After a longer pause, my little daughter allowed me some time for another talk - Mysilvergreen started posting her gorgeous detailed Silmarillion illustrations not long ago. Here is a talk with her, and a sample from her watch-worthy gallery.
1. Hello! For the beginning, could you tell us something about yourself?
Hello there! I have to apologize for my English before we start.
My name is Anna, I'm from Russia. I live in a small town near the mountains. I’ve been working as a teacher in a children's art school, so I seem to get on well with children. And worse with adults 2. What brought you to deviantArt and how did you pick your username?
I came to DA without a special purpose a few years ago, but I actively started using my account last year, when most of my Silmarillion’s pictures were made, and I wanted to post them somewhere, because the world must see that
Concerning Mysilvergreen - I just like this combination of colors, and I wanted my username to hint at a certain connection with the visual arts.
3. How did you enter Tolkien's world for the first time, and what impression did it leave in you?
It was long before the films were released - I found the book "The Lord of the Rings” and read it, but then it seemed to me just an entertainment, because I had never been a fan of fantasy. At that time I was impressed only by the fact that the author, while creating the novel, wasn't lazy to invent a whole language for his characters.
A couple of years later I read “The Silmarillion”, and then that story of the Lord of the Rings suddenly acquired such depth and meaning which I couldn't even suspect. Everything became clear, where all the characters came from: Valar, Maiar, elves, dwarves, hobbits, and what a long prehistory they all had. It resembled the Scandinavian legends that I adored in childhood, and even exalted and affecting language of the narrative was full of charm. To cut it short, I was dazed on the spot with that book. And I still adore “The Silmarillion”.
As for my pictures I started illustrating Tolkien’s books by accident. I've always been interested in such pictures from other artists, but I never drew them. I believed so many people had been doing it perfectly so what could I do new? But one day I painted pictures of Sauron and Thranduil as a gift. The drawing process was an indescribable pleasure for me, and I decided just to keep drawing and having fun as long as possible 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?
As I was acquainted with books before the screen versions, I had a definite image of main characters long before. And it's time to face the truth and admit that I liked just a few actors in the films: Sam, Boromir, Theoden, Galadriel, Arwen in LOTR, and Bilbo (wonderful Bilbo!), Thranduil and Smaug in “Hobbit”. Gollum was stunning everywhere! I liked them very much but they didn’t replace my own imagination. The others didn’t meet my perceptions of the characters so much that they couldn’t influence me at all.
“The Hobbit” always seemed to me a childish book and I read it just before the movie was released to find out how far PJ would go from the plot. I’m afraid that the changes in the plot and clichés spoiled the impression of the film. And I have to remark: Galadriel-terminator carrying Gandalf in her arms and Tauriel with her whole storyline – it was just a catastrophe
Despite this, all six films are still a gift for me because the film artists’ work is wonderful. There're plenty to see, even if you don’t really like the actors: luxurious shooting, excellent costumes, and stunning locations: Shire, Rivendell, Minas-Tirith, Argonath, Rohan, Osgiliath - my God, Osgiliath was just marvelous, Dale, Mirkwood. Well, all the cities and landscapes in the films, existing or painted, still amaze me.
Nevertheless I try not to use images from the films in my pictures, firstly it’s pointless because obvious, secondly it’s much more interesting to think up something new, and I highly appreciate it from other artists.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?
Unfortunately I’m not a great connoisseur of Tolkien, but just a fan. My knowledge of Middle-earth is limited with books that have been translated into Russian, and sketchy texts found on the Internet. And now we got to my worst nightmare: I imagine some true expert of Tolkien looking at my picture and commenting on something like: “Hey, dude, everything was quite different there”
The literary manner of Tolkien sounds delightful in Russian, thanks to the translators, that’s why I never was embarrassed by his manner, I even like it. And to great pity I don't read texts in the original unless if they are very short because of great amount of time that it'd take with my level of English.6. Who is your favorite Tolkien character and why?
