This weekend had my latest middle-earth painting, The Walls of Moria, hanging at IlluxCon/IX Arts convention. Since I do not have much of that painting in process shots, I share with you here another painting as a surrogate, Éowyn and the Lord of the Nazgûl.
(my apologies for some of the jumps in process oils, I tend to focus upon painting, not photographing what I am doing!)
Abstracts from sketchbook, 8.5″ x 11″ Watercolor Pencil and Chalk on Toned Paper
Rough Drawing from sketchbook, 8.5″ x 11″ Watercolor Pencil and Chalk on Toned Paper
Final Preliminary Drawing, 23″ x 25″, Graphite on paper
Photographic and inspirational references
Acrylic lay in, 34″ x 39″, on Panel
Beginning of the application of Oil Paint
Final Oil Painting, Éowyn and the Lord of the Nazgûl, 34″ x 39″, Oil on Panel
Born in 1967 and raised in Colchester, Vermont, USA, art was always a hobby for Donato as a young man, he would steal away into the basement of his parents' home to work on drawings, create his own maps for the game Dungeons & Dragons, paint figurines, read comics, and construct model tanks and dinosaurs. His love of imaginative play dominated his childhood, both indoors and out. At the age of twenty Donato enrolled in his first formal art class, the beginning of his professional training. Immediately after graduating Summa Cum Laude with a BFA in Painting from Syracuse University in 1992, Donato moved to New York City to immerse himself in the inspired and varied art scene. Formative years in the early nineties were spent as the studio assistant to the preeminent figure painter Vincent Desiderio, and long days of study in the museums of New York. It was then that his love and appreciation of classical figurative art took hold. He continues his training even now, visiting museums regularly, learning from and sometimes copying original paintings by Rembrandt or Rubens, attending life drawing sessions with illustrator friends and constantly challenges himself within each new project. Pilgrimages to major museums are his preferred reason to travel.
Donato has released a revised hard cover compilation of his works on the theme of J.R.R. Tolkien, Middle-Earth: Journeys in Myth and Legend from Dark Horse Comics.
Dang this rules – cheers for sharing so much of the process, including the “fighting Donatos” in the reference. Love this painting.
Thank you Charlie! It was quite the feat of reference gathering to put this all together.
Loving this post so much! Thanks for making it Donato.
It’s really informative to see your entire thought process.
Thank you Sebastian!
I absolutely adore this painting! I hope this isn’t a bad question or a bad place to ask but do you have a process/ procedure you follow when painting dragons like this?
I’ve seen countless process guides and concepts to follow when drawing the human figure like the loomis method,Reilly rhythms, proko videos, Ron’s posts here and many others. I’m not saying drawing the figure is easy, but when I fail I at least have a system to help find where I went wrong. But when I try to learn how to draw dragons or fantasy creatures I can’t find anything. I know people say to combine creatures but all I end up with is at best a photoshop mashup than a dragon that looks like it could exist, which is a huge difference. And when I fail I have no guide to help steer it right.
When it comes to drawing people, I know many procedures to follow, but when it comes to dragons, props and textures, I basicly throw down values and shapes and hope for the best with my best efforts being unintentionally impressionistic. Even with refs, how do you go about painting novel things like that?
Thank you for the question. I tend to approach dragons as if they were ‘living dinosaurs’, applying a good hefty scoop of scientific anatomy and body types merged with a bit of magical realism (dragons typically would be too heavy to fly).
There is no fall back for correction except to bounce back off science – how would a wing attach to a body, scale of body elements to each other – based upon real world animals.
Good Luck with your work!
Silhouetting through the light of the wing…artistic gold.
That’s a badass painting. Thanks for sharing your process, Donato! I’m impressed by the evolution of the very loose thumbnail sketches through to the tightly rendered final image.
What kinda watercolor pencil do you tend to like?