Shop More Submit  Join Login
About Varied / Professional Premium Member James Turner MohanMale/Antarctica Recent Activity
Deviant for 2 Years
2 Month Premium Membership
Statistics 256 Deviations 1,338 Comments 34,999 Pageviews

Newest Deviations



Durin by TurnerMohan
One of a series of ten illustrations I'm doing for an italian-language audiobook of the "Durin's Folk" section of the Lord of the Rings appendices. the tape runs roughly half an hour, so each drawing will play onscreen for about three minutes, quite a chunk of story to have to account for in one image.

The first section chronicles the life of Durin the Deathless, eldest of the seven dwarf-fathers, and the founding of his kingdom in Khazad-Dum. Rather than show Durin as an a flesh-and-blood character, it seemed more fitting to present him as archetype; this great all-father, founder and moses-like lawgiver who returns from the dead at intervals to lead his children; Durin as he exists in the dwarvish collective imagination. I can picture this grand, ferocious effigy carved at monumental scale into some deep, long lost cavern in moria; the face of a god.
The Choices Of Master Samwise by TurnerMohan
The Choices Of Master Samwise
"Good-bye, master, my dear!' he murmured. 'Forgive your Sam. He'll come back to this spot when the job's done if he manages it. And then he'll not leave you again. Rest you quiet till I come; and may no foul creature come anigh you! And if the Lady could hear me and give me one wish, I would wish to come back and find you again. Good-bye!"


what can I say about this scene. When I first read the Lord of the Rings I cried my eyes out at this part, not so much for Frodo's apparent death (although certainly that was part of it) as for Sam; his master and great friend, who took on this great task and terrible burden, is killed unexpectedly, shockingly, tragically, and against all his natural humility, self-degradation and devotion to Frodo, it falls on him, the last of the company, to go on through mordor, hopeless, heartbroken and alone, and see the quest to completion. there's something particularly painful to me about Sam's quiet, dutiful resolve, once he's completed the task and effectively delivered the people of middle-earth from sauron's evil, to return to that horrible place presumably just to lay down and die beside Mr Frodo. It was such an impacting death scene (made all the more so, somehow, by the actual death happening entirely "off screen" and not being realized until after this major action scene) and transferring of main-character-status from Frodo to Sam that a part of me wonders if Tolkien didn't ultimately kinda screw up in pulling the whole "he's not really dead" trick (I have a creeping suspicion George RR Martin has wondered the same thing) It's also a moment that has been almost entirely overlooked by illustrators and fan artists in favor of the much more action-driven battle with the giant spider immediately preceding it, though, being a life-long hardcore arachnophobe, I don't think that one's in the cards for me.

the scored rock surfaces, eaten out by centuries of exposure to shelob's poisonous bile, were taken directly from john howe, but i didn't want the piece to get cluttered up with details of webbing or the horrific refuse of shelob's feeding. the scene as I always envisioned it was very funereal, sacred almost; as if somehow the frantic terror of the moment before has given way to a calm, and suddenly the place doesn't seem quite so bad.

sorry about the long absence all y'all, I promise I'll be posting more regularly again (oh yeah, and I'm painting now, Booyah!)
The Ringbearers by TurnerMohan
The Ringbearers

the actual quest to destroy the Ring, for all it's importance, was the part of TTT and ROTK that I found the least enjoyable upon first reading; it's so stripped down and minimalist compared to the great musterings and battles taking place in the west; just centering on these three characters progressing at what feels like a snail's pace, and yet as time goes by, it's grown in my mind considerably. Their mission, and particularly during the long, torturous treck through Mordor, are where the religious aspects of the quest to destroy the Ring become the most pronounced; the whole sequence feels to me very much like Jesus' walk to Golgotha (Frodo even borrowing some lines from the passion). It is the act of self-sacrifice by which the world and God's children will be saved. This essentially holy task that Frodo is charged with ruins him in body and soul, beyond healing (at least in middle-earth) after the ring is destroyed he basically sits out the rest of the story, the other hobbits largely taking center stage; Merry and Pippin - now tall and lordly, sworn esquires of great kings of men - take the biggest part in the defeat of Saruman and the restoration of the shire, Sam (though torn as ever) can find love and family, and returns, more or less, to his life as a Gamgee of bagshot row, but following the destruction of the ring, despite the great uplift all around him (and despite his responsibility for this great thing) Frodo becomes this removed, melancholy figure. It seems like mostly what he wants to do is just see Bilbo again because, well, Bilbo gets it, he's been there. In the end there's really no other choice for both of them but to leave for Valinor; the company for that journey is a who's-who of the great ones who have worked and lost and sacrificed to deliver the world from Sauron's evil, and really none of them had to suffer more for it that those two humble - seemingly incongruous among such company - little creatures.

