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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
JRRT Author & Illustrator, ch. 5: LOTR: Pencil & Ink
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Luthien Rising
Lorien


Mar 20 2007, 2:16am

Post #1 of 26 (300 views)
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JRRT Author & Illustrator, ch. 5: LOTR: Pencil & Ink Can't Post

When it comes down to it, it’s all pencil and ink, isn’t it. Today, of course, few authors write their drafts by hand, but Tolkien often did, and always corrected that way. And when he wasn’t sure what to write, or when he had some other issue to work out (as we’ll be seeing him do tomorrow), he stopped writing and began to draw. Sometimes he drew on his manuscript pages. Sometimes he drew on scrap paper, or the backs of menus. And sometimes – as tonight’s selections from his illustrations to The Lord of the Rings show – he set out more deliberately, to illustrate his work.

He’d been doing that for a long time, of course, and doing it with a view to publication as illustration, which always means thinking about both what is illustrated and the audience. I’ve always rather thought that when it came to The Lord of the Rings, though, he was very much his own audience. And this, in part, may tell some of the story of the shift from the woodcut-like inkings and the brightly coloured paintings of The Hobbit to the finer pencils and inks of The Lord of the Rings. Or at least so they seem to me. You, of course, are welcome to challenge that!



First to his inks, because there we see, perhaps, the most continuity with the work on The Hobbit.

This is one of many illustrations of Orthanc (Orthanc (I), illustration #162 on p. 166 of Hammond and Scull – if anyone has a link to a larger online version of this, I’d appreciate it, but if one doesn’t appear here by morning I’ll scan it and link to it):





We’ll come back to this one later in the week, and talk about things like architectural style. But now let’s look at it as stuff.

1. Tolkien’s materials here are pencil, black ink, and coloured pencil. How does this compare with his earlier use of materials? How do the different materials serve him here?

2. Do you (like me) wish you knew the scale of the original drawing? Why would he – as it seems here – be drawing in a size larger than would fit in a published novel?

3. This drawing was made on “the blank verso of a leaf of examination script in 1942” (Hammond & Scull, p. 169). Well! What do you make of that? Does it change how you think of the drawing? Of Tolkien’s act of illustration?



Tolkien used a similar range of materials in another large-scale illustration, this one of Barad-dûr with Mount Doom in the background (Barad-dûr, illustration #145 on p. 152 of Hammond and Scull):





(A larger copy can – and really should – be seen here: http://www.aumania.it/fa/tolkien/004.jpg )

4. Tolkien has again used both pencil and ink: his materials here are pencil, coloured pencil, black and red ink. How does his use of his materials here compare with those in Orthanc (I)?

5. This time, since I may not come back in detail to this one (though, ok, I may), let’s also look at what he does with his materials in specific relation to his subject. This is not Barad-dûr in its entirety, as we saw all of Orthanc, but the junction between rock and building. How does Tolkien’s choice of where to apply which material show us something about his subject?

(Okay, I really am going to come back to this particular illustration sometime later this week.)



At times Tolkien pushed his inkwell away – or it wasn’t handy. Here is Old Man Willow (illustration #147, on p. 155 of Hammond and Scull), in just pencil and coloured pencil:




(A larger copy, but not, I think, a good reproduction: http://www.aumania.it/fa/tolkien/056.jpg – I may just give in and scan this one in the morning.)

6. Tolkien’s Old Man Willow is a less frightening creature in appearance than Jackson’s Hobbit-eating tree or the imposing ancient knotted trees that photographers shoot and label as Tolkien-inspired. Why might Tolkien have pushed the inkwell away for this one, if he did? How does he use the materials he does have at hand to show some level of menace?

7. And now, it's time for a High School Essay Question:
Compare and contrast Tolkien’s Old Man Willow with the same artist’s illustrations of trees for The Hobbit.


Lúthien Rising
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. / We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

(This post was edited by Luthien Rising on Mar 20 2007, 2:18am)


Sandicomm
Bree


Mar 20 2007, 3:27am

Post #2 of 26 (120 views)
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Uh-oh... [In reply to] Can't Post

(psst--the thumbnail links are broken. I'm upset that I won't be here for most of your discussion. Good luck, and I'll try to pop in tomorrow!)


Luthien Rising
Lorien


Mar 20 2007, 3:39am

Post #3 of 26 (107 views)
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ack! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, sandi - I'll see what I can do.

