Archived Blog Posts, 2004–2010

This is a gathering of archived posts of my blog from my old website covering about a 6 year period.

December 2010 Archives

December greetings to one and all!

Bradford Ontario, where I live with Marian, has just had its first proper snow storm. Time for boots, scarves, wood fires, and hot cider; how the weeks have flown by over the course of this 2010 year!

It occurred to me that it would have been 40 years ago this year that I first read The Lord of the Rings at the age of 15. What a long, wonderful journey it has led me on! How many dear friends it has made me!

This year my focus in Tolkien has been on The Hobbit, galvanized admittedly by the prospect of the book being adapted to cinema within the next couple of years. (For those wondering—no, I have not been asked to work for the film, at least yet.) It’s been a singular pleasure to revisit scenes and create new sketches in a growing series of artworks meant to bring my own sensibilities, ideas, and painting style to the famous story. At last summer’s exhibition event ‘Edge of the Wild’, those who attended saw the results; Bilbo and the Eagles, A Conversation With Smaug, The Riddle Game, and Entering Mirkwood. I believe these and works yet to come will stand as some of my best, and in the months ahead I’m planning to add a Beorn scene and a depiction of the Trolls scene, two of many other possible subjects.

However, an artist and illustrator like me usually has other projects, both commissioned and non, and in September I participated in the Bradford Artist Studio Tour, displaying a range of artworks in a small scale exhibit. Notable were a number of traditional rural scenes in gouache, pencil, and pastel crayon, the latter being a medium I haven’t used for many years. Different mediums can be found in art stores or even discount office suppliescan be used to spark creativity. Several pencil drawings were done on site, often with Marian nearby doing her own drawings. These are mainly inspired by a common feature of the local landscape, dilapidated sheds, barns, and shacks on abandoned farms. It seems to indicate broken dreams during tough times, but for me they are beautiful ruins, and my inspiration comes from the same melancholy that Tolkien felt (and really all poetic souls) at the inevitability of change and decline in the countryside. It’s my plan to add to this alternative genre of my art in the years to come.

As to Tolkien, most recently I produced a small commission titled Thorns and Briars in Mordor, which depicts the scene from below the bridge that Sam and Frodo jumped off of. Though at first the subject, with no figures, seemed very limited, it proved to be a delight, and I am very pleased with the result. Two other unrelated Tolkien commissions are in the pipeline in coming weeks, and I’ll keep you posted.

Musically, in October I gave a 1 hour concert with my brother Bruce of mainly songs from my CD The Hidden Door. We received great praise, some calling it a magical event. It was part of a series of concerts sponsored by the town of Uxbridge (a half hour east) held in the historic Foster Memorial Temple, a local architectural jewel built in the Great Depression to honour a former Toronto mayor’s love of his wife and his daughter. He was inspired, the lore goes, by the famous Taj Mahal in India. The polished stone interior is very acoustically resonant, making it a wonderful venue for softer music. We were immediately invited back next year, and have accepted. Following the performance a group of us gathered at a favourite local pub called The Hobby Horse—or as I dubbed it, ‘The Hobbit House’. We intend to post some of the songs on YouTube soon.

Lastly, this week I took a giant leap into the 21st century and installed Skype! Friends have been suggesting I do this for a while, but the catalyst was an invitation from musician John DiBartolo of New York, and Dr. Cory Olsen of Washington College in Maryland USA. We arranged for a 3-way virtual ‘moot’ in order to compare notes as artist, musician, and scholar. John, of The Lonely Mountain Band, has used a painting of mine on his new CDBeyond the Western Seas. We exchanged emails a few times, and out of it the idea to collaborate with Dr. Olsen came to fruition. The resulting podcast will offer the best of our discussion and our answers to submitted questions, along with music from both John and myself. We hope this initiative will grow and bring in other scholars and artists.

As always, I have much on the go, including my painting a portrait of my daughter Sharyn and her new husband Paul as a wedding gift. Now completed, it’s to be presented to them very shortly.

And finally, we’re of course approaching the holiday season, a time of year I lend my voice to Bruce’s church choir for Advent and Christmas services, plus a choir concert. On behalf of Marian and me, we’d like to wish you all a festive, safe, and peaceful holiday. Merry Yule!

Posted December 09, 2010 |

May 2010 Archives

Edge of the Wild exhibition August 2010

Posted May 04, 2010 |

April 2010 Archives

2011 George R.R. Martin Ice and Fire Calendar

I’m proud to announce that later this year publisher Spectra, a division of Random House, will release the 2011 George R.R. Martin Ice and Fire Calendar. It will feature 13 of 14 castle illustrations I painted for The Complete Guide to the Ice and Fire Universe (still in production). This is a welcome and unexpected honour. It had been suggested to me some months ago that the castle paintings, which were created in close collaboration with the author, would make a fine calendar, and it seems the dedicated editors of George R.R. Martin came to the same conclusion when considering material for the 2011 edition.

Most of the illustrations can be viewed here. he original paintings are also available to purchase by contacting Malcx Lindley at

As some will know, I have a growing association with the Ice and Fire novels, and have been a fan of the series since first being introduced to them several years ago. I’m hopeful that the relationship will continue; it represents an exciting new direction for me, as Mr. Martin’s phenomenal fantasy epic continues to grow in popularity.

Posted April 09, 2010 |

March 2010 Archives

Newest Tolkien Artwork

Hello my friends.

Once again I return from my creative wanderings in ‘Faraway Lands’ with, I hope, exciting achievements. Picking up where I left off in my last detailed entry from mid-2009, I’d like to describe the next works I created leading up to my Brazil trip in October.

Legolas and Gimli Reach the Shores of Valinor

Continuing with the history of the Dwarves, and following completion ofDurin I Discovers the Three Peaks, I went on to paint Legolas and Gimli Reach the Shores of Valinor, a simple piece based on the appendices in LotR, and the account of the companions’ final journey.

Aule and the Seven Fathers

It was followed by a work titled Aule and the Seven Fathers, a depiction of Aule as he attempts to create the Dwarves, a scene related to my work titledAule Prepares to Destroy His Children. This type of subject always presents difficulties, describing as it does a purely mythical event. Yet it can be very evocative and satisfying nonetheless, realism being merely the medium utilized to present a poetic, metaphysical image. All of it in order to better appreciate the wonder, pathos and beauty of Tolkien’s invented myths.

The Nauglamir

Following Aule, the 4th of the Dwarf-themed works of last summer was something unusual, a depiction not of a character or scene but of an artifact;The Nauglamir. This most beautiful and rare necklace was said to be made by the Dwarves of the First Age for Finrod, and then its history has it coming into the possession of Thingol of Doriath, who commissions the Dwarves to incorporate a Silmaril into it. What soon follows is tragedy and destruction for Thingol and his kingdom, such that the necklace changes hands again a number of times until it is brought to Earendil by Elwing, the daughter of Dior, only child of Beren and Luthien. There, it is placed upon Earendil’s brow, setting the stage for Earendil’s transformation into a Star in the Heavens. (This last event was in fact the fragment of Story that Tolkien was inspired to build upon originally, resulting in the life’s work he invested in the entire Silmarillion history!)

To accept the task of depiction of The Nauglamir, I had to accept that whatever I drew, it could not possibly fulfill the imagination of readers, given the poetic superlatives applied to the object. But as a project, it nonetheless was a fascinating puzzle. The qualities assigned to it–light on the wearer, yet heavily jeweled, and incorporating THE jewel, a Silmaril of Feanor, raised troubling questions. Tolkien uses the word ‘carcanet’ to describe it, and from what I could find, the definition of carcanet is understood traditionally as a ‘choker’ necklace. This type of necklace is worn wrapped around the neck, not resting on the shoulders like a ‘bib’. Tolkien’s description nonetheless suggests that it “rested lightly on the shoulders”, leaving room for interpretation of his exact meaning.

The necklace was originally made for the Elf king, Finrod, and this suggests a more masculine design. Being made by the very male-centred Dwarf culture also lent weight to this rationale, such that I opted eventually for a quite geometric design, emphasizing angles and facets over curves and ‘softer’ elements. I also tried to incorporate the Silmaril in a way that suggested the technical demands of adapting the necklace to include the Jewel–a round, feminine object. In time, and with many revisions, I developed what seemed at least an intelligent design which incorporated all the criteria.

With the final wearing of the necklace being said to have been upon Earendil’s brow, the question arose: Could he have been wearing the necklace itself, or only the detached Silmaril? Tolkien doesn’t say, but given the emphasis on the time the Dwarves devoted to adapting the necklace to hold the Silmaril, it seemed incongruous that Tolkien, had he been able to fully reconcile all conflicting information in the unpublished MS, might have had Earendil dismantling the priceless, supremely beautiful and unique necklace in order to wear the Silmaril upon his brow. Therefore, its design was partly dictated by that thought, and if thus worn, it became a tiara, the Holy Jewel resting just between the eyes. The overall effect might be like a golden crown.

The Window on the West

Following my trip to Brazil, I began work on a full size version of a private commission, The Window of the West. I had generally shied away from painting the scene, despite its evocative description, but as I studied the passage in question, and in consultation with the gentleman it was intended for, I came to appreciate the interesting play of light which could be captured. The character of Faramir is always an interesting challenge; this gentler, higher minded brother to Boromir. I was careful to depict him with what I imagined would be his accouterments and costume during this episode, and to make sure his height was appropriately Numenorean, given his ancestry. Frodo is seen looking worried but respectfully at the great Gondorian, while Sam, ever cautious and skeptical, looks unimpressed.

A Conversation With Smaug

This new painting, A Conversation With Smaug, which I worked on over several weeks into February, is unapologetically inspired by Tolkien’s iconic illustration for The Hobbit. Despite my thoughts of drawing the scene ever since I began depicting Middle-earth, I was never happy enough with the sketches (at least one in colour) or sufficiently moved to take on the subject before now, and was content to turn to the many other scenes and subjects instead. However, a thumbnail sketch I made while experimenting (as mentioned in a previous post) with new artwork from The Hobbit, expressed “Smaug-ness” as effectively as I’ve ever contrived, plus with the colour sketch that followed, such that I was happy to find I had the time to take it on to a finished work.

The challenge was to express the character of old Smaug; wily, shrewd and dangerous, yet vain and overconfident, as well as to ‘re-imagine’ the elements in Tolkien’s familiar original; the treasure piles, the deep catacombs, evidence of a final battle, plus the great vats of yet more gold and treasure. And of course there is Bilbo, who must ‘register’ despite his invisibility, and be juxtaposed against the great dragon in his lair. Many artists have depicted this scene, of course, so it was a scene I wanted to interpret only when I felt I could offer something interesting enough to justify adding mine to theirs.

The Riddle Game

As with the colour thumbnail posted several months ago, I found I had some time available, and turned my attention to this equally iconic scene, The Riddle Game. I once did paint an early version of it (also titled The Riddle Game), in acrylics in the mid-1970s. I now wanted to apply the intervening 35 years of experience to the subject. And the first difficulty for the artist is the darkness of the scene. As with Aule (see above) and other subjects requiring artistic license, it’s necessary to ignore the obvious in order to portray the characters, and I did my best to suggest darkness while still lighting the setting.

Gollum, looking suitably wizened and slimey, emerges out of the gloom with glowing ‘cat’s eyes’, while a clearly out of place Bilbo nervously confronts this ugly thing with his blue-lit sword Sting. Tolkien gives us a description of Gollum’s cannibalistic feeding habits, so I felt justified in emphasizing the imagined results of his isolation–not unlike Shelob’s lair–with bones, rottenness, and decay evident. This I feel is in keeping with The Ring’s longstanding presence, it’s undead evil. The coracle Gollum sits inside sends out ripples around it, not unlike the radiating malevolence within The Ring itself.

Currently on the board is a work provisionally titled Entering Mirkwood, which continues the project of new Hobbit-based scenes. I will shortly post information on the coming exhibition, Edge of the Wild, in England set for this August, where these and other new artworks will be available to see.


Posted March 30, 2010 |

October 2009 Archives

Brilliant Reception in Brazil!

I was invited to fabled Rio de Janeiro Oct. 8th to 12th for a gathering called HobbitCon. As with my very wonderful trip to Sao Paulo and Brasilia in June 2004, I was again surrounded by some of the most exuberant and passionate Tolkien fans imaginable, and I cannot praise them enough for the very special welcome I received during my few days in this most exotic of world cities!

It was always a hope, after the 2004 experience, that it might be possible for me to return, and this year it was accomplished, with dedicated fundraising efforts on the part of the local Rio smial of Conselho Branco (White Council), the Brasilian Tolkien Society. On the day of the conference, held at the Hotel SESC Copacabana, I was pleased to present a lengthy retrospective of my Tolkien art on slides, featuring successive versions of many subjects (eg. Rivendell or Minas Tirith), ably translated by my friend Rosana Rios. I also included examples of automotive and (recent) pastoral art, plus some of the castle paintings from the fantastic world of George R.R. Martin. Immediately following my talk I sat down with a beautifully hand-crafted, locally made guitar which I was loaned, to sing a few of my songs. It was an honor to play this beautiful acoustic guitar. I was deeply grateful for the very enthusiastic response on both counts, and most grateful to the organizing committee members whose hard work and dedication allowed me to be among you and renew our acquaintance so happily. All who I met and enjoyed conversations with during my stay are fondly remembered. I think Brasilian ‘hobbits’ (or elves) would be hard to match anywhere for conviviality or hospitality.

Very special thanks to Betina Dengler, who kindly gave of her time in order to be my guide and host through the days before and after HobbitCon. Despite a fair bit of spring rain initially, she made sure I saw the best of Rio’s many and varied sights and attractions; everything from stunning Baroque churches, the Sugarloaf, the Carnaval workshop complex, Botanical Gardens, pan-Brasilian Festival, or mountain-top National Park–and of course those superb beaches. The tourist posters do not do the city justice; it is unquestionably one of the most beautiful and exciting places on the planet.

I came home very much inspired, and encourage others to put a priority on visiting our fellow keepers-of-the-flame in this tropical Wonderland! Obrigado!

Posted October 23, 2009 |


July 2009 Archives

A New Studio, New House, and New Town!

Dear friends,

It’s been a busier than usual six months! By January this year, my partner Marian and I had already been tentatively browsing the market for a house on a couple of occasions prior to Christmas, and once the holidays ended, we took up the search in earnest. After carefully viewing 2 or 3 dozen properties, we’d narrowed it down to a short list, and then one in particular had hit us in just that certain way… Then, nervously, came the offer, but which was duly accepted, opening up the joyful but harrowing OMG process of preparing for the transition and getting a mortgage.

After the ensuing scramble to work out the details of combining our two households, plus a studio, we are now, at last ‘gathered in’, and slowly managing the business of determining where all the stuff should go. This is a lot harder than it might otherwise be (or have been years ago), since both of us are/were parents (she of four, I of three), which tends to mean you function to a degree as warehouses for the things said offspring don’t want/need, but which cannot in good conscience be discarded, or is of sentimental value, etc, etc.

At any rate, the worst is over, and we are now enjoying our first spring and summer in the new house, located in an older part of this community. The town of Bradford is about 75 minutes north of Toronto’s downtown, and about 40 minutes northwest of Markham, my former community. Inspired by and newly appreciating Upper York Region (as it’s known) in the two years plus I’ve known Marian, and recognizing that her roster of clientele requires proximity to the immediate district, it didn’t take much to persuade me to move this further distance out of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), serene as it is with rolling hills, valleys, towns, villages, and farms.

I think for a long time I felt drawn to such surroundings, and to a degree Markham provided that with its open country to the immediate east. Now I’ve taken it the final step, and I’m hopeful that the change will be therapeutic without inadvertently signaling any less of a commitment to continuing my level of productivity. Much the opposite, this is consciously intended to reinvigorate my creative energies, refresh my spirits, and provide a more integrated creative base for the future.

Continued Output

Despite the demands of moving, for the past six months my output of artwork has not slowed down much, although the recession has been felt, and some projects were self-assigned. Within the framework of freelance work, the constant dilemma is that despite the relative freedom to follow one’s own muse, the pressure to stay engaged with the continuum of commissioned work is very strong, and we artists typically have difficulty with something as benign as a proper vacation! So despite the constant attention to the house sale and the logistics of the three stage move, I kept to a timetable of painting and drawing to prepare work for the exhibition in April titled Lands of Enchantment, held as our other exhibitions have been, in Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire, then on to other projects afterwards.

Prior to the exhibition, which again I attended and enjoyed thoroughly, I was able to finish the demanding private commission called Thus Came Aragorn, depicting the difficult subject of the arrival of Aragorn as he lands at The Harlond in the Black Ships of the Corsairs. This was quickly followed (in the nick of time) by The Glittering Caves, a fresh take on the work I did in the 90s titled The Glittering Caves of Aglarond. Both works had pride of place at the exhibition, along with the new version, painted late last year, of the iconic scene The Fair Valley of Rivendell.

Sketching The Hobbit

In September of last year, I was in a position to paint a new Hobbit scene derived from a piece of decorative landscape I did some years ago for The Hobbit board game. It is titled Eagles to the Carrock. Incorporating aerial landscape and featuring the Company riding the eagles to the great rock beyond the Misty Mountains, it added a dramatic new scene to my output. This spring, Sophisticated Games, makers of The Hobbit game, expressed interest in using the illustration for a new box cover, but unfortunately it is/was the wrong shape. I suggested creating a whole new cover piece, and produced a series of thumbnails of various Hobbit scenes in the process.

One requirement was that this new scene not feature the dragon Smaug, in order to emphasize the more benign image the book evokes. After considering a number of possibilities, we agreed it should be a more tailored verson of the eagles scene so favoured, this time set above the Misty Mountains just after the Company are borne aloft. We’re calling it simply Bilbo and the Eagles, and it was completed in May.

Taking the set of Hobbit sketches a little further, I worked a small number of them up into colour sketches, revisiting scenes I’ve tried in the past such asThe Riddle GameConversation with Smaug, or Bilbo and the Trolls. Others were developed into pencil sketches of varying degrees of sophistication, and I hope in the months ahead to return to them.

Finally, last year I painted a series of small, sketchy works under the theme of Tolkien’s Dwarves for a colleague and friend. Four colour works and two in pencil were done celebrating the theme of Dwarf history, and that first series featured scenes from the pre-history of The Hobbit, such as Thrain Discovers the Arkenstone or Thorin and Gandalf at Bree.  I am now continuing that series with another set of artworks in the same vein, having completed Durin I Discovers The Three Peaks.That brings us to the present time.

In closing, I should add that within the past couple of summers, along with Marian, I’ve returned to sporadic plein air sketching sessions. I feel I want to develop that side of my output, and the surrounding rural splendour should provide ample inspiration. Just to the south at the edge of town there is a sprawling geographical feature known as The Holland Marsh, a large wetland drained and cultivated by (mainly) Dutch and Portuguese settlers in the early 20th century (their descendants are still the backbone of the community). Besides having been for a long time a favourite place for me, it is now close enough to enjoy routinely, filled as it is with hundreds of vegetable farms stretching into the distance, bounded by wooded hills. The old workers’ shacks and farm buildings, and discarded equipment, plus the system of irrigation canals green with duckweed under changing skies, offer an abundance of picturesque inspiration. I am looking forward to exploring some of these possibilities as I continue to express my Tolkienian and other themes alongside.


Posted July 10, 2009 |


March 2009 Archives

Australian Wildfire Destruction of Art

It’s with sadness that I learned recently of the unfortunate destruction of much of the exquisitely carved sculpture installed in a facility near Marysville, Victoria, Australia, known as Bruno’s Art and Sculpture Garden. [Please have a look at the following link; to see the slide show and learn more.]

Artist Bruno has spent years creating beautiful, magical sculptures in a Faerie style, installed in a park setting adjacent to his gallery and residence, only to see them mostly destroyed in the recent fires. Words can hardly sum up the heartbreak this would represent for any artist. Of course the human cost is unquestionably the greatest matter in this situation, and those now in the process of attempting to recover in the aftermath of so much horror are mustering extraordinary courage, and deserve all the help they can receive. But restoration of as much as possible of the material destruction is nonetheless critical to the survivors and their morale, plus support–financially, practically or emotionally–from outside, is most urgent.

