This is amazesome, you guys. I’m not even gonna shrink it down; you’re just gonna have to look at it in its full magnificence. Though I will cut for slightly NSFW artful nudity.
This is award-winning artist Lee Moyer’s pinup-style rendering of Oree Shoth from The Broken Kingdoms, which will represent the month of September in the new forthcoming CHECK THESE OUT: Literary Pinup Calendar for 2013.
I talked awhile back about the creation process for this, but now I see the final product and… wow. I love it. I especially love that she’s not looking at the viewer, not just because she’s blind but also because it conveys the total artistic focus that’s so much an element of her personality. She knows you’re there, looking at her; she knows she’s naked; she knows she’s in a tree; these things are unimportant because she’s got an image burning up her creative brain. This pose is in partial defiance of pinup tradition, Moyer explained when we first discussed it, because a pinup usually caters to the male gaze by having the model stare seductively at the viewer. Of course Oree’s like, eff that, got stuff to do. At the same time she’s beautiful enough to turn a god’s head and she knows it. It’s this unselfconscious acceptance of her own beauty that makes this work as a pinup — for me, anyway, because I can’t think of anything sexier than a woman who knows and loves herself.
Also, note that the stool she’s sitting on is aquamarine crystal! (The golden light makes it look mostly green, but if you look closely the blue is visible too.) I like to think it was given to her by a certain godling. It’s this and other details that really make this perfect for me. I imagine her mouth is open because she’s muttering to herself while she works. I do that sometimes and I figure all artists do to some degree, because we’ve all got inner voices yammering at us when we’re really in the zone. And the fact that she’s in the World Tree, drawing the World Tree, while it wends down into the calendar portion of the image (not shown), is a wonderfully metafictional, fourth-wall-breaking touch. That’s the sort of thing a god would do. And did you notice the city in the background/below? I missed it, the first time I saw this; it’s a nice bit of detail that rewards close looking.
I think this is awesome. Now — ’cause I know ya’ll are gonna ask — I do visualize Oree as very dark-skinned, and I mentioned this to the artist when I saw an earlier draft. He noted that the lighting — necessary to depict the visible magic of her painting, and of Madding’s symbolic presence, and of the Tree itself — does impact how her coloring comes across. Given the detail and the color of the lighting, that makes perfect sense to me. That’s how her hair is supposed to look, too; the style I described her wearing in the book (natural with a two strand twist-out) is the way I used to wear my own hair. If you’re wondering, Moyer used a live model for this pose; she’s credited as Favour Kibs, a Kenyan-born runway model with the Model Mayhem agency. I haven’t met her, but she’s obviously a beautiful woman, and I’m honored that she was willing to lend her likeness to my character.
So if you want to see more of your favorite fantasy characters rendered in all their glory, you should preorder the calendar ASAP. Lookit all those big names! (Click the image below for a full list.) Proceeds will go to Pat Rothfuss’ charity, Worldbuilders, which benefits Heifer International. And if you order now, it’ll ship in early November!
ETA: Belated add, but fellow author Tansy Rayner Roberts discusses the sexism inherent in this kind of cheesecake art, and in the (very good — read the comments this time, it’s OK) discussion that follows, I toss in some additional thoughts on this piece.