Lúthien Rising
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. / We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.


Luthien Rising
Lorien


Mar 20 2007, 3:55am

Post #4 of 26 (148 views)
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*with visible illustrations* [In reply to] Can't Post

These should be visible now!

---------------------------------------------------------

When it comes down to it, it’s all pencil and ink, isn’t it. Today, of course, few authors write their drafts by hand, but Tolkien often did, and always corrected that way. And when he wasn’t sure what to write, or when he had some other issue to work out (as we’ll be seeing him do tomorrow), he stopped writing and began to draw. Sometimes he drew on his manuscript pages. Sometimes he drew on scrap paper, or the backs of menus. And sometimes – as tonight’s selections from his illustrations to The Lord of the Rings show – he set out more deliberately, to illustrate his work.

He’d been doing that for a long time, of course, and doing it with a view to publication as illustration, which always means thinking about both what is illustrated and the audience. I’ve always rather thought that when it came to The Lord of the Rings, though, he was very much his own audience. And this, in part, may tell some of the story of the shift from the woodcut-like inkings and the brightly coloured paintings of The Hobbit to the finer pencils and inks of The Lord of the Rings. Or at least so they seem to me. You, of course, are welcome to challenge that!
First to his inks, because there we see, perhaps, the most continuity with the work on The Hobbit.
This is one of many illustrations of Orthanc (Orthanc (I), illustration #162 on p. 166 of Hammond and Scull – if anyone has a link to a larger online version of this, I’d appreciate it, but if one doesn’t appear here by morning I’ll scan it and link to it):

from http://www.warofthering.net/...ien/Untitled-164.jpg




We’ll come back to this one later in the week, and talk about things like architectural style. But now let’s look at it as stuff.

1. Tolkien’s materials here are pencil, black ink, and coloured pencil. How does this compare with his earlier use of materials? How do the different materials serve him here?

2. Do you (like me) wish you knew the scale of the original drawing? Why would he – as it seems here – be drawing in a size larger than would fit in a published novel?

3. This drawing was made on “the blank verso of a leaf of examination script in 1942” (Hammond & Scull, p. 169). Well! What do you make of that? Does it change how you think of the drawing? Of Tolkien’s act of illustration?
Tolkien used a similar range of materials in another large-scale illustration, this one of Barad-dûr with Mount Doom in the background (Barad-dûr, illustration #145 on p. 152 of Hammond and Scull):

from http://www.warofthering.net/...ien/Untitled-147.jpg




(A larger copy can be seen here: http://www.aumania.it/fa/tolkien/004.jpg)

4. Tolkien has again used both pencil and ink: his materials here are pencil, coloured pencil, black and red ink. How does his use of his materials here compare with those in Orthanc (I)?

5. This time, since I may not come back in detail to this one (though, ok, I may), let’s also look at what he does with his materials in specific relation to his subject. This is not Barad-dûr in its entirety, as we saw all of Orthanc, but the junction between rock and building. How does Tolkien’s choice of where to apply which material show us something about his subject?

(Okay, I really am going to come back to this particular illustration sometime later this week.)


At times Tolkien pushed his inkwell away – or it wasn’t handy. Here is Old Man Willow (illustration #147, on p. 155 of Hammond and Scull), in just pencil and coloured pencil:

from http://www.warofthering.net/...ien/Untitled-149.jpg



(A larger copy, but not, I think, a good reproduction: http://www.aumania.it/fa/tolkien/056.jpg – I may just give in and scan this one in the morning.)

6. Tolkien’s Old Man Willow is a less frightening creature in appearance than Jackson’s Hobbit-eating tree or the imposing ancient knotted trees that photographers shoot and label as Tolkien-inspired. Why might Tolkien have pushed the inkwell away for this one, if he did? How does he use the materials he does have at hand to show some level of menace?

7. Time for a High School Essay Question:
Compare and contrast Tolkien’s Old Man Willow with the same artist’s illustrations of trees for The Hobbit.


Lúthien Rising
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. / We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.


