Work is progressing well on A Game of Thrones. The artwork was commenced around this time last year, with a pencil drawing I named ‘Winter is Coming’ intended for the signature page. In the weeks that followed, I switched mainly to a competing commission, artworks for a card game devised for The Hobbit, requiring a series of (mainly) character portraits. That project consumed a number of weeks, running into April before all was finalized. However I did advance A Game of Thrones for short spells during that time, selecting the scenes I would depict and making thumbnails, as well as doing sketches for portraits of the Viewpoint Characters, those characters who carry the story in their respectively named chapters; Eddard, Tyrion, Arya, etc.
As winter waned into spring, I again picked up the pace for aGoT, continuing to compile thumbnails, as well as embarking on finished (pencil) versions of the viewpoint characters. I reached this objective reasonably quickly, I believe. By this time I had also come up with a full list of dozens of illustration subjects, which I then went on to pare down to the most interesting among them. Those remaining were divided into full page colour (I needed six), full-page pencil, and half-page pencil. The latter two categories are the bulk of the art being asked for, about 75 scenes.
As summer approached, I worked with Geo. RR Martin to decide on and then begin to develop the 2 cover paintings (this edition will come out in two volumes). Before long ‘Dany’s Dream’ was completed, a depiction of Danaerys facing a dragon and its fire, the first of her vivid prophetic dreams. The second cover illustration, The Towers of the Red Keep, depicts a very different subject, a cluster of towers under a golden sky, the castle where much of the action takes place in the last half of the novel. By late July both covers were being finalized, as I prepared to travel to the U.K. for The Return of the Ring conference and a short holiday.
In the second half of August, I continued to develop drawings for a number of illustrations to come, and including the remaining four colour artworks awaiting their turn. I departed aGoT for a couple of weeks going into September, however, in order to add a handful of new works to my series of genteel rural oil pastel and watercolour sketch-works. In mid-September I once again participated in the Bradford Art Studio Tour, with its opportunity to showcase another facet of my work, alongside the more familiar Tolkien images.
Following the Studio Tour, I refocused on aGoT, pushing ahead with ‘Bran Awakens’, the first of the four colour illustrations we had agreed on. An image of young Bran as he awakens from his dream-filled coma, it pushed me to research its every aspect, from the wall texture to the light scheme to Bran’s posture, the medieval bed design and its bedding, other furnishings, and very importantly, Bran’s direwolf. All of it must hang together and (I hope) satisfy the image the scene suggests; a sun-filled tower chamber with a disoriented child awakening to see his loyal pet wolf upon his bed offering a warm welcome.
For ‘Passing the Wheel Tower’, the second interior colour work, I’m depicting the scene as Catelyn, Robb, and their company row down the Tumblestone River past their castle toward its gate. It’s a bright scene of blue sky, boats navigating a churning river, and sunny, vine-covered stone walls; a view of Riverrun in accord with the depiction of the castle I did in 2007. It’ll be the final colour ‘plate’ (as they used to be known) placed in the book.
Up next is ‘Lord Walder Frey and Catelyn’, which I’m just commencing this week. Like with ‘Bran’, it’s an interior scene, except set in Frey’s throne room. It’s a chance to depict one of the more colourful characters we meet, the treacherous old weasel. With his latest young wife at his side, he’s enjoying the discomfit of his guest and petitioner Catelyn Stark.
Last but not least, I’m looking forward to ‘The Vale of Arryn’ which will mirror the best of my Tolkien landscapes. It’ll be, like Bran Awakens, turned sideways when published to allow a horizontal image. As dawn breaks, riders enter the Vale, a scene of breathtaking beauty.
I plan to do better to keep you updated on all this, and intend to shortly post sketches of some works as a taste; the least I can do to reward your patience.
A last word on the pencil works to come. I’m aiming to finish the work by summer; Subterranean Press are being very kind and patient, knowing the care and enthusiasm I bring to this project. I look forward to getting into the many other scenes I have in mind, and which are already conceived and sketched, largely.
Warmest Seasonal and Christmas Wishes to you from us, and Many Blessings.