Many of our readers will be familiar with the superb work of artist Donato Giancola, whose stunning paintings have graced the covers of many books, including editions of both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. He’s a good friend of TORn’s, and some of you may have met him at one of our ‘Ringers Take Manhattan’ parties.
This weekend, Giancola will be appearing as Artist Guest of Honour at GenCon in Indianapolis. He’ll also be appearing at New York ComicCon in October. He has recently completed a fabulous new work set in Middle-earth: The Fellowship in Hollin. Here’s what Donato had to say about creating this landscape:
As an artist, I have always appreciated J.R.R. Tolkien’s ability to convey a deep sense of a place without ever having to provide visual details, for example the Fellowship’s journey southward took them through ‘bleak hills, and deep valleys filled with turbulent waters.’ The power in those descriptions comes not from visually acute details, but from emotional charged phrases, for what are, exactly, ‘bleak hills’? Hills devoid of vegetation? Hills covered in nasty, thorny bushes and old dying trees? Hills that make you feel depressed, heavy wooded with dark pines and evergreens blocking out the light? All of the above? Or not?
The wonderful gift Tolkien has given us is that all of these interpretations are valid. Each of us experiences the journeys, trials, and epiphanies of the members of the Fellowship on our own terms, within our own personal contexts and imaginative developments. Every visual interpretation is a shadow of the reality he carved out as a story teller, and yet deep inside I feel the need to bring forth concrete representations of those experiences. These expressions become a way for me to bind myself to the literature even stronger, as if to say here is the progeny I have helped birth with your contribution.
Turning Tolkien’s words into a visual reality is no small feat. The impressive list of talent that has undertaken these labors stretches back decades upon decades, creating an imposing collection of sheer genius and beauty – Alan Lee, John Howe, Ian Miller, The Hildebrandt Brothers, Ted Nasmith, Michael Hague, Inger Edelfeldt, Roger Garland and David Wenzel just begin to skim the surface. It is a weight of expectation that keeps me pushing my craft to the limit.
Recently I have been infatuated with the power and sublimity of majestic landscapes of the Hudson River School artists and their like. The conveyance of a strong, emotional sense of place within nature has been influencing many recent commissions. It was thus to these great painters that I turned my eye when considering how to interpret a new image of the Fellowship. The marriage of Tolkien’s worlds with the visions created by these landscape painters made for a perfect merging of two art forms.
A few visits to Albert Bierstadt and Frederick Church paintings at the Metropolitan Museum and Brooklyn Museum of Art helped prime the desire to pull this off in a grand, epic way. Although much in the shadow of these landscape giants, it is a pleasure to play within their aesthetics of dramatic lighting, dynamic design and fantastic interpretive landscape. The saturated, colorful paintings of Thomas Moran, another brilliant mind from the Hudson River School, were also an informing source.
It is an honor and thrill to bring this scene to life, showcasing The Fellowship of the Ring on their journey through the lands of Hollin, their forms reflected in a still body of water, foreshadowing of their impending journey underground into Moria.
This stunning painting – along with many other wonderful artworks by Giancola – is available to purchase as a limited edition print. Click here to find out more. If you’re at GenCon this weekend, be sure to go and see Donato’s beautiful work on display.