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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Tolkien Illustrated: Ted Nasmith #7 – The Two Towers I

Altaira
Superuser / Moderator


Apr 5 2007, 7:07pm

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Tolkien Illustrated: Ted Nasmith #7 – The Two Towers I Can't Post

(Note: I meant to post these Two Towers posts yesterday, but had a Tolkien book discussion meeting sandwiched between two very busy days at work. I'll do the ROTK posts tonight and we'll be back on track to do the Sil on Friday and Saturday).

I selected 6 of Ted’s illustrations for each book of The Two Towers. Following are the illustrations of scenes from Book 3. Again, many of these were commissioned for the 2003 Harper CollinsTolkien Calendar, released to correspond to the second of Peter Jackson’s movies.

“Illustrating Tolkien was simply the natural outcome of reading the book and discovering his wonderful, rich imagery, tremendous warmth and nostalgia and other factors.”
- Ted Nasmith; Ad Astra science fiction convention, February 2002


We start with one of the opening scenes of The Two Towers which appeared in the 2003 Tolkien/Two Towers calendar:

“I stood beside him as he blew the horn. But no help came. Only more orcs.”




Boromir’s Last Stand; tednasmith.com

Question 1: In addiiton to lots of action, and many things happending at once, what ‘rich imagery’ do you see in this picture?

******************
The next painting appeared in the 1990 Harper Collins Tolkien Calendar:

“..they hardly paused, now striding, now running, as if no weariness could quench the fire that burned them”


Pursuit in Rohan; tednasmith.com

Question 2: This picture has a very different style and mood that that of the previous picture. Open vs. closed; vibrant colors vs. muted colors. Do they work with respect to the imagery Tolkien described for each scene?

Comment: Interesting that Legolas has blond hair in this painting, since he has black hair in Ted’s other paintings, including the one two below this. If it had been done for the 2003 calendar, one might suspect he changed it due to expectations of movie-goers. However, this painting was done long before the movies came out. Even Aragorn (gasp) seems to have lighter hair. The effects of the Rohan sun?

******************
This painting appeared in the 2003 Tolkien calendar:

“The Hobbits went with as much speed as the dark and tangled forest allowed…”


Fangorn Forest; tednasmith.com

The Hobbits are very small in this painting and the gnarled branches of the tree to the right seem to be reaching out for them.

Question 3: Where is the light in the background coming from? The edge of the forest? Does it work for it to be behind the Hobbits? What imagery does it, along with the rest of the painting, convey?

******************
Here’s another one that appeared in the 2003 calendar:

“His hood and grey rags were flung away. White garments shone. He lifted up his staff, and Gimli’s axe leaped from his grasp and fell ringing on the ground. The sword of Aragorn, stiff in his motionless hand, blazed with a sudden fire. Legolas gave a great shout and shot an arrow high into the air: it vanished in a flash of flame.”



The Stranger in the Forest; tednasmith.com

Comments on this painting?

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Yet another for the 2003 calendar:

“The trumpets sounded. The horses reared and neighed. Spear clashed on shield. Then the king raised his hand, and with a rush like the sudden onset of a great wind the last host of Rohan rode thundering into the West.”


The Riders of Rohan; tednasmith.com

In the book, this scene appears at the end of the chapter, The King of the Golden Hall as Theoden and company ride to Helm’s Deep. Of course, Ted had no way of knowing PJ’s version would be a little more "subdued."

Question 5: This is another scene with a lot of action in it. In your opinion, how well does Ted portray the action in this painting? In others we’ve seen?

******************
The final painting for Book 3 is a rather well-known one of Ted’s that was also in the 2003 calendar:

“Even as he spoke, there came forward out of the trees three strange shapes. As tall as trolls they were, twelve feet or more in height; their strong bodies, stout as young trees, seemed to be clad with raiment or with hide of close-fitting grey and brown. …Suddenly, they lifted their long hands to their mouths, and sent forth ringing calls.”



The Tree Shepherds; tednasmith.com

Question 6: We had a go at Ted’s Balrogs, how about his Ents? How well does it fit the imagery in Tolkien's prose?


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


leilani
Registered User

Apr 5 2007, 7:24pm

Post #2 of 7 (382 views)
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Images and Styles of Illustrations [In reply to] Can't Post

In some cases the styles seem quite divergent. The Boromir and Fangorn forest scenes are much closer in style, I would say, than they are to the Three Hunters in Rohan, and it isn't just because of the colors and light--it's more in the representation of the characters, to my untrained eye.

In Reply To


Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens


Apr 6 2007, 10:32pm

Post #3 of 7 (359 views)
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richness of contrast [In reply to] Can't Post

Question 1: In addition to lots of action, and many things happening at once, what ‘rich imagery’ do you see in this picture?

