Talks with Tolkien artists: AbePapakhian

12 min read

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By MirachRavaia

Previous talks: Bullet; Blue with Gold-Seven
                     Bullet; Blue with steamey
                     Bullet; Blue with ekukanova
                     :bulletblue: with Tulikoura

Today's interview is with AbePapakhian :iconabepapakhian:, the master of epic battle scenes and detailed compositions.

EcthelionandGothmog by AbePapakhian Day shall come again by AbePapakhian
Eomer and Aragorn by AbePapakhian Oathbreakers, why have ye come by AbePapakhian
No Man am I Final by AbePapakhian MINAS TIRITH by AbePapakhian

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

So to begin with. I am currently a graphic artist with my education being in the fine arts. I had tried unsuccessfully when I was younger to get into comic books. My work was simply not good enough, so I decided to stop submitting work and concentrate on becoming a better artist. I chose illustration because it is something that I have a passion for and watercolour because it is very rapid and very demanding. I love oil painting but I don't believe i could turn out paintings at a great speed. Not unless I quit my job and commit to this full time. Anyways, that's basically it.

2. When did you read Tolkien's books for the first time, and what impression did they leave in you?

I first read the hobbit when I was thirteen on the recommendation of my english teacher. When I finished it almost immediately and asked for more she handed me The fellowship and I was hooked. Finished all three within the month and have been rereading them almost once a year ever since.

I have to admit that I had read the Narnia chronicles first and so Tolkien was a natural follow up. Although I didn't realize there was a relationship between the 2 writers until much later.

I have read a lot of the other material including the Silmarillion, the Unfinished Tales and so on, although I have given up on all the most recent publishings as I find them uninteresting as they are not complete works.

I believe the strongest impact that Tolkien has had was in giving me a deep and abiding love for fantasy literature, particularly for those writers who truly flesh out worlds they write about. Who can really draw us into the worlds and ideas they are writing about.

3. How extensive is your knowledge of Middle-earth? Do you consider yourself Tolkien nerd?

My knowledge is fairly extensive but I do not consider myself a Tolkien nerd. Ever since the movies were released, I realized there are quite a few people out there who have devoted a great deal of their lives to Tolkien. Far beyond my knowledge.

4. When the movies came out, many of the inner pictures of characters and scenes in the mind of the readers have been replaced by actors and settings from the movie. Did it happen to you as well? Did you try to prevent it?

No. I came to Tolkien way before the movies for them to have a strong influence on me. As an artist I had started to visualize Tolkien right from the beginning. And then I had such wonderful illustrations from other artists to influence me.

The films I saw as great source material, a way in which I could see how other artists were solving my visual dilemmas. Plus the attention to detail was astonishing.

5. Now, could you tell us something about you and art? Are you a professional artist, or is art just your hobby? When did you start doing it, and who or what influenced your style?

As I have said I am a professional artist. My influences and muses are many. Starting from the renaissance masters through to the abstract and neo expressionists.
I can't see how one can grow as an artist by limiting one's visual world.

6. Your often capture complicated scenes with many characters and epic battles. Is there a reason behind this?

As you can see, deviantart has thousands of artists from around the world who show their work. It is very easy to get lost in such a large crowd. So if you want people to notice your work, you have to find a style or technique or subject matter that will allow you to stand out from the crowd. Look at all the Tolkien artists for instance, and what makes each one an individual.

Also, I'm detail oriented. It's not enough for me to simply illustrate a single character, I need much more to feed my visual appetite.

7. Where do you look for inspiration for your painings, not only from contentual, but also artistic side? Do you use references?

I look everywhere for inspiration. Old and new, films, books, magazines, art. Whatever I can use to clarify my illustrations for me. I have literally thousands of images at my fingertips to help me to deal with whatever visual problems I come up against.

With the internet, there is no reason why one sees so many mistakes in illustrations these days. If you have a problem look it up. Someone will have posted an image that can help you out.

8. Do you keep to the art techniques and styles you are familiar with, or do you experiment with new ones as well?

Well, I started out as an oil painter almost exclusively working in an abstract style. My drawings also were large scale abstractions using as many materials that I could. I have done pen and ink illustrations as well as sequential. When it has come to illustrations, I have chosen a traditional approach. One that will allow people to identify the images very quickly. I am relatively new to watercolour, so this is where I am today. I don't want to limit myself with any one specific method. I do like what is being done with digital work these days and it's something I am dabbling with, along with collage and it might be where I'll be tomorrow.

9. Could you give us a link or thumbnail from your gallery of
- a Tolkien illustration you are most proud of?

These 2 more than the rest with Minas Tirith coming in a close third, I think.
The Ride of the Rohirrim
 The Ride of the Rohirrim by AbePapakhian
You shall not pass
 You shall not pass by AbePapakhian
But I'm really proud of all the colour pieces. They came out pretty close to what I had envisioned.

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

These 2 are just as good as the Lotr pieces, especially The Night's Watch. It actually inspires me to explore these individuals again.

The Night's Watch
 The Night's Watch by AbePapakhian
The Battle of the Trident
 The Battle of the Trident by AbePapakhian

- a picture that fits your current mood?

Dusk is a sort of followup to The Night's Watch in that it's a fantasy piece that doesn't fall into that barbaric/middle ages look. It fits where I am right now.
 Dusk by AbePapakhian

- a picture that was hardest to paint?

Conan seemed simple at the beginning but it gradually got harder as I went along. I can't really say why other than it was difficult to limit my palette in so much of the piece. Something I need to explore in the future.

Conan the Mercenary
 Conan the Mercenary by AbePapakhian

11. 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?

I keep a fairly extensive list of favorites in all types of art that I go through regularly. It's easier to flip through theim to get a sense of the works I appreciate than to post any one picture here. This also holds true for the various groups that I visit or am a member of.
Deviantart provides such a wide variety to pique anyones curiousity. The beauty lies in going through and those that appeal to you.

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

Tolkien's world allowed me to really explore my capacity to visualize all that I have read. His vision fueled my curiousity and my desire to display my own vision. I would hope that those of you who enjoy my work feel that passion coming through.

Thank you for the opportunity to share this with you.

Thank you for the interview!

Rohirrim journal skin.

Horse head © 2009 - Grinmir-stock
Texture by kizistock
Knotwork by gbrgraphix
© 2013 - 2021 MirachRavaia
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Zeonista's avatar
Your interviews continue to be on the spot. I really enjoyed this one. Another artist to put in the "favorites"!
MirachRavaia's avatar
I'm glad you do, thank you!
gbindis's avatar
Great interview!

And great works of course! I'll do the hipster thing and say I saw them long before the interview! ;)
MirachRavaia's avatar
Thank you! Well, I did as well :P