In the moment portrayed, Frodo has just thrown Gollum off of him, he commands him, with a surprising jolt of authority, to be gone, while Sam stands back, ever the witness. All three are worn down to their bones by the journey across gorgoroth, Frodo and Sam's clothes nothing more than blackened rags. Gollum, who at this point really seems beyond all hope, is an increasingly realistic and terrifying image of what Frodo could become, if Frodo has been so hurt by his long ordeal resisting the evil of the ring, gollum has long since lost that fight, and is this (barely) living example of the consequences. I love his acknowledgement to Sam of the seemingly simple truth that, when the Ring is destroyed, he'll die, not even necessarily in the tumult of Mount Doom, he'll just eventually die. It seems obvious, but then he's put off dying for hundreds of years, he doesn't want to die, he's afraid of dying, and one senses the death that he faces (and one that, on some level, he may know he faces) is what medieval catholics would call the "second death" or the "true death;" to die without redemption, to die evil and be shut out from God's grace. Gollum at this point is thoroughly doomed, he's come to the absolute end of his rope (an end already long postponed by his succumbing to evil, his life drawn out to vampiric length like the nazgul) and he does in fact - mere minutes later - plunge into the very literal fires of hell. I wanted him to look as Tolkien describes him; "barely a shadow of a living thing" practically ready to turn to dust and blow away on a strong wind. 

I'm going to say (though I know it's "famous last words" at this point) that this one will one day be remade into a finished painting; i'm very happy with the composition, but considerably less so with that little preliminary gollum sketch popping out like a sprite in the bottom left (the price you pay for making sketches in pen :))

part of the weekly tolkien sketchblog

Hey yall, fun new Tolkien-art interview with yours truly at… come check it out. special thanks to Myla Malinalda.

Legolas and Gimli depart by TurnerMohan
Legolas and Gimli depart
"We have heard tell that Legolas took Gimli Glóin's son with him because of their great friendship, greater than any that has been between Elf and Dwarf. If this is true, then it is strange indeed: that a Dwarf should be willing to leave Middle-earth for any love, or that the Eldar should receive him, or that the Lords of the West should permit it. But it is said that Gimli went also out of desire to see again the beauty of Galadriel; and it may be that she, being mighty among the Eldar, obtained this grace for him. More cannot be said of this matter."   --The Return of the King, Appendix A

Dammit Tolkien, why not?! This is a matter upon which I would want to hear QUITE a bit more.

this is one of the last recorded events in the entire chronology of middle-earth, followed only by the passing of Arwen Umdomil in Lorien the following year. Aragorn, after a hundred and twenty-year reign over the reunited kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor, has died, Merry and Pippin lay buried in honor beside him, Sam has long since followed his master over the Sea, leaving the Red Book, that all important document on the soon-to-be-lost-forever history of the Earth and the magic that once dwelt therein, to his descendants. Last of all the fellowship are Legolas, the immortal elven prince, and Gimli, now a very old, venerable dwarf lord, having come to the end of a long and prosperous life which saw (and in large part orchestrated) the breaking of old prejudices and the re-establishment of good relations between his people and other races. Legolas' yearning for the sea, first glimpsed all those years ago at Lebennin, has finally caught up with him, as it does for all his kind, and in the year of Aragorn's passing, he builds a ship in Ithilien to depart from Middle-Earth forever. Astonishingly, Gimli goes with him.

Gimli was always one of my favorite characters in the Lord of the Rings (I have an especial love for dwarves, and Gimli, like Dain Ironfoot, seems to be an ideal of the race, possessing all the good qualities commonly attributed to his people, while overcoming alot of the bad ones) I always though of him as being, in a strange way, basically the 'Bilbo' of his people; he goes on a great quest surrounded entirely by people of other races, he grows to love them and learn their value, fights and risks his life for and with them, and afterward grows to a ripe old age, finally going over the sea, the first (and in his case, only) member of his race to do so, there to behold the wonders of Valinor. Imagine what he finds there; his reunion with the lady Galadriel (I can easily picture the ancient dwarf, barely able to walk on his own, shaking off his cane and Legolas' kindly supporting arm at the sight of her and striding forward, cavalier as ever, to bow low at her feet, his huge long beard sweeping the ground) meeting Finarfin and Finrod, seeing Gandalf in his right form, perhaps even meeting Aule himself and learning first-hand the truth of his people, of himself. What a charmed life.

