"For they came to the seat of Morgoth in his nethermost hall that was upheld by horror, lit by fire, and filled with weapons of death and torment. There Beren slunk in wolf's form beneath his throne; but Luthien was stripped of her disguise by the will of Morgoth, and he bent his gaze upon her. She was not daunted by his eyes; and she named her own name, and offered her service to sing before him, after the manner of a minstrel. Then Morgoth looking upon her beauty conceived in his thought an evil lust, and a design more dark than any that had yet come into his heart since he fled from Valinor. Thus he was beguiled by his own malice, for he watched her, leaving her free for awhile, and taking secret pleasure in his thought. Then suddenly she eluded his sight, and out of the shadows began a song of such surpassing loveliness, and of such blinding power, that he listened perforce; and a blindness came upon him, as his eyes roamed to and fro, seeking her."
--The Silmarillion, of Beren and Luthien
How to draw a god; step one, accept the inherent futility of the endeavor; that anything you do will inevitably fall far short of conveying the power, terror, majesty and general 'godliness' of your subject.
One of the greatest difficulties in depicting gods (whether the valar of tolkien's world or the ancient greek/roman/nordic deities upon whom they are largely based) in a way that feels right and consistent with their character, stature and abilities, is that the gods are usually not that consistent in these things themselves, ranging wildly in their scale and their impact from the cosmic and metaphysical to the extremely temporal, even human (Melkor for example is the reason the world has clouds and winter snow, but somehow he can't destroy the Trees of Yavanna by himself, and apparently you can hurt him with a steel sword, go figure) In Melkor's case, Tolkien at least seems to have tried to offer some rationalization for his devolution into an ever smaller and pettier entity (unlike the authentic myths of the greeks or nordics, which rarely obligate themselves to making any kind of sense) Morgoth is said to have lost his ability to leave his physical form like the other valar can do, presumably from his continued pouring forth of his own power and divine grace in an effort to establish himself as temporal god-king on earth. His fall into evil (or rather his discovery/creation of it) seems to have been chiefly motivated by that same force which in many religious traditions draws people (and angels) away from the will of God, Ego. Melkor wants to be his own master, he wants to be God unto himself, and have power over others. In this respect he is not so different from "evil" men - either of tolkien's fictional world or of our very real one - who hold themselves as all-important to the point of having no qualms about dominating and subjugating others. He is in some ways the original sociopath, believing all others to be either enemies or pawns for his uses, and having no love except for himself. If Melkor, his motivations and his ultimate trajectory says anything about evil, it is that, even in it's divine origin, evil is indeed stupendously banal; one of the first things that strikes about his "vision" (if he might be said to posses one) is just how limited it is, seeming to be motivated mainly by small-minded anger and jealousy, directed at increasingly smaller targets (first at God the father, then his fellow Ainur, and eventually down as far as elves and men) his only creations are perverse ripoffs, mockeries and re-appropriations of what others have done (though, to give credit where credit is due, dragons are irrefutably kick-ass
) I wanted to portray him, despite his goliathine stature, as appearing somewhat small and shrunken in his own trappings; the sharp spires of his Iron Crown rising to ridiculous heights, beyond any sense of scale or proportion, dwarfing the wearer. I imagine that, when finally uncrowned by Eonwe, the last power he could put forth to cause himself to appear beautiful or even formidable dissipates, leaving something that looks like a cross between a leper and a full body burn victim, the poison of his malice having indeed spoiled the jar it was kept in.
despite this, and despite being locked by this point into one form, morgoth is still a Vala, and still possessed of tremendous powers of both force and persuasion which make him a nigh unassailable adversary for the Children of Illuvatar. I imagine that, while unable to "go unclad" or to appear fair, as he did with the noldor in valinor, he is still capable of presenting different "versions" of himself suited to different audiences (like the many, many faces of Gary Oldman's Dracula) he emerges for battle with Fingolfin an armored titan, and appears before Hurin as the overlord of all creation, incontestable in his might, wisdom, and authority. His appearances are varied in their scale and their intended impact, but all conforming to a unified will and vision. here I thought he should appears as the Seductor; striding forward to meet the young, pure elven maiden like some dark prince; exuding power, poise and a kind of predator's charisma (Luthien is half an Ainur herself, and he has successfully brought many of them under his sway in the past)
my influences for this one were too many to keep count of, but among them William Blake's "Great Red Dragon" paintings and the beautiful, terrifying imagery from Tarsem Singh's "The Cell" deserve special mention (not that my humble endeavor really lives up to either)
Part of the Weekly Tolkien Sketchblog