LOTR & The Hobbit
In August 1999 I was commissioned by Three Foot Six Limited to paint 4 portraits to be used in the first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy-the Fellowship of the Ring. They also featured in the first scene of the Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and in the last scene of the The Battle of Five Armies
The Head of the Art Department, Alan Lee, world renowned LOTR artist, produced several photographs as reference, of Peter Jackson, and Fran Walsh, who were to be caraciturised as hobbits Bungo Baggins, and Belladonna Took. I was sworn to secrecy, and have only just received permission from the LOTR publicist to talk about my involvment. Seemingly only two paintings were seen in the final cut, even though I painted 4 portraits. The reason for this was that two sets were built of Bilbo/Frodo Baggins house in Bagend, one being larger than the other. Every item in the smaller set had to be identical, but proportionally smaller, in order to provide the illusion that Gandalf was much taller than Frodo, and vice-versa for the larger house. So I had to paint two exact copies of each portrait, brushstroke for brushstroke only smaller in size. As a consequence I was forced to get transitional spectacles just for the job!
Initially we planned to paint on canvas, but were briefed that there was a possibility of a close-up, which would mean the background textures had to match, an impossibility with canvas. So we were forced to use particle-board primed with gesso, then finely sanded, to produce a smooth surface. Each brushstroke had to be applied in sequence, so both paintings were painted at the same time, with every stroke exactly placed, proportionally smaller... almost like painting by numbers, a very frustrating process for an artist! I was given a 20 year old black and white photo of Peter, told to remove his beard, and glasses, fatten his face, and colour the skin as though he had spent alot of time outside. As no prosthetic ears were available at the time, I was told to manufacture one. With the painting of Fran, I was told she would wear a hat, so right up to the last moment a gap was left for a hat, which was eventually painted as hair. We then aged the paintings with stained varnish.
Portraits in progress of Bungo Baggins and Belladonna Took for two identical, but proportional smaller/larger movie sets...