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Tolkien Illustrated: Anke-Katrin Eissmann #4: Drama and Action

Modtheow
Lorien

Apr 12 2007, 11:15pm

Post #1 of 18 (736 views)
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Tolkien Illustrated: Anke-Katrin Eissmann #4: Drama and Action Can't Post

After looking at quieter moments between characters in the last post, I’d like to change the mood a bit and look at what Eissmann does with more dramatic moments and with action scenes.

Since we’ve been discussing facial expressions, how about these first two pictures:

Celegorm and Curufin (2005)

This picture is one half of a collaboration with Jenny Dolfen, who painted Celegorm, while Eissmann painted Curufin in the picture below. Eissmann’s explanation and some preliminary sketches, as well as the final combined product, can be viewed here



larger version

"Many other words he spoke, as potent as long before in Tirion the words of his father that first inflamed the Noldor to rebellion. And after Celegorm Curufin spoke, more softly but with no less power, conjuring in the minds of the Elves a vision or war and the ruin of Nargothrond."

For a very different kind of facial expression (and admittedly a much quieter dramatic moment):

Pippin steals the Palantir (2000)


larger version

"Hardly breathing, Pippin crept nearer, foot by foot. At last he knelt down. Then he put his hands out stealthily, and slowly lifted the lump up: it did not seem quite so heavy as he had expected."



There are no close-ups of anyone's face in the next picture, but it certainly is an immensely dramatic moment:


The Lord of the Waters (2003)


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"Then Tuor bowed in reverence, for it seemed to him that he beheld a mighty king. A tall crown he wore like silver, from which his long hair fell down as foam glimmering in the dusk; and as he cast back the grey mantle that hung about him like a mist, behold! he was clad in a gleaming coat, close-fitted as the mail of a mighty fish, and in a kirtle of deep green that flashed and flickered with a sea-fire as he strode slowly towards the land. In the manner the Dweller of the Deep, whom the Noldor name Ulmo, Lord of Waters, showed himself to Tuor son of Huor of the House of Hador beneath Vinyamar."


And in the next picture as well we don’t see so much of the facial expression, but the posture is expressive:

The Ring has moved on
(2006)

from Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields":

larger version

"They were nearer than he had thought, and even as he felt the stream slacken and had almost won across he found himself struggling among great rushes and clinging weeds. There suddenly he knew that the Ring had gone. By chance, or chance well used, it had left his hand and gone where he could never hope to find it again."They were nearer than he had thought, and even as he felt the stream slacken and had almost won across he found himself struggling among great rushes and clinging weeds. There suddenly he knew that the Ring had gone. By chance, or chance well used, it had left his hand and gone where he could never hope to find it again."


Now, on to scenes where there’s more action. Do these scenes work? Are you seeing enough range of expression in the work overall (or do you care)? Where is the action best portrayed?

The Attack of Feanor’s Sons (2000/2001)



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"They saw the wanderers. With a shout
straight on them swung their hurrying rout,
as if neath maddened hooves to rend
the lovers and their love to end."


The Nazgul Attack (2005)


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"'(...) Look! The men are thrown; they are running on foot. No, one is still up, but he rides back to the others. That will be the Captain: he can master both beasts and men. Ah! there one of the foul beasts is stooping on him.'"


The Black Serpent Founders (2005)



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"Right through the press drove Th
éoden Thengel's son, and his spear was shivered as he threw down their chieftain. Out swept his sword, and he spurred to the standard, hewed staff and bearer; and the black serpent foundered."


The Pyre of Denethor (2004)


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"At those words Denethor's eyes flamed again, and taking the Stone under his arm he drew a knife and strode towards the bier. But Beregond sprang forward and set himself before Faramir."


Escaping from the Black Riders (2000)



larger version

"Fear now filled all Frodo's mind. He thought no longer of his sword. No cry came from him. He shut his eyes and clung to the horse's mane. The wind whistled in his ears, and the bells upon the harness rang wild and shrill."


These images are copyrighted by Anke-Katrin Eissmann and are copied here with her permission for the purposes of this discussion. More images and information about her work can be found on her website: http://anke.edoras-art.de/anke_home.html



Finding Frodo
Tol Eressea


Apr 13 2007, 2:06am

Post #2 of 18 (563 views)
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Action [In reply to] Can't Post

"Escaping from the Black Riders" is the most effective protrayal of action in my view. It has more of a sense of action and also a clear direction. "Pyre of Denethor" seems quite static to me -- no movement at all. "The Black Serpent Founders" is simply too cluttered. My eye can't focus on anything in it. Frodo is the focal point in "Escaping" and he is quite convincingly collapsed and desperately clinging to Asfaloth.

Where's Frodo?


Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens


Apr 13 2007, 7:20am

Post #3 of 18 (535 views)
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plight & flight [In reply to] Can't Post

I am with Kimi on 'Escaping from the Black Riders'. I find it very eloquent in its depiction of Frodo's plight & flight.

The Lord of the Waters I a powerful image to me. I would like for Turor stand out from the waves a little. The colors and the values are too similar that he kind of disappears. But besides that it is my second favorite in this group.

'The Ring has Moved On' from Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields":
I can almost see the Orc arrows about to plunge into him.


BTW: the link to the larger version of 'The Attack of Feanor’s Sons' is not working. (there might be a space or something in the coding)

...

Art Gallery Revised, 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


Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens


Apr 13 2007, 9:23am

Post #4 of 18 (523 views)
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Ooops I meant [In reply to] Can't Post

Finding Frodo

I had just finished reading a post by Kimi, but really I did mean to write Finding Frodo.
Blush

...

Art Gallery Revised, 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


drogo
Lorien


Apr 13 2007, 11:50am

Post #5 of 18 (538 views)
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I like her Pippin and Frodo with Black Riders [In reply to] Can't Post

The Elves and Rohirrim are interesting as well, but I do like the way she captures those key hobbity moments.

Her Ulmo reminds me too much of Nasmith's painting. The Nazgul attack is excellent, great use of shadow and darkness mixed with color.


Discuss the Bakshi Lord of the Rings on the Movie Board starting April 16


Modtheow
Lorien

Apr 13 2007, 2:03pm

Post #6 of 18 (529 views)
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here is the link, Attack of Feanor's Sons [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for pointing out that faulty link. I made a mistake in coding. This should work for the larger version of
Attack of Feanor's Sons

(BTW "Escaping from the Black Riders" is also my favorite one of these action scenes.)


Alraune
The Shire

Apr 13 2007, 2:36pm

Post #7 of 18 (528 views)
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She does great posture. [In reply to] Can't Post

As others have observed, the body language in these figures are very expressive. Frodo’s sudden alertness in Nightwatch, Orome’s surprise and wonder on first seeing the Elves, Isildur’s despair at losing the Ring (nice title on that one, too). Even her sleeping figures are expressive: the three hobbits near their campfire as the fox walks by seem tired as one would be after a few days’ hike, but Frodo’s sleep, as he gets closer to Mordor, evinces more and more utter exhaustion. I’ve never seen anyone sleep like that. Hope I never do.

and he found more contentment in those days than in any others of his life, though he did not know it until he looked back long after when old age was upon him. -Tale of Aldarion and Erendis




Curious
Half-elven

Apr 14 2007, 11:01am

Post #8 of 18 (542 views)
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Okay, some of these faces do show expression. [In reply to] Can't Post

I still don't think it is her strong point, but in the first two pictures, and that of Pippin at "The Pyre of Denethor," she does give the faces expression. But I still have problems with the faces, despite their expression. I can't put my finger on it, but perhaps they are still too stylized for me.

By far my favorite picture in this group, however, is "The Black Serpent Founders." There are so many great details in this picture, and it is so colorful, and yet so bloody. It captures the thrill and horror of battle right from the center of the action, and it comes straight from the book. The faces are mostly obscured, which is fine with me because I still have problems with Eissman's faces.

I also like "The Disaster of Gladden Fields." Here the pale death-mask face of Isildur is appropriate, because he is about to die. As usual, I love the way Eissman draws foliage and the way she shows her character's body language, and I'm not bothered by the face because it seems appropriate to the situation. It's not a colorful picture, of course, but it is an effective one.

The comments of others convinced me to take a second look at "Escaping the Black Riders," and it is very effective. Frodo looks like he is barely hanging on, dark hill adds to the ominous feeling, and Asfaloth is beautiful. I also have my question answered about Asfaloth's reigns; there is no bit. And I can't help adding that the focus is not on the faces, except for Frodo's nearly sleeping or dead face. I have no problem with Eissman's faces when the characters are sleeping or near death!


(This post was edited by Curious on Apr 14 2007, 11:09am)


Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens


Apr 14 2007, 8:31pm

Post #9 of 18 (530 views)
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Black Serpent Founders [In reply to] Can't Post

I rushed through my own comments and missed saying anything about this image. I like this one too, but I needed more time to think about why and formulate an answer.

My immediate reaction is to the colors and the contrast and details. Red and green are direct compliments to each other, giving the image vitality.

The primary composition of the subjects: The Black Serpent Founders, forms a triangle and within it are a series of multiple triangles. Also, There is a lot that suggests movement, in the foreground is: rearing horse, swinging arm of Serpent Founder, raised arm of Rohirrim (I want to think that is Éomer); and the there is a lot of suggested movement in the background, screened-back by the use of aerial perspective, making the foreground subjects pop out.


http://img.photobucket.com/...ann/pelennor_th1.jpg

The background is not very screened back, though, which gives the feeling of the entire canvas being covered in a pattern, almost like a woven tapestry. Tapestries, I believe, were used to tell stories of great heroic deeds, so that fits. Although this gives the image the initial look of being overwhelmed with detail, It fits, giving the sense of the chaos of battle quite effectively.

This is also in keeping of much of her work, a part of her style: to fill the page with detail, like all the foliage in the first thread. She likes to play with space in this manner. On one level the subjects are shaped and dimensional, and placed in the foreground and background in a dimensional way — on another level the background imagery is often treated like pattern which plays with he surface of the canvas. (This is something that the early modernists attempted to do, and something that artists did prior to the Rennaissance).


Something that I find very intriguing is how she seems to play with the viewer's emotional perspective. Firstly with the title: my mind keeps want to read: "Black Serpent Riders" instead of "Black Serpent Founders" And emotionally I want the image to BE about the Riders…that is the Riders of Rohan. I had to keep going back to the title to remind myself of who the subjects are.

My eye keep going over to the Rohan character on the right. Of course the elements of composition forces the eye there by the 3 enemy soldiers and the white horse all facing and pointing toward him. His ferocious expression (body & face) and raised arm also command attention. Plus, emotionally I care more about what the Rohirrim are doing than the enemy.

What does this do? It tell us the story of the attack of the Rohirrim from the perspective of the enemy and this is powerfully evocative. Heroes are usually the subject of paintings & stories, especially action and battle scenes. The audience naturally wants to feel empathy with the subject.
But here, the enemy is the subject. Can the audience (I say audience because this is like a motion picture image) feel empathy for the Black Serpent Founders? Whether a viewer does or does not feel empathy is ultimately irrelevant . . . by getting the effects of the attack from their perspective, it makes the attack of the Rohirrim that much more powerful.

And it plays with our own perspective at the same time…kind of like Sam's considered thought as he sees the enemy lay dead before him.

But what I love most is the texture and detail, well, because I simply love texture and detail... a personal aesthetic.

Art Gallery Revised, 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


Beren IV
Gondor


Apr 15 2007, 6:38pm

Post #10 of 18 (511 views)
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Theoden's sword is too short [In reply to] Can't Post

in the Black Serpent Founders. Otherwise, it's a very nice painting, although the cyclopean veils worn by the Southron soldiers seems a little out of place.

As usual, the First Age pics shine, although it is curious how Beren alternates between being more human and more elven in her different pictures, facial hair in this one but not in the one in my sig. I wonder if Eissmann is conscious of this?

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


Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens


Apr 15 2007, 6:48pm

Post #11 of 18 (496 views)
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I'm pretty sure that [In reply to] Can't Post

is Éomer, thought I could be wrong.

If not Éomer, then perhaps some anonymous Rohan fighter younger than Théoden, but I never considered that to be Théoden. What makes you think that it is?

Art Gallery Revised, 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


Modtheow
Lorien

Apr 15 2007, 6:49pm

Post #12 of 18 (491 views)
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Compared with Lee's battle scenes [In reply to] Can't Post

I think my very first gut reaction to this picture was to be drawn to it because of the colors -- I just like the black and red. My next reaction was to think, as Finding Frodo says in this thread, that the picture is too cluttered.


larger version

It also reminded me of the chaotic battle scenes painted by Alan Lee: "The Siege of Gondor" and the "Battle of Pelennor Fields." And then I had another look at all of these and reconsidered.

