It’s difficult now to see past the look established by the extremely popular movies, but that look was largely developed from existing sources in popular illustration, one of which was Nasmith. Even though other commitments prevented him from accepting the invitation to work on the films directly, his influence on those who did work on them is evident. (There is an article here that discusses his unofficial influence on the look of the LoTR films.)
Influence and inspiration are a two way process, of course, and in Nasmith’s work I see an admiration for fantasy illustration greats from the golden age, like Arthur Rackham, John Bauer, Gustaf Tenggren and Maxfield Parrish, as well as his contemporary interpreters of Tolkein.
Nasmith has more recently been working on illustrations of the works of George R.R. Martin, including an upcoming deluxe edition of Game of Thrones.
In addition to his fantasy illustration, Nasmith has a background in architectural rendering, and a personal penchant for paintings of classic automobiles, some of which show an affection for 1960s advertising illustration. I enjoy the way he incorporates his skill with landscape and naturalistic elements into his automative renderings.
I’m particularly knocked out by Nasmith’s handling of his primary medium: gouache. I’ve frequently described gouache as an underrated and insufficiently appreciated medium, with a unique character and dramatic potential, and Nasmith’s mastery of opaque watercolor is a beautiful case in point.
With the exception of the image of Galdalf and the two hobbits at the glowing door to Moria (which was done in acrylic), all of the illustrations shown above — and with a few other exceptions, most of the pieces in his portfolio — were painted in gouache on illustration board.