Talks with Tolkien artists: Doodemoiidesu

22 min read

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MirachRavaia's avatar
By MirachRavaia

:icondoodemoiidesu: - Doodemoiidesu's subtle watercolors show mostly her own vision of Legolas (who's not Orlando Bloom) and scenes of friendship. She is inspired by trees, and is a very inspiring person herself. If you continue reading, you can find out more not oly about her art, but also about her adventures!

Friendship by Doodemoiidesu
Star light by Doodemoiidesu
A Serious Matter by Doodemoiidesu
Archer by Doodemoiidesu
The two gardeners by Doodemoiidesu The Eaves of Fangorn by Doodemoiidesu

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

I consider myself an artist, with a particular fondness for illustration and story-telling. I am also a graduate student who studies environmental sciences, forest health, and ecology.

2. Your username looks a bit complicated. Is there a story behind it?

I am often a little bashful about my username, since it is quite old. I chose it when I was particularly young. It is a Japanese phrase (with a spelling error!), meaning along the lines of “I don’t mind”, “Either way is fine,” “Whichever is fine.” I studied Japanese for some time and lived in Japan a couple years back, – since I tend to have a very laid back, agreeable personality (and I am sometimes even rather indecisive), it was a phrase I often used! I didn’t have a good idea for a username at the time so I decided “whichever is fine” for me! I would like to change it to something more creative and more professional.

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

I first read small sections of the Fellowship of the Ring when I was in middle school (around 11 years old). I vividly remember being confused by all the talk of creatures called hobbits, and the birthday of someone named Bilbo. Haha! At the time, it seemed very complex to me, and I was also a very slow reader. I turned to the Hobbit, which was simpler for me to understand at that age. The first chapter of the Lord of the Rings began to make much more sense after that, and kept pulling me in, step by step! I also have an immense love of language, and writing, and linguistics, as well as history. So the crafting and beauty of sentences -- the “feel” of a sentence and the artistry of it – that was something I connected with strongly the more I was pulled into Tolkien’s works. I always felt like I was reading art when I read Tolkien.

4. Did you read the books, or see the movies first? If the books were first, 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? And if the movies were first, how much did the movies influence your imagination when reading the books?

About the same time I was trying to parse through the first pages and chapters of the Lord of the Rings, before I understood how vast and how well-known Tolkien’s works were, the Fellowship of the Ring was released as a film. So, my introduction to Tolkien was somewhat simultaneously through the books, and through the movies.

But the “movies” and the “books” were always somewhat different “worlds” for me. The books, in my humble opinion, offer a lot more for me personally to explore in terms of emotions and relationships and messages, which is more alluring to me for art. Admittedly, however, the movies played a strong initial role in jump-starting some of my inner pictures of some characters, as well as landscapes, architectures, patterns, etc. They were one of my first visual introductions (along with the animated Bakshi Lord of the Rings films and also the animated Hobbit film! And also Alan Lee, Ted Nasmith, and John Howe). Especially the Fellowship of the Ring, since I like the “feel” of that film. But as a general practice, when I know there is a book and movie version of a story, I try to be cautious to leave clear room for my own interpretations. Not to let myself get too absorbed by one outside image.

These days, I still like to keep most of my mental images from the books and from the movies separate, and like to explore my own imagination a lot more. But I would guess that the movies helped in that exploration process, and that influence sometimes shows up.

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

I definitely don’t consider myself an expert (though perhaps nerd would be apt!). I did take a course in Tolkien’s various writings during university, though! Through that, I got to explore some of the deeper messages and literature aspects in greater detail.

But generally, I try to make sure I do my research and enjoy digging into the details, the history of Middle-earth and Tolkien’s universe. I always refresh myself by reading specific passages in the books when I decide to paint a scene. I keep familiar with the Silmarillion and some of the other histories, and love learning more Tolkien trivia (as well as pouring through the appendices). I also like to make sure I understand the little references Tolkien has spread through his books – to be in on the jokes, too. But there’s a lot more I could learn!

6. I think by a look at your gallery it's rather obvious, but still I will ask: who is your favourite Tolkien character and why?

