Tolkien Week: Day 1 – The Blue Wizards

So, finally Tolkien Week is here! I’ve decided to post an illustration each day and I might do additional posts in order to celebrate Tolkien!

If you have not yet noticed, I have new pages on this blog called J.R.R. Tolkien and Reading Tolkien. The first one is a brief presentation of our beloved writer and the second one is a suggestion on how to approach the books written by Tolkien. Please have a look and tell me if it makes sense!

Onwards to the illustration of the day! Sadly, my scanner did not want to start today, so the images have been photographed by my phone (will update when my scanner works again).

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The Blue Wizards, Alatar (right) and Pallando (left).Watercolour illustration by the author of this blog. Do not use without permission.

I decided to have a go at some characters that have not been visually adapted in the Midde-earth cinematic universe, though briefly mentioned by Gandalf in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. There are a few written sources on these characters. The earlier accounts are in Unfinished Tales, “The Istari” but there is also some information of these characters in The Peoples of Middle-earth, “Last Writings”.

It is known from The Lord of the Rings that there were five wizards in the Order. We mainly get to know Gandalf the Grey, Saruman the White and Radagast the Brown. The other two known as Ithryn Luin, The Blue Wizards, and they were clad in sea-blue. In Unfinished Tales they’re named Alatar and Pallando. When sent to Middle-earth by the Valar they accompany Curumo (Saruman) to the east, but they never return west as did Saruman. What happened with them is unknown, but they are assumed to have failed to fulfill their task.

My thoughts on their design was first that they should appear as the other wizards: in the physical appearence of old men. Though we all know they are far more powerful. For some reason I always wanted them to hold some contrast against each other. They’re both clad in blue and I did not want them to be similar since they’re described as friends, not brothers. So, I kind of went on a Laurel and Hardy line of thinking. One is robust and the other more slender in their build. I also gave one of them an Asian/North American apperance (simply because homogeneity is boring). I gave Alatar fur on his clothing, because I figured that since he was close to Oromë, the Hunter, Alatar would have had some attributes of the hunt. Therefore the more practical shorter garb was also fitting and a cloak that could be turned inside out for disguise. For Pallando I wanted someone that could easily blend into different cultures and therefore picking up different attributes and symbols from the people they met (hence the feathers on the staff and a belt not original to his costume). I do see him as the wizard with the best social skills, being able to remember a lot and carry on a tradition of oral storytelling. The staffs was very difficult to design since I wanted them to look original not be over the top.

I tend to expand quite a lot and imagine characters quite detailed based on very few facts. This is one of the reasons I wasn’t to fond of Radagast in the new Hobbit films, because I already had him figured out in a completely different way. Anyway, I hope you like the illustration! I did not spend that much time on it, but I have tried to draw these two before and this is my best attempt so far!

What thoughts do you have on the Blue Wizards?

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4 thoughts on “Tolkien Week: Day 1 – The Blue Wizards

  1. Really nice illustration! I personally prefer to imagine the Blue Wizards as women, because why not? Middle Earth has more than enough powerful men as it is, and the bit that refers to the Blue Wizards in ‘Unfinished Tales’ doesn’t use any gendered pronouns.

    They should definitely still appear elderly, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Tolkien Week Illustrations | Tolkien Read Through

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