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Dechara’s Tree, by Larry Elmore

When Dechara’s Tree graced the November 1990 cover of Dragon Magazine #163, it didn’t make an immediate impact on me. It is, of course, a piece done by legendary fantasy artist Larry Elmore and shows his mastery of skill. Yet, it’s not a showy painting of epic fantasy, and I think for that reason it didn’t catch my young teenage eye at the time.

The issue took up residence in my thick stacks of back issues, and because the content of 163 was forgettable it wasn’t one that I returned to often. However, in shorting through my collection of Dragon Magazines in the years that would follow, I’d come across this piece and each time see it with an older and more appreciative eye.

Elmore departs from the epic and heroic standards he’s better known for in this one. And although the central subject is a pretty woman –something that is quite standard for Elmore– she isn’t done in the semi-pinup style his women are typically depicted with.

There is a softness and intimacy captured here: The contemplation of a tired sorceress gazing from some lofty cliff-side towards the setting sun. The band of warm background colors framing Dechara between darker bands at the top and bottom highlight her as central and important. But I think the swath of waning sunlight falling upon the sorceress to impart that golden glow to both her and the tree’s limbs is where Elmore’s technique and skill is really evident.

It’s a gorgeous piece of a subtle moment, and that takes a master to capture.

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