On behalf of myself and my colleagues within the Three Farthing Stone Fellowship in Gloucester England, we wish to offer our sincere condolences and solidarity as you mourn what was lost, and as you rebuild and restore in the weeks and months ahead.

Posted March 02, 2009 | Comments (0) | Permanent link

Lands of Enchantment; April 3 to 6/09

It’s my pleasure to announce our upcoming 2009 exhibition and sale, Lands of Enchantment! Date: April 3 through 6 2009. Place: Redesdale Hall, Moreton in Marsh, Glos., England.

Along with my newest Tolkien paintings (see previous entry) the exhibition will feature the latest art by Ruth Lacon, Jef Murray, and Peter Procownik, along with books, memorabilia, craft and activities geared to attract and interest our many friends, supporters and clients. As in the past, I and my fellow musicians will perform songs and music each afternoon (and some evenings unofficially). We invite you to be a part of our gathering.

This spring’s event will also officially launch the first book of collected notes and stories by JRR Tolkien’s late brother Hilary. We have lately been entrusted by the Hilary Tolkien family with publication of their grandfather’s papers and letters, a first. Up to now, there has been very little known of the very warm relationship John Reuel had with Hilary throughout their lives. ADC Books has now published the first of two volumes presenting a glimpse of the story ideas Hilary made up in their youth so long ago. Angie Gardner has done a lovely job editing and contextualizing the often difficult-to-discern notes, and Jef Murray has created just the right whimsical illustrations.

Posted March 02, 2009 |

February 2009 Archives

Fall 2008 and Winter 2009–Busy!

Hi Everybody!

Like Smith of Wootton Major (or Samwise) I’m BACK. Back from further adventures in Faerie, I suppose, and it wouldn’t be too great an exaggeration (NaSmith of Wootten Way??)! In the weeks since I last returned, it’s been mostly a succession of new works in a Tolkien vein, as is my wont. In late summer, shortly after painting a commissioned work called Frodo and Haldir in Lothlorien, I went on to a work I’d long considered interpreting, calledEagles to the Carrock. I’m very happy with this one. I’d like as often as possible in coming months to add to my body of Hobbit paintings in fact. With a movie version in production I feel keen to revisit anew the book.

Once Eagles was finished I offered it for display at Oxonmoot, where I also presented slides of how several of my works have evolved in successive versions. Of course, it wouldn’t be an Oxonmoot without “Ents” (Entertainments), the Saturday night Party. Once again I had an opportunity to perform a set of songs, starting with a duet with Caspar Reiff of The Tolkien Ensemble, and then on to a solo song from my CD before bringing in Alex Lewis and Maddy Anderson for another couple of numbers.

In the weeks afterward, I got down to more serious work, sending Caspar a series of small colour pieces depicting scenes from the pre-history of The Hobbit. Then, taking advantage of a lull during November and into December, I decided I’d like to reimagine Rivendell once again. I hadn’t painted a full size version since the 80s, and felt it was time to revisit it, in order to demonstrate how my techniques and ideas have evolved. Just about when it was nearing completion I was contacted by HarperCollins about illustrating the 2010 Tolkien Calendar and Diary, interestingly enough. After accepting (of course) I immediately suggested inclusion of this Rivendell (which I’m calling The Fair Valley of Rivendell) to HC, along with several other newer works. The theme for 2010 is landscapes of the Third Age, to complement the 2009 Calendar/Diary which features landscapes of the First Age.

Only this week, after adding some final touches, have I sent The Fair Valley of Rivendell to Andy Compton of ADC Books and Art for inclusion in the upcoming exhibition scheduled for Apr. 3 to 6, ’09 at Redesdale Hall in Moreton in Marsh, UK. It will be the keystone piece.

Following that work, I’ve been working up two new pieces. One is a cover piece for a CD by Irish rock group Dead Heroes Club, while the other is an important new Tolkien commission. They’re both in production now, the latter to be called Thus Came Aragorn. It will depict his landing at The Harlond in the Black Ships with his mustered army from Southern Gondor, bearing the standard of Gondor and Anduril reforged. It too will be included in the exhibition, and at least one further work which I intend.

And that brings us up to date! I hope to see as many friends, supporters, and (of course) patrons as possible during the four day event in April, which will also feature new art by Ruth Lacon, Jef Murray, and Peter Procownick. You won’t be disappointed!

Posted February 10, 2009 |

September 2008 Archives

Summer Summary 2008

Summer 2008 has been a wonderful mixture of things. It’s been structured around my Tolkien appearances, as well as personal excursions near and far on most weekends. Now, alas, it is passing into fall, and as I write the wind outside is gusting–or should that be ‘Gustav-ing’?–it being the last remnants of that recent very damaging storm.

Two Tolkien Events

In mid-July I flew to Frankfurt Germany and was taken to a castle built of red stone amid forested mountains in Bavaria, atop a village called Reineck. Here I was welcomed to the 2008 Tolkien Thing, the 10th anniversary celebration of the German Tolkien Society. Marcel Bulles and his very dedicated committee threw a truly memorable and magical party July 10th to 13th, attended by a diverse number of hobbit-fans and friends from places like Italy, Slovenia, Greece, Holland, Denmark and beyond. It was almost completely perfect, I thought, and along with my slide presentation I sat on an anecdotes-of-our-careers panel with Rene van Rossenberg and Caspar Reiff, as well as did a live painting demo for the first time. That was a challenge, but despite logistical difficulties (the question of light to work by offset by the need to see the projected image for the audience) in 90 minutes I successfully produced a small painting of Bilbo and Gandalf outside Bag End (you know the scene!), and even sold it straight away.

I also performed a set of original songs in the castle chapel Sunday morning, and felt almost hallowed (certainly humbled), having managed not to wake up semi-hung over after the Saturday night revelries. Those wonderful Greeks entertained us well, and about midnight were passing out the ouzo! The chapel featured fabulous acoustics, so that no sound equipment was needed. Happily–unlike last year at this event at a different castle (Diez) during a song–the steeple bells did not go off! Thanks to everyone who made my visit so great!

Later, in mid-August, my partner and I drove to New Britain, Connecticut (USA) for Mythcon 39. My last Mythcon was the Tolkien Society / Mythopoeic Society joint event known as Tolkien 2005, held in Birmingham over several days in August that year. So it was with anticipation that I renewed my acquaintances and friendships there. The location in nearby Connecticut meant a saving on travel costs, significantly. Marian was new to Mythcon, but agreed to assist me (very expertly) with a sales table in the dealers room. After considering alternatives like air or bus, we decided on a scenic, day-long drive through New York State as part of the experience. This proved well worthwhile, giving us a glimpse of the stunning Adirondack Mountains area after we crossed into the U.S. at the beautiful Thousand Islands. (It almost sounds Tolkienian, doesn’t it? Rather like The Thousand Caves of Menegroth…)

All in all, it was a very enjoyable time at the campus of Central Connecticut State University. We arrived during a monsoon-worthy thunderstorm, but as everyone who lives in this part of the world knows, it’s been a remarkably stormy spring and summer; cooler than average but generally very pleasant (and featuring many memorable sunsets). For us it’s been nearly perfect, with the minimum of stale, humid swelter one normally must endure.

Featured at Mythcon for me were my 08 slide presentation, two concert performances, and the sales from the dealers room of CDs, card sets, prints, and calendars. While the first concert was of my serious music (similar to the one in Germany), the 2nd featured fellow musicians/singers Lynn Maudlin, David Emerson and Anne Osborn. Together we gave a comedic performance of The Lord of the Ringo, a spoof based on the trivia that The Beatles seriously considered making a film of LotR in the mid-60s (yes–mind-boggling). Mike Foster and I took the idea forward based on the embryo of it as conceived by Mike and David a few years back. The idea is/was to alter various applicable Beatle songs to LotR lyrics, all to comic effect. As performed with Mike, me and my brother Bruce in 2006 at The Gathering of the Fellowship 2 (Toronto), we and the audience had a blast. Sadly, Mike himself was unable to join us this time, due to combined circumstances, but we gave our all in his honour.

Work and Leisure

This summer I have been busy working on several pieces. Adding to the 13 castle paintings completed by March (for the George R.R. Martin companion book The Complete Guide to the Ice and Fire Universe; Random House; Sept. 09) I painted The Twins in May-June. Later in June I managed to fit in a vanity piece: My car illustration mania needed something to accomplish, so I decided to do a 1962 Pontiac Parisienne Coupe for fun. It’s among my nostalgic favourites, and I never felt I’d done the car justice in the past. I’d been toying with the idea since acquiring some new/old illustrated brochures a bit earlier, one of my hobbies. I felt I wanted to research the car as carefully as possible, so I got hold of a GM (General Motors) paint chip sampler from the year, and also  managed to locate an actual car in rural Ontario (with uncanny luck; a needle in a haystack if there ever was!) during a weekend away in the backroads. Colour? I selected Honduras Burgundy Metallic.

Since then, I all but completed the Pontiac, and also did a red 60s Mustang semi-sketch in gouache for a friend. In between, I created a Tolkien piece on commission called Gandalf Returns, as well as more recently, Frodo and Haldir in Lothlorien for the same private client.

Along with these works, I’m currently working on the now-in-progress painting Eagles to the Carrock (I’m inclined to focus more on The Hobbitnowadays). Aside from these ongoing works at the studio, and as hinted at above, I’ve gotten much inspiration from various weekend day-excursions with Marian, along with our camping trip in late July. It’s all about piling our stuff into the ol’ car and leaving the domestic stress behind as often as possible. We’ve explored areas in/near the Madawaska Valley to the northeast, rural splendour in Ontario’s farming heartland (Holland Marsh; central western Ontario and my home town Goderich), Muskoka (forest, lakes and cottages) for a family reunion, and the aforementioned camping, which was a return to the Lake Huron shores and the Bruce Peninsula, and the clear waters of Georgian Bay. Along with excellent luck weather-wise (including one overnight storm–but every camper wants THAT), it was a chance to compare notes on places both of us have visited separately, but could now appreciate together. As often as possible, we took photos, sketched, and drove nearly randomly along scenic, forgotten roads. Often there was a sublime calm as the sun slanted towards evening. We both feel very lucky indeed to live in a place with such a wealth of beauty within a day’s travel.

Next–and it’ll be the final Big Trip of 2008–we’re off to Oxonmoot later this month. I’ll report on that sometime before Christmas with luck…!

Posted September 05, 2008 |


May 2008 Archives

Artwork Update

Not having updated things in a number of weeks, I realize I’m neglecting my duty to keep you posted on my progress in general; I do apologize!

At present I am in the midst of painting a newer version of a work published in the 2003 Two Towers Tolkien Calendar called The Stranger in the Forest. I’m calling the new work simply Gandalf Returns; it is a private commission, and will show this key scene from a different vantage point. It will be followed soon by a painting depicting Frodo’s first full view of Lothlorien from a flet, looking toward The Great Tree of Caras Galadhon.

At this date I am waiting for confirmation of additional castle illustrations for the George R.R. Martin concordance project I have been involved with since this time last year. The original commissioned series of thirteen works was completed in early March, and the originals were exhibited in England at my exhibition (see blog entry ‘Castles and Conviviality’). I will inform readers of news on the book’s publication as soon as I know more; I believe it is to be released sometime later this year.

I have also been toying with the idea of doing a new car painting; simply a vanity project. I’ve always liked the 1962 Pontiacs, and the official advertising illustrations, and hope to steal some time in the next few weeks to create a ’62 as new homage to the genre.

As these and other works are completed, I will try to post them.

Lastly, I have just signed off on the colour proofs for the 2009 Tolkien Calendar, so remember to look for it and the accompanying Diary when they are published this summer. The Diary will feature a piece written by me about the illustrations, along with a few of the colour roughs. That’s it for now!

Posted May 04, 2008 |

Castles and Conviviality

It was with much anticipation that my partner and I flew to England in early April for “Castles in the Mist”, the latest exhibition of my work, held as usual at Redesdale Hall, Moreton-in-Marsh, Glos. This new show and sale featured 2 levels of exhibition, with downstairs being dedicated to artisans, booksellers and a live birds of prey ‘interactive’, while upstairs was fully dedicated to the paintings and prints–aside from the stage area. As in the past, there were lively daily features, such as Tolkien talks, talks by the artists, our Tolkien Quiz, a costume competition, longbow archery demonstration (no participants were impaled!) and our daily live music sets.

We were also very pleased to have been able to display a small number of important artifacts courtesy of Chris Tolkien of nearby Evesham. Chris is the grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien’s brother Hilary, and still operates the family garden nursery business. He kindly loaned us copies of letters and other memorabilia, allowing visitors a glimpse into this largely unknown aspect of Tolkien’s life. We thank Chris sincerely for his time, interest and support.

The ‘conviviality’ of the title refers of course to the meals and general ‘pubmooting’ we all enjoyed so thoroughly after hours. The Bell Inn (aka The Prancing Pony) again was the venue of choice for our special Saturday evening dinner, along with less formal gatherings the other evenings.

The ‘castles’, on the other hand, are the subject of the newest paintings of mine being featured. These non-Tolkien works will be published in a book to be published soon titled The Complete Guide to the Ice and Fire Universe. It will be a concordance for the ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ novels by George R.R. Martin, arguably among the greatest post-Tokien fantasy writers alive. 

This exhibition included two additional artists besides me and Ruth Lacon; Georgia-based Jef Murray and Cornwall-based Roger Garland. Jef’s distinctly colourful Tolkien works in oil nicely complimented the other work, and we appreciated having him and his wife with us. Roger Garland’s extensive variety of limited prints of his well known Tolkien illustrations rounded things out very nicely. We were disappointed that Roger was unable to attend on the Sunday as planned, however, but a volatile weather system bringing snow and dangerous driving conditions in its wake blew through early Sunday morning, unfortunately.

It takes a team of helpers, both paid and unpaid alike, to put on such an event, and I wish to thank you all very much! Most of all, thank you to Andy Compton as always for his organizing, generosity, promotion, and so much hard work in order to prepare this extraordinary event. And for his goodwill, humour, patience and overall passion and devotion to the promotion of Tolkien-inspired arts and crafts. I believe I can speak for Andy and say we are all very proud of the interest and loyalty our events are generating in so many of you, and thankful for the steady patronage of our work that these exhibitions help generate. See you next time, I hope!
Posted May 04, 2008 |

December 2007 Archives

Something to Smial About

My partner and I have just returned from a very wonderful short holiday in England, during which we attended a meeting of our ‘local’ Tolkien Society Smial (chapter) in Moreton-in-Marsh, Glos. among other activities. Obviously as Canadians, it’s not going to be often that we can attend such meetings, but in lieu of a fall art show in this cozy Cotswolds village, which is now home to my ongoing exhibitions (thanks to Andy Compton), it was decided that  it’d be nice to visit friends there anyway, and soon a proper Meeting was arranged, to coincide.

It was duly attended by some 30 of our loyal members, friends and supporters the afternoon of Sunday Nov. 25th. Drinks in hand, we began by sitting down to a delicious, hobbit-worthy meal of roast lamb and trimmings, followed by 3 or 4 choices of dessert/sweet (decisions!), all at the historic Bell Inn, local contender as the (certainly an) inspiration for The Prancing Pony itself. We then re-congregated for the meeting proper, discussing sundry items of significance, and clarifying plans for a spring exhibition at Redesdale Hall nearby. It is provisionally set for April 4th, through 7th, 2008, and will be expanded to include the lower floor of the Hall, mainly for dealer and demonstration areas, and will also introduce some other new features. I will announce these details closer to April.

can tell you that the upcoming exhibition will include the new castle paintings I am currently creating for Random House. These are illustrations of a series of fictional castles belonging to the aristocracies of author George R.R. Martin’s imaginary realm of Westeros. (Those works which have been completed are now available for viewing here on my site.) I will also include any other new works I manage to create between now and then. I have a very full agenda in coming weeks, with completion of the castles being the first priority, along with some newly commissioned Tolkien works which I will announce as they come along in early 2008.

Along with other reports, our meeting also included a reading of the two versions of the Riddle Game passage from The Hobbit, (thanks to Tess Venus), a new Tolkien quiz (thanks to Angie Gardner), and a performance by me of selected songs from The Hidden Door. Unexpected delays prevented my long time friend Alex Lewis and partner-artist Ruth Lacon from attending, regretably, but we trust they will return, and bring their gifts of music, scholarship, and art next time. Happily, we were not the only overseas members present; collector and enthusiast Joe Kraemer of Cincinnati, Ohioalso arranged to be there as part of a UK-Spain business trip! All this contributed to a renewed sense of true Fellowship among us, as was remarked by Lyn Wilshire, and seconded by Angie and all of us.

Heartfelt thanks to Andy Compton for making the arrangements and composing the agenda, and also for being a constant, thoughtful and generous host during our stay in Moreton.
Posted December 03, 2007 |

And While We’re on the Subject of Calendars…

As it happens, the Northeast Tolkien Society, otherwise known as Heren Istarion, expressed a need recently for help, due to some very unfortunate events besetting its founders Anthony Burge and Jessica Burke. Fearing that the Society and its good work might be imperiled, fundraising ideas were floated, and soon a special, collectible Heren Istarion 2008 Tolkien Calendarwas decided upon.  It is now in production, and will feature artworks chiefly by me as well as dedicated Tolkien artist Jef Murray []. Jef’s work is often featured in Amon Hen, the Tolkien Society bulletin, among other places.

Calendar collector extraordinaire Phil Goss along with daughter Megan have generously volunteered their time designing it, and orders can be placed Here’s the thing; the calendar will feature unpublished and recent new Tolkien artwork from me! Some of this art is presently available in limited edition giclee print form [], but this calendar, a first (but perhaps not the last), offers fans an affordable and highly collectible alternative. Thanks in advance for your support of my ongoing art, and the non-profit scholarly work of Heren Istarion.

Posted December 03, 2007 |

The 2009 Tolkien Calendar; Diary

I frequently receive inquiries about whether or when my art will be published in another Tolkien calendar. Well, I’m pleased to announce that I have been contracted to illustrate the 2009 Tolkien Calendar and 2009 Tolkien Diary. As part of a renewed promotion of The Silmarillion, the Calendar and Diary will publish, in larger format, selected illustratons from the (2004) illustrated edition. 16 works are to be used, including cover, endpages and centre spread. I expect that they will be available sometime in July or August, the usual time of calendar publication.

Posted December 03, 2007 |

August 2007 Archives

Summer Summary

Hi All,

Each summer I tend to have the cherished wish that I’ll somehow overcome the constant pressures of life and work in order to actually slow down and enjoy this prized season of hot, torpor-inducing, beer-in-hand leisure time before it inevitably passes into fall. And each summer I tend nonetheless to feel shortchanged in this regard, grappling as I do with a complex number of demands and options in my free lance career or home life! Normal people (i.e. those with conventional jobs/careers) can generally expect to be able to schedule a vacation of about 2 weeks duration (or more) at least, but we who enjoy the advantages of free lance careers, also must tolerate its constraints, one chief one being the way there just aren’t definite lines between work and other obligations, and personal time. Ah well–‘join the club’ I hear you say!

I certainly doubt I’ll generate much sympathy by complaining about any ‘obligation’ involved in the fabulous invitation last month to the Count’s Castle at Diez, Germany, for instance. I can only express great appreciation for the wonderful welcome and experience I had while among members of the German Tolkien Society during their annual gathering, and appreciation for the opportunity it gave me to see a little of rural Germany and its unique charms, too. My sincere thanks go to long time  acquaintance and GTS Chair Marcel Bulles, as well as to his able committee in such persons as Christian, Nina, Alex, and Alex, et al. Thanks also and greetings to the various GTS members I was able to get to know a little, and who welcomed me so heartily, as well as the established friends/acquaintances I enjoyed seeing again on this occasion.

Among the highlights, it was especially gratifying to have such a truly enthusiastic reception for my musical offerings. Even the noon chiming in the castle’s bell tower couldn’t spoil things! To you who wonder what I mean here, I will explain: I was called on to offer an encore, but the noon chiming had begun during the previous song. On any Sunday it tends to go on beyond 12 strokes however, the traditional call-to-worship, it was explained. In a bit of quick thinking I’d never have imagined myself capable of, I quickly realized that the metronomic rhythm of the bells was fairly close to the song’s tempo, and that it was sounding the note ‘E’, which happened to be in key. Thus I did my best to incorporate the bells into a song describing the ominous approach to Angband by Beren and Luthien as bat and wolf!

While not travelling to Europe, I’ve been busy doing my best to maintain a schedule of painting, and am busy these days working mostly on a series of castle depictions for a concordance to be published next year (by Dell Books/Random House) on the fantasy world in which the novels of George R.R. Martin are set. In Germany, during a slide presentation of mostly Tolkien artworks, I shared slides of two of the Martin works. I intend to post those and the two newest works here in the near future, I’ve decided. It is a wonderful project, and a refreshing (if temporary) departure from the Tolkien works. The latter continue as and when I can get to them, too, with a list of new works I’m committed to over the coming months.

And with that I’ll conclude for the moment, in order to get over to the studio and carry on; the more diligent I am, the more I’ll be able to enjoy that elusive summer idyll I once again fear is slipping away too fast.

Posted August 07, 2007 |

June 2007 Archives

Song Lyrics Uploaded

Recently, since the CD The Hidden Door has been available, I’ve received a few requests for the lyrics to be posted. They are now here on the site! Simply go to the Music page and click on the song title.

Posted June 20, 2007 |

A Short Trip to Germany

It is with great pleasure that I’ve accepted an invitation to join friends and fellow fans for the annual German Tolkien Thing this summer, sponsored by The German Tolkien Society. The Thing takes place July 13th to 15th at the Count’s Castle at Diez. I will present slides of my work (some very recent) and discuss significant projects past and present. I also will perform songs from my new CD, along with the usual book/calendar signings.

There have been previous invitations in recent years, but my busy travel schedule prevented me from accepting, so I was glad when Society Chair Marcel Bulles once again asked if I was available. I much appreciate this honour, and am looking very forward to my first trip back to Germany since I was a very small child.

May 2007 Archives

The Hidden Door: Songs in the Key of Enchantment

  • Leaving the Shire
  • Where Beauty Dwells
  • To the Sea
  • A King There Was
  • River Daughter
  • When Evening in the Shire was Grey
  • Rainbows in the Sun
  • To the Woody End
  • Dying Embers
  • Beruthiel
  • The Hidden Door

Visit the music page for details on how to order the CD and to listen in full to sample tracks.

Posted May 15, 2007 |

April 2007 Archives

Welcome, Martin Baker

It’s with pleasure that I announce Mr. Martin Baker as the site’s new webmaster and technical advisor. Martin comes highly recommended, and has extensive experience in website design and management, along with many other professional talents and credits. I’m very grateful to have him on board. Martin may be contacted via his website Merrill Valley Photography.

I also wish to formally thank Rob Huston again for his excellent service and advice as the site’s original designer, builder and webmaster. I’ll miss working with you, Rob, but our friendship has by no means changed, and I wish you well in your new adopted life in America.

In the next days and weeks we will be adding the newest artworks, changing some of the old ones, and generally catching up with things which have been held up during this transition. I very much appreciate everyone’s patience and continuing support.

Posted April 10, 2007 |

My Music CD is Available Now

Dear Friends,

It’s here! Just a few days ago I picked up the cartons of CDs, as soon as they were delivered to Silverbirch Productions. The Hidden Door; Songs in the Key of Enchantment is now available from me in this region, or from either Andrew Compton ( or Malcolm Lindley (Tolkien Society Trading; details pending) in the UK and Europe. In the next day or so I’ll post information on price, including shipping.

I’ll also post sample tracks as soon as possible, but am just in the process of updating the website in general (see accompanying announcement).

Posted April 10, 2007 |

March 2007 Archives

Visions of a Lost Realm

It’s with pleasure that I hereby announce my next exhibition of originals and prints, Visions of a Lost Realm, scheduled for April 21st to 24th, 2007. Once again, the venue is Redesale Hall , Moreton-in-Marsh, Glos. England. As with previous exhibitions, there will be a wide selection of recent and older originals, along with the growing selection of limited edition prints, and most importantly, my latest LotR originals and sketches.

Among the new titles of prints, we are now offering:

  • Bilbo at Bag End
  • Tol Brandir
  • Eowyn and the Nazgul
  • Turin Discovers Nienor at the Mound of Finduilas

Bilbo at Bag End is noteworthy in that it has never before been published. It was a private commission, and is as the title suggests, a version of the illustration by Tolkien from The Hobbit.

I will be again be on hand throughout the event, as will Ms Ruth Lacon, my co-exhibitor and guest artist.  We are also thematically celebrating the publication of the exciting new book The Children of Hurin, and it is our great pleasure to announce the appearance of Mr. Alan Lee, the book’s illustrator, during the Friday evening private viewing, and during the first day of public viewing, Saturday the 21st (I will clarify this further shortly).

My new and patiently awaited first music CD The Hidden Door; Songs in the Key of Enchantment, will also be available at the exhibition, and I will be performing selections.

For further information do contact either myself or Andrew Compton [through]. We anticipate a fantastic event, all in all, and hope you will try to join us!

Posted March 05, 2007 |

The Hidden Door CD

It’s been weeks since I last posted information about my upcoming CD, I realize. The wheels invariably turn slower than one hopes, but as the saying goes; “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right”. At present I am roughly a week away from receiving delivery of the copied and shrinkwrapped final product, I’m pleased to report.

Once recording, sound editing and final mix down were accomplished in early January, I set about illustrating the cover, and then after checking the notes and other information I’d written up previously, I investigated the need for graphics and typography. My friend and artist colleague Paul came to my aid, setting up a suitable layout and working with me to create the right look. About 2 weeks later we were ready to send all that and the master copy to Silverbirch Productions for printing and manufacture.

If you’re interested, you can listen to a sample and pre-order now through

Posted March 05, 2007 |

November 2006 Archives

Long Time No Post–My Apologies, Friends!

Hello All,

No I haven’t retreated into a cabin in the Northern Forests–well yet at least (but now that I write it…hmmmm). No, but an artist can have a tendency to get distracted easily–all that inner ranging, and a kind of ‘efficiency-challenged’ nature, I admit. And then my little website gets neglected at times (along with paying bills and book-keeping).

Anyway, I’ve been enjoying something of a lull lately, after the wonderful exhibition of my art held in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire in September. There are no new trips planned until about next March (The Silmarillion Conference–details pending), and I’ve been able to settle into an extended period of painting, drawing, and continued work on the CD project.

The latter is getting to the final stage quickly now, but of course it’s been in production since February, and I’ve realized that my provisional deadlines have been off by months. However, the good news is that the work has been steadily progressing, aside from my busy summer travel schedule. I am working with a talented sound engineer, Robin Short, and we have been refining the songs, tweaking and trimming as needed. And just today, Bruce Nasmith added some more recorder lines to Where Beauty Dwells, and some live violin to To the Woody End.

I am also fast becoming conscious that I must hurry to get the graphics done or I’ll have a CD without notes or artwork soon! If it isn’t finished and available by Christmas, it will be very soon in the New Year, I’m sure.

Otherwise, the drawing and painting has produced several (mostly) LotR sketches, and I just completed Elves in the Woody End, a beautiful depiction of this very magical scene in the Shire with the three hobbit companions happening upon Gildor and his company at night. I’ve been intending to paint it for many years. Other new works include Tol Brandir, The Blue Wizards Journeying East  Gandalf and the Balrog Upon Celebdil and Green Hill Morning. [Note: These and other new works have not been added to the artwork on the site mainly because I’m in need of a new webmaster since August, and admit I haven’t made it a priority. I do sincerely apologize.]

Beyond those, I’ve taken on a few new automotive commissions, and expect more of these in the near future.

Lastly, I am negotiating with Random House regarding a large commission for some landscape paintings of the various castles for a planned book of art inspired by A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. It is expected to be published in spring 2008. It will represent a major project in fantasy not connected with Tolkien, and I welcome it.

I’ll also be travelling to England in April for my next exhibition in Gloucestershire (details pending), and we’re planning it to coincide with the publication of The Children of Hurin. We’ve approached none other than Mr. Alan Lee to appear and exhibit his illustrations at the exhibition, too, and I beleve he has accepted.

Cheers for now!


Posted November 29, 2006 |

August 2006 Archives

Where Many Paths and Errands Meet

I’m proud to announce that I am exhibiting art once again in England!Where Many Paths and Errands Meet will be held from the 23rd to the 26th of September at Redesdale Hall, in the centre of Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire. (You’ll easily spot the big banner!) A large number of originals and prints will be on show, from morning until the dinner hour each day. Featured will be the exciting new painting Tol Brandir, among others.

As was the case in May, I will be on hand to greet and converse with visitors, as will Ruth Lacon, whose work will again be showcased too.  Admission is free, and refreshments will be available free throughout opening hours. Although the performance time varies, Alex Lewis, Maddy Anderson and I will break into song at some point each afternoon with original Tolkien-inspired music. [Some songs are soon to be available on my first CD.]

Please join us in the heart of The Cotswolds, and be sure to give yourself time to explore a little of the countryside which bears several place names Tolkien incorporated into his fiction! For more detailed info, go

Posted August 23, 2006 |

CD Project Update for August!

Curious about that CD? Well, the original rough target date was mid-summer, but that’s needed adjusting. We’re still hard at work, and are now in the latter stages of applying finishing touches to the 11 songs. My travels have slowed things down, but the momentum is still steady. We’re very excited as the music is reaching a mature stage, and the revised target for completion is late fall now.

It will be worth waiting for; rough mixes are very promising, and my brother Bruce and I are being rewarded for our diligence and perfectionism. Small details are the thing that consumes much of the time, as I’m discovering, but it’s worth it to persevere. Our friend and long time singer Alison von Criegern was invited in for some vocal lines most recently, and the result was wonderful, raising the quality considerably. Aside from some flute lines and some percussion, we’re nearly ready to go to the mastering phase. I will soon need to turn my attention to the accompanying text and graphics, too.

Stay tuned…

Posted August 22, 2006 |

A Gathering of Friends

I’ve been remiss for only now, belatedly reporting on The Gathering of the Fellowship ll, held in Toronto July 1st to 4th. This event was long anticipated by all who enjoyed so much the first such convention, also held in Toronto in December 2003, for the premiere of The Return of the King movie.

A smaller event this time, it was nonetheless well enjoyed and well programmed, with a rich variety of presentations ranging from movie or media-related to literary and scholarly, as well as lots of social time and programming built in. As per usual, I gave an updated slide-talk, but also gave two concerts. The first was a series of songs Mike Foster and I came up with, called The Fellowship of the Ringo. It started as a “what if” proposition; in this case, Beatles music meets Tolkien! You see, The Beatles once optionedThe Lord of the Rings as a possible 3rd movie, something that would fulfill their contract with United Artists in the 1960s. It (blessedly!) fell through within a year or so, but what if they’d succeeded, instead of deciding instead to make an animated fantasy called Yellow Submarine? It’s amazing how adaptable many well known Beatles songs are to LotR, especially if humour is the aim! Our crazy, tongue-firmly-in-cheek idea was very well received, I’m delighted to say. Mike and I were accompanied by my brother Bruce, who knows Beatles songs like the musical pro he is. (Thanks Bruce!)

My other concert, like the one given in Norway a few weeks later (see below; A Return to Norway), was of my original Tolkien-inspired songs. Here, Bruce added various accompaniments; keyboards, recorders, vocals and guitar, to round out the sound. We were very gratified by the genuinely appreciative audience we performed for!

The Gathering kept me busy the remainder of the time with signings, plenty of enjoyable conversation, more signings, the taping of a game show (HiFiHDTV’s Collectors Showdown, newly created), and as much of the rest of the programming as I could attend. Actors Bruce Hopkins and Craig Parker joined us from NZ, and it’s hard to imagine the convention without their genial personalities and charisma! True celebrities and gentlemen (mostly), if ever there were!

Thank you to all who made my experience of this event memorable and meaningful. See you again at other venues, I hope!


Posted August 22, 2006 |

A Return to Norway

My most recent adventure was aLEP in Norway (a Long Expected Party), held August 3rd to 6th on a picturesque horse farm about 3 hours’ drive north of Oslo near the Swedish border. I was fortunate enough to catch a ride with one of the young adults going to aLEP on the Friday, allowing conversation, and the luxury of leaving locating this somewhat remote farm to my driver and her GPS device!

The theme, naturally enough, was Rohan and Riding this year. With unusually beautiful, hot summer weather for the entire 4 days of aLEP, the idea of having a sizable group of young people congregate in this setting with tents and the rest of the wherewithal needed for authentic Middle-earth living a la Norway was inspired and most wonderful. The green, rolling pastures, lakes, and pine forests couldn’t have been more suitable for the occasion.

I cannot say enough about the extraordinary warmth and welcome I again received there! I again had a very appreciative audience for my slides (shown completely outdoors at dusk; a first), and a concert I gave of (mainly) original songs inspired by or related to Tolkien was received with extraordinary, very humbling enthusiasm. A big thank you goes to my friend Anita, who agreed on very short notice to accompany 3 of the songs on flute; mostly improvising. Beyond that I also enjoyed talking to many people, making a few sketches on request, and conducting casual interviews with young artists about their work. The rest of the time I enjoyed some of the other programming, as well as sharing mealtime convivialities. My sleeping quarters in a small red outbuilding were rustic but hobbit-snug, and much appreciated. Especially noteworthy was a demonstration of cavalry techniques conducted by our hosts. There was also an excellent parade of Tolkienesque costumes, not to mention the mesmerising evening storytelling program under the stars. This is how you celebrate J. R. R. Tolkien.

Thank you to Kristoffer Gressli once again for the honour of returning to Norway and Oslo a 2nd time. Thank you to all of you who welcomed me so sincerely; it’s hard to imagine a more perfect experience than sharing a love of Tolkien with a Scandinavian crowd in the heart of their countryside! I do mean to return, and with luck will plan to tour the famous fjords, too!


Posted August 22, 2006 |

May 2006 Archives

An Exhibition Event To Be Proud Of!

I’ve just returned from my UK trip in order to attend my newest exhibition of Tolkien artworks. As hoped, it was a resounding success! My very sincerest thanks goes to Andy Compton and his fantastic team of assistants, who devoted many hours and talents to the undertaking. [Noteable names: Roz, Charlotte, Rachel, Jo, Paul, Jonathon, Dom, Alex, Maddy, Malcx, Steve, Angie, Gary and Becky, plus European visitors Peter, Bart, and Larissa]

Held at the historic Redesdale Hall in picturesque Moreton-in-Marsh, and despite on and off spring rains, we received  several hundreds of visitors (going by the sign-in guestbook), including friends, fans, students, or the merely curious, some simply attracted by the multi-faceted programming alongside the exhibited artwork. Also, the event served as an opportunity to attract and sign up new members of The Tolkien Society. This too was Andy’s initiative, following on from our first exhibition last December. We signed on over a dozen new members, including our good-natured, very capable hired security guard Dave, a 60-ish man (and proud grandfather) unfamiliar with Tolkien until then!

Arriving Wednesday morning May 17th, Andy met me at Heathrow, and saw that I had a chance to rest up and ease into things before being shuttled (by Roz Compton) on the Thursday to back to back live radio interviews, broadcast in the local region from both BBC Coventry/Warwickshire and BBC Oxford  stations. Friday was set-up day, and generally I stayed out of the way while the exhibits were put in place. In the evening, an invitational party was held to celebrate and toast the  fruits of so much labour, and Saturday at 9am the doors were formally opened to the public. From then on for me it was largely a blur of constant discussion with visitors, singing (very ably joined by Ms Maddy Anderson and my friend Alex Lewis), a LotR reading, and much else. Evenings meant convivial meals–and more singing (such that by Day 4 I was losing my voice!). Andy’s delightfully inspired special feast of Rabbit Stew and trimmings, held at the historic Bell Inn Saturday evening, was a highlight. After the dessert, which included Hobbit-inspired seedcakes, we settled in the common room to guitars, songs, and general revelries. That led many of the other pub patrons to abandon the Eurovision Song Contest broadcast! 😉

Some of my favourite aspects of the exhibition were the live Chilean eagle (Lulu), who was a huge hit with everyone (and just plain huge…) when she was brought down to be admired close-up from her perch in the minstel’s gallery, especially for the wide-eyed children. Inspired by the frequent appearances of eagles in Tolkien’s stories, Lulu and her affable handler joined us from a nearby Bird-of-Prey Centre. At another point I read a passage from LotR; the episode where Faramir approaches a yet-despondent Eowyn upon the walls of Minas Tirith and begins to fall in love. It’s for me among the most moving and poignant passages in the novel, and I had to fight back tears, I admit.

On the Monday a group of art students travelled from Birmingham to spend the afternoon, and along with Ms Ruth Lacon, the longtime Tolkien Society friend and fellow illustrator with whom I shared the show, we gave guided talks about our work. (Ruth addressed a 2nd group of younger students later that day, two of which reportedly went home and immediately asked their mother for paints and brushes!)

Last but certainly not least, sales were excellent, and the investment of time and financial resources appears to have been well justified. We now set our sights on the (we hope auspicious) September 22nd weekend for the next event, to be held in the same venue. Announcements and details will follow accordingly, but suffice it to say, I will be about the business of painting new subjects in the intervening weeks!


Posted May 29, 2006 |

CD Project Update

With apologies for the lengthy interval since I last posted on this, here’s where it stands now:

Working several hours at a time on a 1-day-a-week basis (it’s all I can spare), significant progress has been made in some 10 sessions to date. All but a couple of songs are in a fairly advanced state of development, meaning primary guitars, vocals, harmony lines, bass, and various amounts of keyboard or wind instruments, as each song requires, have been laid down. It’s been terribly satisfying, fun, challenging, and a sometimes frustrating learning curve all at once.

Hearing and taking away rough mixes for study has been particularly rewarding, allowing time to consider whether I’m happy with the efforts, and whether I’m more or less ‘on target’ creatively. Generally I’m not trying to achieve anything beyond much ‘cleaner’ and better-performed versions of existing lower-tech recordings of the songs (ones recorded on my older, analogue home units in years past), but am also trying to leave creative space for fresher ideas and recognize the much greater potential provided by the digital 24-track masterboard we’re using. Of course, with unlimited time and leisure, the sky is the limit, but I’m doing my best to be adventurous yet modest enough not to get overwhelmed by overreaching the near-infinite sounds, synthesized and/or live instruments, and other ideas one can explore in embellishing song recordings. As expected, I must consciously reconcile ‘perfection’ with a product sufficiently expressive and balanced to be rightly proud of–and which can actually be finished as close to my objective of mid-summer as humanly possible.

I’m now back from my art exhibition in England (see report), and will pick up where I left off last session.
Posted May 29, 2006 |


Upcoming Appearances

One Morning Long Ago

On May 20 – 23, 2006 I will be on hand throughout an exhibition and sale of my original art. See details under “New Exhibition of Originals in May!”

The Gathering of the Fellowship II

I am again among the Guests of Honour at this large scale Tolkien event, first held in late 2003. It is returning to Toronto July 1st to 4th, 2006.

A Long Expected Party 2006

Date and details to be confirmed soon

Posted April 30, 2006 |


March 2006 Archives

New Exhibition of Originals in May!

In mid-December my sales agent Andrew Compton organized the first UK exhibition and sale of my original art since September 18, 2001. It was very successful, and now the next event is being planned for Saturday May 20th, 2006, running through Tuesday May 23rd.
The exhibition will be held again in the town of Moreton-in-Marsh, in the heart of The Coswolds heritage district of beautiful Gloucestershire. Our theme is “One Morning Long Ago”. Come and experience springtime in a part of England as close to Tolkien’s Shire as any place can be (indeed Tolkien borrowed some of the local place names in his fiction). There will be something for everybody; along with full size original paintings, studies and sketches, and a growing selection of limited edition prints (5 more are being added for May!) there will be:

A Programme of Events
Books–new and rare
Book Signing
Educational Talks
Music (I and friends will sing!)

