kinds, writing nerdy fanfiction (my boyfriend makes fun of me but I just tell him I'll leave him for Legolas) and tending to my family of succulents. The most interesting thing that's happened to me is probably almost getting bitten by a rabid monkey. Other answers to random questions: Virgo, O+, healthcare professional, introverted, and yes (but only on Tuesdays).

:D (Big Grin) One not so random question then: what brought you to deviatArt and how did you pick your username?

I actually joined dA like 15 years ago (wow...) because all of my friends from school were on it. At that point it was mostly a lot of really random, really terrible art (if you don't believe me I dug this one off of an old hard drive. For those of you who think no one could possibly be worse at art or improve more slowly than's evidence to the contrary. And that's not even the lamest one).

Crested By Legolasagna Dmhwtg by Mellaril  

I rejoined a few years back because of a reawakening of a desire to make and share art. My periods of improvement and productivity tend to be in spurts with long pauses in between. I started doing paintings of my longtime favorite subject material, Tolkien and fantasy, and that pretty much kept going; I'd get new ideas when I was finishing old ones and never had time to do them all. As for my username, it's a reference to my job in real life as someone working in healthcare. "Mellaril" is actually the trade name for an antipsychotic drug, and when I came across it in my studies I thought, "wow, really, 'Mellaril'? Whatever pharmaceutical employee came up with that must be a LARPer." So I picked it.

How did you enter Tolkien's world for the first time, and what impression did it leave in you?

I was eight when the movie version of The Fellowship of the Ring came out. My dad convinced me to see it with him, and I was very apprehensive because it was the first "grown-up" movie I ever saw in theaters. When Bilbo did the scary-face thing in Rivendell I was terrified and hid for a bunch of the rest of the movie! But I loved it, and Legolas was sooo cute. I read the trilogy (shy kid in school, read a lot more books than most people my age) but didn't get really obsessed until The Two Towers came out. It was the Battle of Helms Deep that left me really awestruck into how huge, beautiful and tragic this world was. I know a lot of people say the books are better, and now I'd have to agree, but that on-screen experience really made me feel. I read The HobbitThe Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales after that. Peter Jackson made a lifelong Tolkien fan out of me :) (Smile)

So what creates the image of Middle-earth in your mind now? Is it more influenced by the books or movies, or maybe other artists, and did it change over time or remained the same?

Definitely a combination. The ethereal atmosphere of the Jackson movies, Tolkien's own gorgeous prose, and the artwork of Alan Lee and Jenny Dolfen (particularly for Silmarillion-era Arda) are the major influences. Ms. Dolfen is an incredible watercolorist; when I discovered :icongold-seven: on deviantArt, specifically this:

...a whole new feeling of richness and passion imbued Middle-Earth for me. That's definitely the most significant change that comes to mind.

Who is your favourite Tolkien character and why?

That's an easy one! It's Maeglin. I'll admit, the first read-through of The Silmarillion, I wasn't too thrilled. It was all a blur of trees, "Light", confusing geography and too many long names. But in the middle of the book, there's this chapter: "of Maeglin." It's really the only chapter titled simply with the name of a person - not even Maedhros, the main character, nor Túrin, who has an entire book to himself later, is given the same honor. A child descended from kings, raised in obscurity, dreams of a better life for his mother- only to be orphaned for his efforts. He swears allegiance to the king who killed his father and fights bravely in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad - and all would be well if he didn't fall obsessively, fatefully, in love with his first cousin.

Father (Eol and Young Maeglin) by Mellaril   Screen Shot 2019-01-14 at 2.54.09 PM by Mellaril SoT 2 by Mellaril    The Boy on the Wall (Maeglin and Idril) by Mellaril  

His actions lead directly to the downfall of elven-kind, and for them he is rightfully considered the evilest of elves, but it's a beautiful, haunting story so ahead of its time! In it you see how love and idealism lead ultimately to devastation; how the pride and greed of the Noldor led to the First Kinslaying, the resentment between Noldor and Teleri, the death of Maeglin's parents, and ultimately to his decision to betray the entire world. It leads you to ask: who really was he? Could things have been different for him? Did anyone love him?