I think it’s obvious that I adore the story of Gondolin and its inhabitants, and I hope to return to it in future. And I've already painted all the most favorite characters of mine at least once. It's predictable but I like good elven guys
Glorfindel is one of the first elves the reader meets in LOTR - it's like a light touch to wonderful elves’ world. His fair appearance in combination with his great and not always joyful experience and memory seems very impressive to me. I love Ecthelion, because he always fights in the forefront, although being a man of art, not a war. Finrod is just a saint, it’s impossible not to love him. Fingon is a knight without fear and reproach. They are all alone, because there are things more important for them than love - freedom, dignity, responsibility, although being alone is contrary to the elven nature. Turgon, the creator of Gondolin, managed to collect around himself such outstanding personalities and couldn't leave the creation of his hands even at the cost of his death. All of them are good, they all have an unconditional willingness to sacrifice themselves for the sake of others. And they are completely devoid of arrogance towards other races, than many of the elves sin.
This is just my personal sympathy for them, as if they lived by my side. But my willing to draw don't depend on the character's merits. I'm interested in drawing everything and everyone. I can't even say: I'll never paint that person, because I don't like him 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, and who or what influenced your style?
I'm a professional artist, specializing in graphics, I started painting as a child, and passed through an art school and an art faculty of the university. I like realistic art, and try to stick to it in my pictures. I love the early Renaissance, especially the northern one, when realism was just arising. I’m fond of the old illustrators - Arthur Rakham, John Bauer, etc. But I like other approaches to visual art - expressionism, for example. And a lot of contemporary artists make very interesting pieces; there is always someone worthy of admiration.
My traditional drawing is black and white compositions of the old city, still lifes from old objects and so on - I love retro in many of its manifestations, and I use traditional graphic materials with toned or black paper.
But all that I do since I’ve got a tablet is like a complete different way of expressing myself through bright, multicolored stories, and Tolkien's world is so good for that – every artist could find something for himself he like best - battles and warriors or a peaceful quiet life, villains or good guys.8. How do you choose which scenes and characters to illustrate?
I don’t choose them deliberately, they just occur to my mind on their own. And when I've got a basic idea, I can only decide how to show the character most expressively, where to place him or her, what colors are better to use. Everything, even the small details are important for emotional component. Reflecting on the characters and their everyday life I often feel a fascination with this imaginary world, and not specific scenes from the book but events that only could happen arise as idea for drawing in my mind. Nothing important - some small moments of happiness, you know, like Ecthelion when he's larking with little Eӓrendil or strolling with Glorfindel. I hope such pieces make the characters closer and dearer not only for me but for viewers as well.
9. What other book or movies (or anything else) inspire you to create fanart, and why?
I like to read and watch movies, but I haven’t tried to make a fan art yet. Maybe because I want to come up with something of my own... And the most inspiring thing for me is music so I’ve been listening a lot. It’s Afro celt sound system, Secret Garden, Clannad, E.S.Posthumus, Delerium, Chicane, Hevia, Annie Lennox, Queen, Sting, Daft Punk, Röyksopp – mostly new age/instrumental with inclusions of soundtracks, pop, rock, electronic ets. Music is an important part of my life as well.
11. You often use a challenging perspective, especially when drawing architecture. Is there some specific reason for this?
Well, to tell the truth, I seriously used a perspective only in a few works, when it seemed to me that an unusual point of view could make the composition more interesting and complicated, and make viewers feel on character's place as it was with Gondolin and Nargothrond, and with the death of Fingolfin. And sometimes I want to challenge difficulties as an artist
12. Do you have some tips and tricks you would like to share with the other artists?
If someone needs advice from me on a particular picture, you may contact me, I'll be glad to help. Otherwise it’s rather vague and mindless to give universal advice for everyone, a kind of "Don’t be afraid to experiment" 13. Could you give us a link or thumbnail from your gallery of
- a Tolkien illustration you are most proud of?
my first experience of mass drawing armor- a picture that fits your current mood?
- a picture that was hardest to paint?
because the winter is coming
too many buildings…- any other picture you would like to share with us and why?
be ready to meet magic everywhere
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 spend much time on DA and probably don’t know much, if you don’t mind, could I change the request a bit and just add pictures to illustrate the answer?
I like people who are passionately fond of Tolkien, but nevertheless treat their hobby easy enough to joke about it. I really like these amusing pieces so I hope you will have fun too!
16. Is there something else you would like to tell to the fans of Tolkien and your art?
Tolkien's Legendarium now is a big part of my life, and I'm glad to share this wonderful world with all of you. I highly appreciate your attention to my pictures. Thank you for everything!Thank you very much for your time and answers!