The Sons of Faenor, upon hearing of the Silmaril in Elwing’s possession, attacked the Havens in pursuit of the prized jewel. Rather than be captured herself Elwing, with the Silmaril clutched tightly to her chest, threw herself into the sea. Normally this would mean a long and painful death except that Ulmo, who lorded over the seas, Elwing was raised from the waters and changed into the shape of a great white bird. In this form, with the Silmaril still close to her chest, she flew over the waters and eventually found her husband, Earandil the Mariner. Together they reached the shores of Valinor and pleaded for help, setting in motion a chain of events that would greatly effect the years (and the ages) to come.
What a story, huh? Even if you don’t read or are familiar with the works of Tolkien and his world of Middle Earth there is certainly something in the tale of Elwing and Earandil that grabs your attention. As with many stories set before the third age there is a mystical, mythical, and some might even say fairy-tale feel woven throughout. The tale of Elwing and her “resurrection” into a great white bird is nothing short of fantastical. Though we don’t get to experience much of those stories in our beloved card game I was pleased to see a fair representation of the above tail in a new Spirit Event from the Grey Havens Deluxe Expansion, Elwing’s Flight.
When I was deciding what artist to cover this time around I wanted to keep it connected to the more recent cards. I was quickly drawn to Elwing’s Flight and began to do some digging. This spirit event which depicts an event that happened in ages past was illustrated by A. M. Sartor (or Amanda), the artist that will be spotlighted this month. Amanda was kind enough to answer some questions for the blog and I have posted them below, making up the second half of this post.
Elwing’s Flight is a card that does two main things, readies a questing character and gives them a boost in willpower. In essence it’s a card that provides inspiration and motivation to those who may be exhausted. As a card it fits very thematically within its sphere and as far as artwork is concerned, the scene depicted on the card is very appropriate. Elwing, in her other form, looks majestic and awe-inspiring. Behind her, off in the distance is a solitary ship (most likely belonging to Earendil). Going further in the distance are some dark and stormy clouds that are thankfully beginning to break, revealing a bright and full moon. It’s a pretty image and one that seems straight out of a story book.
And that makes it very appropriate for Amanda Sartor’s style. In fact most of her recent work relates to covers for novels/novellas and similar mediums. Before we get into that though let’s dive into where else we’ve seen her work in our game and how her style permeates through the various cards.
Ah Silverlode Archer. In today’s card pool its a card that’s seldom used and therefore not seen very often when players peruse through their cards. It’s a shame however as the artistic approach that Amanda takes in her depiction of an Elf of Middle Earth is unique to what we are used to today. Like Elwing’s Flight, the art on Silverlode Archer seems straight out of a story. Perhaps this elf was on patrol when it noticed a goblin on the opposite bank of the river and quietly the archer attempted to eliminate the threat. For such a simple card there’s a lot to the art then just an elf with a bow.
The last card that we get to see of Ms. Sartor’s before Elwing’s Flight is, interestingly enough, Meneldor’s Flight. I find it a funny coincidence that two out of the three LOTR:LCG cards making use of Amanda’s art has something to do with someone’s flight. Funny side note aside I did some digging on who Meneldor was and sadly did not come up with too much. Simply put Meneldor was just another named Eagle that was a follower of Gwaihir the Windlord. What is note worthy about Meneldor, however, is that he was one of the Eagles that rescued Frodo near the end of the novels. So he does get some Lord of the Rings “street cred.” Amanda’s depiction of Meneldor probably stands out the most of the three as far her style goes (you’ll see her other work shortly). Though it doesn’t depict a particular scene and has a more abstract background than her other two cards it still has that storybook quality. I particularly like the lining and coloring of Meneldor’s wings and feathers.
So what has Amanda Sartor done since? Well a lot thankfully. Though she falls under the category of many artists I cover on the blog of those who don’t contribute much to the Lord of the Rings Card Game she is no less active. Before we get to hear from Amanda herself about her work and what she’s up to now I want to cover a couple of her pieces that can be found on her site.
Titled In the Company of Wolves this piece is described on Amanda’s site as an illustration for a short story by the same name. Though it’s a very abstract piece you can’t help but wonder who this woman is and whether or not she has a grasp on her humanity. The way she holds her hands is certainly a departure from the norm and the presumably dead birds to her side indicate that she has certainly taken to a wolf’s lifestyle. And of course in the back we see a strange shape filled with the heads of wolves, possibly those belonging to her pack. I may be very off the mark but again, a lot can be taken from her illustration. Also, like her Lord of the Rings cards, particularly the Silverlode Archer, you can see her style come through. I particularly like the bold outlines on the woman’s hair and hands amid the realistic brush strokes and shading. And those eyes!
Another piece that caught my attention was one titled The Phoenix Project and again is an illustration for a novel of the same name, though this one falls in the Young Adult category. And maybe this is where Amanda’s style truly shines and I don’t mean that as a negative. Though I am past that age I could see myself being drawn to these images as a teenager. Looking at this girl, her very wild red hair, the strange artifact on her wrist, and the odd smiley face around her neck, you want to know more! What is the Phoenix Project? Who is this girl, and is the Phoenix Project something good or evil? There’s also a lot of detail within the shape that is the girl, the strands of her hair stand out and her face seems very realistic. Despite that you can see the fine brush strokes on her clothes that make it seem like this is literally coming off the pages of a book and again you can see the strong outlines in certain places, chiefly her arms and face.
Lastly I just want to cover one more piece. This one titled Lymantria is described an illustration of a tree nymph. I’m not going to try and analyze too much into this piece as it may a bit beyond what I can articulate but it’s just so beautiful to behold. Even though it’s at first a very strange illustration you can really see how this would be a fair depiction of a tree nymph, especially one in a more realistic setting (perhaps even our own world). Though I just mentioned how Amanda’s work shines in a YA setting I can’t help but feel that work such as this would shine in any medium YA or Adult. I just love this one.
That’s enough from me. I’ve rambled on long enough. Below you’ll find a series of questions I sent to Amanda who was generous enough to not only let me showcase her artwork on the blog but to answer some questions as well. I’ll be saying it again at the bottom of the page but thank you, Amanda! Now onto the questions:
What is your favorite piece you’ve released so far? I had a hard time pinning down my favorite but it’s between “The Laidly Worm” and “Drift.”
I would have to say that I am an Éowyn fan, I never understood why Aragorn wasn’t into her.
Last one. Where can people find you or your work, either online or physically (art galleries, shows, and so forth)?
My portfolio site is amsartor.com. I also have a sketch blog at http://amsartor.tumblr.com/. I have shown work at Krab Jab Gallery in Seattle, and am looking into a number of other shows that are not announced yet. I usually announce venues and works for sale on https://www.facebook.com/AMSartorIllustration.
Secondhand Took – So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed the work of A. M. Sartor (or Amanda). I for one enjoyed looking at a style that branches away from the “shiny realism” that is seen in so many forms of media in these days. Not to say that either style is better or worse than the other, but a change of pace is always refreshing. And that is easy to say for Amanda’s work. It stands out and her style, as she much more eloquently put, is one that evokes an honest storybook feel. So give her work a look and if you’re in the Seattle area go find her at a local show or gallery!
Again, thank you Amanda for taking time out of your schedule to answer my questions and allowing me the opportunity to discuss your work in the Lord of the Rings Card Game and outside of it! And to everyone else, as always, thanks for reading!
-The Secondhand Took
Links to Amanda’s Work:
Portfolio – amsartor.com
Sketch Blog – http://amsartor.tumblr.com/
Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/AMSartorIllustration
Lord of the Rings Cards – Hall of Beorn Card Search
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/amsartor/
If you would like to see the work of other artists seen in the Lord of the Rings: Living Card Game check out my main art page here!