Talks with Tolkien artists: TheLongDefeat

18 min read

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MirachRavaia's avatar
By MirachRavaia

This week I talked to :iconthelongdefeat: - TheLongDefeat, a wonderful person and atrists who is a true friend of animals, as you can also see in her whole gallery and also in her Tolkien fanart.

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

I guess to begin with, I'm a self-taught watercolorist, though I like to experiment with other media and effects like ink, metal leaf, colored pencils, gouache, pens, acrylics, and salt. I especially like to add metallic and sparkly values to my pieces. Aside from art and Tolkien, my interests include hiking, exploring creeks and rivers with my dogs, reading, and collecting dead things (fresh and fossils.) I take care of snakes, geckos, a turtle, tarantulas, a scorpion, a fish, houseplants, and the aforementioned dogs.

So animals and nature are equally important in your life as they are in your art. Can you tell us more about your relationship with them?

I can't remember a time when I wasn't fascinated by the natural world. Sweating a little... I've always found it easier to be around animals than people, and I just love interacting with them and seeing their behavior. Whether I'm just sitting in my yard with my dogs, or watching gulls hunting over a lake, being outdoors and near animals just makes me peaceful.

What's the story behind you username and joining deviantart?

My name is from Tolkien's quote "(...) I do not expect 'history' to be anything but a 'long defeat' - though it contains (and in a legend may contain more clearly and movingly) some samples or glimpses of final victory." The idea of it just really resonates with me. I first found DA maybe 12-14 years ago, though I don't recall what brought me here in the first place. I've abandoned a few accounts, but in the last year I've met some really lovely friends here, so I think I'll stay. :) (Smile)

We already talked about animals. Now, what does Tolkien mean to you? How did you first get to know his world and what impression did it leave in you?

My first introduction to Tolkien's world was when my dad showed my the old animated Hobbit and LoTR; I think I was around 9/10. Soon after I read and fell even more in love with the books, and a few years after that read The Silmarillion and HoME was I was enthralled. I love how nature and the land itself are just as fantastic and tragic as any of heroes. The the carefully constructed languages, world building, and diverse characters and environments are very rich and immersive. There's so much beauty mingled with sadness. It's just so easy to become lost in his world.

And what creates the image of this world 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?

Definitely the books. I do like the old animated movies and the LoTR trilogy, but the books conjure a different vision for me. For the most part my image of characters and places has stayed consistent. Though as far as other artists' works, I discovered Jenny Dolfen's watercolors shortly after I first read The Silmarillion and I love how she envisions characters.

Who is your favourite Tolkien character?

Huan! XD If we're talking about people characters, it's hard to choose just one. I like Maedhros and Maglor because they seem to be compassionate when not acting on their Oath. I feel a lot of pity for Gwindor. Fingon, Finrod, Tuor, and Idril are just genuinely good people. I reread The Hobbit recently, and found Beorn very relatable.

We don't need to talk about people characters, I would actually like to talk more about Tolkien's animals. Looking from your perspecttive of animal lover, what do you see in Tolkien's works?

I'm really drawn to Tolkien's writing because his animal characters are actually characters, with their own motives and thoughts that can be quite different from their masters' (if they have one). Like Hasufel and Arod ditching Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli because they felt like visiting with their cheiftan Shadowfax, or Huan deciding that Celegorm's behavior towards Lúthien was wrong and then both counseling Lúthien and turning on his master. I get very bored with books where animals are just one-dimensional side kicks or vehicles for other characters. I really appreciate Tolkien for giving his animals so much agency. This line about the Battle of the Last Alliance is striking in regards to that point: "All living things were divided in that day, and some of every kind, even of beasts and birds, were found in either host, save the Elves only." They choose to fight, and they choose which side is "right", to them anyway.

Is there any other topic in Tolkien that you are particulartly fond of or passionate about?

Hmm, I'm very fond of Tolkien's poetry and songs. From the charming and sometimes silly songs in The Hobbit to the mystically epic and tragic Lays of Beleriand (one of my favorite books ^^), his poems have a certain magic and way of sweeping the reader into the tale. I also appreciate the somewhat archaic language in a lot of his stories; I enjoy learning new words and his books have definitely expanded my vocabulary. ha ha

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 a hobby that I'm very passionate about. Drawing is just something I've always done. When I was young I'd see animals in books or real life and feel the need to copy them on paper. While I've had phases where I used other media for a while, I always go back to watercolor. It feels "natural". I feel like my style is influenced by so many things; book illustrations (I love old story books!), animals, other artists at festivals or on DA, and in the last several years I've fallen in love with art nouveau (I'm not very good at it yet, though Sweating a little...).