A: the richness is in the depth of field and the contrast created by the Aerial Perspective…and in the detail as well. The large tree on the right is dark and clear and richly contrast with the trees in the background not only shrouded in a mist, but fainter because of distance. Boromir Pops as a result of this Aerial Perspective as well.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerial_perspective


Question 2: This picture has a very different style and mood that that of the previous picture. Open vs. closed; vibrant colors vs. muted colors. Do they work with respect to the imagery Tolkien described for each scene?

Yes. The first scene is claustrophobic because of the overwhelming number of trees and enemy orcs…our heroes are trapped and there is a powerlessness in the event and is shows in the scene.

This image: Pursuit in Rohan, is no less powerless, though, there is very little place to hide from potential enemy and the breadth of the field shows the enormous scope of their task to find the hobbits. But they exude with determination.

But I don't care for this image…I am finding it hard to explain why, it is too dry and uninteresting for starters.


Fangorn Forest; tednasmith.com

Question 3: The Hobbits are very small in this painting and the gnarled branches of the tree to the right seem to be reaching out for them. Where is the light in the background coming from? The edge of the forest? Does it work for it to be behind the Hobbits? What imagery does it, along with the rest of the painting, convey?

A: It was just before dawn when they entered the forest…the I would say that is light from a low sun from the edge of the forest they just came from (which I am guessing is not directly facing south, but more east and south). They have not gone too deeply into the forest yet.

This image reminds me of Tolkien forest image in which the elves were very tiny among the roots of the vast trees. . . originally for Tar-na-fúin (#54, p 58 in 'J.R.R. Tolkien Artist & Illustrator') in the Sil and doubled as Fanghorn (or was it Mirkwood) I believe — no time to hunt the link just now.

The Stranger in the Forest; tednasmith.com

Comments on this painting?
I have trouble with this image in the surroundings and settings of the scene. It seems to me they should be deep in the middle of the Fanghorn Forest not the side of a rocky mountain.

Alan Lee Discussion week: starts March 25th in the Reading Room
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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


Beren IV
Gondor


Apr 8 2007, 12:56am

Post #4 of 7 (364 views)
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I don't like Nasmith's Ents [In reply to] Can't Post

1. It's not Nasmith's imagery, it's Tolkien's. The description is just illustrative of the hopeless plight of the Roland-like hero, too late to sound his horn.

3. The light in the background is called "atmospheric effect" - the tendency of objects to get lighter in artwork and less detailed as they fade into the distance. It does give an erroneous impression in the picture, I think, though.

4. One of my favorite pictures of Nasmith's, illustrating again the magical side of Arda. Not enough of these. The problem I have with the cloaks though is that those cloaks are white, not grey or green.

5. I think Nasmith generally does action fairly well.

6. Nasmith's Ents are too human and not tree-like enough. Part of the mystique and point of Ents is that they can pass themselves off as normal trees. These Ents can't.

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


WonderBroad
Lorien


Apr 8 2007, 12:35pm

Post #5 of 7 (357 views)
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re: [In reply to] Can't Post

>>3. The light in the background is called "atmospheric effect" - the tendency of objects to get lighter in artwork and less detailed as they fade into the distance.

Actually, it's more properly called "aerial perspective" or "atmospheric perspective," and it's not limited to artwork. It is the way artists try to capture what happens in the real world. When we look into the distance, and there is moisture in the air, the light is diffused, the colors get paler and more desatured, and everything gets more indistinct. Unless you have a crystal clear and very dry day, this always happens when you look far into the distance. But even on a clear, dry day, it still occurs to some extent.


(This post was edited by WonderBroad on Apr 8 2007, 12:36pm)


Beren IV
Gondor


Apr 8 2007, 4:57pm

Post #6 of 7 (347 views)
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Not just moisture [In reply to] Can't Post

The air itself blurs things, although at a slower rate.

However, atmospheric prospective is used by artists at rates that far exceed the vagueness caused by the actual atmosphere, going more along the lines of how a camera loses focus on objects behind the primary subject.

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


FarFromHome
Valinor


Apr 8 2007, 5:02pm

Post #7 of 7 (385 views)
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The light behind the trees [In reply to] Can't Post

in Fangorn Forest again brings up comparisons with the movie.



You can see light filtering through the trees, just as in Nasmith's painting. In the commentaries, the Production Designer (Grant Major) says that it was Peter Jackson's idea to "establish a look for Fangorn where the background was brighter than the foreground, as though wherever [the characters] are, they're in a darker part of the forest than what you're looking out into between the trees."

However, I think the movie solution of having Merry and Pippin in a little light, framed by the very darkest trees, works better than the painting, where the eye is drawn to the light and misses the hobbits at first.

...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.

 
 

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