Thursday, October 24, 2013

Huor and Hurin Approaching Gondolin - J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion

-By Donato

Ever since I was handed The Hobbit to read as a 13 year old, the world of Middle-earth has been at the core of my imaginative being. J.R.R. Tolkien's writings and epic trials of his characters have been much on my mind these past years as my skills have grown, my aesthetics matured, and my thoughts turn to those stories which transcend time. I am now at a phase of my career where I have the technical ability and emotional sensitivity to make real those visions which normally confound and frustrate a young artist. I have become a bit more fearless in embracing major projects and revel in the challenges they present.

Niagara Falls  Fredrick Church
This painting speaks to many passions I hold, from that of being an artist, a dreamer, a story teller, and a fan of Middle-earth. Drawing on my love of the Hudson River school landscape artists, it was pure pleasure to undertake this monumental work both in homage to the art of Albert Beirstadt and in celebration of the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. I could not have stepped into this realm of landscape work without the sublime discovery of Fredrick Church's Niagara Falls at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC years ago.  I will never forget walking into that room, transfixed by the painting on the wall.  It was the first time I really saw a landscape painting and the emotional weight it could deliver.  Church displayed such beauty, awe, and technical brilliance in bringing that geological wonder to life through oil paint. 

Lander's Peak  Albert Beirstadt
Those emotions were a part of why and how I wanted to tackle this commission, and a reason for its scale - my image is nearly identical in size to a masterwork of the Hudson River School, that of Lander's Peak by Albert Bierstadt at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Specifically, my mountainous scene comes from The Silmarillion and features a forefather of Elrond, Huor, rescued with his brother from the minions of Morgoth and transported to the hidden realm of Gondolin by the eagles.  An act of kindness, discovery and wonder all wrapped into one!

It was only through working upon a painting of this scale that I could really appreciate the accomplishments of what those landscape artists achieved in their work.  I will be forever humbled by this journey.

The painting is my largest to date in an attempt to convey the wonder and majesty of Tolkien's Middle-earth, but it will certainly not be my last. Keep your eyes open here and on my website for more epic interpretations of Middle-earth to come in the future!

Enjoy!

P.s Prints are now being proofed for those Tolkien fans who want a piece of the hidden elf kingdom.
http://www.donatoart.com/mofcart/giclee.html#gondolin

Huor and Hurin Approaching Gondolin   Oil on Linen   112" x 77"   Donato Giancola





27 comments:

  1. Wow, that's one incredible painting!

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  2. Thank you very much for sharing this.

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  3. Beautiful! Would LOVE to see it in person. Love the feeling of depth and space you have captured.

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  4. I hope this goes in a gallery or show. I too would love to see this in person. You are a modern master Donato, it's always a treat to see new works from you.

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  5. Amazing. Must have taken long time planning. Love it!

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  6. AMAZING! Since Rasmus brings it up, how long did it take?

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    1. Hello Allison,

      I did not place myself on the clock while working upon this project, for it was a commission for a private client and quality was the foremost goal, not any specific deadline. Initial sketches and exploratory drawings were begun last Spring, 2012. Once the composition and design elements were worked out, I spent a tremendous amount of time gathering just the right references for the eagles, castle/city images for Gondolin, and lastly, the greatest time investment, finding the mountainscapes which matched my internal eye of what Gondolin would feel like. I remember spending three hours at a used book store in Los Angeles searching for books on mountains with my friend and old assistant Eric Bouffard (Eric is now a senior matte painter at Dreamworks!).

      The bulk of the painting then took place this Spring, Summer and into the Fall. I sequestered myself in the studio for the later half of August so that I could have the art ready to show at IlluxCon this past September. Total time...I really do not know, but it certainly was months and worth every minute!

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    2. One day, I hope I have a large enough studio space that I can paint on a larger scale. I would have needed a ladder to do a painting this large though, curse of the short person. Haha! How did you transfer this to your canvas?

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  7. Amazing! I'm glad there are still painters who paint like old masters did.
    How long did it take you to finish this painting?