Yes, based on my gallery, Legolas comes out as a clear favorite! I love to paint him, because his image is one of the hardest for me to get right, and I feel like I have never succeeded! So I keep trying! He is a lot of fun to explore, and to see others explore too, because it is a challenge to try to depict some of the contrasts that go into elves, particularly Legolas: youth and age, naivety and wisdom, joyfulness and solemnity, beauty/delicacy and strength, otherworldliness and earthiness. The concept of elves is very interesting to me. I think that Legolas (in the books especially) is such a humorous, lighthearted character but also curious, and one who evolves and becomes changed. So I have always enjoyed his scenes! I just love gentle humor, and lightheartedness.

But I also love many other Tolkien characters! Bilbo and Samwise, for example, because I really relate to them. Gimli, who is one of my absolute favorites! Galadriel. Elrond. Goldberry, Tom Bombadil. Glorfindel. Beorn! Aragorn (especially in the books, where he is quite funny!) Even Shelob! I haven’t depicted others as much, but hope to keep doing more art featuring other characters.

7. Trees are another repeating motive in your gallery. Do you have a special relationship with them (in the manner of Elves)?

I love trees dearly – I find them so beautiful. They are fascinating to me, their strength and adaptability, and forms. I really look up to trees – literally, usually! – and try to learn from them. Various shades of greens and browns and yellows are also some of my favorite colors, all of which come together in trees.

More so, as a researcher, outside of art, I study trees: tree health, forest health, and tree physiology. I work hard, through my scientific and ecological research, to protect them. There is so much to learn from them. Whenever I see lush green leaves in summer, or a flowering or budding tree in springtime, or changing leaves in fall, or spindly branches in winter, I am always filled with admiration. Other plants too! They make me thoughtful. They are teachers, especially older trees, and have seen a lot and experienced the world around them differently from myself. So I should listen to them!

8. I found an interesting information of your website about a 2,000 mile bike ride you did, and I'm in awe! Could you tell us a bit more about this adventure?

Oh, thank you! Certainly, I can tell a bit more. I did that bike ride the summer before last. The route followed 2,000 miles of the Keystone pipeline, which was/is a proposed and partly existing oil pipeline crossing the United States. I consider myself an environmentalist, and have a strong love for the land, and so I am against such pipelines. I wanted to see for myself the land that could be hurt by an oil spill and I decided to bike the route, with one companion, starting in Texas and ending at the Canadian border over the course of 29 days. I learned a lot!

I really like to push myself through findings adventures, especially challenging ones, such as biking long distances, or trying to avoid using cars if I can. That was my longest bike adventure so far. I also love to hike and run long distances such as 50k races. You learn a lot through those adventures, and through pushing yourself to travel far. Interestingly enough, I am often inspired by the long distances traveled by many of Tolkien’s characters!

9. 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?

I mostly do art as a hobby, but a very persistent hobby. One day I would like to become a professional artist. I have been an illustrator for a few small children’s books, and hope to publish a few of my own illustrated books someday.

I started doing art when I was very young and kept practicing. I think I have a long ways to go still. But it is a continuing learning and honing process, and relaxing. I think I have always been influenced by wanting to see beautiful things! (And beautiful not just conventionally, but all types of beauty). I also really love to share things with others, and love to help envision things, or give them something to smile at, or spark their thoughts.

The world around me, such as forests and grasslands and streams often influences my style. My love of the outdoors and growing things seeps into a lot of my pieces, I think! But also artists like Howard Pyle and Alphonse Mucha influenced me from a young age, as well as Goya, Remedios Varo, Yoshitaka Amano, Gustav Klimt, John William Waterhouse, and also Tolkien artists Ted Nasmith, John Howe, and Alan Lee (and also many, many artists here on DA, such as peet, TurnerMohan, EKukanova, Gold-Seven, and more!).

10. How do you choose which scenes and characters to illustrate?

Mostly, I choose scenes based on what I want to see, or that I am curious about! Scenes that make me feel warm or lighthearted or transported, or sometimes scenes that are compelling or subtle. Or, scenes that have a strong emotion, that I really want to express, if I can. I especially enjoy trying to bring sentences to life, or to interpret them, and think a lot about them. I like to explore relationships and characters and their emotions, too.

I just love to see things get illustrated, so there are often many scenes I want to choose, and it can be hard to decide! Even if my painting or drawing is not from a particular story, I often have some little story to go along with it. But almost always, there is some “feeling” I am trying to show or reflect.

11. On the contrary to some dramatic action-filled illustrations, you often depict calm scenes and moments of friendship. What do you think about the importance of friendship in Tolkien's world?

