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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Tolkien Illustrated: Ted Nasmith #1 – Introduction & Meet the Artist

Altaira
Superuser / Moderator


Apr 2 2007, 9:25pm

Post #1 of 9 (494 views)
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Tolkien Illustrated: Ted Nasmith #1 – Introduction & Meet the Artist Can't Post

Welcome to this week’s Tolkien Illustrated discussion on the Tolkien art of Ted Nasmith.

Like Alan Lee, the subject of Daughter of Nienna’s excellent discussion last week, Ted has produced a large quantity of Tolkien artwork since he ‘got his break’ by contributing to the Tolkien Calendar in 1987. So, we have a lot to cover! However, since it would be impossible to discuss all of his artwork in the allotted week, my approach will be to present a representative few pieces per post.

The week will be organized along the lines of Ted’s own website: by Tolkien book, starting with The Hobbit today, The Fellowship of the Ring tomorrow, etc. I’m leaving The Silmarillion until last because that represents not only the largest body of Ted’s work, but also many of his most recent pieces.

If I don’t post one of Ted’s works that you want to discuss, please feel free to post it in the appropriate thread by book, or at the end of the discussion.

Meet the Artist


- picture courtesy of Wikipedia

Background

Ted Nasmith was born in Goderich, Ontario in the mid-fifties and ended up spending most of his high school years in a suburb of Toronto. Realizing their son had a gift for art, he was enrolled in a high school that had a commercial art program. During his high school years, Ted also discovered The Lord of The Rings:

“Discovering Tolkien, meanwhile, had a very profound effect on me and helped lead to much that I now count most significant in life. It opened up in me a dormant love of lost and misty times, myth and legend.”
– tednasmith.com


It sounds like Ted is a kindred spirit with many of us here.

Ted had originally wanted to work in automotive art (I could swear that's Tol Eressea in the background Wink)...


- tednasmith.com

but ended up doing architectural renderings instead (is that Orthanc on the right?)....


- tednasmith.com

However, he continued to indulge his love of Tolkien by doing work inspired by Middle-earth as a hobby. Seeing the Tolkien calendars of the mid-70s and early 80s inspired him to pursue getting some of his Tolkien artwork published, and he finally got his break when four of his paintings were published in the 1987 Tolkien Calendar (Ballantine; Unwin Hyman Ltd.).

Publications

Since 1987, Ted has contributed to several other Tolkien calendars. The most notable of these may be the Harper Entertainment Tolkien calendars for 2002, 2003 and 2004. Each of these calendars was dedicated to one book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and was timed to parallel the release of the movies by Peter Jackson. Ted was the sole artist for these calendars.

Today, Ted is probably best known for illustrating the first illustrated edition of The Silmarillion (Houghton Mifflin), first published in 1996, and re-released in 2004 to include more illustrations.


- courtesy of Amazon.com


Other contributions to the world of Tolkien artwork include the artwork for the Lord of the Rings Trivia Game (Fantasy Flight Games), illustrating The Complete Guide to Middle-earth by Robert Foster (Harper Collins) and a set of Danbury Mint Plates.

(Ted is also considered a Tolkien scholar in his own right and has been a guest and contributor at numerous Tolkien related conventions, including the One Ring Convention in 2005).

Influences

“The Hildebrandts’ three calendars in 1976, ’77, and ’78 particularly excited me to work seriously towards publication, since their work was realistic and detailed. However, I felt I had qualities in my own work that surpassed theirs, and their work helped me define a vision of my own style and interpretations, as did other more traditional illustrators and painters of the past century and a half. I would describe it as a style that echoes the luminist landscapes and Victorian neo-classical styles. I felt these would well complement the grandeur of The Lord of the Rings, and I’d always been attracted to this kind of art.”
– tednasmith.com


“I happen to like Tolkien's own art, and I like Pauline Baines', and understand what they're trying to project in the way they do it. I try to look behind the artwork to try to somehow harmonize my own work as much as seems reasonable without absolutely abandoning my own ideas which might be much more interesting between the two.”
- Ad Astra science fiction convention, February 2002


No specific questions for this post, but feel free to comment on any, all or none of it. We’ll talk more about realism and luminism as the week goes on.