Part of the Weekly Tolkien Sketchblog
Hey yall, fun new Tolkien-art interview with yours truly at… come check it out. special thanks to Myla Malinalda.


TurnerMohan's Profile Picture
James Turner Mohan
Artist | Professional | Varied
Howdy Yall,
my name is Turner. I live in the new york city area, and am looking for work as an illustrator/sculptor, I am educated and experienced in these fields, but am still fairly new to the professional art world.


Add a Comment:
Faerietopia Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Professional General Artist
Welcome to :iconmiddleearthlovers:

It's a great honour to have you with us! Love
Spread the voice among your friends.
Zeonista Featured By Owner 6 days ago
For the lighter side of comparative dragon anatomy.…
kineticflow Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2014  Professional Digital Artist…

Yo dude check this out. Even though this isn't named Smaug, this is a redesign. Carlo is one of my teachers and he wasn't satisfied by the dragon in the movie.
Libra1010 Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2014
 Just popping in to tender my best wishes Master Mohan; I trust that you remain well and that your work prospers!

 I also wanted to pop in and recommend the work of a certain author to you, one Mr Christian Cameron (if I have not done so already); it recently struck me that you might enjoy his novel 'The Ill-Made Knight' in particular for it's rather like reading the works of Mr GRR Martin without the whiplash one gets from hopping from one PoV character to another (and if you've had a bellyful of Medieval Horrors then his 'Tom Swan' novellas are a tonic - all the skulduggery but with rather more swashbuckling).

 However it should be noted that he most usually writes about the Ancient Hellenistic world, with his most prominent works to date being one series depicting the Greco-Persian Wars (beginning with 'Killer of Men') and the other depicting the geopolitical pell-mell that followed the death of Alexander the Great (I'd suggest reading 'God of War' his depiction of the Life of Alexander both because it sets the scene and also because it's one of the best novels I've read in my life - be warned though, it's rather an Epic especially in hardback). 

 I should also note that the thoughtful, rather virile prose of Mr Cameron's work recently struck me as rather comparable to your own style of artwork (which is why it occurred to me to suggest it to you now); in any case I hope that you give his work a try if you ever have an hour or two to spare (if you have kindle then be careful - he's written quite a few novels and it's rather difficult not to reach for the next one once you finish the last one after you've caught the taste for them!).
Artigas Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2014
Hey Turner, how are you doing? You kinda disappeared lately.
TurnerMohan Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2014  Professional General Artist
good man, been busy with some commissions (I just started working on this series of pencil drawings for an italian-language audiobook recording of the "durin's folk" section of the LOTR appendices, i'll start posting those soon ;) ). also I've been taking this painting class that's really helping my technique. I hope to be posting some of the fruits of that endeavor up on deviant real soon. I've been away for much too long, but it's high time that i get back in. How about yourself, it's been a while since i've been to your page, anything new on the horizon?
Artigas Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2014

This audiobook thing looks really juicy! I'm looking forward to see it. Durin's folk! By far my favorite Tolkien thing! It's so bad he didn't wrote a book that focused more deeply in the dwarven world. To see it illustrated by you just seems perfect!

Painting classes! So you're telling me you are getting even better! This is amazing!

I am a bit envious of you :D it is so nice to get pumped up by a good course! Enjoy it my friend!

About me, well I am afraid that I'll be more or less absent for a long time for now, I have this big trip to New Zealand this next March, I'll be out for a year so there's a huge lot of things to manage.

I'm trying to draw a little in between and have a sketch or two to publish here, but it will get more and more difficult from now on.

The good part is I'll have the opportunity to do a lot o painting and sketching in situ there, and also maybe nose around Weta headquarters too.

Good to hear of you, hope the good times last for long!

peet Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Looking forward to rummaging through your gallery when I have a spare moment, especially the Tolkien-stuff :+devwatch:
TurnerMohan Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2014  Professional General Artist
rummage away peet. I'm a fan of your work, and would love to know what you thought of my stuff :)
Add a Comment: