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"The Rhyddion Chronicles" by Jenny Dolfen

It was a few days after joining the wondrous deviantART community, I got acquainted by chance of this gorgeous watercolour of a harpist with a wired strung medieval Irish harp.

Without hesitation I set my way to know more about the artist responsible of such cute work. It was Jenny Dolfen, a teacher/illustrator from Germany, currently living near Aachen (close to the Dutch/Belgian border).

She has done artwork for several role-playing games, such as Fuller Flippers' Quest Cards, Action Studios' Realms of Wonder, Final Sword Productions' The World of Erien and the German Das Schwarze Auge.[1]

She is also known for her fan art based on the works of J. R. R. Tolkien (chiefly The Silmarillion) and George R. R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire).


Here's a brief bio in her own words:

"I was born in Bremerhaven on the North Sea but left in 1994 to study English and Latin in Cologne. During my studies, I worked in England for a year, as a foreign language assistant at a secondary school in Shropshire before marrying and settling here in Western Germany. I never actually aimed for a career in illustration, only did it so often and for so long that, at one time, I went pro. It sort of happened. Nothing planned. I've been doing illustrations for RPGs, card games, and loads of personal character art since 2003. "

Her inspiration: Fantasy literature, Role-playing. Artists (in chronological order): Ilon Wikland, Edwin Biukovic, Enrico Marini, Todd Lockwood, Alan Lee.

She kindly allowed me to share with you her work ,which actually is part of a captivating project for a novel book: "The Rhyddion Chronicles"; hereby her comments:

"The Rhyddion Chronicles" (working title)

It is a novel I've been working on since 2001. It's seen several incarnations and rewrites, but here's the outset:
Set in an alternate mediaeval Wales, the "Rhyddion Chronicles" tell the story of Aedan Cameron, a bastard with minor magical talents, and that of his family in the middle of a war. The historical side is loosely based on the English/Welsh freedom wars that ended in 1282, and its latest incarnation is influenced by the Mabinogion, the Welsh legends."

Now I share with you the corresponding passage for this plate (all rights reserved by the author):

"The sword and the harp," said Dafydd. "The true bard must wield both. And where would one be without the other?" "The sword can live without the harp," Aedan said. "Can it? The harp cannot live without the sword, no. Of what would it sing, if not of the struggle of princes, the blood and dust of battle? But the reverse is just as true. The monk that sits in dusty, ill-lit scriptoriums, faithfully entrusting his histories to rolls of parchment, what, in the end, does he do? He only produces more dust as those faithfully recorded histories crumble and are forgotten. The harp that fills the halls and the hearts, that takes the dust and blood of battles and turns it into glory – that is immortality."

The "Harp and Sword" Watercolour

Hereby Jenny gives us in detail more background about this specific plate

Inspiration: "The Mabinogion" illustrated by Alan Lee. This man is awe-inspiring. And plain inspiring. Very loose reference (moved further and further away from it when I incorporated the harp): [link] from *SenshiStock Harp loosely referenced from the 15th century harp of Brian Boru [link] (probably not accurate for the time I'm writing about, but what the heck, it looked so damn cool). Watercolour, pencil. Harp strings touched up in Photoshop.

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