“A darkness in the weather of the eye
Is half its light; the fathomed sea
Breaks on unangled land.”
– Terran Poet Dylanne Thomas, M2
The Wither Lords are long-lost Legionnaires reborn after aeons sailing the dark maelstrom of the Aether onboard their dark star ship Melancholia. They have been underway for a long time. The Aether apparently moves in mysterious ways. My main goal with my black exploration has been to dig deep into the core of what Space Marines are:
The ultimate warriors of humanity in a world where everything you have been told is a lie.
This draws heavily on the narratives we have developed for years on Iron Sleet: The amazing trilogy of the Pilgrym, Thorn Moons Crusade and Primogenitor. It has led me to where I am now with the Wither Lords. It is a place I have been neglecting for too long, especially during COVID19. These two Wydderes, Witches of the Wither Lords, were painted some time ago, but finally make it to the blog.
My aim is to push forward more frequently this autumn as Iron Sleet delve deep into 9th edition of 40K:
Exploring dark, baroque and more-than-human Space Marines who have walked straight out of their longest night into a galaxy in flames!
In my vision the Wither Lords are both pitch black and – like world mirrors – reflect the colors of their surroundings. Painting Wither Lords is as much about painting black as introducing subtle hints of the worlds in which they wage war: Enter the Primogenitor. Not just a bleak and colorless giant of a space hulk with its own gravitational field. In its depths oxyde green and infernal red fires rage, labyrinthine shafts are filled with flickering purple light and its internal dusk every 9th Terran night has a yellow taint to it. This is the world of the Wither Lords. This is what I want to invite into my painting.
By doing this I get a little bit closer to what weathering is all about for me. One day, most likely in a distant future, I will nail it:
Weathering as world building, not scratches, rust or grit. Weathering as an unfolding of larger narratives, not snow, blood or rocks on a base. For sure scratches, rust, grit, snow, blood and rocks on a base are still important elements. They can elevate a miniature to new levels. But I want to explore weathering as the not-so-obvious. I want to contextualize my miniatures by introducing subtle suggestions of potentially real worlds with deeply layered histories. The colours of the Primogenitor – raging red fires, flickering purple light and the yellow taint of dusk – interwoven with the black of their armour. This reminds me of the original meaning of the word ‘context’. The word has an active root, contexere, meaning ‘to weave’. Understood in this way, weathering is, more than anything, the act of weaving miniature and their imaginary surroundings together.
Something, which, for another reason, seem very fitting for the Wither Lords:
They are first and foremost my continued exploration of an Imperial Crusade, which led to the destruction of the Thorn Moons:
“The charred Astartes was draped in the black of burned worlds and deep darkness of night. He was covered in seals and liturgies, wearing the remains of a fallen empire like a thin layer of scorched skin over his power armour.”
But by exploring the etymology of the word ‘wither’, one realises that the word derives from Middle English widren, wydderen (“to dry up, shrivel”) and is actually an alteration of Middle English wederen (“to expose to weather”) and Old English wederian (“to expose to weather, exhibit a change of weather”).
Withering and weathering goes hand in hand.
As such, the Wither Lords are also, maybe even more so, Weather Lords. They are an exploration of weathering as a way to weave miniature and their imaginary surroundings together. This is the pure magic of words and visions: Sometimes they converge for a brief moment in time, resulting in new understandings, new concepts and new visions that can carry a narrative like the Primogenitor forward!