Could you tell us more about your story "Tales of Argonia"?

Well... it's a mess. ha ha I created this imaginary world like 12 years ago and I've been drawing creatures and people for it ever since. It's a grimdark setting with lots of haunted wildernesses and strange beings. I'm terrible at writing cohesively, so I have notes scribbled in journals, between sketches, on the backs of paintings, etc. I'm very self-conscious and anxious about original art so I don't post much of it.

That's a pity, because it looks very interesting and I would like to know more about the stories that the pictures are illustrating. Do you once plan to share it in any form?

I don't know. I honestly enjoy writing, but I'm not good at it, and I have a bad habit of going back and editing again and again and then deleting or throwing it away. I don't have a lot of self confidence when it comes to art. Sweating a little... Maybe some day that will change, but for now the story is just something I personally enjoy creating.

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

I've done a bit of fanart for George Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, though I only have one piece online. I appreciate his world building, often grim settings, occasional strange creatures, and arcane horror. I hardly turn on the tv, but I did really enjoy the anime Wolf's Rain and did a painting for it. It's also grim, with a slight art nouveau vibe, and centers around wolves and flowers and the moon, which are things I like to draw anyway. :D (Big Grin) I'd like to do some fanart for Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn. It's more whimsical, but has a lovely, lyrical, magical, and even wistful atmosphere.

How do you decide what to draw and what's your creative process from picking the theme to finishing a picture?

My inspiration is really variable; it can come from part of a song, something I saw in the woods, or sometimes a particular sentence or stanza is so vivid I just want to put it on paper. I do thumbnail sketches to decide just where to put characters and to balance the scenery, then I look for photo references to get all the proportions right (though sometimes I'll freehand animals and creatures, I'm still pretty terrible at drawing people so I really need to have a reference to draw them.) After that I just do a light, final sketch and start painting it. :) (Smile)

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

I like to listen to documentaries and tutorials on my laptop while I do art. It's nice for background noise, you might learn something new, and they're a good distraction while paint is drying. Also, just keep trying new media, brands, techniques, etc. Even if the result is disappointing, at least you learned what not to do/ use from trying it, and that's still progress.

Do you still try new media? You said you always end with watercolors, so how much room for experimenting do you leave yourself?

I do still try new brands and media; like for the last few months I've been using inks a lot more (which I've found are not as forgiving, so that's a fun challenge) and adding metal leaf on top of watercolor. I recently discovered waterbrushes and I've been trying to incorporate those in some art I'm working on now as well. Watercolors are definitely what I'm most comfortable with, but it seems like there are still so many watercolor options I haven't explored yet, in addition to the other mediums I haven't used in a while or have yet to try.

Could you tell us, which
- Tolkien illustration you are most proud of?

This has so many flaws, but it has a lot of meaning to me.

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

- picture fits your current mood?

- picture was hardest to paint?

I struggled a lot with the knotwork and symmetry. Sweating a little...

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

I just like this one because it's peaceful.  Also, drawing a harp wasn't as intimidating as I thought it would be. ha ha

Would you like to use this space to give a feature to someone? 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 appreciate Irjikor and the thoughtful Tolkien discussions we've had. His weekly LOTR riddles are awesome too! :) (Smile) Iakobbaz is a lovely writer and watercolorist who is always very kind and supportive. Also, I'd like to share a few illustrations from a few really inspirational artists:

Tinuviel by Sieskja Aredhel in the forest of Nan Elmoth by Sieskja Saruman, come forth ! by Sieskja
Rescued by AngelaRizza   I Am No Man by AngelaRizza <da:thumb id="291194461"/>
<da:thumb id="298559612"/> <da:thumb id="324469142"/> <da:thumb id="311633415"/>
Silmarillion_Mandos cavern by Daswhox The Music of the Ainur page 1 by Daswhox

Mature Content

Silmarillion_We will do the tears of blood of Eru by Daswhox

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

Thank you to all the Tolkien fans on DA. Seeing everyone else's beautiful art and receiving feedback for my own is wonderful. I love that so many people continue to be inspired by his works all these years later. Stay creative everyone. :) (Smile)

Thank you for your time and answers! :) (Smile)

Coding by Felizias Drawings by ebe-kastein Borders by PhoenixWildfire
© 2019 - 2021 MirachRavaia
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Daswhox's avatar
omg, thank you so much for the share owo
Iakobbaz's avatar
Whao, thank you so much for the unexpected mention. You're a very skilled watercolorist, I'm glad you got a feature ! You deserve it, you've supported so much artists. :love:
TheLongDefeat's avatar
Thank you so much for the interview/ art feature! :heart: