Talks with Tolkien artists: Sumeria

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MirachRavaia's avatar
By MirachRavaia

Thank you all for the great response to the previous 100th issue of the Talks! And now we are already starting the second 100 by a talk with Sumeria. She combines Silmarillion characters with beautiful floral designs, eastern aesthetics and dynamic poses, and you can see the result in her Silmarillion gallery:

Elrond by Sumeria
Anarie by Sumeria Annatar by Sumeria
Saeros by Sumeria
Beren by Sumeria Luthien Tinuviel by Sumeria

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

Hrm, let's see. Well, I tend to go through periods of reinventing my art style when I discover/fall in love with new media. My giant project to draw every character in the silmarillion occurred when I got into copic markers.

2. What brought you to deviatArt and how did you pick your username?

Oh lord, do I even remember? I think it was when I first started drawing again after college-- I wanted a place online to post things, and at the time, this was basically the fanart hub of the internet. I have no idea bout the username; I picked it forever ago when I first started using the internet, and it's basically stayed with me.

3. How did you enter Tolkien's world for the first time, and what impression did it leave in you?

: ponder:: I was in third grade and my mother handed me Fellowship...actually, no. That's the first encounter I _remember_, but she she made a reference to the ancient animated movie when she did so that I found meaningful, so I must have seen that movie when I was a kid, but I really don't remember. I loved LotR, but I don't think I even knew the Hobbit was a thing until several years laterp.

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 When the movies came out, many of the inner pictures of characters and scenes in the mind of the readers have been replaced by actors and settings from the movie.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?

With some characters yes, with others, no. My impressions of scenery have been heavily influenced by the movie, because the movie's scenery was basically spot on. For characters, it depends. Frodo, and the other hobbits Gandalf, Gimli, yeah, the movie has basically surplanted my images. Aragorn, and most of the elves? Less so; they were too different from what was in my head.

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?

Nope. I mean, I bounced hard off the Silmarillion the first time I tried to read it, when I was....hrm, 12? I expected a novel, and it wasn't one. I returned to it in college with some friends, and better expectations, and fell in love. The Silmarillion and the other Histories are actually dearer to my heart than LotR at this point. I think it helps to read them as one trying to find out information _about_ a story than trying to read the story itself. My middle earth knowledge is...extensive.

6. Who is your favourite Tolkien character and why?

Oh, Feanor. Maedhros and Celebrimbor vie for second a lot. I"ve always loved a certain type of tragic hero who borders on anti-hero, so.

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?

Just a hobby, alas. I don't draw quickly enough to do it professionally. I started... hrm, I think I was ten when I really got into art? But my improvement as an artist has happened in fits and starts over the years as I developed more or less time to it.

8. Eastern influences and aesthetics are visible in your style. What are your inspirations and how did you develop it?

:Shrug: anime. That's the biggest influence on my personal style.

I adopt elements of artstyles I admire, as I think a lot of artists do. I see a thing I think is done beautifully, or an effect, and think "I could incorporate that into my work". The degree to which eastern aesthetics are visibile in my _Tolkien_ art though, is partially a deliberate choice. At the time I started doing a lot of Tolkien art, I was interested in pushing back at what I think is an overly euro-centric interpretation of the world. If you look at the maps of Arda, Cuivienen, where the elves first orginated, is near China if we presume Beleriand to be vaguely Europe. At the same type, the sort of fantasy chinese garments common in wuxia films and things set in medieval china seemed very much in the style of elvish aesthetics, so I looked a lot of that style of art for inspiration while I was working.

9. Your pictures combine Tolkien's characters with flowers. What inspires you to use a certain flower with a particular character?

Purely visuals. I wanted a design element that would let me break up the white space around characters without having to draw backgrounds, but which wouldn't be incredibly monotonous to draw. Flowers offer a ton of variety of visual effects, but form a unifying theme, and allowed me to pick flowers whose look meshed with my take on the character's personality. So Feanor has Gloriosa lillies because they look like fire, Maeglin has Anemones because they're pale and kind of goth looking.

10. Speaking about similarities, in almost all of these pictures, the characters are wielding a weapon, so again I ask - what is your inspiration for their particluar combat poses and weapons?

Ah, this actually relates to why I started this project-- it was actually an exercise in self improvement. I wanted to get better at drawing figures, particularly action poses. At the same time, a friend and I had been falling back into hardcore Silmarillion fandom, so when I was looking for a project that I could do, it was a natural leap. In terms of choosing specific poses, honestly, I go looking through pose references, and start sketching things that look dynamic and interesting, and try to get a feeling for what character it makes me think of as I work. Then I further refine it towards that character. In terms of weapons...I default to swords, because they're easy, but for some characters, Tolkien mentioned them as famously using something else, or I just had a headcanon associating them with something else. This one isn't too deep. =P (Razz)

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

Recently, Naruto, of all things, but honestly, for me, what I draw at any given time is a fairly good representation of what fandoms I and my friends are currently into. Anything that I either get emotionally invested in, or which has character designs I'm attracted to, I tend to want to draw.

11. 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?

Little bit of both. I have a tendancy to do things by rote, but periodically I'll _also_ get some new art supply I want to try, and then it might get incorporated. So in recent years, I was working purely in copics, then I was watching youtube videos of people mixing copics with watercolor, and wanted to try that. I moved into doing watercolor backgrounds with copic art on top, which I really like, but then also I've started experimenting with doing a more pure watercolor.

That said, as to favorites, it has to be cleanly inked lineart. That's more or less the unifying element in everything I've done.

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

Pull curved lines towards yourself and push straight lines away. (Best tip I know for instant improvement in inking, tbh.)

Less shallowly, beyond the obvious practice, the best way to improve yourself I've found is to look at art you find beautiful and try to think "how would I achieve that effect?" "how can I incorporate this into what I do?" and then experiment. It both keeps things fun and interesting, and helps you to be always pushing yourself and improving.

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

Let's go with Melian:
 Melian by Sumeria
whose elements all came together really well.

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

I'll go with this piece of recent Naruto fanart:
Mito by Sumeria
featuring me experimenting with watercolors.

- a picture that fits your current mood?

We'll go with this Juuni Kokki fanart; most of my moods are not dramatic enough for my art:
Kei by Sumeria

- a picture that was hardest to paint?

Maedhros. These thistles were impossible:
Maedhros by Sumeria

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

I'm quite fond of the composition on Elwing:
Elwing by Sumeria

14. 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 don't know if it's so dramatic as to be a key element, but my friend TheArrogantEmu and I have spent the last few years motivating each other by bribing each other with fanworks; I send her pics of my tolkien art in progress, she writes me tolkien fanfic.

15. 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 don't know that I follow anyone who isn't super well known, but I will give a shoutout to :iconkimberly80: - kimberly80, whose command of light is extraordinary.

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

Thank you all for enjoying my ridiculous collection of very nearly every elf from the silmarillion, and for being a wonderful fandom in general!

Thank you very much for your time and answers!

Coding by Felizias Drawings by ebe-kastein Borders by PhoenixWildfire
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