Talks with Tolkien artists: shyangell

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By MirachRavaia

Art nouveau and women of Arda - that's what comes to mind when describing the gallery of :iconshyangell: - shyangell. Take a look at it yourself to see how well these two concepts fit together, and then you can read our talk about it, and other topics as well.  

Recap: Queens of Numenor by shyangell
Elwing the Fair by shyangell Lady Haleth by shyangell
Earwen of Alqualonde by shyangell Lady Galadriel by shyangell
Aredhel Ar-Feiniel by shyangell Celebrian of Lorien by shyangell

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

Hi everybody! What to say... I am homebody that draws things for a hobby, and doesn't have nearly enough time to do so as much as she'd like. I am a student (though not for long) and like to let my mind wander with Tolkien (and others) when number crunching gets to be too much. I'm Catalan, female and study chemistry and engineering.

2. When did you read Tolkien's books for the first time, and what impression did they leave in you?

I was 11 years old, and read both the Lord of the rings and the Hobbit in less than a month. I read the Silmarillion over Christmas. At the time I adored LotR, I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. I kept reading and rereading it, and being fascinated by each of its characters in turn. I thought the Hobbit was a funny little thing, cute, it did not help that I read it after LotR (although the story itself is cool enough). When I read the Silmarillion first I thought it was dry as dust. I changed my mind a few years later after a reread. I think it is possibly the best Tolkien ever wrote, and I am endlessly fascinated by the stories therein.

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

I am by no means an expert, but I have read the books a good number of times. I have been told that the amount of Tolkien trivia that I keep in my head is extensive (and annoying). I once made a stab at learning quenya, and failed. I mostly like geeking out over family trees and obscure characters. I am nowhere as knowledgeable about anything else Tolkien (be it geography, calendars or languages).

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 When the movies came out, many of the inner pictures of characters and scenes in the mind of the readers have been replaced by actors and settings from the movie.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

I had just read the books when the movies came out. I admit that my mental image of many characters corresponds with the movie. I did not try very hard to stop myself from adopting those portrayals that were good enough for what I had imagined. I have a great difficulty imagining concrete faces when I read, so if the general description fit I was happy enough. I think it is just that I was young, and not yet prone to bellyaching over random characters hair color. I may be lynched, but mostly the entire fellowship was OK to me. On the other hand, there are characters I just cannot see as in the movies, though admittedly they are few (cough: Elrond). As for scenes and plot changes... I have kept them separate in my mind, the book is the book and the movie is the movie. Of course in my head things are closer to book than movie canon (imagination has no budget).

5. 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 started drawing as a serious hobby at the turn of 12 years old. At the time I started making graphite copies of classical pictures by great painters. Needless to say they were quite awful. As I said in the introduction drawing for me is a hobby. I have never done anything professionally, and I wouldn't like to. As soon as it became an obligation with a deadline it would kill all the fun. I have been inspired by all and sundry at one time or another. I adore Alphonse Mucha, and have a great appreciation for art nouveau. My style is far from consistent, and not nearly as polished as I'd like.

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 rarely have time for experimenting anymore! And when I draw I do it for comfort, so I rarely stray out of my comfort zone. I tend to draw and ink by hand, and later add color with Photoshop. I have tried drawing directly in the PC, but the result is mostly crap. I rarely color traditionally, I do not have any sort of technique (though I'd like to learn watercolors one day) and dislike the permanence of it. If you screw up in Photoshop you can always fix it!

7. Your Tolkien fanart is focused on the women from his books. What do you think about Middle-earth's women? Are they overlooked, or is their place as important as that one of the men?

I think the role of Middle Earth's women is understated, but important. Their subtle presence in Tolkien's opus is thoroughly coherent with the world he is trying to portray. In a way I have gotten the impression that although Tolkien did not create "action girls" that take action as a man would, women when they appear are generally well-respected and generally powerful in their own right. To me it would ring false a proliferation of fighting females in a world that was inspired by the early middle ages (all mention of Eowyn aside). But then again to me, being powerful does not have anything to do with the capacity to run someone through with a sword. It is true that most women are mothers and wives, sisters and daughters, but in Tolkien's world men are also rarely anything but fathers and husbands, brothers and sons. In a way there are always undertones of family in the way Tolkien sees the world.

8. Your portraits of the queens of Númenor are highly symbolic, telling about the personality and story of the queen in the picture. Can you tell us more about this symbolism?

Well, that's a loaded question. The idea was that by looking side by side you could tell a progression. Their attitudes are meant to show different approaches to power. And that in the end she who does not covet it reaps the fruits (or her descendants do). Silmarien does not covet it and won't fight for it. Tar-Ancalime is not desperate for it but will make herself unhappy just to spite those who want it to much from having it. Tar-Telperien has it and wants it, guards it zealously and will not share it with anyone and thus is alone. Tar-Vanimelde is unsuited to it but will not give it up because she wants the power to do whatever she wants, regardless of what others need. Míriel had it and gave it to the wrong person. Otherwise the symbolism I used was mostly intuitive for me, I did not think it overmuch while I was painting this.

9. Your art-noveau style goes very well with these portraits. How did you get the idea to use it for Tolkien illustrations?

I have always pictured Númenor as a pre-medieval world, but it did not strike me precisely roman. Instead I tended to think of it as Byzantine. I have always found that Art Nouveau meshes well with both roman and byzantine styles. On top of that I wanted to do a series of panels like you might find in a decorated gallery in a palace, and art nouveau lends itself to the making of series of panels. To top it all off I had just been to Prague. That just might be it.

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

Hardly. I rarely have tricks or tips to share even with myself! I do not think what I do is in any way mysterious. Although if you insist... kids, when you don't know how to do something there are thousands of useful tutorials floating around. SOMEBODY certainly knows and has already lost time making this tutorial you just found. Try it that way before despairing. Use references. I think that's all.

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

Recap: Queens of Numenor by shyangell

- a picture from other fandom or original picture you are most proud of?
At the Chapel's door by shyangell

- a picture that fits your current mood?

Mother Earth Yavanna by shyangell

- a picture that was hardest to paint?
MoA The Circle of Camelot by shyangell

- any other picture you would like to share with us and why?
Morsmordre by shyangell
It isn't very original. But look your fill because I was this close to losing it FOREVER. And I was so proud of the green light. PC did a thing lost the original PSD document and the high-res copy got lost forever. Deviantart saved it for me because I had already uploaded and I downladed it from my own gallery. Sobs.

12. 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.

Well, obviously and embarrassingly my mother first and foremost. She was the one that kept buying me things for me to use back in the day and encouraged me. Even if she keeps telling me that I draw my women too fat. I have hardly maintained any relationship with other Devianart artists, even if I like to gawp to many pretty art pieces as much as any other.

13. 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?

Yes, several actually. I'll leave you with some thumbnails so you can get right at getting a look at their gallery:
You will be the youngest in the squad by steamey Turgon, Aredhel(gon), Fingon by ancalinar
ha ha ha...fuck you legolas... by Kibbitzer What Are All These Dwarves Doing In My House?! by ramida-r

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

Well... Just hang in there! It right awful to be ensnared in a fandom nobody gives a crap about. So we have to keep being great together, and keep ourselves interested so everybody can come up with their things and be very happily overwhelmed when somebody else likes them. I certainly am.

Thank you for your time and answers!

All talks:

Rohirrim journal skin.

Horse head © 2009 - Grinmir-stock
Texture by kizistock
Knotwork by gbrgraphix
© 2015 - 2021 MirachRavaia
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