I have spent some time imagining the triptych landscape series. I've begun to approach the images from a purely thematic basis. I have decided that the trilogy will have the theme of focusing on the character of Gandalf.
Designing the three panels together allows me to compose three individual images that will work as a set or individually. Working very loosely with oil paint washes allows a free-form sketching process open to a great deal of alteration and manipulation as I proceed. This is the part of painting I enjoy the most. It looks like a mess, but this is where I'm making the important decisions!
I decide that the two panels to the left and the right should be compositionally similar, echoing one another. The left hand panel being Gandalf leading the Fellowship of the Ring into the Mines of Moria. The right side panel should be Gandalf and the Heroes of the Ring departing Middle Earth from the Gray Havens. In the Middle, the fulcrum of the story arc, being Gandalf standing at the Gates of Minis Tirith fending off The Lich King.
Compositionally the two bookends should echo one another in design, with angular forms, while the center panel will represent Gandalf the White in his full splendor and moment of greatest power!
This is still being sketched and conceived as I proceed, so may very well change dramatically. I'm of a mind that the center panel should be larger in the tradition of catholic alter pieces, but that would mean starting that panel over again. Something that an artist must consider, not to be limited by your medium...