Are there also some other topics in Tolkien's works that you are particularly passionate about?

Many of them. I absolutely love the letter that Tolkien writes to Milton Waldman telling him about The Silmarillion and what it was all about. He describes the mingling of fantastical myth (elves) with "realer" stories (as Men are interwoven). Elves doomed to live forever and Men doomed to die. The humble and small (Beren and Lúthien) accomplishing the unthinkable in the name of love. The oath of Fëanor, which "dogs all their later heroism, generating treacheries and undoing all victories." Nods to other legendaria including Norse mythology, Christian tradition, Oedipus and Greek Myth. And of course: love, friendship, loyalty and sacrifice, over eons. For instance, the Ring of Barahir that Finrod gives to Barahir in thanks for saving his life, later invoked by his son Beren, leading Finrod do sacrifice his own great life for him. The list goes on!

Now, could you tell us something about you and art? What was it that reawoke your desire to make and share it, and how did you lose it in the first place? When did you start doing it, and who or what influenced your style?

I've been drawing for as long as I can remember. I filled dozens of sketchbooks. They're still on my shelves. I studied oil painting and sketch and later on taught myself to do other things starting from basic principles. It wasn't really that I lost my interest in art, I just set it aside for a while because other things caught my attention. I tend to have phases of obsession and passion and get really into things - just an addictive personality I guess. My earliest influences I'd say were anime/cartoons, classical and modern portrait painters like Bouguereau, and now contemporary digital artists/illustrators like Kienan Lafferty, Lois van Baarle, and Samuel Youn.  

Asami Korra by Mellaril   Cupidon by Mellaril   Kienan-lafferty-moka-training by Mellaril  
Loish by Mellaril   Samuel-youn-image by Mellaril 

What's your creative process from picking the theme to finishing a picture?

Depends - usually a feeling or idea will strike me when I'm daydreaming. Or I see a photograph, scene in a movie or other artwork that inspires me.

Tracks by Mellaril   Fall by Mellaril   Hands by Mellaril  

Then I try to make it more my own, and gather more references and ideas and try to pull it all together into a composition that is interesting and balanced. I try a couple of rough sketches and thumbnails. I try to think about the time of day and lighting, the feelings of the characters, and elements of background and design. More often than not I think the finished picture doesn't succeed or isn't what I imagined. I'm still trying to get better technically to pull off more of what I want to do.

You said you also write fanfiction. Where can we find your stories, and what is your inspiration for them?

Yes! If you're so inclined, 
I'm not very prolific these days, but I've written two stories so far. One is kind of a re-telling of Of Maeglin- it's about his struggle with morality and his past, his relationships, and whether redemption is possible for him. The other is set in Nargothrond, and it's about Gwindor and Finduilas. I was inspired by the song "The River" by Springsteen, about how a once blissful and innocent loves turns sad and difficult. But I also wanted to write a happy ending for them. So, possibly it's still in progress.

What other book or movies (or anything else) inspire you to create fanart, and why?

Books! And music! I love illustrating how written scenes appear in my head. I have vague plans for scenes from the universes of Haruki Murakami and David Mitchell; East Asian Mythology and so much more. Now you've really inspired me to branch out from Tolkien!

Great! :D (Big Grin) Your art is both tradition and digital, do you have a preference in medium? Do you rather keep to the art techniques and styles you are familiar with, or do you experiment with new ones as well?

I prefer traditional! I think the physicality of the medium really allows for gorgeous and spontaneous results. Even in my digital stuff I try to incorporate textures, brushwork and different stochastic elements to give it a more vibrant feel. I definitely don't want to keep to just one style! I'm still artistically a baby, experimenting with different techniques I like from other artists, or just on my own. That's probably why every piece in my gallery right now looks nothing like any of the others. For now I don't really mind that! I don't want to be tied down to a single way!

Despite that, or maybe exactly because of that, do you have some tips and tricks you would like to share with other experimenting artists?

