Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Fellowship of the Ring - Descent from Caradhras

by Donato

This weekend opens not only with the Fourth of July (Happy 4th America!), but also with a new convention focused upon the arts of the fantastic,
FantasyCon in Salt Lake City.

The path to the development of this convention began some four years ago as Joshua Patel sought to create a museum or institution devoted to the celebration of art created around the genre of fantasy.  It has been along road leading to this weekend, but I look forward to the chance to finally attend, and wonder what inspirational art the scores of artists will unveil at the convention. Brom, Jeff Easley, Christophe Vacher, Howard Lyon, Hearher Theurer, Mark Poole, Annie Stegg , Eric Velhagen, and a Muddy Colors artist and fellow Tolkienite Justin Gerrard will be just a part of the headliners in attendance.

My contribution is here, part of the Master Works series Joshua commissioned from various artists over the past years as he sought out possibilities and funding for this event.  It is a sister piece in scale and mountainous content to the large Middle-earth canvas I executed last year, Huor and Hurin Approaching Gondolin.   The sublime landscapes of the Hudson River School were once again a deep source of inspiration as well as the art of Ted Nasmith.

Nasmith's images draw upon a similar wellspring and have been some of the most beautiful interpretations of the world of Middle-earth. If you are not familiar with his work, be prepared to get lost in his website for a few hours!  You wouldn't be remiss in feeling like you are viewing key concept art pieces for The Lord of the Rings movies, as many of Ted's images were undoubtedly referenced and recreated for the big screen even though he was not credited.  I was first introduced to his work through the Tolkien Calendar back as a teenage in the 1980's, and have been a fan ever since!

Knowing the comparisons I would be up against tackling this image made me a bit hesitant to start the work.  To build confidence, I devoted many hours acquiring the right references for the landscape, knowing that if I could capture a glimpse of what I was seeking, the visual development would be much easier to plan and stage.  The pleasure I felt while working upon this image was immense, knowing that this would be a piece seen by thousands of fans at this convention, as well as countless more into the future as the image is shared and exhibited worldwide.  This was not so much a painting for a private collector as much as a gift to those who love the works of Tolkien as I do.

A few of the rough sketches are also included here, images we held discussions over as the idea of a large painting gestated from year to year before Joshua came out and stated 'Give me something epic!'  I hope that I was able to deliver and look forward to seeing the art framed and lit at the convention this weekend. 

The Fellowship of the Ring - Descent from Caradhras (114" x 73", Oil on linen)


  1. Stunning and beautiful artwork as always, a great inspiration for aspiring "artist" around the globe.....Regards from Chile

  2. Just gorgeous!
    To me, this is what true illustration is about- this piece tells a story and is a snapshot from it, rather than a posed group shot that exists outside the story. And that shaft of light in the foreground! Such a bold move, expertly executed and the piece is all the better for it and would be lacking without it.
    Well done, sir.

  3. You truly are a master. You are my favourite illustrator and I wish to see your work personally someday!

  4. Really beautiful Donato!......definitely epic!!

  5. These are beautiful. Out of curiosity Donato, how big are the thumbnails scanned here?

  6. Wish I was seeing this in person. Gorgeous. You must really feel part of the painting when you're right there. Time to save up to go to some cons.

  7. "Caradhras had defeated them." But you triumphed!

  8. The FantasyCon in SLC was the first con I've enjoyed in quite a while. Great fun, and seeing your work up close and personal was a massive treat.

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