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I had long wanted to do a painting regarding "Lord of the Rings", particularly after the release of Peter Jackson's film. The challenge was that I hoped to create the work with a "period" look -- painted in a classical style, and featuring all the nine principal characters. In order to do this, I opted to use oil paints for the first time, abandoning my usual acrylic paints/colored pencil technique.

Oil paints require a great deal of time to dry -- from days to weeks to months -- and as a result, they're a good resource in learning patience. I pretty much had to teach myself how to use them. I chose to use an "underpainting" technique, painting a basic rough draft of the total image in a monochromatic burnt umber, and then slowly adding in more layers of color and detail. You can see that I changed one or two of the poses from the original design.

I had particular difficulty painting the hobbits, as my original underpainting was far too dark for the following layers of thin paint, causing it to look muddy unless I added thicker layers on top. (You'll find that one of the interesting -- and time consuming -- parts to my work is that I often make many mistakes, and require a lot of time to correct and change them. I'm not Rembrandt, you know....)

At left you can see an earlier version of "Pippin".  The character's face was eventually repainted five times.

What I thought would take just a few weeks escalated to over 350-400 hours of work, over a period of nine months (from December 2002 through September 2003).

I deliberately used a limited color palette, with only one shade of blue and green, to give the overall painting a period, "muted" look. The stone background was created using thin washes of brown, ochre, green, and black, mixed with generous amounts of linseed oil, and then individually dried. As the canvas was placed upright upon an easel, each layer of paint would "trickle" down slowly, causing a wonderful textured effect.

Doing not one but NINE portraits was quite daunting; I became so frustrated that I put the painting on hold for over 5 months.I didn't know what kind of border to paint, but about halfway through, I decided to paint the engraved words from the titular ring as a framing device. It gave the painting a classic look that I really liked. Particularly challenging was Gimli's helmet and protective arm plating.

Directly above you can see a low-rez digital photo of the painting shortly before its completion. More details were added (including more texture for the hobbits clothes), along with some color adjustments and staining, for the final result below. Notice the dramatic difference staining makes in giving it a much warmer, "antique" look.

The final painting -- the most time-consuming project I've ever done.

All original writing, illustration, and artwork featured within this website (unless otherwise noted) copyright (c) 2013 Adam D. McDaniel, and can not be used without written permission.

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