Jos, a Dutch artist, made in 2006 a series of 13 oil paintings on canvas based on The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings. They were published in a 2007 calendar and a birthday calendar. Until the end of October there is an exhibition of the Tolkien art by Jos in The Tolkienshop in Leiden, Holland. The originals are also available from The Tolkien Shop.
When I saw the art by Jos some year ago, with the release of the Tolkien calendar, I asked myself... "is this a fish?" and it turned out to be "Sauron". Now I have become to love this piece of art, as do I like his other art. I always like artists who dare to create illustration for the Silmarillion. It always makes me wonder who is the artist behind the paintings. So I contacted the artist and did an interview with him. At the end of the interview I'll be showing the art by Jos and hope you will enjoy it.
Q. Could you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I was born in 1947 and grew up near The Hague in Holland. With a great interest in the world around me I was always outdoors trying to find freedom; first as motorcycle road racer traveling with an old van, later by flying a small plane. Now I'm a bit more homebound and live in a small village where for the last twelve years I found the right peace-of-mind for oil painting.
Q. Did you have a great exposure to art when you were young?
Not in the classical way, but I was very fond of the work of Dali, Escher and Rembrandt.
Q. Did you dream of becoming the artist you are today?
Born with a talent for drawing it felt like a natural thing and not special. Till this day its a very useful tool.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I always felt that oil painting was my destination. Not as artist today but more a kind of developing and growing, a road to follow.
Q. While studying art, what artistic tools were you drawn to?
Small sketches are mostly done with black ballpoint, bigger studies in charcoal. I've always done countless sketches in search for the right composition, look lines, light lines, subjects, color choices; during which I build up the painting in my mind. When the actual painting starts it is a rather straight forward process.
Q. What influence did J.R.R. tolkien's books have on you and your art?
I've read many books, mostly science-fiction and fantasy. The comic The Infernal Machine from the Blake and Mortimer series triggered a great interest in time travel. At age 18 I read the Lord of the Rings, which at first felt like a nice story about little people. But when Frodo had his first encounter with the Black Riders the book released its full impact and I couldn't stop reading untill the book was finished. The giant presentation of adventures, fantastic creatures and relating stories touched me deeply. It gave me a lasting respect for all living things. Later only once it was equaled by Frank Herberts' Dune.
Q. What gave you the idea to create Tolkien paintings?
While reading sf and fantasy I get visual ideas which often end in sketches. Many are used for the paintings.
Q. What prompted you to make Tolkien calendars and where are they available?
Exposing my art in a local pub I met publisher Leo Brandt and over some pints the idea was born for a calendar, which came out as Tolkien Calendar 2007, followed by a birthday version. The illustrations are accompanied by a small text wich tells the story.
The calendars can be ordered on line at www.leukeboekjes.nl
For 2008 the plan is to bring out the same Dutch version once again and with a number of calendars sold to the U.S.A. now work is done on translating the small texts for an English Tolkien Art Calendar.
Q. You currently have an exposition of your art in the Tolkienstore in Leiden, can you tell us a bit about how this came to be?
In reaction to the calendars René from the Tolkienshop in Leiden contacted me and this led to the current exposition. It runs till the end of October 2007.
Q. You are selling your original paintings; some illustrators do only sell reprints or lithographs. Why do you sell them?
For me the road of the making is more important then the finished work. When ready it is there to please the viewer. If someone likes to buy it for me it is a kind of recognition.
Q. Are you having any contact with publishing companies to make an illustrated book with your Tolkien art?
There is no contact with publishing companies but I think it's a good idea. The legal reproduction rights are with my publisher Leo Brandt who can be contacted via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. What is your favorite piece?
My favorite is a work totally different from mine. It is Picasso's Guernica, a gigantic work where he expressed the madness of war in strong poses and lack of color.
Q. Are you in close contact with other Tolkien artists?
No, but I found a nice book, the Art of the Lord of the Rings, in which Gary Russell presents the art workers around the big movie. It prompted me to put even more effort and attention in my own work.
Q. What are you currently working on?
Now I'm working on a series of thirteen oil paintings about ballet. Positions, portraits of famous dancers and paintings in which I try to put some movement, all in a wide variation of colors and settings. When finished they also shall become available as an art calendar.
And for the future: the road goes ever on and on.
The Tolkien Art by Jos
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