Ted Nasmith

Studies of the Art and Artists Inspired by the Writings of J.R.R.Tolkien
Iolanthe
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Ted Nasmith

Postby Iolanthe » Sat Feb 25, 2006 12:35 pm

Artist in Profile


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Ted Nasmith



There are so many wonderful Tolkien artists and while I see we are a real Alan Lee Appreciation Society here I thought it might be nice to profile a few others occasionally!

There are so many different styles, so many different visions of Middle Earth to enjoy I’m going to post different works here as an occasional series for us to look at and discuss, along with a brief profile of the artist and some links if they have a website. If anyone else wants to add a picture for discussion or comparison please do! The more the merrier and we all have our favourites. Since we are already talking about Ted Nasmith I think he’ll be a good place to start.



Ted Nasmith is a Canadian artist who became fascinated with Tolkien in high school. As he says on his website:

Discovering Tolkien……had a very profound effect on me and helped lead to much that I now count most significant in life. It opened in me a dormant love of lost and misty times, myth and legend. Not since childhood had a felt such a sense of ‘home’…

© Ted Naismith



Ted sent photos of his earliest paintings to Tolkien in a fan letter and received an encouraging reply which must have been a boost to a young artist with a growing obsession. One of Ted’s earliest influences was seeing the realistic work of the Brothers Hilderbrandt in Tolkien calendars and he believed he could both learn from them and improve on their vision. His first real success came when George Allen & Unwin took up four of his own paintings for a Tolkien calendar. More calendars and book jackets followed and an exciting (and daunting) offer from HarperCollins to work on the first ever illustrated Silmarillion which was published in 1998. A new version appeared in 2004 with more paintings and a real progression, I think, in both skill and vision.

Along with Alan Lee and John Howe he was asked to help with the conceptual art for the Peter Jackson films, but family and work commitments made it impossible. Given how long the other artists ended up living in New Zealand it’s not surprising! As each film came out, so did a new Nasmith Lord of the Rings Calendar. The picture below of the Grey Havens from 1996 shows that his vision still had some influence on PJ:


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Departure at the Grey Havens

© Ted Nasmith




Ted juggles illustrating Tolkien with his other job as an architectural renderer (realising future buildings in detailed paintings), but interestingly he doesn’t paint the figures that inhabit them, leaving that to a fellow artist. You might be surprised to learn that he is also a performer and is currently working on a CD of his Tolkien songs. You can hear some of them here. He also paints lots and lots of classic cars…


Looking at Nasmith’s many paintings I think his great strength as an artist lies in his visions of Tolkien’s vast landscapes, its great monuments and awesome buildings where he shares Tolkien’s feel for the epic. Everything seems so much brighter, grander and sharper than our own modern day world. He has mentioned in interviews that he was influenced by nineteenth century neo-classicists and romantics such as Frederick Leighton, Frederick Church and Albert Beirstadtand and he has the same brilliancy of light and carefully rendered details in his work. This is what achieves that sense of a younger mythic world that we get from looking at his paintings, magnified through the eye of a great visual storyteller. I think it’s very significant that he says of Tolkien:

“His emphasis on light and shadow in particular, whether metaphorical or literal, justifies any artist’s interest.”

© Ted Naismith



I think The Tree Shepherds, below, is a wonderful painting, both mysterious and awe inspiring, and an unusual (but very ‘Ted Nasmith’) moment to choose to illustrate. This is the moment on the road to Isengard when three Ents emerged from the trees to the amazement of Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and Theoden and ‘lifted their long hands to their mouths, and sent forth ringing calls, clear as notes of a horn…’ :


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The Tree Shepherds

© Ted Nasmith




And here is the Kinslaying at Alqualonde from The Silmarillion which shows Ted’s strong grasp of the architectural and some wonderful use of light in the clear turquoise water. It is also a painting he believes to be amongst his best work:


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The Kinslaying at Aqualonde

© Ted Nasmith




Ted uses gouache for his work which is ideal for reproduction purposes and for conveying high levels of detail. It is also a wonderful medium for conveying both depth and luminosity.

If he has a weakness it’s in his figures, something which has already been mentioned on this thread. Not just their form - in the early paintings they can be quite ‘stiff’ looking - but also his depiction of their clothing and armour. To me they are the usual cross between the mediaeval and Norse mythology that we see in a lot of Tolkien artists and he hasn’t yet found a unique ‘Middle-earth’ vision there. But it doesn’t lessen the grandeur of his paintings. After all, this is Tolkien and in Tolkien the landscape of Middle-earth is one of the main protagonists. I’ve included the picture below of Turin transfixed by the eye of Glaurung outside Nargothrond as another Silmarillion example as I think this is one of his better figurative paintings and I like the baleful look of the dragon and Turin standing like a statue with his sword raised as though condemned to salute the prisoners:


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Turin transfixed by Glaurung outside Nargothrond

© Ted Nasmith




Ted has his own website where you will find high res versions of all his Tolkien work to enjoy and much more besides:

tednaismith.com

© Ted Naismith



And don’t forget the useful Rolozo Tolkien Gallery which is one of the best resources for Tolkien illustrations. You can also see most of his paintings here and that of many other artists by searching on ‘isolate artists’ from the menu on the left. You can also search by subject.

Here’s one final Nasmith picture to finish up with – just because I like his beautiful and graceful depiction of the treehouse where Luthien was held:


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Luthien escapes the Treehouse

© Ted Nasmith

Last edited by Iolanthe on Sat Feb 25, 2006 7:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Airwin
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Postby Airwin » Sat Feb 25, 2006 4:50 pm

Beautiful pictures. Good job on the profile, Iolanthe!

Of course, wouldn't you know, when I went to B&N to take a look at the Sil and possibly buy it, they didn't have it! :(
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Sat Feb 25, 2006 5:27 pm

Well done, Iolanthe! I learned a lot by reading your assessment.

