Today I would like to introduce an artist whose Tolkien Fanart gallery is full of hugs, gentle feels and bitter-sweetness. Meet - ArlenianChronicles!
1. Hello! For the beginning, could you tell us something about yourself?
Of course! My name is Cassandra, and I am a university student in Canada looking to major in Linguistics, while drawing and writing on the sidelines. I love eating Vietnamese food, soft ice cream, vegan bean chips, and mandarin oranges. I also enjoy listening to indie game/movie soundtracks, along with Celtic and Russian folk music!
2. What brought you to deviantArt and how did you pick your username?
I first came to DeviantArt to upload my art and share it with others, around a year or more ago. It first began with me posting art of my characters, but I never really got “out there” until I started making fanart of Tolkien’s books. And now I have found a Tolkien community, and am very happy to be with you all!
My username is actually the name of a series of books that I’m writing with my friend, Ebrbfureh! The word Arlenian refers to my characters’ family name, Arlenia. Hence, the books are the chronicles of the Arlenian family’s adventures!
3. How did you enter Tolkien's world for the first time, and what impression did it leave in you?
I first learned of Tolkien’s world when I was around eight or nine, having watched the Lord of the Rings movies. They were my favourite trilogy, and I watched them over and over until I could recite the majority of the dialogue said in the films! The movies left a very big impression on me, and I was so inspired that I wanted to create my own LOTR character! My stories are even somewhat inspired by LOTR, though I’m trying not to stray too far into Tolkienizing everything XD
I only started rewatching the movies several years later, in high school, when I planned some movie marathons for my friends in order to introduce them to Tolkien and the trilogy XD Those marathons lasted twelve hours each because I used my boxed set extended edition!
I've read the Hobbit, the Silmarillion, and the Children of Húrin, but I never finished reading The Lord of the Rings. The other books were easier for me to read, mostly because they are shorter than the LOTR books XD
Wow, really? I suppose knowing how the story ends might have played a role as well
I suppose it did play a role XD I watched the movies first before attempting to read the books, and when I finally tried to read them, there was so much going on, and so many descriptions, and I guess I didn't have as much patience at the time XD I was in elementary school when I tried to read it! (I have read the Silmarillion in high school )
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?
My first image of Middle-earth was influenced by the movies when I was young. The location sets, the clothing of the characters, the actors’ faces … It’s all been burned into my brain after so many re-watchings! At one point, I tried to read the books, but gave up halfway because it was too much for my mind to handle! I feel that I can only see the characters of LOTR in my mind as the movie portrayals, However, I love to see other people’s interpretations of them, because it’s so refreshing to see different versions of the characters and their designs!
My vision of the Silmarillion, in contrast, is influenced by artists everywhere, and even my own imagination. For example, I would not have known that Maedhros is red-haired, or that Fingon wears gold ribbons in his braids, had it not been for all the fanart. I suppose I could have read up on them through wiki sites, but I prefer looking at fanart XD
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 enjoy looking at the family lineages of Tolkien’s works! At first it was somewhat confusing to learn of all these characters, but once I got their names right, it added to the fun of following them throughout their journeys.
The languages are a also a big part of the experience. They add to the characters’ culture, and to the world of Arda in general! I remember how surprised and interested I was when I first learned that the names of all the characters in LOTR had actual meanings – for example, Aragorn means “noble king,” Arwen means “noble maiden,” and Celeborn means “silver tree.” After that, I really got into the languages and what the Silmarillion characters’ names meant XD
The geography is also a cool topic to think about. My copy of the Silmarillion has a large map of First Age Middle-earth attached to the inside of the cover, and it’s interesting to see how it was changed, later becoming Third Age Middle-earth!
6. Who is your favourite Tolkien character and why?
I can never have just one favourite character! Beren and Lúthien are my favourite couple, but I would say that my favourite characters are Maedhros, Maglor, Elrond, and Elros, specifically when all four are together. In my head, I imagine them to be a family, a dysfunctional one, perhaps, but a family nevertheless. The book leaves a lot to the imagination on Elrond and Elros’ childhood while being raised by the Feanorians, but I’ve gotten so used to the idea of Maglor being a foster-father and Maedhros being a foster-uncle/father (though there wouldn’t be trust at the beginning, I think; they would’ve had to build that). Taking care of small children would probably have brought out the Feanorians’ caring side, as they’d have to care for the twins, and if you’ve seen my drawings of them, you’ll see that I visualize a very tender caring on the Feanorians’ part XD
7. Are there some topics in Tolkien's works that you are particularly passionate about?
I’m quite passionate about the love and friendships shown in Tolkien’s works. Frodo and Sam were the first that stuck out to me when I was younger (I still get chills when Sam carries Frodo up Mt. Doom!). Nowadays I think of the relationships between Elves and Men in Tolkien’s works – more of the friendships than the romances. Finrod with the Edain (Bëor, Barahir, Beren); Fingolfin and Hador; Turgon with Húrin and Huor; Beleg and Túrin; Legolas and Aragorn (and Gimli haha), etc. There is something really appealing to me about these interspecies friendships: I always wonder about the interactions between an immortal and a mortal, and how the passing of the mortal would affect the immortal.
8. 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?
Art is my hobby I first started drawing when I was a toddler (my parents once showed me videos of baby me scribbling on paper lol), but it was only until I watched the PowerPuff Girls movie that I created my first OC and started drawing her a lot. I usually only draw characters, and very soon, I had created forty-something OCs!