NZ Strider
Rivendell

Mar 20 2007, 9:34am

Post #5 of 26 (135 views)
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Quick, late-night comments... [In reply to] Can't Post

Just something general to start, and not necessarily relevant: When Sinclair Lewis began to write a novel, he often drew up plans for characters' houses, street plans for neighbourhoods or towns, even sketches of front façades of houses, etc. He wanted not only to make sure that he remained consistent when he had characters enter the kitchen from the living room or saw such and such from the bedroom window or whatever, but also to be able to get a feel for what a character's life might be like by imagining what his home and his living room looked like. (Likewise Lewis wrote up biographical sketches for his characters even if very little of that material made it directly into the novel; but, then, the doctor who'd studied in Tübingen might have an old German book lying on the coffee table and so on.) I sometimes think that many of Tolkien's sketches served a similar (if less methodical purpose): he was trying to imagine what certain things looked like, to get a feel for a certain situation or person by sketching the place that person lived in or saw daily.

1.) With the watercolours for *The Hobbit* I think that Tolkien was pushing his limits as an illustrator. He clearly worked hard at them as the numerous preliminary sketches show; moreover he was trying to meet his publisher's needs/wishes for illustrations. The drawings for the LotR, as e.g. this one for Orthanc, were not made with any specific publishing need in mind, so he didn't have to use more "formal" materials in a more "formal" format – he could just satisfy himself. So, he stuck with materials which he could more easily manage.

2.) I don't think he really was illustrating for publication here.

3.) In 1942 paper was scarce, rationed, and expensive; and scrap paper that we'd throw away today was used. Tolkien was lucky in that examinations provided him with a ready supply of scrap paper. (One example of frugality with paper in the '40s which recently crossed my desk: A student had asked for my help in deciphring a handwritten German note for ca. 1948. The sheet of paper on which it stood had begun life as a typed letter of complaint to the Bishop of a German diocese – and the author, when he had filled page one, had simply turned the sheet round in his typewriter and finished the letter on the reverse. As he had not much more to type, fully four-fifths of the reverse side remained free. So the Bishop's secretary put the sheet into his typewriter and typed his letter to the responsible parish official to demand a response to the original letter of complaint. As this was a brief letter, fully two-thirds of the reverse side still remained free. So the responsible parish official stuck the sheet into his typewriter and typed his official explanation of the matter being complained about. This left about a quarter of the sheet free when the letter got back to the Bishop's secretary who then proceeded to draft his official response to the letter of complaint on the same sheet; and when he had filled up the bottom quarter, he continued in the margins. Presumably, someone typed out a fair copy of the official response on a new sheet; and it was the old sheet that remained in the episcopal archive. But there you have it: one sheet of paper, used for three letters and the draft for a fourth one.)

4.-5.) I'm actually not certain where the use of ink begins and ends in this drawing, though I assume the Barad-dûr itself is inked, whereas the rock on which it stands is in pencil. In the drawing of Orthanc, is Orthanc also in ink, whereas the land about is in pencil? I really can't tell; even from the illustrations in my copy of Hammond & Scull.

6.) I'm not sure if it's permissible to speculate that any other than technical reasons prompted Tolkien to use pencil or ink for a given object (i.e. an artificial tower such as Barad-dûr vs. a natural object such as a tree): for a smooth, homogenously coloured surface he preferred ink (which allows no shading), but for something heterogenously coloured and rough he preferred the pencil which allowed him to shade now darker, now lighter?
The way in which Old Man Willow's branches look like bent and crooked arms, the way in which the roots look like tentacles, and the way in which the two crevices on the lower trunk suggest vertically squinting eyes do all combine to make a distinctly hostile impression.

7.) School essay? Er, the dog ate my homework!

(Actually, it's late, and I need to be up early in the morning.)


a.s.
Valinor


Mar 20 2007, 10:36am

Post #6 of 26 (108 views)
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where do you see the face? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
The way in which Old Man Willow's branches look like bent and crooked arms, the way in which the roots look like tentacles, and the way in which the two crevices on the lower trunk suggest vertically squinting eyes do all combine to make a distinctly hostile impression.



Interesting. I see a face looking generally sideway, on the right hand side of the tree as we face it:




Sort of a hint of a nose and a slash of a mouth, no eyes seen?

Not saying I'm right, just saying that's where I see his face!!

a.s.


