Anke-Katrin Eissmann

Studies of the Art and Artists Inspired by the Writings of J.R.R.Tolkien
Iolanthe
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Anke-Katrin Eissmann

Postby Iolanthe » Fri Mar 24, 2006 10:08 am

Artist in Profile

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Anke-Katrin Eissmann


Anke Eissmann is a young German artist carving out a growing reputation for herself as a unique Tolkien illustrator and graphic artist. She studied visual communication at Bauhaus University, concentrating on video and you can see some examples of her early video work here on her interesting website which is well worth a browse around. While working on her videos at Bauhaus she used conventional drawing for the storyboarding and I think that there is a feel of storyboarding about her Tolkien paintings with their ‘widescreen format’ and composition. It’s almost like she is showing us privileged glimpses of the ideal film which she has in her head (as do we all…).

Her love of Tolkien led her to working on Tolkien illustration as a personal project while doing her course, using the internet as a platform to get her work out into the wider world where it was soon recognised as something new and different by Tolkien fans. The opportunities to exhibit which this gave her was enough to encourage her to study art and design at the Colchester Institute in the UK. It’s worth looking on her site at the striking work she did on Beowulf, combining illustration, graphic design and typography - I would really love to own that book! With growing recognition as an artist she was one of two artists chosen to feature in Michael Martinez’s Parma Endorion: Essays on Middle-earth, (3rd edition) which was published initially as an eBook and was the top download of 2002. She is also one of the two artists illustrating Robert Ellwood’s Frodo's Quest: Living the Myth in The Lord of the Rings (Quest Books 2002)

When illustrating Tolkien she says herself that she chooses:

…those scenes and characters which tend to be overlooked by other artists, scenes not charged with great action or emotion or drama, but nevertheless important for the story and rewarding to paint in my eyes.

© Anke Eissmann, Rolzo Tolkien


Her paintings are very intimate and character driven, and although she says herself that she chooses moments not ‘charged with great action or emotion or drama’, I think they very often are. But she is more finely attuned to the deeper, quieter emotional moments rather that the epic, grander ones, as can be seen by her lovely series of paintings of Faramir and Eowyn in the House of Healing:


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In the Houses of Healing

© Anke-Karin Eissmann



In interviews she says her aim is not to give us a definitive vision of Middle-earth by being over-realistic like many fantasy artists, and therefore limit our vision, but to suggest Tolkien’s world and feed our imaginations. Her watercolours are quite a contrast to Nasmith’s epic landscapes and heroic figures. Smaller in scale (22.5 x 40cm), delicate, concentrating on the characters of Middle Earth and, more often than not, their quieter moments, they show a masterly use of a deliberately limited colour palette and a strong sense of rhythm and pattern. Many are extraordinarily beautiful such as the one below of Voronwe with its delicate grass and it’s soft, muted greens and blues:


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Voronwe in Nan-tathren

© Anke-Karin Eissmann



She uses thin slivers of unpainted or barely tinted white paper to inject light into the scenes, letting it edge leaves and grasses, which are carefully picked out, and creating strong rhythmic patterns. She uses both wet-on-dry and wet-in-wet technique. Wet-on-dry means painting a new wash onto a dry surface so there are clear edges between each wash, whereas wet-in-wet involves running a new wash into a another before it dries as can be seen in the background of Voronwe (above) and in the background on the top left of The Quest Fulfilled (below) where the Silmaril is given back to Beren after being taken from the belly of Carcharoth:


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The Quest Fulfilled

© Anke-Katrin Eissmann



This creates beautiful soft tones, subtle colour variations and edges that ‘bleed’ giving random textures. For wet-on-dry see the fine hairs on the faithful hound Huan and the delicately edged leaves in the trees behind. The limited use of colour is very distinctive in her work and gives all the paintings a faded feel which, I think, adds to their sense of a distant time. Unlike Nasmith’s fresh bright colours which makes us feel that we are there and present in a newly created world, with Anke’s muted tones there is more of a sense of looking back through the mists to something beautiful but long gone.

The Gallery KUNST+ in Wetzlar, Germany handles some of her work for sale should you ever want to own your own Anke Eissmann (click on Künstler der Galerie) and I found an on-line mention of postcards and T-shirts being available as well, though I couldn't find those on the actual site.

Anke is clearly at the start of an exciting career as a designer, something that will take her beyond her current recognition amongst Tolkien fans as a Tolkien artist and into new and exciting projects, perhaps in illustration, graphic design and typography or even film which is a medium she is clearly very interested in. I, for one, hope that she also finds the time to keep giving us her beautiful visions of Middle-earth.

