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 » Tue Jun 12, 2007 3:40 pm

This is exciting--Thanks, Beren! I would look forward to reading your article on this.

Maybe we are starting to see that JRRT had a certain philosophy of story that CJRT, AL and their editors do not share completely. It would be interesting to read the Faery essay again with that in mind. I love Tolkien's borders and have enjoyed Lee's, too. I've read that some people do not consider book illustrations to be art, since they serve a purpose outside of pure creation. (This is largely a matter of semantics, I think.) JRRT's drawings are more illustration, and so the borders suit them. Lee's in CoH are more arty, in my opinion.
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Wed Jun 13, 2007 12:48 pm

Thanks so much for asking this Beren, Alan Lee's answer is fascinating!

I actually like the illustration filling the page in the context of CoH. Somehow the 'nothing fancy' approach really suites the bleak story. I think they made a good, if surprising, choice here. And most of Alan's illustrations for this book are vast landscapes seen from a distance with small figures that you really have to look for. I also thinks this suits the distant archaic feel of the the story - so very far from us in both time and emotion. If they hadn't been reproduced to full page a lot of the subtle detail would have been completely lost.

For me, the edges of a picture are the most important areas.

I love this - I know exactly what he means and yes, that's why I extend the lines of my paintings into the black and white frame, to pull the mind into the greater scene beyond while the eye takes in what's in the 'window'.

When we have all Alan's answers it will be great to have them complete in the Tolkien's Arists and Illustrators thread :D .
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Riv Res
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Postby Riv Res » Wed Jun 13, 2007 1:32 pm

Iolanthe wrote:When we have all Alan's answers it will be great to have them complete in the Tolkien's Arists and Illustrators thread :D .


When we have all of his answers, I think we should publish the entire interview where it gets the maximum exposure. We don't have a News Page here at MeJ like we do at V-W because we don't usually have enough true Tolkien News, or are content to leave that to others. Maybe it is time to open that News Page. :wink:
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Cheyenne Angel
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Postby Cheyenne Angel » Thu Jun 14, 2007 3:28 pm

the French-speaking Switzerland television (the TSR) has just devoted a whole number of "Singulier" a tv show with John Howe... :D :D
The concept of the emission is to speak with no decoration to accomodate the guest, one never sees at all events the journalist who puts the questions.
you can be viewed it on Internet, in a completely free and legal way click here...
well I'm sorry but it is in french :?
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Fri Jun 15, 2007 7:15 pm

Thanks Cheyenne! I understood bits of it (very small bits.... :lol: )
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Sat Sep 29, 2007 4:58 pm

I've been reading my Hammond and Scull JRR Tolkien Artist and Illustrator and am fascinated by the early art deco style paintings on p.44-51 (nos. 41 to 47). Apart from the art deco influence they are very Blakean which I suppose isn't too surprising as William Blake was also a visionary with his own mythology and vivid imagination.

I've never really looked closely at no. 44 The Shores of Faery before so I've missed how magical it is. I can see now that the sun and the moon are growing as fruits from the Two Trees, which are blackened and dying. I'd taken the trees for border decoration before :roll: . And I love the green waves curling on the left. It's an extraordinary imaginitive vision, really, and nothing like the later pictures for, say, the Hobbit. It's much more unique than his later, more 'realistic' illutrations. Whenever I look at anything Tolkien did - stories, poetry or painting - I always wish he'd done more of it. And I wish he had painted more of his early mythology just like this.

The next one (no. 45 The Man in the Moon) shows the man in the moon going down to the earth on a filigree stair of spidery hair. I couldn't see his tall hat and long beard as Hammond and Scull describe it until I turned the book upside down. Now I think that it should be that way up! It makes a lot more sense.

The moon is like a ship and there are two extra continents on the earth which the authors think show Atlantis and Lemuria. It never pays to miss the details when dealing with Tolkien! And what on earth are the white blobby things coming out of the man in the moon's turret?
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marbretherese
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Postby marbretherese » Mon Oct 01, 2007 7:07 pm

I've liked The Shores of Faery since I first saw it on the back of the dustjacket of my copy of Garth's book - although I didn't recognise the references then because I hadn't read The Sil at that point. I liked it for its Art Deco style.

As for The Man in the Moon, I can't work out what those white blobby things are either - antennae, possibly? there must be a clue somewhere . . . !

Glad you've finally got around to reading the text :wink:
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Mon Oct 01, 2007 7:15 pm

Finally :lol: . I'm really enjoying it.