"an seileachan"

Everybody's wondering what and where they all came from.
Everybody's worried 'bout where they're gonna go when the whole thing's done.
No one knows for certain, and so it's all the same to me:
I think I'll just let the mystery be.
~~~~Iris DeMent


a.s.
Valinor


Mar 20 2007, 11:02am

Post #7 of 26 (123 views)
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pen, ink, pencil [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
4. Tolkien has again used both pencil and ink: his materials here are pencil, coloured pencil, black and red ink. How does his use of his materials here compare with those in Orthanc (I)?

5. This time, since I may not come back in detail to this one (though, ok, I may), let’s also look at what he does with his materials in specific relation to his subject. This is not Barad-dûr in its entirety, as we saw all of Orthanc, but the junction between rock and building. How does Tolkien’s choice of where to apply which material show us something about his subject?



Now you get into parts of "art works" that are maybe a little difficult for non-artists to comment on. I frankly can't tell by the pictures I see which part of the Baradur drawing is pen and which is pencil.

I can tell you what strikes me about the Baradure picture is how "made" the structure is, how it looks like human (or orcian) hands hauled the stone, made the bricks, and built the structure. It's massive. I like the contrast of the bricks and hewed stone building blocks with the bedrock it stands on. It's a good thing he provides the door and steps, though, or I couldn't really tell how massive the thing really is.

I also have a problem with the scale of Orthanc, for some reason, until I notice the stairs and can adjust my perspective. Orthanc also looks "made" by hand, vs. some magically-derived tower. I like this version of Orthanc better than the later one, for that.

a.s.


"an seileachan"

Everybody's wondering what and where they all came from.
Everybody's worried 'bout where they're gonna go when the whole thing's done.
No one knows for certain, and so it's all the same to me:
I think I'll just let the mystery be.
~~~~Iris DeMent


drogo
Lorien


Mar 20 2007, 11:10am

Post #8 of 26 (109 views)
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Foundations of Barad-dur [In reply to] Can't Post

5. This time, since I may not come back in detail to this one (though, ok, I may), let’s also look at what he does with his materials in specific relation to his subject. This is not Barad-dûr in its entirety, as we saw all of Orthanc, but the junction between rock and building. How does Tolkien’s choice of where to apply which material show us something about his subject?

This illustration is on the cover of the Ballantine paperback I first read in 1978, so that image of a huge stone foundation and immense bulk of a tower resting upon it is etched into my mind. Like Tolkien's refusal to give us a clear image of Sauron, this drawing gives us just enough of his fortress to sense its immensity while not giving us specifics on its architectural style or even its full shape. Tolkien prefers to render the sublime, and the sublime side of evil, in terms that give only a hint about its true form (there is a Classical rhetorical term for this in epic poetry, etc., that escapes me... NZ Strider, what would you call it??).

The focus on the bedrock upon which Barad-dur rests fits in with the overall theme that Sauron's power rests on the foundation of the Ring that must be destroyed. We are told that his tower was leveled after Elendil and Gil-galad, but its foundations were intact because the Ring survived. Thus Tolkien is giving us a visual representation of the kind of power that the Ring provides Sauron simply by depicting the strength of the fortress reared through the Ring's agency.


(Formerly drogo of the two names!)


drogo
Lorien


Mar 20 2007, 11:18am

Post #9 of 26 (119 views)
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I see a crooked nose [In reply to] Can't Post

in the front, but I am looking at Tolkien's Old Man Willow through the Disneyfied anthropomorphic lens of the Bros. H, no doubt! Cool




(Formerly drogo of the two names!)


GaladrielTX
Tol Eressea


Mar 20 2007, 12:40pm

Post #10 of 26 (99 views)
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Oh, yes, I see that! [In reply to] Can't Post

(I think.) It's almost like an elephant's trunk, yes?

~~~~~~~~

I used to be GaladrielTX, but my TX went off into the Blue to have mad adventures.



GaladrielTX
Tol Eressea


Mar 20 2007, 12:42pm

Post #11 of 26 (96 views)
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Not only that, but... [In reply to] Can't Post

look at how far even the foundations loom over Orodruin which is a mountain. And we've hardly seen any of the actual building yet.

~~~~~~~~

I used to be GaladrielTX, but my TX went off into the Blue to have mad adventures.



GaladrielTX
Tol Eressea


Mar 20 2007, 12:44pm

Post #12 of 26 (112 views)
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Brick seems a strange choice to me. [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd pictured the walls being made of smooth, black stone. Brick sort of brings to mind my own house, as well as your average-Joe bricklayer. The material seems a little prosaic for the very Tower of Evil.

Then again, my house is pretty ugly and evil looking, too. :P

~~~~~~~~

I used to be GaladrielTX, but my TX went off into the Blue to have mad adventures.



Curious
Half-elven

Mar 20 2007, 3:32pm

Post #13 of 26 (116 views)
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I'll discuss Old Man Willow first. [In reply to] Can't Post

"He lifted his heavy eyes and saw leaning over him a huge willow-tree, old and hoary. Enormous it looked, its sprawling branches going up like reaching arms with many long-fingered hands, its knotted and twisted trunk gaping in wide fissures that creaked faintly as the boughs moved. The leaves fluttering against the bright sky dazzled him, and he toppled over, lying where he fell upon the grass.

"Merry and Pippin dragged themselves forward and lay down with their backs to the willow-trunk. Behind them the great cracks gaped wide to receive them as the tree swayed and creaked. They looked up at the grey and yellow leaves, moving softly against the light, and singing. They shut their eyes, and then it seemed that they could almost hear words, cool words, saying something about water and sleep. They gave themselves up to the spell and fell fast asleep at the foot of the great grey willow.

"Frodo lay for a while fighting with the sleep that was overpowering him; then with an effort he struggled to his feel again. He felt a compelling desire for cool water. ‘Wait for me, Sam,’ he stammered. ‘Must bathe feet a minute.’

"Half in a dream he wandered forward to the riverward side of the tree, where great winding roots grew out into the stream, like gnarled dragonets straining down to drink. He straddled one of these, and paddled his hot feel in the cool brown water; and there he too suddenly fell asleep with his back against the tree."

Sprawling branches going up like reaching arms with many long-fingered hands? Check. Knotted and twisted trunk gaping in wide fissures? Check. Great winding roots growing out into the stream like gnarled dragonets straining down to drink? Check.

I can see how Tolkien's drawing of Old Man Willow might help him write this scene. But alternatively I think he may have made the drawing in sheer delight over the image he already had etched in his mind. Tolkien's drawing is far more subtle than the Hildebrandts', yet I agree that it is vaguely anthropomorphic. But only vaguely, so that we can still debate the subject, whereas regarding the Hildebrandts' drawing there is no debate. I do wish Tolkien had drawn Fangorn as well, sitting there like an old stump.

Also note the water lilies, no longer blooming in this location, for as Tom Bombadil says later:

"I had an errand there: gathering water-lilies,
green leaves and lilies white to please my pretty lady,
the last ere the year’s end to keep them from the winter,
to flower by her pretty feet tilt the snows are melted.
Each year at summer’s end I go to find them for her,
in a wide pool, deep and clear, far down Withywindle;
there they open first in spring and there they linger latest."

Back later for the other pictures.


squire
Valinor


Mar 20 2007, 5:40pm

Post #14 of 26 (95 views)
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I always thought Tolkien did draw Treebeard, only earlier [In reply to] Can't Post


This is from the late 1920s, and was incorporated into the "Lonely Mountain" illustration for The Hobbit in the late 1930s. It's always been

Nothing grew there but a few grasses and weeds at its edge, and one old stump of a tree with only two bent branches left: it looked almost like the figure of some gnarled old man, standing there, blinking in the morning-light.

for me.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


NZ Strider
Rivendell

Mar 20 2007, 6:29pm

Post #15 of 26 (105 views)
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I can't draw lines on an image... [In reply to] Can't Post

so I'll have to give a verbal description: On the lower trunk, just above the roots, are two long, darkened crevices which effectively divide the lower trunk into three parts. Vaguely, those two darkened lines appear to be vertically squinting eyes to me, with a bit of a nose between them. (Granted, one needs to look at the tree just so.) The Hildebrandts -- see Drogo's post below -- seem to have gone to town with the idea.


NZ Strider
Rivendell

Mar 20 2007, 6:36pm

Post #16 of 26 (93 views)
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Pars pro toto? [In reply to] Can't Post

A part for the whole? (Is that the term you mean? Rhetorical figure for indicating the entire object by mentioning just a part: e.g. calling a census a "head count" whereby "head" stands for the entire person.)

Or the phrase "ex pede Herculem/ex ungue leonem"? "You can recognise Hercules (a lion) from just the foot (a claw)."


Curious
Half-elven

Mar 20 2007, 7:51pm

Post #17 of 26 (99 views)
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No hands, feet, or beard, though. And [In reply to] Can't Post

I would not call this figure "Man-like, almost Troll-like." It may indeed be the inspiration for the stump Tolkien first describes, but it is too much of a stump for me to imagine it transforming into Treebeard.

Perhaps that was Tolkien's problem with drawing ents, though, as it is for every artist. Perhaps no one can draw a plausible missing link between Man and Tree that, depending on the circumstances, can be mistaken for either.

I can imagine a stump that looks a bit like a man, as in Tolkien's picture. Or I can imagine a man that looks a bit like a tree, i.e. no neck, bark skin or clothing, mossy beard, branch-like fingers, and root-like feet and toes. But I'm not sure I can imagine a stump that transforms into such a man, or a man that transforms into such a stump. Tolkien describes ents both as man-like trees and as tree-like men, and glosses over the difference.


a.s.
Valinor


Mar 21 2007, 12:36am

Post #18 of 26 (83 views)
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If I can, you can [In reply to] Can't Post

I just use Paint, a little program I think is endemic to Windows. Of course, you might be one of those Mac people...

Sly

H&S text says:

"With a little imagination, one can see a 'face' on the upper right part of the trunk".

so I believe they see the same face I see.

I see your face, too (er, I mean the face you are describing in the Willow), I think: the two long dark eyes on the bottom surrounded by those long roots reaching out like tentacles? Kind of an octopus-looking face?

a.s.

"an seileachan"

Everybody's wondering what and where they all came from.
Everybody's worried 'bout where they're gonna go when the whole thing's done.
No one knows for certain, and so it's all the same to me:
I think I'll just let the mystery be.
~~~~Iris DeMent


drogo
Lorien


Mar 21 2007, 2:02am

Post #19 of 26 (86 views)
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I think that was it [In reply to] Can't Post

I was trying to remember synedoche and metonymy and other such figures in relation to this drawing.

And odd note, Lu will appreciate this: Firefox 2's spell check suggests "Indochinese" for "synecdoche"!


(Formerly drogo of the two names!)


Curious
Half-elven

Mar 21 2007, 11:15am

Post #20 of 26 (82 views)
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Barad-dur and Orthanc. [In reply to] Can't Post

"Thither, eastward, unwilling [Frodo's] eye was drawn. It passed the ruined bridges of Osgiliath, the grinning gates of Minas Morgul. and the haunted Mountains, and it looked upon Gorgoroth, the valley of terror in the Land of Mordor. Darkness lay there under the Sun. Fire glowed amid the smoke. Mount Doom was burning, and a great reek rising. Then at last his gaze was held: wall upon wall, battlement upon battlement, black, immeasurably strong, mountain of iron, gate of steel, tower of adamant, he saw it: Barad-dûr, Fortress of Sauron.

"All hope left him.

"And suddenly he felt the Eye. There was an eye in the Dark Tower that did not sleep."

Darkness under the sun? Close enough, although despite the smoke the picture does seem a little bright.

Fire glowing amid the smoke? Check. Mount Doom burning? Check. A great reek rising? Check.

Wall upon wall? Battlement upon battlement? Again, close enough, although from the text I got the impression that there would be walls upon walls, and not just wall upon wall. But since the picture only shows part of the fortress, there could be more we do not see.

Black? Close enough, although it does seem a little grey.

Mountain of iron? Close enough, and I'm not sure the word "iron" is meant literally here.

Gate of steel? The gate seems to be open in this picture, but presumably it could be closed. I like the hint of fire inside the gate, though.

Eye in the Dark Tower that did not sleep? Nicely implied, I judge, by the red light in the upper windows. I'm just not sure those windows are high enough for me. The view from that level seems blocked by the higher tower in the background.

It is difficult to do justice to Barad-dur. I think Tolkien was wise to show only part of the fortress, but the red light in the upper windows implies to me that it is the upper level, and yet that level seems too low. Also, as I said above, the picture seems too bright, and the tower too grey.

Still, I very much like the implication of the red light in the upper windows. This is how I see the Eye, not literally as in the movies, but implicitly, subtly, as a wicked Presence that does not sleep.