I had never seen the Kinslaying picture before today. The contrast between the violent elves and the beautiful ships is striking.
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Postby Philipa » Sun Feb 26, 2006 3:59 pm

This is fantastic job Iolanthe. There is always something special learning more of an artist then just the a 'art' so to speak. Things I've found this interesting...

It’s difficult to describe exactly what informs my interest in Tolkien, but suffice it to say quite simply that I have a powerful affinity with his writing, so full of vast, lost, misty expanses and its unique mixture of the familiar and strange. His emphasis on light and shadow in particular, whether metaphorical or literal, justifies any artist’s interest. I instinctively relate to the whole phenomenon that is Tolkien’s Middle-earth, for surely his work bears comparison with the most intricately plotted, most imaginative literature ever written. I have a deep inner conviction that I am capable of interpreting his words through my artwork with a high degree of integrity.


How true, how true!

In most cases a painting begins as a small thumbnail pencil sketch, later developed in a succession of variations, usually of increasing size, still in pencil. When satisfied that the image is composed well, I will either proceed to a full size drawing or paint a scaled down ‘postcard’ version of the scene. In some cases the colour sketch may be repeated with variations. At the full size drawing stage, specific details of the elements of the scene will be fleshed out, using references as required, and variations on these will most likely be experimented with at this stage.

© Ted Nasmith



A thumbnail sketch? I think this is amazing.
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Thoughts from Eryn Lasgalen An online guide to all things Tolkien

Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Sun Feb 26, 2006 8:06 pm

What a long and detailed process! With the scale of work he does he clearly has to get all the details right before starting the final painting. Gouache isn't a medium that you want to keep working and reworking, like watercolour you just end up with a mess. I'm guessing by the amount of detail that the paintings are quite big (I wish we knew the sizes) so re-doing it if it goes horribly wrong, as you would a small watercolour, isn't an option. There is a huge amount of work in each one.

The more I look at his work the more I admire it. There is so much imagination and beauty, especially in the Silmarrillion paintings. Looking again at his Gallery on his website I love the brilliant light of 'The White Tree' and the atmospheric 'Tuor is led by swans to Vinyama'. And how about the apocalyptic 'Queen Tar-Miriel and the Great Wave' - something I found very hard to visualise when I read the book.
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Postby Philipa » Tue Mar 07, 2006 1:08 am

I agree Iolanthe and I find those images from the Sil that are meant to be scary like Fingolfin's Wrath and Aule Prepares to destroy his children very frighting. :shock:

Two of my favorites is Teleri ships drawn by swans the Sil and At the Ford from FoTR. :D
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Thoughts from Eryn Lasgalen An online guide to all things Tolkien

Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Tue Mar 07, 2006 1:39 pm

I love Teleri ships drawn by swans too, it's a really beautiful painting. And I know what you mean about Aule Prepares to destroy his children, it's the contrast in size and the fact they look so naked and vulnerable. With the hair and beards he's made sure they look like minature Aule's. No female dwarfs there, though. Or should that be dwarves? I think Tolkien had a thing about the plural of that word...
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Riv Res
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Postby Riv Res » Tue May 16, 2006 5:31 pm

Just to give you all a heads up... :wink: I have been conversing with Ted Nasmith via email (a very nice guy BTW) and doing my best in begging him to do (visually) the following piece.

"With that they parted, and it was the time of sunset; and when after a while they turned and looked back, they saw the King of the West sitting upon his horse with his knights about him; and the falling Sun shone upon them and made all their harness to gleam like red gold, and the white mantle of Aragorn was turned to flame. Then Aragorn took the green stone and held it up, and there came a green fire from his hand."

At least he is aware of the piece and thinking about it. He does not know of another artist who has done it either. I am persistent and will keep trying. :twisted:
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Postby Merry » Wed May 17, 2006 2:52 am

Way to go, RR! I would love to see this, too.
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Wed May 17, 2006 1:29 pm

Excellent! That would be a terrific moment to illustrate and Naismith often choses unusual quiet moments like the Tree Shepherds (above). He'd be the perfect artist for this with the evening light and the blazing jewel.

So, you've been in contact with Naismith :shock: :worship: !!!
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Airwin
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Postby Airwin » Wed May 17, 2006 2:26 pm

Riv, you never cease to amaze me with your connections. :worship: And what a wonderful piece that would be for Ted to visualize! :D If he needs any more encouragement, just direct him to this thread! :wink:
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Riv Res
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Postby Riv Res » Wed May 17, 2006 3:22 pm

LOL...it is not a big deal. He is a nice man who has helped me track down a couple of other Tolkien artists in the past. I contacted him through his website and was pleasantly surprised when he responded and was so helpful. :D
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Postby Iolanthe » Sat Aug 26, 2006 3:44 pm

Where Many Paths and Errands Meet
A Middle-earth and JRR Tolkien Inspired Exhibition


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For UK members who love Ted Nasmith's art there will be an exhibition of his work from Saturday 23rd September to Tuesday 26th September at the Redesdale Hall, High Street, Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire. See more details at:

adcbooks.com

I'm not sure yet whether Ruth Lacon is also exhibiting but this will be a wonderful chance to see Ted's work 'in the flesh'.
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Postby Philipa » Sat Oct 28, 2006 11:53 pm

I take it no one from MeJ went to this? I'd like to have seen it myself. :D
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Thoughts from Eryn Lasgalen An online guide to all things Tolkien

Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Sat Nov 04, 2006 7:19 pm

No - it wasn't possible :( . But I would have loved to have seen some of his paintings 'in the flesh'. They are quite large and I'm sure they make a terrific impact. Hopefully there will be another exhibition in the future as there was one last year too.
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