J.R.R.Tolkien: Artist & Illustrator

Studies of the Art and Artists Inspired by the Writings of J.R.R.Tolkien
Merry
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Postby Merry » Sat May 12, 2007 11:11 pm

Maybe we should ask him?
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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.

marbretherese
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Postby marbretherese » Sun May 13, 2007 9:47 am

I did wonder about that, but wasn't sure how to go about it . . . ?
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"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back.
But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy."


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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Sun May 13, 2007 2:31 pm

Well, if Alan ever gets around to getting his website properly on-line we could ask him there :roll: . I think the word 'soon...' has been there about a year :lol: .
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Riv Res
Manwë
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Postby Riv Res » Tue May 15, 2007 5:19 am

Let's hope he puts it together as well as John Howe did his website which I have visited for years.
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Beren
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Postby Beren » Wed May 16, 2007 8:46 am

Well i will contact him, was planning to that anyways. Any other questions you wish me to ask him? I am working on an article on the illustrations and wished to ask Alan some questions... i'll ask about the borders. But more questions are of course welcome!
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marbretherese
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Postby marbretherese » Wed May 16, 2007 12:12 pm

thanks Beren, perhaps you would also ask him whether he is planning to develop his website soon? I'm sure lots of his fans would be interested to know!
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"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back.
But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy."


http://www.marbretherese.com
http://marbretherese.blogspot.com/

Beren
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Postby Beren » Wed May 16, 2007 12:20 pm

Any other questions related his artwork for CoH?
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Merry
Varda
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Postby Merry » Wed May 16, 2007 3:29 pm

Thanks for this offer and opportunity, Beren. You could ask him if he thinks he has a First Age Style and a Third Age style.
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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 16, 2007 4:15 pm

That's a good question. I wonder whether it is harder to visualise and illustrate the 'earlier' material and how you go about making it different.

This is a great opportunity Beren :D !

When he illustrated the 50th Anniverary LotR edition he had to space the illustrations evenly throughout the book which limited the choice of what he could illustrate. I'd love to know if there were particular scenes from C of H that he really wanted to do but had to abandon for the same reason.

I'd also like to know if we will ever see the preparatory drawings. I love his drawings even more than his paintings!
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Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Beren
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Postby Beren » Tue Jun 12, 2007 11:59 am

marbretherese wrote:I've just read Tolkien's essay "On Fairy Stories" and found this passage in the Notes:

The verbal ending . . . 'And they lived happily ever after' is an artificial device . . . to be compared to the margins and frames of pictures, . . . no more to be thought of as the real end of any particular fragment of the Web of Story than the frame is of the visionary scene or the casement of the Outer World. These phrases may be plain or elaborate, simple or extravagant, as artificial and as necessary as frames plain, or carved, or gilded. . . . It was an irresistible development of modern illustration (so largely photographic) that borders should be abandoned and the 'picture' end only with the paper. This method may be suitable for photographs; but it is altogether inappropriate for the pictures that illustrate or are inspired by fairy-stories. An enchanted forest requires a margin, even an elaborate border. To print it conterminous with the page, like a 'shot' of The Rockies in Picture Post, as if it were indeed a 'snap' of fairyland or a 'sketch by our artist on the spot' , is a folly and an abuse.


So it's frames for my paintings from now on . . .!!

I would urge anyone who hasn't read the essay to do so if they get the chance. It was originally a lecture delivered at the University of St Andrews in 1939 and gives the reader an idea of what it must have been like to have studied with the great man himself! Fascinating insights and a sense of humour into the bargain!



OK guys I got a reply from Alan Lee:

I originally envisaged the colour illustrations as being bordered, either
with a simple band of wash, or just placed on the page with a fairly generous margin around them - similar in size to the margin around the type. I knew that
Christopher Tolkien favoured that approach, but I said that I'd offer two
versions for him and Harper Collins to look at. Having tried it both ways
-bleeding to the edge of the page, and with margins - I started to find the
former more pleasing. It allows the image to be seen at a larger size, which is
an advantage, considering the modest size of the book and it has a slightly
less "fussy" or precious look which suits the more sombre tone of the book. I
know what JRR Tolkien meant with the reference to a framing device, with
fairytales and their illustrations, and many of the illustrations I've done in
the past have quite elaborate borders; it can give the opportunity to introduce
other story elements or appropriate imagery which would look incongrous within
the illustration itself. "The Mabinogion" illustrations that I did 25 years ago
used this device extensively in order to hint at the different layers within
the stories.

I sent both treatments of the images mocked up with the text to Harper
Collins and Christopher Tolkien, and found, to my surprize, that everyone now
prefered the paintings when they completely filled the page. Certainly no-one
described it as a folly and an abuse.

For me, the edges of a picture are the most important areas. I like to think
of the image as a small segment of a much larger scene, so that you feel that,
if you could see behind the edges of the "snapshot" there would be something
equally, or more, interesting going on. It's a window into another world, but
you don't necessarily have to see the window frame. You might even see more
clearly without it.
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Beren
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Postby Beren » Tue Jun 12, 2007 12:00 pm

The other answers will come in a month or so... Alan Lee is kind of VERY BUSY these days it seems. But he promised to get the answers.
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marbretherese
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Postby marbretherese » Tue Jun 12, 2007 12:18 pm

Beren, thank you so much for getting this information from Alan Lee! :clapping:

You do see the image at a larger size if there is no border, especially in book format. The modern trend is to omit borders (which is exactly what Tolkien disliked) so I'm guessing that Harper Collins would not have been in favour of them anyway.

What he says about the borderless format suiting the more sombre tone of the book is an interesting parallel to the discussion on the CoH thread about the use (or non-use) of archaic language.

And finally:

For me, the edges of a picture are the most important areas. I like to think of the image as a small segment of a much larger scene, so that you feel that, if you could see behind the edges of the "snapshot" there would be something equally, or more, interesting going on. It's a window into another world, but you don't necessarily have to see the window frame. You might even see more clearly without it.


Isn't the effect he describes above exactly what Iolanthe does with the borders of her paintings?
0 x
"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back.
But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy."


http://www.marbretherese.com
http://marbretherese.blogspot.com/

Beren
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Postby Beren » Tue Jun 12, 2007 12:57 pm

Hey guys... can I use this part of the question and the answer for an article to post on my site? I will of course mention the source...
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Riv Res
Manwë
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Postby Riv Res » Tue Jun 12, 2007 1:27 pm

Beren wrote:Hey guys... can I use this part of the question and the answer for an article to post on my site? I will of course mention the source...


Absolutely Beren. Tolkien is for sharing.

Those of us who dabble in the arts and are great Lee fans are learning so very much from this. It would be a shame not to share it with visitors to your site as well.

We are in your debt for getting these questions to him and to him for sharing his vision and thought process. I thank you here and trust that you will thank him for all of us. :D
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Lindariel
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Postby Lindariel » Tue Jun 12, 2007 2:01 pm

Beren, thanks so much for forwarding MeJ questions to Alan Lee. His answers are always fascinating, and I look forward to hearing more from him in the future as he has time to answer other questions.
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“Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be.”


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