Yes, I really love calm scenes, or quiet scenes. I like to try to make myself and make others smile. Or, to capture a similar feeling to the text, that the viewer can think about and ponder for themselves. Since I like to see those subtler moments, I don’t often depict dramatic scenes. I think there are so many artists out there who can do those much better than I can. So I naturally gravitate towards “smaller” scenes. I only very rarely do action-filled scenes, which usually feel less intimate to me.

I think that friendship is very important in Tolkien’s world. I think that friendship drives a lot of the courage and strength in Tolkien’s world. Friendships like that between Legolas and Gimli always make me smile – or between the Three Hunters, or Gandalf and Shadowfax, Fatty Bolger’s help to Frodo, or Beleg and Turin even. Compassion, kindness, empathy, loyalty, sometimes conflicts, sometimes sacrifices – I think a lot of those are important in Tolkien’s world, and tend to come together in friendships.

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

I tend not to do a lot of other fanart besides Tolkien-related pieces these days. But I do love history, and sometimes get inspired to try to paint or illustrate historical figures or scenes. Old sagas or folklore, too.

I also tend to enjoy Miyazaki films or old Disney movies, and every now and then something will pop up (often lighthearted things like cartoons!) that I’d like to draw/paint. Old books I enjoyed when I was a child, too (like Robin Hood). That said, I haven’t had a lot of time to read or watch many movies in recent years. When I get a chance to read/watch more, I would probably be inspired to create other fanart since I like getting to share characters with others.

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?

My favorite technique right now is watercolor, with some details or rich colors. I also like patterns, and delicate outlines. When I first started painting, I often used acrylic on canvas. I want to keep improving that, too – especially for landscapes, etc. But for illustration, I tend to like watercolor best, or occasionally inks. Watercolor is very “malleable”, if that makes sense. And you can get all sorts of colors, softness, and get things to “flow”. I am also a little bit impatient when it comes to painting! I like to be able to keep moving with a piece, before it slips away, and do it all in one (or at most two) sittings. I want to get the whole idea onto paper right away. As a result, I’ve always naturally preferred mediums and techniques like watercolor and acrylic that dry fast. I need to work on being more patient!

I think I prefer to keep a technique/style that I am familiar with, at least until I feel that I have improved it enough, or until it becomes too redundant for me. But I think experimenting helps one to grow, so I like to do careful little experiments. I’d like to get more brave with that! I tend to be cautious, but I need to remember that there is no harm in trying new techniques!

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

I don’t think I’m quite skilled enough to offer many great tips or tricks. A lot of them I picked up on my own over time, and maybe aren’t strictly the best methods, but seem to work for me (until I learn something better). Practice helps! Let yourself loosen up, sometimes taking a break helps! Good paper helps! A bit of planning helps, too. And be patient – I have ruined many paintings through hastiness. But if someone has a question, I am always glad to help, so please don’t hesitate to ask. If you enjoy art, keep doing it!

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

Nimrodel by Doodemoiidesu

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

The Beech Trees by Doodemoiidesu

- a picture that fits your current mood?

The Eaves of Fangorn by Doodemoiidesu

- a picture that was hardest to paint?

The Three Hunters and the Riders of Rohan by Doodemoiidesu

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

Dark Door by Doodemoiidesu
(Because I had to paint this one twice, and still made many mistakes!)

16. 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.

I have had a couple of art teachers who were very inspirational to me, and many friends who motivate me. Many people on DA have been very inspirational too! Those who view or comment, or favorite my pieces always inspire me to paint more, as well as those who take joy out of creating art!

17. 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?

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

Thank you very much for taking a look at my art, and thank you very much for enjoying Tolkien’s works! I love to see what others create and interpret!

Thank you very much for your time and answers!

Coding by Felizias Drawings by ebe-kastein Borders by PhoenixWildfire
© 2016 - 2021 MirachRavaia
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peet's avatar
Another great interview, and a Tolkien artist I really love. We both seem to picture Legolas exactly the same in particular, and I'm honoured to be mentioned here! Thanks a lot! :hug:
MirachRavaia's avatar
Thank you! I can't really see Legolas as Orlando either, I think the depiction by I. Edelfeldt is closest to my mental image of him:…
peet's avatar
Yes I've always liked Edelfeldt's! I guess mine was borne out of Lee and Eissmann, whose works accompanied my first read. But Doodemoiidesu's really hits the mark for me too :D
AnotherStranger-Me's avatar
Thank you for one more interesting interview!
And it's so flattering to find one of one's own picture thumbnail :) Thanks, Doodemoiidesu!