Hmm interesting question! I'd say in general, make art for you - not for your followers, not for any kind of popularity or status. Just do what brings you joy and makes you happy and don't worry if it's not good enough. Every painting I've ever done to try to get more likes, shares, favorites or whatever ended up being flat, frustrating and a chore to do. Especially if you're a hobbyist like me, art is one of the things I do to escape any kind of obligation or expectation. 

On a more technical level: learn the rules before you break them; alternate between painting from reference, copying the work of artists you admire for practice, and painting from imagination. Learn about perspective, composition, value, and color theory. Kienan Lafferty's KNKL show on YouTube is a phenomenal resource. I also use Pinterest a lot to gather references and inspiration, and to broaden my visual vocabulary.

Here's my Pinterest as an example of how I like to organize my thoughts:…

Great tips, thank you! Could you now tell us, which
- Tolkien illustration you are most proud of?

The Boy on the Wall (Maeglin and Idril) by Mellaril  Voyage of the Vingilot by Mellaril

- original picture or picture from other fandom you are most proud of?

Molly Grue And The Unicorn by Mellaril

- picture fits your current mood?

Lavender by Mellaril

- picture was hardest to paint?

The Cave Hewers (Finrod with Dwarf Companions) by Mellaril

- other picture you would like to share with us and why?

I love this one. It was inspired by a Rodin sculpture. Pretty different from what I usually do. 
Nimrodel by Mellaril

Would you like to thank somebody here? What key people in your life, (on or off of dA) have been inspirations to you, or has supported you, as an artist? You can also tell us why, if you want.

:iconfrerinhagsolb::iconalystraea::iconmaedhrosrussandol: :iconephaistien: :iconirsanna: :icononeout: :iconsindefara: :iconfeynaskydancer: 
Always grateful for your friendship and your fantastic art.

What you do for this community is beyond astounding. Thank you so much and thanks for taking the time to get to know me!

And a huge thanks to everyone who stayed by my side when I was down. "Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens."

It's my pleasure! :) (Smile) Would you also like to use this space to give a feature to someone? Is there some artist(s) at dA you know, who doesn't have as much attention as they would deserve? If yes, could you give us some thumbnails from their gallery?

Sure! OK full disclaimer, all the people I'm about to mention are more popular and better artists than I am, but they haven't done interviews here yet. And they don't know how much I admire their art so this may come as a surprise to some of them!!

1. :icononlychasing-safety: He just makes fantastic landscapes and concept art and I am so, so jealous of his skills.

Elven Territory by onlychasing-safety   Mordor by onlychasing-safety   Edoras by onlychasing-safety  
The Ring Goes South by onlychasing-safety   Drums in the Deep - Balin's Tomb by onlychasing-safety   Isengard by onlychasing-safety  

2. :iconodamako: I love her dreamy, whimsical scenes.

Songs of power by Odamako   Lothlorien by Odamako   Beleg Cuthalion by Odamako  

3. :iconkuliszu: Beautifully lit, soft works. And she just keeps getting better!!
The White Rider by kuliszu   The Fellowship of the Ring by kuliszu   The Ring Goes South by kuliszu   The Fellowship in Lothlorien by kuliszu   Aredhel and Eol by kuliszu  

4. :iconthelongdefeat: This art-noveau wolfy stuff is really neat.

All I've Lost by TheLongDefeat   Huan of Valinor by TheLongDefeat   Celegorm and Huan by TheLongDefeat 

Thank you! Just a side note, there has been an interview with kuliszu, but under her old nick AlasseaEarello :) (Smile) And we are getting to the end, so is there something else you would like to tell to the fans of Tolkien and your art?

Oh! That explains a lot! Well I'm glad she's already been recognized. :) (Smile)

Hmm, all I have left to say is thank you, whoever you are, for taking even the slightest bit of interest in what I love to do! I hope we can make friends and learn from each other!

And thank you for your time and answers!