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  8. I am standing in awe of this masterpiece, humbled by your skills and stricken by the sheer size of the image. Even Tolkien himself would have been proud to put it in the midmost spot of his home.

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  9. Thank you Gollorr and everyone else. I have just finished crating up the art today for shipping off to the framers in California. I cannot wait to see what it looks like installed in the final collectors home!

    The art will initial be seen only on the left side (the large eagle) as you walk down a long hallway towards the room. As you enter the room, then the rest of the vista/painting will open up to you, much like it must have with Huor and Hurin as they flew with the eagles!

    Donato

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  10. Donato, man you really impressed me with the scale and epicness in this painting! Seriously, I think you really showed your mastership of the craft here. If I remember well, you did an astronaut painting some years ago which was pretty large in scale as well, but I think this is even larger...

    My sincere complements and thank you for sharing this with us. It is always like Christmas time for me whenever I see a new painting of yours !!

    Regards from Malta

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  11. A jawdropping work of epic proportions.

    Golly.

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  12. Wow, Seriously man. That's just amazing. I love seeing your process too. I can appreciate the changes you made to the shape of the birds. Much more dynamic and interesting overall shapes.

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  13. you are a Living master! one of the best painters alive, this piece is breathtaking, couldn't wait for you to upload it after seeing the illuxcon pictures of it

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  14. Amazing piece Donato...as always. The scale of this one is so impressive!

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  15. When I saw this at Illuxcon and asked if you had been looking at alot of Bierstadt lately, I could tell right away by your expression and following conversation that he was at least part of the influence. Recently I have read articles here suggesting one should NOT bring up another artist when looking at someones work but I think in some cases, like this one , it is ok to mention where influences may come from. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Brian, the comparisons were dead on with Bierstadt. What amazed me with his work is how much detail and information could be found on every part of the surface of the canvas. This inspired me to research this image more than i have any other, so much so that I took a long early morning hike up into the mountains outside of Provo Utah with fellow artists Justin Kunz and Will Terry to capture the gorgeous early morning light on snowy peaks. Although none of those photos made it into the final art, the trip certainly inspired me emotionally, and it was a beautiful, unforgettable hike!

      Donato

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    2. Now that is going all-in for a painting. I get lost and even a little dizzy sometimes just looking at those epic Hudson River School works but they also make me want to visit some of the actual places. And when given the opportunity, it never fails to amaze and inspire. I love this painting..

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  16. Lord, that is magnificent. It puts me in mind of having read years ago that Tolkien was "politely noncommittal " in responding to artists' depictions of characters from Middle-Earth--though he seems to have really liked Pauline Baynes' illustrations-- but he could wax quite enthusiastic over landscape paintings inspired by "The Lord of the Rings". What would he have thought of this lovely thing!
    I have a concern about the eagles' clean, sharply defined silhouettes. To me it freezes them in mid-air. I think I can see where you seek to convey motion through the staccato pattern of light and shadow on the foremost eagle, and by varying wing positions from one eagle to the next, thereby suggesting "flapping", but I was wondering about the efficacy of something like the "pentimenti" Robert Liberace employs in both his figurative drawings and paintings. His "ghost images" of limbs impart both a sense of physical motion and suggest the subject's inner being, but I suppose that kind of abstract technique may just be jarring in a piece as fully, gloriously realized as this?

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  17. Wow, that painting is incredible Donato! I love the movement of the birds and the epic-ness of the scenery. I really want to see this in person!

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  18. Oh, this is beautiful! Standing before a painting of this scope and scale must be like walking directly into that moment in The Silmarillion, what a treat to have been able to see it in person.

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  19. I heard it was big, but I didn't know it was that huge. I NEED TO SEE THIS THING IN PERSON!! if at all possible =\.. Even through the computer screen, I am already giddy. Thanks for sharing this Donato!! Just speechless right now.

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  20. Stunning work, and like Church, you manage to infuse mysticism in your landscape - and there's the hook. Thanks so much for generously sharing your process.

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