As for Isengard, obviously Tolkien's image of Orthanc changed, but I like the implication that there are vast machinations underground, of which we only see the outlets for smoke or steam. This version of Orthanc reminds me of Minas Tirith, with the seven walls within walls, and I wonder whether Tolkien transferred the idea to Minas Tirith.

Again, I wonder whether Tolkien drew to help him write, or drew as an expression of delight in what he had written or imagined. Maybe it was a bit of both. Anyway, I enjoy these drawings because they give me insight into Tolkien's thoughts. As usual, they are competent drawings by an amateur, but of greatest interest to me because they are drawn by the Author. No drawing by Lee or Howe or Nasmith will be as interesting to me, because they cannot reveal to me what was in Tolkien's head.


Beren IV
Gondor


Mar 22 2007, 4:32am

Post #21 of 26 (76 views)
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Salix morgothensis [In reply to] Can't Post

[Salix is the scientific genus name for willow]

The one big problem that I have with Tolkien's Old Man Willow is that he does not give the impression of it being a really large tree. I see it as an immense tree, easily large enough that it could comfortably fit a person inside of its trunk, lying down - if it were inclined to (obviously, it is not). The same is true of the other drawings: the scale seems too small, and doesn't really agree with the description particularly in the case of Orthanc. We don't see enough of the Dark Tower to get an impression on its size, although it does look closer to what it should look like.

Once a paleontologist, now a botanist, will be a paleobotanist


Eowyn of Penns Woods
Valinor


Mar 23 2007, 5:02pm

Post #22 of 26 (54 views)
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Once again... [In reply to] Can't Post

I have to say that I don't think the Bros are so far off on this one.
I still haven't found the 'face' picture I'm looking for from the park
at Pultneyville, NY, but *this* crappy one does show a 'profile':

I hope the storms haven't destroyed any more of those funky
old willows up there...


Finding Frodo
Tol Eressea


Mar 24 2007, 2:46am

Post #23 of 26 (55 views)
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Scattered thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

Old Man Willow, at first glance, seems harmless. At worst, he'd come out on his porch and yell at the hobbits to get off his lawn. After reading this thread and looking again, I like NZ's suggestion of the two eyes down low and the tentacle-like roots. Much scarier and much more subtle. After all, if it looked threatening at first glance, would Pippin, Merry and Frodo have all plopped down on and around it? Don't answer that.

That illustration of Barad-dur is also on the cover of my original paperback copy, though I was never satisfied with it. As Galadriel said, it seems too ordinary, too bureaucratic, as if it were built by Vogons instead of Sauron. Curious' assessment gives me more appreciation for it, but I think PJ & Co. did better with both Barad-dur and Orthanc.

Where's Frodo?


GaladrielTX
Tol Eressea


Mar 24 2007, 2:55am

Post #24 of 26 (51 views)
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Vogon architecture is of course the third worst in the universe. / [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~~~

I used to be GaladrielTX, but my TX went off into the Blue to have mad adventures.



squire
Valinor


Mar 26 2007, 3:02am

Post #25 of 26 (72 views)
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Tolkien's so-so architectural sense [In reply to] Can't Post

   

1. Tolkien’s materials here are pencil, black ink, and coloured pencil. How does this compare with his earlier use of materials? How do the different materials serve him here?

The difference in the materials shows only that Tolkien did this for his own satisfaction. Had he been aiming for an illustration for publication, this would have been a preliminary sketch. As it is, it seems to me that he began with the forms, expressed in pencil, and then he elaborated with ink and color just to see what he could make of it. The strong shading on the tower is very powerful, and could only be achieved with ink. His artistic impulse is very strong. A pencil sketch would have done to solve the problem of whether what he wrote makes sense visually. The ink and color are the artist speaking, not the author.

2. Do you (like me) wish you knew the scale of the original drawing? Why would he – as it seems here – be drawing in a size larger than would fit in a published novel?
The scale doesn't really matter. Tolkien was a very tight artist, a natural miniaturist. I don't know the size of this picture, but I'd be surprised if it was larger than our now-standard 8-1/2" x 11" tablet paper. Remember that Tolkien was creating a secondary world, which is in its essence smaller than, or contained by, our primary world. Small illustrations capture that problem, psychologically.