In my last look at Ted Nasmith I left you with his lovely illustration of Luthien escaping from the tree house so it’s nice to finish here with Anke’s version of the same moment:


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Luthien prepares her escape from Hirilom

© Anke-Katrin Eissmann



Here is the link to Anke Eissmann’s own website where you will see some of her most recent paintings:

Anke’s website

And most of her work can also be seen at:

Rolozo Tolkien.
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Postby Merry » Fri Mar 24, 2006 10:21 pm

Thanks for that profile, Iolanthe. I appreciate your insight into the artistic technique--it helped me to clarify my thoughts on her work better. I like the clear colors that she uses--I think they reveal something clear and light about Middle-earth, and maybe that can only be done with watercolors.

It's interesting to see a woman's take on Middle-earth, isn't it?
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Postby Iolanthe » Sun Mar 26, 2006 9:18 am

Yes, it is good to have a woman's take on it, isn't it? It's apparent in the moments she chooses to illustrate too and the many Faramir and Eowyn paintings she's done.

Watercolour is a great medium for filling a painting with light and translucence. You allow the paper itself to do a lot of the work and Anke doesn't seem to use an underwash (though it's hard to be sure without seeing them) so there is a lot of white in the highlights and showing through very delicate washes. They are very ethereal.
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Postby Philipa » Sun Mar 26, 2006 11:51 pm

Yes, this is a well done informative post Iolanthe. I've enjoyed Ms. Eissmann's work for some time now. I think her technique is the secret to the depth of the paintings. She really is a master at light...very well done work.

I also have used her work on this site and even the darker 'scenes' are fantastic

Image

© Anke-Katrin Eissmann



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© Anke-Katrin Eissmann

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Postby Iolanthe » Mon Mar 27, 2006 2:50 pm

Interesting that you've shown these two, Philipa, these are amongst her earliest works and her style has evolved quite a lot since into the familiar landscape format where she shows a much surer hand. But even here I love her commanding Strider who looks like someone Sam would be quite rightly wary about!
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Postby Airwin » Mon Mar 27, 2006 6:22 pm

Wow! I had not seen these paintings before! They are truly beautiful works of art. Thanks Iolanthe for the great profile and introducing me to this artist! :flower:
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Postby Philipa » Tue Mar 28, 2006 2:28 am

Yes Iolanthe the two I chose were less refined but I think they do show what direction she was heading in. :D
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Postby Merry » Tue Mar 28, 2006 3:54 am

You know, I remember reading in some of Tolkien's letters that one of the things he loved was 'northern-ness': there was something about northern Europe, I'm guessing, that he felt quite at home with. The cold light in these watercolors seems to express that to me. Does this make any sense?
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Postby Iolanthe » Wed Mar 29, 2006 4:20 pm

Yes it does, you're right, there is a cold, rather pure light in them. I think, again, that's because there isn't a warm underwash to take the edge of the white paper before painting. It does give them a northern feel and works really well.

The two early pics certainly do show how promising her work was right from the start. On her website she puts up her new works as she does them, with is interesting to keep an eye on :D .
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Postby Merry » Thu Dec 11, 2008 6:44 am

I've just spent a couple of hours looking at all of the Eissmann paintings at the Council of Elrond gallery--there are 131 of them! You can clearly see some examples of early, middle, and late style, but she illustrates parts of the Tolkien legendarium that I haven't seen elsewhere--lots of Beleg, for example. A wonderful way to spend an evening!
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
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Postby Iolanthe » Thu Dec 11, 2008 1:19 pm

I think her choices outside LotR are one of the many interesting things about her art. You can find all her paintings at her own website:

edoras-art.de

She has a lovely new painting of "Daeron and Lúthien", very delicate and beautiful! She certainly knows the rest of his works inside out.
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Postby marbretherese » Thu Dec 11, 2008 1:46 pm

I love everything I've ever seen by her: the way she restricts her palette, the detail, the composition, the feeling, all of it. She manages to make sombre and even bloody subjects (such as Boromir's Funeral Boat or Imrahil Tends to his Nephew, for example) absolutely beautiful. In some way I find her illustrations compassionate, if that's possible . . .
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Postby Merry » Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:43 pm

Yes, I know what you mean. I looked at her website and her blog, and she said that she enjoyed painting the less emotional or quieter scenes from Tolkien. She sure loves Faramir!

She also has been enjoying a professional relationship with Walking Tree Publishers and has been doing cover art for them--that's our friend Thomas H., Iolanthe.
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Postby Philipa » Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:47 pm

She is very prolific and talented. The amount of work she produces makes me jealous. :lol:
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Postby Riv Res » Fri Dec 12, 2008 2:22 pm

Philipa wrote:She is very prolific and talented. The amount of work she produces makes me jealous. :lol:


I smell a New Year's resolution coming...at least on my end. :wink:
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