Webcomics played a part in the development of my style, I believe. I learned some form of anatomy from them, and then I began looking at other artists’ work to develop my knowledge of it. If you look far enough in my gallery, you’ll see that I once had a semi-realistic style, but after one particular drawing of my OCs, my style changed into the one it is at present.
9. What's your creative process from picking the theme to finishing a picture?
The process usually depends on my motivation XD If I’m not motivated, or if I’m burnt out, then I’ll likely have a hard time carrying out the drawing to a finished product. However, my process usually begins with an image in my head of the characters I’d like to draw. While I’m sketching out a composition, I’ll likely be inspired by something, like a scene that could have taken place in the book, but is not shown, for example. This might influence how the drawing comes out, or the context that I developed for it.
10. There is one recurring theme in your art - embrace, together with emotions and compassion. Is the topic of caring important for you in fiction and real life?
I usually feel that I can’t draw characters, Tolkien’s or mine, without some form of intimate and platonic interaction. This might change in the future, but for now, I have taken to drawing people in the acts that you have mentioned Caring is indeed an important topic for me, especially in fiction – both Tolkien fiction and my stories. I find myself leaning toward more friendships and familial relationships than romances. For example, I drew my interpretation of Beren’s relationship with his son Dior and how it progressed as they both aged. I also drew scenes of Melkor and Manwë together because I wanted to explore their brotherly sides, and how they might have interacted before Melkor’s fall.
I think that the compassion aspect you’ve noticed may have come into my fanart from my stories. Something I’ve been really keen about is portraying familial relationships and friendships through my OCs, while romance doesn't really have as much emphasis. At the moment, I’m working on a certain story whose main character is very kind and compassionate, humble and meek. Now that I think about it, spending so much time in this character’s mindset must have influenced my Tolkien fanart XD
11. You often draw original characters as well. Could you tell us more about their story and world?
Of course! I have a major series that I’m working on with my friend (she joined to edit and co-write after I showed her my drafts), which is the Arlenian Chronicles. The world my OCs live in is filled with humans, elves, and dwarves, but also with peoples of celestial light, and magical creatures.
The stories themselves take place over three continents and span three generations in the Arlenian family, starting with the grandmother (and her brother):
(this is an old drawing lol)
Then her daughters:
Then her daughters:
(another old drawing XD)
And then her granddaughters:
And then her granddaughters:
Their stories include many adventures and meetings, but the heart of the story are their bonds with each other
There is also a second series of stories that are like spinoffs, but they follow a chronological order and make up the history of the world before the Arlenian family’s time.
These include tales of a dragon befriending a celestial child:
An Elven Empire:
A Prince Imperial of a human Empire, and his father-figure:
And many other stories that I haven’t drawn illustrations for, as of yet XD
12. What other book or movies (or anything else) inspire you to create fanart, and why?
Music can inspire me to draw, or even inspire me while I’m drawing, by setting the mood! My most recent inspiration has come from the indie game Gris (please forgive me if this sounds like promotion XD). That game has such beautiful piano music, melancholy and hopeful, and it really got me into drawing pieces like my Melkor and Manwë, and Beren with Dior!
I haven’t drawn much fanart of other books or movies, though I used to while I was in high school. Tolkien’s works are so far the only ones that have impacted me in such a way that I feel motivated enough to draw fanart for them!
13. What art technique is your favourite? Do you rather keep to the art techniques and styles you are familiar with, or do you experiment with new ones as well?
I usually use Paint Tool SAI to draw digitally, as it is the most comfortable for me to use. I used to draw traditionally, but soon grew out of it as I wanted to add colour to my drawings. I have experimented at times with styles when drawing my characters (my current style was the result of wanting to draw more cartoony-like), but I don’t usually do this at present.
14. Do you have some tips and tricks you would like to share with the other artists?
Have patience, take breaks, look outside the window to rest your eyes, and be sure to stay hydrated!
15. Could you tell us, which
- Tolkien illustration you are most proud of?
The entire comic of Maedhros, Elrond, and Elros! It’s also the only comic that I’ve managed to stay motivated for, and finish XD
- original picture or picture from other fandom you are most proud of?
I love how I got the colours and the stained-glass effect of the background.
- picture fits your current mood?
- picture was hardest to paint?
None of my drawings have been particularly hard to paint, but this one was a little tricky because there were quite a number of elements in there that I had to keep track of. AND Fingon’s hair braids irritated me so much that I went back after a while and changed their design XDD
I am also currently working on a new project that may overtake the piece mentioned above, as this one is an arduous process and will likely take a long while to complete!
- other picture you would like to share with us and why?
16. 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.
Elena Kukanova (EKukanova) has been the biggest inspiration to me on DeviantArt! I just love all of her Tolkien paintings, with all their details and colours!
Clamavi de Profundis (on YouTube) for inspiring me with their amazing covers of Tolkien’s poems!
I would also like to thank my friends for being with me and supporting me, especially Ebrbfureh, my co-writer and editor friend XD (She’s more active in real life than on DA lol But I’m hoping that, one day, she will magically appear in my notifications!)
17. Is there something else you would like to tell to the fans of Tolkien and your art?
You are all a wonderful part of the Tolkien community! Thank you to all those here on DeviantArt who have stuck with me or taken the time to pass by I really appreciate your kind comments, and I love you all!
Thank you for your time and answers!