Game of Thrones – Aemon Targaryen

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“What is honor compared to a woman’s love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms, or the memory of a brother’s smile? Wind and words. Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.”

It was necessary to make this the next priority in the ‘Portraits of Westeros’ project. Sadly actor Peter Vaughan – who portrayed the noble and wise blind-man Maester Aemon, formerly a Targaryan and now a man of the Night’s Watch – passed away on December 6th, 2016. Vaughan breathed life into this role with generosity and finesse. There was an honesty and a subtlety to his portrayal that is rarely achieved. He was a prolific actor in British television, cinema, and theater. He will surely be missed by those who knew him, and we are certainly saddened to learn that the flame of his talent has been extinguished.

Aemon Targaryen, whose character has quietly disregarded his own surname, is the maester at Castle Black and is an important adviser to the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. When Maester Aemon is first introduced, he is elderly and frail, blind, but clearly intuitive, wildly intelligent, and serves under Commander Jeor Mormont.

Aemon is the last known Targaryen in Westeros, the great-uncle of Daenerys Targaryen. Unknown to all of the principle character of ‘Game of Thrones,’ Maester Aemon is also the great-great uncle of Jon Snow, a tremendous irony given Aemon’s affinity to (and advocacy for) Jon Snow’s ascent within the ranks of the Night’s Watch.

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Game of Thrones – Barristan Selmy

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“I’ve burned away my years fighting for terrible kings. A man of honor keeps his vows – even if he’s serving a drunk or a lunatic. Just once in my life, before it’s over, I want to know what it’s like to serve with pride, to fight for someone I believe in.”

The difference between any novel and it’s screen adaptation is the level of detail in the world-building and character-development. Ancillary characters in ‘Game of Thrones’ on the screen are infinitely more rich on the printed text of George R.R. Martin’s novels; there are always sacrifices when adapting novels for the screen. One of my favorite forgotten characters from “A Song of Ice and Fire” is the former Kingsguard Barristan Selmy, dismissed from his honored post by the brat King Joffrey Baratheon.

Selmy is considered among the best swordsmen, and most accomplished warriors, in the seven kingdoms of Westeros. He has served in the Kingsguard with honor for nearly forty years, under both Aerys Targaryen and King Robert Baratheon.

Of note is his campaign in the battle against the Kingswood Brotherhood, in which he slew their leader, Simon Toyne. Of greater note – especially for fans of the television show rather than the novels – is that Jaime Lannister squired for Selmy during this battle. Aged sixteen, Jaime acquired the majority of his skill under the tutelage of Barristan Selmy.

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Game of Thrones – Renly Baratheon

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My continuing series of Game of Thrones portraits continues with Renly Baratheon. This is arguably one of my most detailed paintings – I highly suggest you follow the link and take a look at it. This isn’t a photograph, but a painting based on a still frame lifted from the television series as a reference.

Renly Baratheon is the third youngest son of House Baratheon, fourth in line to replace his brother Robert as legitimate heir to the King. His father served as Lord Paramount of the Stormlands, one of the constituent regions of the Seven Kingdoms.

The least salty of his two older brothers, Renly is a reasonably untested fighter and inexperienced leader; he was too young to participate in the civil strife known as “Robert’s Rebellion” which ultimate saw his brother Robert seated on the iron throne.

As always, I invite your input. Comments, questions, and recommendations are always welcome here. Who’s your favorite Game of Thrones character? Who would you like to see me illustrate next? Drop me a line in the comment section below!

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Game of Thrones – Viserys Targaryen

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Viserys Targaryen, the white-haired menace whose political ambitions outweigh any shred of compassion or decency, is the youngest son of Aerys II Targaryen. For those only familiar with the television series, Aerys – whose name bears a marked resemblance to the Greek God of War, Ares (or Aris), is better known to audiences as ‘The Mad King.’

Thirteen years before the events of the television series, Viserys and his sister, Daenerys, were forced to flee the continent of Westeros in order to escape certain death at the hands of the war-hammer-wielding rebel, Ser Robert Baratheon. Viserys is depicted as an almost inhuman twit, with an appropriate level of arrogance and cruelty to match. He is an ambitious political creature, given to unpredictable, violent mood swings. Although it is merely subtext in the television series, he doesn’t just arrange to marry his sister, Daenerys, off to Khal Drogo – he sells her. The reason for this arrangement is to secure Drogo’s allegiance – and the might of Khal Drogo’s army – with a means toward reclaiming the Iron Throne of Westeros.

Frustrated with the wild and unpredictable ways of Drogo and the Dothraki people, Viserys does ultimately receive the golden crown that he demands, the he believes is his birthright – but it isn’t the crown he had anticipated.

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Game of Thrones – Eddard Stark

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“The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.”

In this modern world of long-form story-telling on television, the quality of ‘virtue’ almost always proves to be a death sentence. Although “Game of Thrones” is based on a series of novels that were initially published in the mid-1990s, this new age of “literate programming” has brought audiences a greater depth of character development and a newfound fearlessness on behalf of networks, writers, and show-runners to visit harm on beloved characters.

If audiences don’t care about the characters on the screen, audiences won’t feel anything if a terrible fate befalls them. That’s why we are seeing fewer and fewer “immortal” characters (central characters that audiences know will never ever die). With “Game of Thrones,” the show-runners established, during the climactic moments of season one, that absolutely nobody is safe. This ramps up interest in the story and multiplies the value of the drama.

Eddard “Ned” Stark is the enduring symbol that expresses how dangerous the continent of Westeros actually is.

In the series, Ned Stark is arguably the most honorable character, ruling over the northern kingdom of Winterfell, patriarch of House Stark. He is the moral compass of the story, inherently compelled to remain away from politics, courtly intrigue, and deception. Literarily, the family name, Stark, serves as a clever indication of his resistance to moral compromise.

After being appointed the “hand of the king,” he is duty-bound to travel to the capital city of King’s Landing. After the accident death of King Robert, we watch as Ned becomes increasingly entangled in the political upheaval of the city. He begins to struggle as his own sense of honor draws him into corrupt dealings at court. Near the end of his story arc, he is forced to choose between his family’s safety and his own sense of honor.

This is one of many paintings I have made in my ongoing series, “The Portraits of Westeros.” I hope you enjoy the work, and implore you to tell me who you would like me to paint next!

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Game of Thrones – Robb Stark

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Despite the decidedly older version we get in HBO’s adaptation of “A Song Of Ice And Fire,” Robb Stark is introduced to us as a fourteen-year-old boy in the novel “A Game of Thrones.” The eldest legitimate son of Eddard and Catelyn Stark, he is the heir to the northern kingdom of Winterfell and instructed in manners of finance, history, warfare, and diplomacy.

His character arc is an epic one. At first, he appears to be a quiet and reasonably disciplined – however inert – background character. Once his father is relocated to King’s Landing in the south (in service of the King of Westeros), Robb remains behind to rule Winterfell in his father’s absence. His ascent to the title of ‘King In The North’ quickly follows, but I’ve decided to forego possible spoilers by discussing any of those details here; despite how old the story-line is at this point in time, I have discovered that there are many people (like myself) who have only recently begun to watch “A Game of Thrones” and read the book series.

This portrait is the most recent in a series of portraits I have been making based on characters from the show. I intend, however long it may take, to complete portraits not just of the fan favorites or the core characters, but the secondary and tertiary characters as well. This should keep me busy for a while.

Please let me know what you think in the comments below, and let me know if you have a favorite character you would like to see me do next! Cheers!

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Game of Thrones – Catelyn Stark

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Born into House Tully of Riverrun, Catelyn Stark was initially introduced to audiences as the wife of Eddard (Ned) Stark, as the Lady of Winterfell. Her marriage to Ned was arranged, but it’s clear from the beginning of the series that this is an arranged marriage that has experienced unique success; the love between Catelyn and Ned is apparent, and they have a brood of handsome children as proof.

Proud, strong, kind, and generous, Catelyn also flexes her political and diplomatic skills after the death of her husband and the ascension of her eldest son, Robb, as the King In The North. Like other prominent female figures in Westeros (especially as a foil for Cersei Lannister), Catelyn is predominantly guided by the desire to protect her children.

Little good that does Catelyn. Little good that does for Cersei, for that matter.

Despite her abrupt and tragic end, fans of the novels were hopeful that Catelyn would be resurrected (as she was in the books). None of us would be so lucky, it seems, but actress Michelle Fairley won critical acclaim for her final performance in “The Rains of Castamere” in season three.

We love and miss you Catelyn.

Let me know what you think about House Stark in the comments. And don’t forget to Like LenseBender on Facebook and Follow Me On Twitter.

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