Talks with Tolkien artists: Venlian

16 min read

Deviation Actions

MirachRavaia's avatar
By MirachRavaia

The Elves are beautiful, there is no doubt about that. But :iconvenlian: - Venlian gives this beauty a new dimension - one that can only be described as "hot" or "sexy". And this is just one of the interesting topics we talked about in this interview ;)
(note: please keep in mind that English is not Venlian's first language and this interview had to be translated. I hope all is understandable despite of this, though.)

Idril Light by Venlian Feanaro by Venlian
Morning Punishment by Venlian Beren by Venlian
Celegorm son of Feanor by Venlian Eowyn by Venlian

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

Hi! I’m an artist from Ukraine, I’m fond of drawing, music and literature. I love animals. I have 3 aquariums and a german shepherd dog, I called him Anor.

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

I read and looked through enough material about Tolkien's world to say that I understand it. But as the actor V. Livanov who ingeniously played Sherlock Holmes told in his interview – he specially didn't re-read the book before filming to keep freshness of sensing and admiration of Holmes he got since early youth and convey this first impression to the audience. I think he succeeded in it:). I don't re-read Tolkien for hundred times too before drawing, I don't look for any little details through Internet, I draw on first impression of scene or character, I try to keep my delight of some character :). That’s why I wouldn't put my name among experts and tolkienologists.

3. When did you read Tolkien's books for the first time, and what impression did they leave in you? What was first for you - book or movie? When the movies came out, many of the inner pictures of characters and scenes in the mind of the readers have been replaced by actors and settings from the movie.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?

When the first part of LOTR trilogy came out, I wasn't fond of Tolkien yet and I didn't know who is he, that’s why I didn't go to the cinema. And only when there were already all 3 parts, I decided to watch this movie from the disk, but didn't understand the plot and didn’t like it. When I told my acquaintance about it, she said that it is necessary to read the book first; all is much more cool and clear there. She gave me to read "The Two Towers", - my passion for Tolkien also began with it. I was immensely in love with the book, I terribly wanted to read the others. After time I was lucky to buy all 3 volumes on sale, it was translated by Nemirova A. I think that it is the best translation of LOTR, exactly I must thank this translation that my love for Tolkien became so deep. I hesitated much to read the "Silmarillion" though there were its fans among my acquaintances. The text seemed very confusing and unclear to me. Only much later, also incidentally, I had to study this book and some episodes made great impression on me. As for the movie, I re-watched it after reading the book, and it is a beautiful scenery to the book, but no more than that. The most apt in my opinion is Gandalf, approximately such as I also imagine him. Sam, Eowyn and Theoden and all Rohirrim are good :) I don’t like Frodo at all, in my opinion he doesn't agree with the book and that uncommon hobbit about whom Tolkien wrote. Aragorn also lacs, with all my love to Vigo :) Images from Jackson’s LOTR are inevitably imposed on us, but Tolkien’s world is much more deep and more natural and orсs are not so simple as the herd of bisons  :)

4. 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 am a professional artist. I studied in an art school, then in the nursery of artists in a painting class, then I graduated from the art and graphic institute. I started drawing in childhood. At the beginning I drew only animals, I started with people already studying in an art school. In my childhood I was inspired by cartoons – the russian animated cartoon "Maugli", "Beauty and the Beast", "The Lion King", etc. I wanted very much to become an animated cartoon artist.

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

I would tell that my applies to Tolkien share on two parts: these are portraits of characters and a scenes from their life. Most of all I’m interested in several characters from "Silm", first of all it is Feanor and his family. Creating his portrait, or members of his family, I want to convey a certain emotional state, identity, feature. I don't want them to be ordinary cute faces, without relation to Tolkien's world. It is difficult and such task attracts me. On my portraits they are shown as just people, often sexy, and often first of all as soldiers. This combination of sublime beauty of mind and body with necessity to struggle, win and create new cities  -  is really wonderful. Inexhaustible subject. As for the scenes from life – there are some plans, and I hope that I would be able to get around to them :).

6. 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 like to draw digital and traditional, however the spirit of Middle Ages in Tolkien's works as if hints that his world goes best of all with traditional, and I will agree with such opinion. As for the techniques I tried to draw Tolkien's world with watercolor, and pastel, and ink and graphite. Quite perhaps, I will risk also with oil :) It would be epic :)

7. Probably the best word to describe your character paintings is "hot". As a modest and religious man, Tolkien avoided this topic, but some of your illustrations are more revealing. Is it your intention to present them as "eye-candy" for the viewers? What is your opinion on sexuality in Middle-earth?

You know, I think that there was sex in Middle-Earth :). Feanor had 7 sons, and this already gives us a hint that he had sex with his wife not only on hollidays :) I don't see elves of "Silm" as just cute handsome men and shirkers, they had to work hard, building the new cities of Middle-Earth – after all they had no slaves, all they did, they did themselves. They had to be at war, sow and plow, build and fight – that’s why in my opinion they are flesh and blood. Thus they are beautiful and strong – and it is really sexy!

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

In my art I try to avoid stereotypes. I can advise all artists, to do the same :)

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

Glorfindel. Before The Storm. by Venlian
I like how it came out to show his expression and mood.

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

Celtic girl by Venlian

- a picture that fits your current mood?

Fingon Before the Battle by Venlian

- a picture that was hardest to paint?

Feanor Noldor King by Venlian
I was drawing him with breaks, started and began again. This interview helped me to finish and also my friend's persuasions.

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

Beast by Venlian
I love the technique here.

10. 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 had to communicate with many artists and it is possible to learn something from everyone. But the most important person for me is my teacher in art school and also some fellow students with whom I studied in the nursery of artists. From DA I can call :icongold-seven: - the first traditional Tolkien artist I saw on DA, and a thought rushed in my head: hey! And why not to do the same! :) There are many drawings which inspire on something also from other DA artists.  If it concerns my favourite classical artists, they are Vrubel, Kramskoy, Shishkin, Levitan, Serov and many other Russian artists. Also I like impressionists – for fine vivid colours and plus  classic like Michelangelo, Rodin, etc.

11. 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?

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

Tolkien's world is fascinating and boundless, it inspires me, and I am glad that my drawings and my vision of this world can inspire and be pleasant to you.

Thank you very much for your time and answers!

Coding by Felizias Drawings by ebe-kastein Borders by PhoenixWildfire
© 2015 - 2021 MirachRavaia
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
Aesara-Dayne's avatar
Excellent inteview! I was very interested in knowing Venlian's thoughts, she's one of my favourites here and I'd noticed the language barrier was preventing her from sharing as much as she likely might want.

I agree that her Elves are hot and sexy, and it feels natural too, not that she goes for it on purpose necessarily. The only ones besides her that have the same penchant for turning over sexy Elves are Kimberly8, and a certain lovely lady also commenting here that I might name (hint, her name begins with J...;))
MirachRavaia's avatar
Thank you! I'm glad when I can overcome the language barriere dividing artists - in this case she even found a translator herself, usually I have to do that.
Aesara-Dayne's avatar
That's a commendable effor on her part :).
Toradh's avatar
Nice interview, thanks again! (and to Venlian for doing it!)
So many pretty pictures!
Gold-Seven's avatar
Great interview! It was refreshing to read she doesn't research everything before drawing. It's a snag I hit every now and then. Part of me wants to be a precise to the text as possible (in part because otherwise, people will nitpick any piece to death), and part of me wants to go with something that looks good but isn't faithful to the text. I like Venlian's approach there. And I think that being a stickler doesn't make you an expert! ;)
MirachRavaia's avatar
Yes, that was an interesting answer to me as well. I used to draw spontaneuosly a long time ago, but later I started researching everything for the illustrations. It may depend on whether you're illustrating a character, or a particular scene from the book.
NGC292's avatar
awesome interview! Thumbs Up :)
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In