Alan Lee's "Siege of Gondor" and "Battle of Pelennor Fields":


In Alan Lee's "Siege of Gondor," the clutter and chaos is all on a lower level, filled with orcs. Clearly above all this rabble is the rider, shining above like a white knight. And the eye can look even further into the distance. In the Pelennor battle scene, Lee has us looking at the battle scene from a more distant vantage point; you can see the clutter of battle, but your eye is drawn to the flag and can go much further into the distance as well.

What this comparison brought out for me is how much on the same level the enemy and the good guys are in Eissmann's painting. In her picture, there's a hint if you look closely of a Mumakil and some flags in the distance, but mainly I feel like I'm up close and surrounded in an immediate battle scene. In Lee's pictures, you get more of a sense of the overall battleground.

In "The Black Serpent" I do think that our eye is drawn to the rider in the right hand corner (I also thought it was Eomer), and the white horse and flag do seem to cut a shining swathe through the enemy, but there isn't as pronounced a hierarchy of good guys and bad guys as there is in the Lee "Siege of Gondor." As Daughter of Nienna says, Eissmann's picture is playing with our perspective, making us see the battle through the eyes of the enemy. I like that idea.

As for the texture and detail -- I totally like that too.


Modtheow
Lorien

Apr 15 2007, 7:13pm

Post #13 of 18 (495 views)
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So do I, except for the Nazgul [In reply to] Can't Post

I have to admit that the "Attack of the Nazgul" is not one of my favorites from this bunch. I agree that the colors are great, but I find the figures in it look too static and the Nazgul don't look threatening enough to me.


Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens


Apr 15 2007, 7:50pm

Post #14 of 18 (520 views)
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hasty reply [In reply to] Can't Post

have a tax appt can't miss

I meant to say this above:
What is missing is a clear focal point. In Lee's its the Rohan soldier in left immage and the flag in the right image.

In Anke's what seems to be the focal point doesn't really pay off.
The Southron in fron? . . . not

White horse head? . . . not

horse rearing . .not

the Rohan soldier? . . . sort of

but he is all the way on the right. and not part of the title. That all adds up to the feeling of clutter.

Another point I wanted to make above: in so many of her images Anke has characters or action on the right or the page. This seems ot a pattern of hers, part of her style. I have not given it much more thought than just noticing it for now. Might be a part of wanting to find a different perspective and composition from the norm.

...got to be off.

PS: how did you code your images to be side by side?


...

Art Gallery Revised, 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 15 2007, 7:52pm)


Curious
Half-elven

Apr 16 2007, 5:56am

Post #15 of 18 (483 views)
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For me the focus is Theoden killing [In reply to] Can't Post

his foe. What I immediately notice is Snowmane's head on the right and the flag of Rohan on the left. Then between them I see Theoden killing the bearer of the enemy flag, and the black serpent foundering, just as the title says. I like the fact that we see it from the middle of battle, with action all around it, half glimpsed, almost, rather than from above as in Lee's pictures.


Curious
Half-elven

Apr 16 2007, 6:00am

Post #16 of 18 (481 views)
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The guy with the long white beard? [In reply to] Can't Post

The one on the white horse? The one who successfully kills the bearer of the Black Serpent? Why wouldn't that be Thoeden?


Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens


Apr 16 2007, 8:46am

Post #17 of 18 (489 views)
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my mistake [In reply to] Can't Post

I assumed Beren IV was referring to the character on the right. I had just finished writing about that character in length when I wrote that reply, so my focus was there . . . I had noticed a short sword in that character's hand (and the one Rohan sword that is fully visible), so I mistakenly assumed he was referring to the Rohan soldier on the right.

Now looking at it, and not knowing much about swords myself, do you think Théoden's sword is too short? I have no idea, but, to me, the character on the right definitely looks like he has a short sword; while it is not so clear to me about Théoden's sword.

Art Gallery Revised, 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


Curious
Half-elven

Apr 16 2007, 12:55pm

Post #18 of 18 (505 views)
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The swords of the Rohirrim are shorter [In reply to] Can't Post

than the curved swords of the Southron. I thought short swords were primarily used by infantry in closed ranks with shields, so Beren could be right about this, although it didn't bother me when I first saw it.

 
 

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