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But I seem to lack news and opinions at the moment so this is what is left.

This was the last week of mark-making in art class: next week we are on to Shadows.   I decided that since I have gold and bronze paint I almost never use, and a big pot of iridescent medium, I would try creating an image that used these reflective surfaces.  Of course, these are hard to photograph, so the effect comes over even less effectively than usual, but hey, here they are.

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I also tried painting a night scene with a moon, using luminous paint, but was rather disappointed to discover that my pot of Briandegg luminous paint doesn't really shine very brightly,  even if you put it on really thickly, and you need complete darkness to see it at all, which obviously makes it rather hard to photograph.  Oh well. I live and learn.

And here are a couple of things I wrote:
The Statute of Finwë and Míriel : I was astounded that so many people wanted to read a short story about an elderly Bilbo and Elrond sedately discussing the translation of a bit of lore so obscure it doesn't even appear in the published Silmarillion, but apparently they did. I suppose Bilbo is a popular character.

Here All Weariness Can Find Rest which is a brief thing about Fëanor in Valinor, in which he explains to Ambarussa why their family is different.

This week in art class...

I used last week's mark-making ideas to create a background, then painted two figures onto it (I also used the mark-making idea where you paint then strip off layers to give texture to the armour and hair.) 



The idea is this is one character, and it shows her progression from peaceful potter to battered soldier. 
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The river in January

You would have thought it would be cold, but in fact it was a clear calm day today, and the sun was warm and the tide just at half past one, so we sloped off down to the River Lynher and went out from Wacker Quay. 

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I attempted to make this face look female despite the beard.  I'm not sure I succeeded.  Also the head is a little too big, and how that can be the case when I used a reference and the proportions measure the same, I do not know, and yet so it is.  Also the camera has picked out edges on the shadows and shapes that I can't see with my eyes, and who knows why THAT is???
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This week in art class...

I made some trees!



I'm particularly pleased with this technique because Colin the Art wasn't sure if it would work with acrylics (he and most of the class use oils, which are slower drying and can be melted with white spirit.)  I had a big pot of tar gel, which I reckoned might help, so I decided to experiment, and I was able to completely paint this landscape, including spattering with water and getting the paint to flow when the canvas was tipped, then scrub all the paint off and start over with a different scene.  (The first thing I tried was a seascape which I decided didn't quite work...)

I really like the idea of using the white of the canvas to show through and create transparency and I'm definitely going to do that again.  I was less keen on the idea of using textured wallpapers and scrunched plastic to make marks in the paint: I found that rather uncontrollable and couldn't get the results I wanted.  But painting dark and using gels and water and a palette-knife to create shapes I like, and also using a bit of splodging with a wet rag.

Earlier this week I tried (yet another Silmarillion) painting of Maedhros & Maglor in Valinor, visiting their small cousin Fingon (I decided that Maglor is a little older than Fingon, though not much.)   They are doing bubble enchantments.  This actually looks much better in real life, whereas the more abstract tree painting above was a lot easier to photograph.  I wonder if I should have tried a different lens.

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Oh, and while I am noting Things Made, I thought I'd finished writing my Return to Aman series about Maglor and Elrond after Lord of the Rings, but since I'm still procrastinating about writing the last chapter of Quenta Narquelion, I ended up writing an extra beginning section for Return to Aman instead, Remembrance of Time Long Past.  Elrond retrieves Maglor before leaving the Grey Havens. Galadriel is unimpressed, and the hobbits are oblivious.

Things Seen in 2018

1) a procession of Victorian steam-rollers wearing L-plates, to signify that they were conducted by learner drivers.

2) An enormous black and white Harlequin Great Dane sitting outside the pasty shop like a Very Good Dogg without a lead on, waiting for his owner to return with pasties. 

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Lalwen and Hador in Hithlum

Another thing painted.  I'm quite pleased with the fantasy city, the lake and mountains: the foreground figures... could be worse?

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Twirly 2017 carving!

I did it!  I got the 2017 carving made before the end of 2017!

This Christmas tree turns out to have quite dense, tough wood, and I was quite glad I'd chosen only a thin piece to carve.  I didn't have any great ideas about what to carve, so I just chopped bits off and found after a while that I had made a twirly snake.  Then it looked like there was a sort of blob left on the top, and Pp suggested I make it into an apple and make it Garden of Eden themed, so that's what I tried to do.  The bit sticking up is more or less apple-tree-leaf shaped.   So, now next year I definitely only have one carving to make, not two.  I wonder if I'll remember that in Dec 2018.

And a written thing: I was trying to write Quenta Narquelion as a story entirely from Ghost Feanor’s point of view but it turns out that the downside to a single POV is that you don’t get to answer questions about when other people work things out?  Who knew?  This writing thing is so complicated.  POV switching is the way to go, honestly, writing just one POV starts to feel like being stuck inside a box after a while.

Anyway, someone asked about when it was that Maedhros worked out that he was being followed by Ghost Feanor wandering around Beleriand like a creepy ghost stalker, and I started replying and then I had to go away and make a stew and when I got back I’d mostly written this in my head, so here it is: As One Who Returns From The Dead

Happy New Year all!

Maps of Beleriand

My admiration for Tolkien's map-making skills has been greatly enhanced by my own efforts to make maps of Beleriand.  It's way harder than it looks!

I've made two attempts now: This is the first one, for chapter 8 of Quenta Narquelion (my Ghost Feanor story)
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And this is a War of Wrath map  for Chapter 12: In Armour of the Elder Days.


(Yes, I know I've missed the 'g' in Angband!  I can't see a non-obvious way to fix it and I can't bear to re-draw it, so it's staying like that.  Digital mapmaking would be SO much easier.) 

Christmas 2017

I bought this year's Christmas tree from Bohetherick Farm: I think it's a Nordmann fir: a very nice compact tree with a good shape to the trunk.  I had to squelch through the mud to find it and Rosie had to endure an excessively friendly springer spaniel.  It's almost exactly the right height without having to chop any bits off too, though that does mean that I don't have a chunk of the trunk to carve with.   I've sort of lost track of the number of carvings made from previous trees now, but there are quite a lot of them.   I have taken a lower branch off to make the 2017 carving, but haven't started work on it yet.
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What else has happened?  Oh yes, we went to see The Last Jedi, and it was surprisingly good.  I wasn't expecting much to be honest, but it had a lot of plot and felt like it was properly part of the original movie series somehow.

A rather belated Merry Christmas and I hope you all have a Happy New Year!

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