Coding by Felizias Drawings by ebe-kastein Borders by PhoenixWildfire
More Journal Entries


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mysteryreason Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Can you please draw these stories? The first one involves nudity but not in a sexual context. You can censor it if it's a problem. The other ones should be OK:…………
Irsanna Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2015
Thanks for the request!
hushicho Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2015  Professional General Artist
Call me when you start accepting non-heterosexual content. Cordoning it off into your favourites folder really isn't acceptable, and the whole policy of this group is incredibly heterosexist. Yeah, you'll accept crack pairings and whatever fanfic as long as it's straight, but you have to hide anything non-hetero in a folder in your favourites, not even allowing it in your gallery anywhere when you could just as easily create a folder in that gallery.

Segregating something to that extent is not being accepting or diverse, and it doesn't make you any less offensive for doing it.
MirachRavaia Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
You know, you are actually right. The problem is, there is *always* someone who finds something offensive. We have tried to appease all parties, and when my co-founder was still active, that rule was a result of our discussion as a compromise of our opinions. We feared that allowing slash art might be a bit discriminating to other artists, because by definition, all of such art is "between the lines" and therefore acceptable, while a lot of "canon" art isn't. But as we didn't get many submissions of slash art anyways, I think it is safe to change the rule (I considered doing it for some time already). We will see how it works - sexual content of any kind is not the group's primar focus, and I hope it will stay so, but an occassional submission of it should be alright.
hushicho Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2015  Professional General Artist
I'm sorry, I know I sounded fairly harsh there. It was a day when I was reminded of the very ugliest side of the Middle-Earth fandom, and a huge amount of that is incredibly homophobic. Ironically one of the biggest haters out there is a user named Faerietopia -- go figure, right? -- who has one of the groups involved in the 'never before seen' art event coming up, which at first I was eager to do...and then I lost all my drive after seeing so much hate. I really do like doing Middle-Earth inspired work, but sometimes the fandom just kills any joy in me. I was incredibly unhappy and irritated.

I think honestly non-hetero art doesn't have to be necessarily sexual in nature. I've seen 'homosexual' bizarrely conflated with 'pornography' (and of course other delightful terms such as 'hate speech' and 'blasphemy', on one of the sadder Tolkien groups), but there are so very many things to do with gay content that isn't at all sexual, or at least not explicit. Since DA's policy forbids explicit sex pieces anyway, it's one of the reasons why I kind of feel mentioning it again in groups is kind of redundant. I just really don't think that having a folder for it would really upset anyone, especially on a group where the content is inspired by Middle-Earth.

Honestly, to tell you my story, I always found myself more inspired by Middle-Earth and where it made my imagination go than I really read the stories. I let my mind wander a bit, with the setting, and I remember all those wonderful, magical adventures. I think Middle-Earth is fantastic as inspiration, and it can lay the seed for so many glorious things.

Thank you for being an admirable voice of reason here, and thank you as well for your patience with a confessed Middle-Earth lover who was having a very, very bad day in the fandom.
Brunild Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2014   Traditional Artist
Thanks for accepting my work :heart:
BranBolger Featured By Owner May 4, 2014

To anyone who reads this:

do you like to design fantasy characters, or do you simply like to draw digitally?

i need somebody that is willing to design the artwork for the cards and the other elements for the game that i’m making. i can’t pay you for it, because i’m only 14 years old, but if i ever get to publish the game, i will contact you to make arrangements. if you are interested in working with me, contact me You can also contact me on my facebook (…) or my google+ (…)

also, if you know somebody that would maybe be interested, send them there!

the game that i’m making takes place in middle earth, so the style would be similar to Alan Lee’s and Jhon Howe’s, although the characters are not those appearing in the books or films.

a couple of examples of the style that I’m looking for:elifsiebenpfeiffer.deviantart.………
HazelNutsandCream Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Hi!  I'm looking for someone who knows Tengwar to help me with writing a phrase in Sindarin, just wondering if anyone in this group is familiar with it or knows someone else who is?  Thanks! :D (Big Grin)
MirachRavaia Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
It's actually not that hard, there are a few nice tutorials that can help you:
TUTORIAL: How to write Elvish by snurtz A Guide to Tengwar by Akinyi-Mojiko
HazelNutsandCream Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! :D
Add a Comment: