I must apologize for the lateness of posting this interview. The talented Silmarillion illustrator - KipRasmussen joined deviantart last year, and I interviewed him soon after that, but some of the questions got cut off from the talk. As he didn't get to replying them later, with his permission I'm posting the talk as it is with an extended feature instead of the missing answers.
1. Hello! For the beginning, could you tell us something about yourself?
Hi, my name is Kip Rasmussen. Thank you for your interest in my work. I'm a family psychologist by training and trade, and paint scenes from The Silmarillion by night.
2. It is interesting to find out the stories behind people's usernames. What is yours?
It's my real name. My parents share the blame for that one
3. When did you read Tolkien's books for the first time, and what impression did they leave in you?
At age eight, I pulled "The Hobbit" from my brother's bookshelf and read the words, "In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit...." As I read, I realized, even at age eight, that this was something like nothing else in the world. I devoured "Lord of the Rings," and much later in life read "The Silmarillion." To me it's one of the great works of art of all history.
4. How extensive is your knowledge of Middle-earth? Do you consider yourself Tolkien expert?
I know the stories pretty well, having read them for decades. I don't consider myself a Tolkien scholar. When I choose a scene to illustrate, however, I study the relevant passages closely. I want to be as true to Tolkien's vision as possible.
5. Did you read the books, or see the movies 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 When the movies came out, many of the inner pictures of characters and scenes in the mind of the readers have been replaced by actors and settings from the movie.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?
I read the books first. Many of my initial images have been replaced. I don't know how to feel about that, but I do think Jackson did a masterful job of many of the elements of the books. His designers really helped, obviously.
6. You joined deviantArt only recently. What is your experience with it so far? Will you be posting more of your works here?
I just joined DA. I'm very impressed by the positive, caring community of Tolkien fans. I have been welcomed so enthusiastically. I am very, very touched by the kindness of the Tolkien community. It's really wonderful, and I hope I can add to the dazzling positivity.
7. 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?
Although I am well into my career, I have only been painting for three years now. I consider myself a student of the painting process. I was influenced by Alan Lee, Jon Howe, and Ted Naismith. All three are absolute masters within their respective areas of strength. I know very few artists of any genre who can surpass what they do best. I've learned a lot from each of them. I also love the work of Frazetta, Franklin Booth, Maxfield Parrish, Roger Dean, and cowboy artists Frank Mccarthy and James Bama.
8. How do you choose which scenes and characters to illustrate?
If another artist has produced a depiction of a scene that is monumental, I kind of leave it alone. It's like a cover version of Kashmir or When the Levee Breaks by Led Zeppelin. Why try to improve on perfection? That's how I feel about many of the paintings out there. Fortunately, there are literally hundreds of scenes from The Silmarillion begging to be painted. So, I choose the scenes which move me the most, and which are within my ability level. Some work out, some don't. I'm still learning. That said, I love monsters, warriors, dramatic landscapes, and scenes where great characters fall in love. Tolkien has many of those.
9. 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 have many obligations, none of which I can ignore--work, family, etc. Because of this, I started in oils, then found that they dry too slowly for the time I had, even with a dryer. I now paint in acrylics and have found them to be right for me.
10. Do you have some tips and tricks you would like to share with the other artists?
Work on the compositions first. Most artists I have studied spend many hours or days getting that right. Arrange the major elements in a way that works for you, before you draw or paint the finished product.
Thank you for your time and answers!
Talks with Tolkien artists: saphir93
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