The white blobby bits make the tower look as if it's spinning, but that can't really be it either....
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marbretherese
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Postby marbretherese » Tue Oct 09, 2007 1:11 pm

For some time now I’ve been meaning to post something about Tolkien’s painting of Barad-Dûr (Artist & Illustrator no 145). It’s interesting how he sees Sauron’s stronghold built of blackened yellow brick, which is presumably a comment on the creeping industrialisation of the West Midlands during the late 19th & early 20th century. Certainly a lot of London Underground stations were built in yellow brick. I’d post a photo to show you all, but unfortunately these days if you take a photo in a tube station you are immediately classified as a potential terrorist :( .

At the same time, I am reminded of Sauron’s tower every morning as I walk across the Millennium Bridge to my office. Opposite me is the Tate Modern – a converted power station built in 1947. The tower has a light at the top which reminds me of Sauron’s Eye. Imagine my delight when the other day I spotted Shelob outside!


Image

© marbretherese



From the reverse angle Shelob appears to be attacking London:

Image

© marbretherese



It’s actually an installation by the artist Louise Bourgeois, and large enough to walk beneath:

Image

© marbretherese



I love the juxtaposition of this spider with the Tate Modern! Louise Bourgeois first created it for the Tate’s enormous turbine hall and it is displaying outside as part of a retrospective of her work. More details at http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/exhibitions/louisebourgeois/default.shtm if you want them!
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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 » Tue Oct 09, 2007 8:06 pm

Wow, that's creepy! Do you know, I don't think I could walk underneath it :shock: . The photo of 'Shelob' with 'Barad-Dûr' is wonderful.

Do you know, I've been puzzled by the way Tolkien has constructed Barad-Dûr in his drawing ever since I first saw it. It doesn't look at all like I would expect it too and the bricks - or I suppose they could be masonary but they look like bricks - seem very incongruous. But for anyone who's seen the industrial north of England it does make sense. All those giant factory buildings with their huge towers blighting once rural landscapes....

I haven't got the book in front of me at the moment but I'm going to go and have another look at that illustration.
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:34 pm

Great insight about the brick, marbretherese! Why are the bricks yellow? Is the mud in that part of the world yellow?

And even an ocean away, the spider gives me the creeps.
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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 » Thu Oct 11, 2007 12:01 pm

I've been looking up bricks on the internet (it's a slow work day). As I understand it, London brick was originally yellow because it was made from local clay. However, bricks made from Oxford clay, presumably used in the area in which Tolkien grew up & lived, are red! So it could be that the actual brick colours Tolkien chose for this painting are nothing more than artistic licence. Some of them are a darker grey/purple colour, which I took to be soot-blackened, but they could also be another type of brick, apparently.

Incidentally, according to Hammond & Scull, the painting would have been done after 1944. They point out that Tolkien has incorporated a red line into the mortar between the bricks, as though blood is running through it (you can see it if you hold the book up to your face and squint really hard with one eye shut). And there is a sinister red glowing from the windows at the top . . .

I'm off now to write a treatise on bricks. The things you learn once you start looking . . . . :D
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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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http://marbretherese.blogspot.com/

Merry
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Postby Merry » Thu Oct 11, 2007 2:39 pm

Thanks for the brick research, marbretherese! Maybe Tolkien just incorporated the bricks he saw in London? If he disliked industrialization, he would have seen its force even more strongly in London than in Oxford, I assume.

Have we talked about Tolkien's use of color here? (Can't remember if it was here or at WRoR. :oops: ) He seems to use it to identify things as good or bad.
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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 » Thu Oct 11, 2007 3:00 pm

Merry wrote:Have we talked about Tolkien's use of color here? (Can't remember if it was here or at WRoR. :oops: ) He seems to use it to identify things as good or bad.


I don't think we've had that discussion here (although my memory's not infallible :dizzy: ) - it sounds like an extremely interesting idea!
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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/

Merry
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Postby Merry » Thu Oct 11, 2007 4:46 pm

I'm not just talking about his use of color in his artwork, although I guess that could be a part of it, but mostly his use of color in the narrative. I guess it's okay to have that discussion here.

I'll start us off with the extremely obvious: green is always a good color! Obviously, it's the color of nature, but also Bilbo's door is green, Aragorn dresses in green, when Frodo gets better at Rivendell, he finds a new set of green clothing set out for him. Any other examples of green?
0 x
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.


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