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The Old Forest

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(There's at least 9 tree faces in the painting (I lost count, ha), can you find them?)

" ‘They do not like all that about ending and failing,’ said Merry. ‘I should not sing any more at present. Wait till we get to the edge, and then we’ll turn and give them a rousing chorus!’ "
---The Old Forest, Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

The first in a series of landscapes inspired by both Britain and Middle-earth - this one based on the forest of Padley Gorge in Derbyshire. Though I think the trees there are less likely to eat you.

Acrylics, pencil, pastel, gouache, tea, cat hair, and the withered deathless malicious and malignant soul of a really evil tree - on paper (also made from trees, maybe evil), and then some digital colouring and fannying about.
A3 / 12x17 inches
2018 Soni Alcorn-Hender

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© 2017 - 2021 BohemianWeasel
Comments45
anonymous's avatar
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wildyup's avatar

thank you for your permission.

i could write down the writing with your great illustration under your kind permission.

BohemianWeasel's avatar
That would be fine, thank you.
EshiSnu's avatar
Wonderful work. I really like how you captured the atmosphere in this.
AMEcco's avatar
The moss and the way the branches tangle make this feel very eerie. It fits this scene perfectly!
BohemianWeasel's avatar
Thank you! I'm so glad you liked that part, it was a bit of a headache as I kept losing track of which branch belonged to which tree, ha.
Deyashk's avatar
Wow, so cool art work!
Snow-Monster's avatar
Nice! Really, really nice! This is a really fantastic rendition of a great scene.
BohemianWeasel's avatar
Thank you! :)
I've seen lots of versions of Fangorn but not so many of the Old Forest, so I wanted to have a go.
Eventually I'd like to try *all* the forests of Middle-earth, but that will take a while. ;)
Fractaldragon's avatar
Oh well done! (And of course cat hair—I have 5 kitties, so I know all about that!)
BohemianWeasel's avatar
Ha! It's a magical substance, right? Some sticks to you forever, some hangs in the air without ever seeming to land, and then some appears magically from nowhere as soon as you lay fresh paint down. ;)
DavidR1958's avatar
Wonderful illustration. Where did you order the malignant tree soul from? I'd really like to get one for my next work! (The cat hair I have, in limitless quantities) ;)
BohemianWeasel's avatar
haa, I think it was from 'EvilTreesRUs' ;D
saiyanslayergaming's avatar
One of the best bits in the book
BohemianWeasel's avatar
And usually left out of retellings of the story, so it's nice to give it a bit of attention. :D
BerryTurtle's avatar
Nice frame, atmospheric trees. But ...
I thought they pretty much only walked in the old forest, having passed under the High Hedge through a tunnel-like passage. Then they were forced, by the trees, along difficult paths, until they were rescued by Tom Bombadillo. Also, your ponies look somewhat large. I think only one was a very fat pony, and the ponies got their names after Tom rescued them the second time on the barrow downs.
BohemianWeasel's avatar
I wish they had walked, it would've been easier to draw than them riding, but they rode much of the way inside the forest, only dismounting for the very tricky bits (hills and root trenches) and we haven't got there yet.

The precise part that inspired the image was:
"... every now and again the trees drew in and overshadowed it with their dark boughs. Up this path they rode.  They were still climbing gently,"
Frodo sings his song, and is cautioned by Merry, only moments later.

In respect to pony size, the problem is if you have very small people riding very small ponies, unless they're stood by a normal sized person on a normal sized pony, you don't get the scale. So these are the small ponies, for us, which are normal sized ponies for Hobbits, so you can still see they (Hobbits) are small. But omg did you just bodyshame my ponies? You monster. They're not fat, they're fluffy.
BerryTurtle's avatar
I think it was Tom. "Old Fatty Lumpkin" was the name, and that was the only the one pony.
I still think the ponies look too big; they are hobbit ponies not hobbit horses. People think of modern horses for scale. The Huns and Mongols rode relatively small horses, and in some places people ride donkeys which are barely enough to keep your feet of the ground.
But thanks, I haven't looked at the book for twenty years. It's just, when traveling long distances, one has to walk the horse as much as ride.
BohemianWeasel's avatar
Yes, thank you, I remember who said it; my comment was just a wild fling at comedy which, alas, fell into darkness.

As to the ponies' size, I'm afraid what you see above is the finished thing, complete, done and done with. I shan't be re-drawing the ponies again, not even smaller (or thinner) ones, so we'll all just have to bear it as best we can. :)
(Though after a quick peek at your work, I'd be fascinated to your own rendering of this scene, should you ever create it.)
anonymous's avatar
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