3. This drawing was made on "the blank verso of a leaf of examination script in 1942" (Hammond & Scull, p. 169). Well! What do you make of that? Does it change how you think of the drawing? Of Tolkien’s act of illustration?
This contradicts a little of what I said above; the size of the drawing now seems to have depended on the paper he had handy, in this case leftover exam sheets. Ah, the practicalities of art. As one of my teachers at design school said, "That's what it all comes down to, doesn't it - whether the scenery can be loaded in under the airconditioning duct." All the concepts in the world must bow to realities like budget, available media, etc.



4. Tolkien has again used both pencil and ink: his materials here are pencil, coloured pencil, black and red ink. How does his use of his materials here compare with those in Orthanc (I)?

The media are the least of the differences. Here Tolkien approaches a finished composition, rather than a sketch, as declared by the fully expressed values in the brickwork of the Tower. If it still seems unfinished, that may be because the sky is crudely rendered, or because the monochrome treatment is neither here nor there as far as the palette of Mordor is concerned. The use of orange-red for Orodruin's flame is good, but the river of lava is distracting and unhelpful.
It's probably not important, but we could note that Tolkien wrote that Isengard was a "child's flattery" of Barad-dur, and his illustrations of the two terroristic castles reflects that story-reality.

5. This time, since I may not come back in detail to this one (though, ok, I may), let’s also look at what he does with his materials in specific relation to his subject. This is not Barad-dûr in its entirety, as we saw all of Orthanc, but the junction between rock and building. How does Tolkien’s choice of where to apply which material show us something about his subject?
Others have already made great comments on the power of Tolkien's framing here. We see only part of Barad-dur, but that part is clearly dependent on the bedrock it sits on: the foundations that we know the Ring made indestructible. The imagery of the end of the Black Tower in RotK includes cliffs sliding into the abyss. Well, here's those cliffs!

Weaker, I think, is the ditsy brickwork, as others have noted too. On the other hand, it ties Barad-dur into a kind of reality that a lot of fantasy fans do not like, but which Tolkien insisted upon: the Black Tower, in the end, is really only a castle, just a gigantic one built on unapproachable precipices and infused with evil magic. In the New Line movie version, John Howe cannot cope with that, and embellishes Tolkien's vision with sci-fi fins and impossible architectonics, but in Tolkien's mind Barad-dur was terrifying for what it was, not what it looked like.

It's interesting that Tolkien does not make the Black Tower entirely black, just darkish, and that he adds unconvincing architectural details like that cute little finial near the top. The power of the drawing is in the Tower's domination of the landscape entirely via its foundations; the weakness is in the artist's irrestistable compulsion to provide mundane details. Note the windows that look like they're about six feet or less from the corner of the walls: they make the structure look ridiculously weak. Tolkien's architectural drawings are, in my mind, almost as childish and uninformed as his human figures.




6. Tolkien’s Old Man Willow is a less frightening creature in appearance than Jackson’s Hobbit-eating tree or the imposing ancient knotted trees that photographers shoot and label as Tolkien-inspired. Why might Tolkien have pushed the inkwell away for this one, if he did? How does he use the materials he does have at hand to show some level of menace?

Jackson's hobbit-eating tree was about as scary as that thing in the torpedo room of the sub in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. That's because Jackson is a horror director, not a suspense director. The ancient knotted trees in Snowden's photos don't frighten me either; why should they, when they are meant to evoke Tolkien's love for trees, not his fear of them.

I'm not sure what "level of menace" I see in Tolkien's sketch here. I expect he stopped at pencil, and skipped the ink, because he was drawing at the edge of his talent, and the addition of the high-contrast choices that ink compels would probably have destroyed the work. The main impression I get is that the willow is the king of the picture, and that the trees in the background are his subjects. They bear no faint resemblance in their repetitive sameness to the ornamental tree patterns we saw in some of the Hobbit illustrations.

7. And now, it's time for a High School Essay Question:
Compare and contrast
Tolkien’s Old Man Willow with the same artist’s illustrations of trees for The Hobbit.

In The Hobbit, Tolkien's illustrated trees are variations on a pattern, with little or no variation. This was appropriate for forest pictures. His Old Man Willow picture properly focuses on one tree, with the other trees pushed far in the background and rendered with Hobbit-like sameness. The Willow itself uses many of Tolkien's technical devices for rendering trees (note especially the roots), but also suggests an indefinable anthropomorphism that is entirely appropriate for the subject.
Time for my cookie?



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

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