One thing I like about the “Influences” quotes I selected is Ted’s confidence in his ability to do Tolkien justice; his confidence in his ability to bring something to the table that no one else has to offer. I think that confidence, along with a good dose of natural ability and an obvious love and passion for Tolkien, separates mediocre Tolkien artists from those who really succeed in capturing the hearts of Tolkien fans.


Koru: Maori symbol representing a fern frond as it opens. The koru reaches towards the light, striving for perfection, encouraging new, positive beginnings.



"All we have to decide is what to do with the boards that are given to us"



"I take a moment to fervently hope that the camaradarie and just plain old fun I found at TORn will never end" -- LOTR_nutcase

TORn Calendar


Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens


Apr 2 2007, 10:47pm

Post #2 of 9 (402 views)
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links to Ted's calendars [In reply to] Can't Post

*** War of the Ring - 1987 calendar: all images
http://www.warofthering.net/...bnails.php?album=293

The 1987 Tolkien Calendar- Tolkien books .net
http://www.tolkienbooks.net/html/calendars_9.htm

The Complete Guide to Calendars: 1985 – 1988
http://www.angelfire.com/...ndars/1985_1988.html

2002
http://www.warofthering.net/...bnails.php?album=291

2003
http://www.warofthering.net/...bnails.php?album=292


FYI to all: All of this information (and tons more) can be found in the link n my footer: Tolkien Art Galeries
There is a section on 'Book Covers and Calendars' under 'Artist Biographies' (where there happens to be a large section for Ted, as well as other artists, there)...you need to scroll down to near the bottom for the calendars.

Now back to reading this terrific biography...may respond more afterward.
Looks beautiful so far!

Alan Lee Discussion week: starts March 25th in the Reading Room
Discussion Ideas, Alan Lee–Introduction, Scanned images for Alan Lee Discussion.

Art Gallery Revised, ORC pic of Hawaii friends, my drawings,
Aloha & Mahalo, Websites Directory
Nienna: “ those who hearken to her learn pity, and endurance in hope . . . All those who wait in Mandos cry to her, for she brings strength to the spirit and turns sorrow to wisdom." — Valaquenta

(This post was edited by Daughter of Nienna on Apr 2 2007, 10:55pm)


Altaira
Superuser / Moderator


Apr 3 2007, 1:34am

Post #3 of 9 (366 views)
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Thanks, DoN! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for linking to that post. *jaw drops* The number of links and resources you provided are amazing!

For everyone's info., I'm mostly using pics directly from Ted's website as he provides his own comments on each piece, but other resources are always nice to have. Smile

I should mention that much more biographical information about Ted is available on his website, tednasmith.com, some of which will be mentioned in upcoming posts (but not all).


Koru: Maori symbol representing a fern frond as it opens. The koru reaches towards the light, striving for perfection, encouraging new, positive beginnings.



"All we have to decide is what to do with the boards that are given to us"



"I take a moment to fervently hope that the camaradarie and just plain old fun I found at TORn will never end" -- LOTR_nutcase

TORn Calendar


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Apr 3 2007, 2:30am

Post #4 of 9 (388 views)
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At ORC 2005 [In reply to] Can't Post

Nasmith had a number of his Sil paintings (originals) on display. They were really stunning, the colors much more vivid and intense than any of the reproductions. The one I remember best was the burning of the ships (which I'm sure will turn up this week).

Although there were many vendors at ORC, none were booksellers. There was a frantic rush to get copies of Nasmith's Sil for him to autograph, and the local bookstores (of which there were few) sold out. I was happy to get one.




Queen Mary II approaching Honolulu harbor
February 9, 2007, 7:30 am


Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


Finding Frodo
Tol Eressea


Apr 3 2007, 2:58am

Post #5 of 9 (375 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

After seeing that exhibit I had to get Nasmith's illustrated Sil for myself. That was the first illustrated Tolkien book I ever bought. The painting you mentioned of the ships being burned had me unexpectedly in tears.

Where's Frodo?


Altaira
Superuser / Moderator


Apr 3 2007, 3:07am

Post #6 of 9 (381 views)
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Did you ladies attend his slide presentation? [In reply to] Can't Post

I wish now that I had taken better notes! Frown

Ted presented slides of many of the illustrations that appear in The Sil, including some of his drafts and some of the many pictures that didn't make it into the book. When I get to his Sil illustrations, I'm going to regurgitate as much of that as I can remember (sadly, not much) and some info. from his site, but I encourage anyone who was there to chime in with their own memories of that presentation.

And, yes, the pic of the kinslaying and the burning boats will both show up as they're two of my favorite Tokien illustrations. Smile


Koru: Maori symbol representing a fern frond as it opens. The koru reaches towards the light, striving for perfection, encouraging new, positive beginnings.



"All we have to decide is what to do with the boards that are given to us"



"I take a moment to fervently hope that the camaradarie and just plain old fun I found at TORn will never end" -- LOTR_nutcase

TORn Calendar


Beren IV
Gondor


Apr 3 2007, 3:20am

Post #7 of 9 (378 views)
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Busy this week [In reply to] Can't Post

but otherwise wanting to participate. I'll see what I can do!

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


Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens


Apr 3 2007, 8:10am

Post #8 of 9 (374 views)
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I hope that means [In reply to] Can't Post

you were able to get his autograph in that copy!

I got an autograph copy for Christmas a couple of years ago. I have both Ted Nazmith's signature and Alan Lee's signature, boy am I a lucky girl!

*waves* missed you at the group gatherings last weekend.

Alan Lee Discussion week: starts March 25th in the Reading Room
Discussion Ideas, Alan Lee–Introduction, Scanned images for Alan Lee Discussion.

Art Gallery Revised, ORC pic of Hawaii friends, my drawings,
Aloha & Mahalo, Websites Directory
Nienna: “ those who hearken to her learn pity, and endurance in hope . . . All those who wait in Mandos cry to her, for she brings strength to the spirit and turns sorrow to wisdom." — Valaquenta


Shadowfaxfan
Rivendell


Apr 3 2007, 8:36am

Post #9 of 9 (409 views)
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After browsing through Ted's [In reply to] Can't Post

website and the calendar links DoN posted I noticed his style is a bit bolder than Alan Lee's. Some of Ted's paintings have more of a futuristic or Sci Fi feel to them and not the middle age look that Alan Lee and John Howe impose upon their work. The art is brilliant but some works are just not as alluring to me. I did skip ahead to the next discussion post and one of the commissioned paintings there is calling my name! I will continue there!


The repetition, the doubling and the long strands of interconnected narrative all mean something. They say that life is a series of cycles, and that we will likely meet the same kinds of archetypal guardians, opponents and allies at various stages along the way. But the nature of the conflicts changes as you age and grow over the span of an epic. Reading 'The Lord of the Rings' in my 20s, I was inspired by its idealism, but also terrified by its vision of middle life and old age as a patient, plodding struggle against the mundane grinding of evil. Seeing the movie meant something else to me from my current perspective, around the corner of age fifty, reminding me that the raw intensity of youthful dreams still has purity and power. At the same time, I felt the death of comrades in the movie keenly, for comrades have started to fall around me, and I looked to the story for the courage to continue the struggle without them.~As the legend says, 'One Ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them.' We were certainly bound in the darkness, me and that afternoon's audience for the first chapter of 'The Lord of the Rings,' fellow travelers on a long journey together, seeking meaning for our shadowed world in the mirror of a myth, just as humans have always done.~Christopher Vogler



 
 

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