Drider by Anne Stokes
This week I’m taking a look at another amazing female artist, Anne Stokes. Anne (also known by her nickname, Ironshod) currently lives in the UK and began her career around 1998. Her D&D credits include: Monster Manual III (2004), Player's Handbook II (2006), Monster Manual IV (2006), Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss (2006), Complete Mage (2006), Magic Item Compendium (2007), Monster Manual V (2007), Rules Compendium (2007), and the 4th edition Monster Manual (2008) and Manual of the Planes (2008).
Overall, there is a richness to Anne’s work that seems to transcend the page. Her colors are always vibrant and never clash. I’m also impressed by the way she can put real heartfelt emotion into her characters; be it love, sadness, hate, pride, joy, etc. It’s easy to fall in love with her work because the work itself is like a love letter: passionate, well crafted, and beautiful.
To have a closer look at the piece known as Drider, one can quickly pick up on the flowing color palette of purples and grays common to many depictions of the Drow. It’s also interesting to examine the expression of hate on the face of the once powerful female Drow (most likely a priestess in my opinion) who is now magically altered to have the body of a giant spider for the rest of her days. Where does that hate come from? Well, for those who may not know, the process of turning a Drow into a Drider is considered a permanent punishment in Dark Elf culture. Sure, you get to be much larger and stronger, but the trade-off is a loss of intelligence and a breakdown of one’s will. Essentially, you become an easy-to-control killing machine. C’est la vie!
Also, a quick look at the background reveals that Anne Stokes knows much about the Drider’s environment as well. Nestled into the back of a small cave, the Drider’s webs have been carefully threaded among the stalactites and stalagmites. And it also looks like she's been busy as she's collected the skulls of many unprepared visitors. The whole work just screams "underdark" to my eyes.
If you’d like to see more of Anne’s works, including her unforgettable, fantastic dragon pieces, check out her website at: www.annestokes.com