There are different kinds of artists: some only paint landscapes or architecture, and others focus on portraits. In this issue of Talks with Tolkien artists, I talked to a portraitist of Tolkien's characters, - Sempern0x. You can see all of them in her Tolkien gallery:
1. Hello! For the beginning, could you tell us something about yourself?
I'm Lisa, 21, from Belgium. I'm in my first year of college right now studying to become a high school teacher for English and history. Those were the two subjects I was best at and the ones I was most interested in as well.
2. What brought you to deviantArt and how did you pick your username?
I wanted a bit of an outlet for my drawings. I used to have account long ago, but I started all anew when I started to draw more seriously. The very last drawing that's in my gallery is a bit of a 'remnant' from my old style.
3. How did you enter Tolkien's world for the first time, and what impression did it leave in you?
I was already drawing elves before I got to know Tolkien's work. People kept on telling me to watch it. I finally did when I was 13 or so when it was on tv. I only got to see The Fellowship right until Bree back then, but we had the DVDs at home so I decided to watch them on my own them. I immediately fell in love. I loved how rich the world felt and how every character already felt so familiar at a first watching.
4. How much did the movies influence your imagination when reading the books?
For Lord of the Rings I was definitely extremely influenced by what I'd seen in the movies. I kept trying to recall how the characters had looked in the movies. And for characters that weren't in the movies I just kinda imagined further on what I already knew.
But for The Hobbit and The Silmarillion I backed off a little from that singular vision and started to imagine more of my own things.
5. Some of Tolkien's books can be hard to read, being more of history annals than beletry. Do you let that discourage you or not? How extensive is your knowledge of Middle-earth?
As I am quite a history nerd and willingly read history books in my free time I had no trouble reading those books. I loved it.
My knowledge is a bit muddled at times since I have a chaotic mind. So I tend to go back to the lotr wiki a lot to check that what I put out isn't wrong.
6. Who is your favourite Tolkien character and why?
I honestly couldn't choose. Even characters I don't particularly like I still admire for their complexity. Though I guess among my favourites are Finrod, Haleth, Nerdanel, Éowyn, Faramir and Aragorn.
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?
I draw only in my free time. I'm just a student so I have to really watch my time and energy for drawing. But I've always been drawing. My mom says it's like I must've once picked up a crayon when I was little and I never let go of it anymore. My style has been influenced by quite a lot. The way I draw hair is still like when I drew manga. There's tidbits of every piece of art I see that somehow ends up in my own drawings. Technique-wise I mean.
8. How do you choose which characters to illustrate?
Randomly, really. I go through my references folder and select a picture I like and somewhere along the process I decide what character I feel most like drawing in that moment. Goes for my entire drawing process, the hair, the clothes, the jewelry and the colors. I don't have enough patience to take a long time planning everything.
9. Why portraits? That's almost the only kind of art we can find in your gallery...
To be very honest: I just never really practiced drawing anything else. I'm trying to draw more varied poses and to slowly go to full bodies, but it's going slowly as I need the energy and motivation to draw more.
10. Recently you moved on from Tolkien's elves to much more detailed busts of the Valar and Maiar. What caused this shift?
Just like my drawing process: randomly. I used a reference picture which was more than just the head and I decided to go with it and that became my Arien. I hadn't expected it to work out so well, so I'm happy people liked the final product as much as I did. So after that I decided to keep on drawing busts.
11. What other book or movies (or anything else) inspire you to create fanart, and why?
Oh, almost anything I see or read. Dragon Age is one of my major other fandoms.
Other things that inspire me are Mass Effect, Skyrim, The Witcher, Narnia, Trudi Canavan's works and a whole lot of k-dramas and k-pop. History is also a huge factor since it's what helps me to think of clothes and hairstyles to draw.
12. 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 favourite art technique is the one I use now, though I'm not sure how I'd describe it. Once I find a way of drawing/colouring I like, I tend to stick with it for a long time too. But I'm always willing to learn new stuff and make progress.
13. Do you have some tips and tricks you would like to share with the other artists?
The only tip I'd have is to just experiment with lots of techniques and styles and create whatever makes you happy!
14. Could you give us a link or thumbnail from your gallery of
- a Tolkien illustration you are most proud of?
This was the first portrait I drew after a long hiatus of having not much energy so I was really happy and proud that it had worked out well.
- a picture from other fandom or original picture you are most proud of?
I drew this for a college presentation and I'm glad I managed to draw one of my favourite goddesses like this.
- a picture that fits your current mood?
I'm in the mood for some doodling and sketching.
- a picture that was hardest to paint?
I always get so frustrated with drawing flowers and plants because what in the world am I supposed to draw in between the flowers??
- any other picture you would like to share with us and why?
15. 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.
My friends were definitely a great support as well as people I know on Tumblr who encourage me. I always feel motivated when I read comments or tags wherein people say they like my drawings! On DA I haven't really interacted with people enough to really pinpoint someone...
16. 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?
Not that she doesn't get enough attention, but she's probably one of my favourite artists on here: kimberly80
17. Is there something else you would like to tell to the fans of Tolkien and your art?
Keep on dreaming and imagining. Together we're keeping Tolkien's legacy and world alive and it's truly an amazing thing.
Thank you for your time and answers!