As anyone who has been visiting this blog recently knows, I am cautiously excited about this Friday's U.S. premiere of the new film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I have been an admirer of Tolkien's writing for a very long time and, despite the liberties that they took, I quite liked Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings movies.
Almost since my earliest days reading his work, I have been fascinated by the Nazgul. True, they are rather one-dimensional villains, but something about the fact that each was once a human being and once a king or warrior or sorcerer who had been twisted and hollowed out and changed and ultimately enslaved by a combination of Sauron's malice and their own lusts for power intrigues me. I know, it's a simple concept, but seeing that idea of a dark side made so explicitly and overtly real is very powerful to me.
So, in anticipation of The Hobbit and to keep myself at least partially sane and give myself some kind of safety valve from the venom and futility and hopelessness of the Heart of Darkness illustrations, I've been enjoying working on a few Nazgul pieces of my own. For now, as large as these are, they are really just studies. Rather raw, but pointing the way toward something more polished and realized that will hopefully be created some time in 2013. I've completed four so far, and I work on a fifth as I have time. Additionally, I have a few sketches to share, exploring other visual techniques. I will christen this week Nazgul Week! Enjoy the art and, as always, I would truly like to know your thoughts on these.
Title: Nazgul Study #001
11 inches by 14 inches
acrylic paint, ink, metallic ink and pencil on watercolor paper
November 22, 2012
A few things I wanted to add. First, three of the Nazgul are Black Numenoreans. I thought about that, and for now, I am looking at representing these through the visual element of winged helmets. I don't believe that specific idea has any real precedence in Tolkien's writing, but it somehow seemed appropriate to me. So this would be one of the Black Numenoreans. There is one more, and the Witch-King of Angmar, the Chief of the Nazgul, is also one. Second, to give these pieces some additional visual appeal, the ring of each Nazgul will be painted in metallic gold ink. I've taken a lot of liberties with the rings, as you will soon see. And Tolkien himself is inconsistent on the issue, writing both that the Nazgul wore their rings and that Sauron held each of their rings in order to control them. Interesting. Anyway, here is a close-up photo to try and show the metallic ink of the ring.
Thanks for taking a look. More all week long.