Ithaca watercolor artist Regan Ralston is one of fifty artists chosen to produce creative work for Amazon Studios’ “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” social media campaign.
“I was lucky enough to be contacted by Think Jam, a company that was working with Prime Video to promote their upcoming series,” Ralston said. “The idea for the promotion was to engage the creators, create artwork and content inspired by the upcoming series. In my case, they hired me to create an original watercolor illustration. quickly got to work on a piece inspired by Disa, played by the gorgeous Sophia Nomvete on the show.
The piece Ralston created for the series’ rollout was a character portrait, a task that was not outside of his usual line of work. What made this project unique for her was that Disa is a new character, written specifically for the series. Because of this, her source material was mostly visual, and she based her artwork on the character’s promotional photography.
All the pictures Ralston had only showed Disa from the waist down, which meant she had to get a little creative with the wardrobe. She ended up painting a heavy cape-like dress, which flares out into delicate slips revealing a barefoot leg. She covered Disa’s hands and feet with gold leaf, as she felt it went hand in hand with the dwarven ideals of trade, mining, and lust for gold.
Ralston assumes it was artistic freedom in some ways because he hadn’t yet seen how Disa would develop in the show. She is fascinated to see how her own vision compares to the character on screen. “I feel a sense of camaraderie, having been able to add my own little vision to the huge collection of art that this source material has inspired,” Ralston said.
Ralson’s vision and creativity have been tied to film from the start. One of his earliest paintings was a vibrant portrait of Ariel from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” This picture hangs in her grandmother’s house to this day. “When I was growing up, my Nana took lessons and was part of a local watercolor society,” Ralston said. “I still have a lot of books that she gave me before I packed for college. She was a psychic who followed me, or maybe I followed her.
Although watercolor painting has always been a passion, Ralston’s motivation to create was revitalized when he moved to Ithaca. She was immediately struck by the scenery and the natural wonder the city had to offer. Everything sparked inspiration for her. “I remember writing in a blog post at the time that I found myself ‘suddenly in a land of castles, deep lakes and weeping willows,'” she said. kinda like finding Camelot.”
Ralston developed his distinctive style by studying the techniques of Golden Age illustrators such as Arthur Rackham and Hellen Stratton. Over time, she aligned herself with a self-taught folksy approach, but compares her current work to American illustrator Tasha Tudor.
Reflecting on her involvement in the Amazon Studios project, Ralston has some sage advice for young artists: “You’re an artist even if you’re only producing for yourself right now,” she said. “Trust your talent. It’s so easy to doubt your art, to doubt yourself, and to doubt what the next year has in store for you. Yet you have to keep creating because that’s what you do. My work with Disa has taught me that magic is often just around the corner. Dreams can come true, even in ways you never expected.
Ralston will exhibit and sell his works at Ithaca Night Bazaar on Thursday, September 15 at the Farmer’s Market Pavilion. She will also be a vendor at the Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival between Saturday, October 1 and Sunday, October 2.