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Kim Benson in 2012
Tolkien Artist & Illustrator Kim Benson

"When I set about to depict my favourite characters from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings, I wanted to portray each character in a setting or scene that really conveys something fundamental about the Spirit of that character, as I envision them, in some quintessential moment."

"These paintings are very important to me because of my life-long love for J.R.R. Tolkien's books and how they influenced the visions of my youth. Creating these paintings helped me to find and to establish my own unique style as an artist. I need to be inspired to paint,  and I felt inspired when I did this series of seven Tolkien-themed gouache paintings back in 1979-1980.  They really have stood the test of time and remain some of the all-time favourites of my original illustrative works."

About the Artist's Technique   [To Top]

"I like to paint exclusively in gouache, a watercolour medium in a tube. Gouache can be used both transparently and opaquely. I like its vibrant colours, its flexibility, and the fact that it dries so fast.

"I paint directly onto watercolour board because I like the surface far more than either canvas or paper. I also like the fact that I can prop the painting up on a table easel. I use three or four high quality sable brushes of varying widths.

"I usually start out quite quickly, blocking out the composition in a series of light washes.  Then I begin to build the painting up in layers, adding detail and depth of colour as I go. By the very end, I am using the finest hairline brush, putting in the deepest shadows and the lightest highlights. I like to work in pure colours, and rarely mix either black or white to make tints because it tends to kill the purity of colour.

"It is an intuitive and spontaneous process. And my goal is always to capture some kind of inspirational essence."

About the Artist   [To Top]

Kim Benson was born and raised in the City of New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada. She was the middle child and elder girl in an active family of five rambunctious kids.

Kim began to draw almost before she could walk.  And she spent a great deal of her childhood off on her own, creating fanciful worlds and characters from her imagination. 

Every summer, Kim's family went to a little island in Howe Sound, north of Vancouver.  It was there, amid the towering evergreens, lush forest ferns, and fresh ocean breezes of the northern temperate rainforest, that Kim felt most at home.

At the age of 15, Kim read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings for the first time.  She was immediately drawn into the mystical world of Middle-earth. And J.R.R. Tolkien' s books had a profound influence upon her right from the start. 

Kim read Tolkien's books seven times during the next five years. With each reading, she absorbed more details about the intricate subtexts within Tolkien's richly interwoven tapestry of plot and character.  Soon, Kim began to sketch pictures of Hobbits and Elves, based on the vivid images the books conjured in her mind.

When she graduated from high school, Kim enrolled in a two year Fine Arts program at Langara College, in Vancouver. There, she got to try a variety of different art media, besides the pencils, pens & ink she had always used.  For the next two years, she experimented in painting, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, and design. 

After college, at the age of 20, Kim, her beloved pet ferret, and calico cat, all moved to the island of Kim's childhood dreams to live full-time. It was soon thereafter, that Kim created the seven Tolkien-inspired paintings featured on this web-site. 

Kim still lives on the island, and continues to do special art and music recording projects, usually by commission. Over the years, she has created whimsical portrayals of ferrets, Tarot-based images, mystical forest landscapes, numerous portraits, and illustrative works for independent music recording projects. Click here to see More Art by Kim Benson.

Between 1993 and 2008, Kim Benson helped to preserve and protect the internationally significant Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia and Howe Sound. Kim served 5 terms as one of the 26 elected members of the Islands Trust Council, and as one of two locally elected trustees for the Gambier Island Local Trust Area. The Islands Trust is a unique form of local government that does land use and community planning for most of the islands within a specifically designated area off the Southwest coast of British Columbia, Canada.

Kim served for nine years as an elected member of the Islands Trust Executive Committee, and was Chair of Islands Trust Council in the 2005-2008 term.

Kim is an independent professional consultant, communications facilitator, and a committed advocate for sustainable land use.

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