Also, guided tours are available to Tolkien sites in the district!

Come, whether you are interested in purchasing my artwork, or simply want to see the originals. I will be there on this occasion, too, and available to answer questions or just to share the occasion with you my valued friends and supporters. Here’s hoping I’ll see you there!

Posted March 15, 2006


February 2006 Archives

Coming: That Long Awaited Music CD Project!

With so many of you enthusiastically asking for a CD of my music, and with especial apologies to those who have made this request repeatedly over a period of years, I’m happy to announce that I am ‘getting it together’ at last!

As of yesterday Feb. 21st, 06, I have begun the project I promised, laying down basic tracks in a recording studio, for the first of a collection of songs which I will be making available at last. I intend it to be the first of a succession of recording projects, a long held dream. As to why it has taken me so long, it mainly has to do with having had a sense that other very pressing work and personal pressures (including much Tolkien art related travel lately) have left me feeling that the kind of time, financial resources and focus I needed for this was simply not sufficient; that it would come into its own when the time was right.

I’m very excited about this! The project will include songs I’ve recently been performing live at Tolkien conventions, such as Beruthiel, River Daughter, To The Sea, and Leaving the Shire, plus some of my thematically related non-Tolkien songs. I am still in the process of compiling the final list of songs, however, and will announce progress in upcoming postings. Questions or comments are welcome, of course.

Posted February 22, 2006 |


December 2005 Archives

A Sudden Departure Mourned

Dear Friends,

It was with great sadness that I received the news that my friend Dan Timmons had suddenly passed away Sunday December 18th, 2005. Dan, newly married and with an infant son, had been fighting a courageous battle with a very dibilitating illness for many months, and as all who knew him will attest, he displayed extraordinary and very inspiring strength and serenity throughout his ordeal.

Dan was a man who loved life and always displayed a quick wit and whose feelings were an open book. He laughed and cried readily, suffered when others he loved suffered, was constantly deeply engaged intellectually, and was as wonderful a friend as you could ever want. He touched many lives very meaningfully, and mine was and is no exception.

We met in August 2001, when he was told by a mutual acquaintance that I lived near Toronto, whereupon he called to arrange to interview me for a documentary project he’d decided on; The Legacy of The Lord of the Rings. (The now frequently broadcast documentary traces the influence and meaning for readers, authors, artists and scholars alike of Tolkien’s classic epic novel.) Dan was a big fan of my Tolkien art, and although at that time I tended to be very uncomfortable with microphones and interviews, Dan’s knowledge of Tolkien and friendly, disarming demeanor soon had me relaxed and able to express my thoughts articulately about my work and Tolkien. That interview occurred just as the the long awaited release of The Fellowship of the Ring film was approaching, and because I had recognized the importance of these films to my career, I think of Dan gratefully as someone who helped me overcome my media shyness just in time for the succession of invitations to conventions and the innumerable media interviews I’ve since accepted gratefully–and which continue.

But it will be the many enjoyable lunches (though now far too few) and other occasions of conversation and friendship that I will miss most. Dan became a trusted, much valued friend, and our conversations ranged far from our initial common language/love of Tolkien into religion, politics, sociology, music and other esoterica, along with much wise personal advice and wisdom between us on relationships and life in general. I will dearly miss him, and know he is now Home beyond the Halls of Mandos. May his personal Legacy long be remembered, and inspire those of us who had the good fortune to know this Great gentleman, teacher, scholar, loving husband and father.

Posted December 29, 2005 |


November 2005 Archives

New Ted Nasmith Giclee Art Prints!

Along with the effort to make recent original paintings available to UK clients once again, it was recognized that the number of limited edition prints available from me has been, well, too limited! Andrew Compton has stepped into that particular breach and will unveil a series of 7 new titles shortly in conjunction with the December sales/exhibition event mentioned in the accompanying entry. The following paintings are finally being offered as high quality giclee prints. These will not last, however, as I am only offering 100 signed and numbered copies each.

The new prints are:

The Fellowship Attempts the Pass of Caradhras
Barad Dur and the Nazgul
Gandalf Rides to Minas Tirith

(These three subjects were created for the new commemorative 50th anniversary Lord of the Rings plates by The Danbury Mint.)

Also now available:

The Riders of Rohan (special premium edition of 50 only!)

The Argonauth
The Wrath of the Ents
The End of the Age

Again, for details write to Mr. Andrew Compton care of

Posted November 16, 2005 | Comments (0) | Permanent link

UK Art Show and Sale December 10th – 11th

My loyal fans and friends,

I must apologize for the recent lull in new entries here on the site. After the summer’s busy agenda, I settled into a relatively quiet period for the first time in a good while, and there really wasn’t much to talk about. It’s been quite nice not to be under enormous pressure for a few weeks, and to take a break from all the travel–exciting as it invariably is!

However, things have been far from boring, and it gives me great pleasure to announce a new initiative for original Tolkien art sales. This December 10th and 11th, there will be a significant new art show and sale held in the White Hart Hotel, Moreton-in-Marsh, in the heart of the famous Cotswolds heritage district of England. It is being overseen and organized by my new UK sales agent–and avid fan of my art–Andrew Compton. Andy brings many years of experience as a marketer and rare Tolkien book dealer to this enterprise, and I feel my interests are in very good hands. I have not had my originals available directly in the UK since 2001. For further details you may write to me, or consult Andy’s website:

I invite anyone within reasonable proximity to Moreton-in-Marsh to attend this important event; there will be a wide range of things on offer, from originals in all price ranges, to new prints (see separate entry), as well as existing prints, books, the new Danbury plates, and other items. Come have a glass of wine and browse!

Posted November 16, 2005 |


September 2005 Archives

White Tree Fund and Katrina Aftermath

The White Tree Fund is currently encouraging donations specifically directed at the Katrina victims. To make a donation, please use the following

Posted September 12, 2005 |


July 2005 Archives

New Danbury LotR Plates

For a number of weeks during winter and spring this year I was hard at work on a whole new set of Danbury LotR plates. The project was a 50th Anniversary commemorative set of three Lord of the Rings plates, each one featuring a volume of the trilogy.

The main illustration is surrounded by twelve vignettes depicting scenes from that volume, for a total of thirty nine new works. It’s been a wonderful challenge to make sure each of these small vignettes can readily be recognized, and contain my characteristic amount of detail, and yet also be reproducable in ceramic.

This new set of plates is set to become available later this summer, I understand, and I encourage fans to have a look.

Posted July 17, 2005 | Comments (1) | Permanent link

EFF and TolCon–Belatedly

Dear Faithful readers,

With sincere apologies, I realize I have been too long absent and not keeping you informed of my activities!

I attended EFF (Elf Fantasy Fair) in April, as listed here, and cannot praise the weather gods highly enough for providing the over 20,000 visitors to this year’s event with moderate, sunny conditions both days!
The last time I attended the Fair it rained and rained, which despite excellent attendance, does rather spoil things…

I was well received again, at any rate, and for me the highlights were meeting several Dutch friends again, as well as some of the other guests. Particularly noteworthy was the fact that for the first time, John Howe, Alan Lee and myself were appearing together at a fan event. Meeting our fans and signing their books and calendars together was a very special experience. Sincere thanks goes to the organizing committee.

Also, the Dutch Tolkien Society, or Unquendor as they are known, honoured John, Alan and me with a dinner at which we were all presented with Awards of Merit for contributions to the appreciation of Tolkien. I hadn’t expected that at all, and was touched and very grateful. [Unquendor are preparing for their 5-yearly big convention, Lustrum, next year, meanwhile, and I have been invited; details to follow soon.]

On then to TolCon in Washington State, USA in mid-May. Held just outside Seattle in comfortable surroundings at the Radisson Hotel, this event was also very memorable. With sisters Jo and Bekah Washington at the helm, it was a comprehensive celebration of Tolkien’s legacy in all its facets, ranging from the scholarly and literary to the movies, costumes, crafts, artists (of course!) and even the comedic and satirical. A particular highlight for me was the enthusiasm a musical performance I gave received (thanks goes to Bekah, who kindly trusted me with her beautiful guitar). I have sung some of my Tolkien-inspired songs at Oxonmoot talent shows in the past, but this was the first time I’d done an exclusive, extended feature performance. I sang 10 songs, mostly either settings of Tolkien poems or simply Tolkien-inspired compositions. I will try to do more of this in future, and not keep this other side of my talents quite so under-exposed.

I highly recommend TolCon as a nicely contained but ambitiously varied and hobbitishly friendly convention–and I would love to return!

Posted July 17, 2005 |

July 2005 Archives

New Danbury LotR Plates

For a number of weeks during winter and spring this year I was hard at work on a whole new set of Danbury LotR plates. The project was a 50th Anniversary commemorative set of three Lord of the Rings plates, each one featuring a volume of the trilogy.

The main illustration is surrounded by twelve vignettes depicting scenes from that volume, for a total of thirty nine new works. It’s been a wonderful challenge to make sure each of these small vignettes can readily be recognized, and contain my characteristic amount of detail, and yet also be reproducable in ceramic.

This new set of plates is set to become available later this summer, I understand, and I encourage fans to have a look.

Posted July 17, 2005 | Comments (1) | Permanent link

EFF and TolCon–Belatedly

Dear Faithful readers,

With sincere apologies, I realize I have been too long absent and not keeping you informed of my activities!

I attended EFF (Elf Fantasy Fair) in April, as listed here, and cannot praise the weather gods highly enough for providing the over 20,000 visitors to this year’s event with moderate, sunny conditions both days!
The last time I attended the Fair it rained and rained, which despite excellent attendance, does rather spoil things…

I was well received again, at any rate, and for me the highlights were meeting several Dutch friends again, as well as some of the other guests. Particularly noteworthy was the fact that for the first time, John Howe, Alan Lee and myself were appearing together at a fan event. Meeting our fans and signing their books and calendars together was a very special experience. Sincere thanks goes to the organizing committee.

Also, the Dutch Tolkien Society, or Unquendor as they are known, honoured John, Alan and me with a dinner at which we were all presented with Awards of Merit for contributions to the appreciation of Tolkien. I hadn’t expected that at all, and was touched and very grateful. [Unquendor are preparing for their 5-yearly big convention, Lustrum, next year, meanwhile, and I have been invited; details to follow soon.]

On then to TolCon in Washington State, USA in mid-May. Held just outside Seattle in comfortable surroundings at the Radisson Hotel, this event was also very memorable. With sisters Jo and Bekah Washington at the helm, it was a comprehensive celebration of Tolkien’s legacy in all its facets, ranging from the scholarly and literary to the movies, costumes, crafts, artists (of course!) and even the comedic and satirical. A particular highlight for me was the enthusiasm a musical performance I gave received (thanks goes to Bekah, who kindly trusted me with her beautiful guitar). I have sung some of my Tolkien-inspired songs at Oxonmoot talent shows in the past, but this was the first time I’d done an exclusive, extended feature performance. I sang 10 songs, mostly either settings of Tolkien poems or simply Tolkien-inspired compositions. I will try to do more of this in future, and not keep this other side of my talents quite so under-exposed.

I highly recommend TolCon as a nicely contained but ambitiously varied and hobbitishly friendly convention–and I would love to return!

Posted July 17, 2005 |


December 2004 Archives

The Silmarillion; a new, expanded illustrated edition

As mentioned previously, the new edition of The Silmarillion, with a much larger number of illustrations, has been published this fall, debuting in the UK in early September, and now available in North America since mid-November. It has been my great privilege to see not one illustrated edition appear, but two now. It isn’t terribly fair, however, to expect people to purchase a 2nd version of a book they may already have bought earlier, but I can assure those who may be willing to go with me on this that the newer version is a great deal more significant and complete an expression of my artistic gifts. Whereas with the earlier edition, the way the illustrations were bound into the book restricted us to 18 interior illustrations (plus 2 extra works on the dust jacket), the new edition uses paper which is coated throughout in order to be able to incorporate illustrations as often as desired. Although that still meant that there were limits on my time as far as creating the artworks, I did enjoy a much longer period of production, and took advantage of it to plan and execute some 25 new illustrations. These have been added along with the first set. All in all, then, this book, vast in scope and distinct in literary genius, but which has suffered by comparison to the more accessible The Lord of the Rings, is now, I believe, much better able to be appreciated, and I have been able to explore it’s treasure trove of images in much greater depth.

Although I would be among the first to acknowledge the lure of The Lord of the Rings to any illustrator, in fact it doesn’t really require illustrations to be enjoyed and absorbed, so vivid are its author’s descriptions, and so intimate is its narrative. The Silmarillion, however, is a very different literary ‘animal’; easily disappointing to the average reader. It is in fact a Saga, describing the very early history of Middle-earth and Valinor. After the establishment of The World, and the eventual discord among and migration of Elves from their Golden Age in the land of the Gods (the Valar), a series of tales unfold set in Beleriand, the lost ancient home of Elves and Men in the northwest of Middle-earth. These describe the great wars, adventures, and kingdoms of those years. Most familiar to established Tolkien readers will be the tales describing the Quest of Beren and Luthien, the poignant, fateful tale of Turin Turambar, and the Fall of Gondolin, the last great Elven kingdom of the Age. These tales are all referred to in The Lord of the Rings.

As set out in this great work, which occupied Tolkien for most of his life, the style of narrative is more spare, skimming over the intimate details the more conventional novel The Lord of the Rings provides. This is because, as published posthumously, the book covers many times the chronological span of The Lord of the Rings, and almost all the stories are less detailed summaries, only elsewhere fleshed out, at least partially (such as inUnfinished Tales). Tales such as Of Turin Turambar, or Of Beren and Luthien, are laid out in much greater detail in other published versions, though unfortunately not in their entirety. Seen this way, The Silmarillionamounts to a Source Book of many other novel-length tales almost as epic asThe Lord of the Rings.

Such was the daunting, extraordinary matter of his legendarium; Tolkien became aware relatively late in his career that the stories we now recognize as set in Middle-earth should rightly be harmonized into a Great Whole. Tragically, his waning powers of invention and time simply prevented that being fully accomplished, but few would dispute the significance of the much greater scope The Silmarillion provides. When readers close The Lord of the Rings, but now feel they want More of this author’s fantastic genius for invented legend, The Silmarillion beckons!

It is my hope that with my illustrations, the book now becomes more vivid, more intimate, and more accessible to readers. Despite the less detailed style of prose, such is Tolkien’s gift for narrative that The Silmarillion contains some of his most sublime passages, and in my considered opinion, deserves a place among the greatest works of imaginative literature ever written.

Posted December 07, 2004 | Comments (0) | Permanent link

My Book Tour

It was my honour to be sent on a tour to promote the new Silmarillion in late October. The website posted reports on my progress, as I visited several U. S. cities courtesy of Houghton Mifflin, Tolkien’s American publishers. It was truly wonderful to be greeted at each stop by attentive and appreciative fans of my art, and to be so perfectly cared for in every aspect by the publishers and their representatives. I want to thank sincerely Megan Wilson and her colleagues at Houghton Mifflin for her/their attention to detail, and to each of the hosts who greeted and escorted me to the signing stops and interviews. Especial thanks to those of you who took time out of your busy lives to come out in each city I visited, and the staff members at the bookstores. Thanks also to the volunteers and staff who gave me such a warm welcome at the Texas Book Festival. I highly recommend this great literary celebration, held annually in the unlikely bookselling capitol of the United States—Austin.

Posted December 07, 2004 | Comments (0) | Permanent link

Other Events This Summer and Fall

In mid-summer, I returned to Mythcon after a four year hiatus, the Mythopoeic Society’s annual conference. It was held in nearby Ann Arbor, Michigan, a state that borders my native Ontario. I drove to the conference, a nice change from flying, and it was as if no time had passed since my last visit to my friends in the M.S. It was a very memorable time, and the convention was a wonderful, intense two days of academic inquiry and the typical delights of a Mythcon; stimulating papers covering a wide spectrum of fantasy and mythic studies, as well as the pleasures of the lighter side of the M.S.–such as Gary Hunnewell’s Golfimball tournament; something far too absurd and delightful to attempt to describe! I am proud to say that I won a medal for the distance event….an illustrator, yes, but SO much more!

An amazing year continues. As is my habit each September, I flew to the UK for Oxonmoot, the main Tolkien Society conference at Oxford. First though, I arrived in London, and there I was interviewed on BBC live radio, met fans and signed the new Silmarillions at Forbidden Planet, and later celebrated its publication over dinner with my colleagues at HarperCollins. Oxonmoot itself was held at St. Hilda’s College, and after a 2nd BBC radio interview the Friday I arrived, it was a weekend of much activity, including more book signing of The Silmarillion, a slide talk, a musical performance at The Party, and a solemn tribute to Tolkien at the annual graveside ceremony in Wolvercote Cemetery. This event becomes more moving each passing year I find. Again, as at Mythcon, dear friends gathered and greeted one another, sharing meals, beer, and late nights, as hobbits and Elves will… Priscilla Tolkien was again on hand (perhaps for the last time I was told), to host a luncheon and greet those who wanted to meet her. This year’s Oxonmoot was notable for the number of American visitors, some returning from last year’s extended Eleventy-first Birthday Oxonmoot. This coming summer, by the way, will see the first combined Mythcon and Oxonmoot since the very successful 1992 Tolkien Centenary Conference, (to be held in Birmingham, England, August 11–15, ’05 ) so it will again be wonderful to have even more of our many American (and Canadian) friends along to celebrate!

Then, in mid-October, a very wonderful academic conference was held at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Lord of the Rings 1954-2004; Scholarship in Honor of Richard E. Blackwelder was a two day feast of Tolkien, seen in his more academic guises, as well as his fantasy. It was widely agreed to be a truly excellent event, nearly perfectly organized and run. Many of the most important Tolkien academics were on hand, each presenting stimulating and varied ideas on every facet of Tolkien’s legacy and accomplishments, and it was all topped off with a Bree Moot feast at John Hawk’s Pub sponsored by Nancy Martsch’s Beyond Bree, the long running monthly newsletter and round-up of Tolkien-related news (highly recommended, btw). I attended this conference strictly as a fan, but nonetheless found myself signing many new illustrated copies of The Silmarillion, since the folks at Harry Schwartz Books had the foresight to order copies just in time. It proved a harbinger of the response on the book tour itself, which was launched on the heels of the conference.

Posted December 07, 2004 | Comments (0) | Permanent link

Why you should buy “The Stoneholding”, a new novel

It’s with considerable pride that I mention the cover artwork I created recently for a new novel, The Stoneholding, by Mark James. Mark James is in fact two authors. Mark Sebanc and Jim Anderson collaborated in a quite exhaustive re-editing and re-creation of a manuscript originally titled Flight to Hollow Mountain. Mark Sebanc is a Canadian residing in the rugged Middle-earth-like natural beauty of Killaloe, Ontario. I have known Mark many years, and am convinced that he has a Gift for fantasy and story-telling that is rare. Moreover, his brand of fantasy is worthy of those of us who wish there were more writers around who ‘get’ Tolkien, but who have also developed their own unique literary visions. Mark writes fantasy with bracing clarity, assurance and passion, and extraordinary dexterity and intensity. Fellow Killaloe resident Jim Anderson, a teacher and colleague of Mark’s, was instrumental in newly editing the manuscript, adding poetry, detailed maps, and crucially aiding in taking the tale to a new level of excellence; the co-authoring is expressed in their combined names. This debut work ought to establish their reputation, and I encourage folks to visit the new website at and consider purchasing this compelling new novel of imagination.

Note: It is perhaps worth mentioning the long gestation of this particular novel; like The Lord of the Rings, it was developed over a lengthy period of time, and is in some ways not new in the usual sense at all. It also benefited from various unsung contributors in its writing history, and Mark will understand my acknowledging these friends.

Posted December 07, 2004 |

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