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Tolkien Illustrated: Anke-Katrin Eissmann: Summary


Apr 17 2007, 3:36am

Post #1 of 13 (498 views)
Tolkien Illustrated: Anke-Katrin Eissmann: Summary Can't Post

I know Iím trespassing on a.s.ís week of discussions, but since she wonít be posting again until tomorrow, I thought I could just squeeze in this conclusion to last weekís discussion of Anke-Katrin Eissmannís illustrations.

Thanks to everyone for participating or for just looking at the pictures. The week certainly has made me look at the illustrations much more closely than I normally would have, and I may even be learning a thing or two about color and composition from people like WonderBroad, who pointed out Eissmannís use of clean, clear lines and subdued palette, or from Daughter of Nienna, who explained the composition of several pictures and how Eissmann achieves that beautiful "star glow" in some of her night-time scenes. Or just having explanations of how that "pasted on look" of the figures was created in some pictures that OhioHobbit noticed was an interesting insight into artistic techniques.

Some of the words often used to describe the general effect of Eissmannís pictures were immediacy and intimacy. Like Adanedhel, I often felt like I was right there in the picture. And Daughter of Nienna summarized the way I see many of these pictures : "Yet the parts of the story that linger in my heart are the kinds of things that Anke chooses to illustrate." I would agree with Beren IV when he says that Eissmannís artwork seems "generally more serene" and that "we see a slow-moving, quiet Arda" in which emotions are strongly conveyed. Some of the commentaries on pictures emphasized this quality, like dernwynís comments on "Father and Son" where we get a "Gandalfís-eye view" of the "tension between the lord on his carven chair and his son, still bearing the scars of battle" or Morwenís comments on the "The Falcon and the Star" fanfic illustrations which seem to capture so well a moment between Aragorn and Faramir, the "intense fervor" that mae govannen also liked.

Of course, not all styles of art will appeal to everyone. While there was some discussion of details like beards, short swords, birches vs. aspens, the shapes of mouths, and Samís brown skin, the most persistent criticism was of the faces in the pictures. I say "stylized"; you say "mannikin." I think itís fair to say that if there were one quality that Curious, Galadriel, and Aunt Dora would like to change in these pictures, it would be the look of the faces that Eissmann paints. Daughter of Nienna provided a challenge by making us look at Samís expression really close up, and Beren IVís distinctions between the facial features of Arwen and Luthien certainly makes me think that I have to go back and look more closely at some of these pictures again. Perhaps the "Family Portrait" illustration came the closest to changing minds about the range of expressions that Eissmann can paint.

If the facial expressions didnít always please everyone, most people seemed to agree that Eissmann manages to capture the emotion of the scene by other means. As Alraune puts it, "she does great posture," a point also made by FarFromHome and elostirion74. Kimiís description of "First Meeting of Aragorn and Arwen" in which Aragornís "stance ...expresses youth and vulnerability" is one example of expressive body language, as is Daughter of Niennaís comment that in "The Ring has moved on," she can almost see the Orc arrows about to plunge into Isildurís back.

Drogo found that the hobbits in Eissmannís pictures have the right mix of youthfulness and age, though Curious would prefer to see more of a childlike quality in hobbit illustrations. FarfromHome was of the opinion that the hobbits are idealized portraits that show their inner nobility. As for Eissmannís favorite character Faramir, we did hear from one Fangirl who, though appreciative of the Shirtless Faramir, still had very high expectations.

Though opinions varied on specific characters, most people seemed to be in agreement that Eissmannís pictures depict nature and light beautifully. Radhruin found the details of nature to be the best part of the pictures, and Wynnie commented on the "delicate autumn colors" of "The Fostering of Tuor," also one of my favorite pictures Ė though N.E. Brigand saw the Elves in that picture as "wraith-like" Ė interesting, how we can see things so differently. Generally, though, I think most people would agree, as Curious put it, that in so many of these pictures "the characters are surrounded by nature, floating in a sea of leaves and flowers." Even so, there were a few action scenes that people liked, such as "Escaping from the Black Riders"; as Finding Frodo pointed out, thereís a sense of action and clear direction in that picture, and Curious commented on how in the "Black Serpent" picture, weíre experiencing "the thrill and horror of battle right from the center of the action."

Any final comments on the weekís discussions or the pictures Iíve posted?

Are there any pictures that I havenít posted that people would like to comment on?

If you liked Eissmannís pictures, which ones would you choose to have hanging in your home?

Iíd pick "Orome Espies the First Elves"

and "The Fostering of Tuor."

Are there any scenes or characters that youíd like to see Eissmann painting, or painting more of?

My impression is that in making her way through LotR, Eissmann got stalled in the Faramir story. There are no illustrations of LotR after Aragorn's Coronation and the betrothal of Faramir and Eowyn. Iíd like to see scenes from the return to the Shire and the departure at the Grey Havens, for example.

And if anyone is up for one more question, thereís just one statement in Eissmannís description of her work that Iím wondering about and that no one picked up on during the week. She says: "The 16:9-format, which I have been using for my paintings since 1999, is inspired by cinematography, which has had an impact on the composition and lighting in my images" Can anyone point out to me what this means and where I can see it in some of her pictures?

Thanks for a great week Ė the threads are still open for comments, of course.

All images are copyrighted by Anke-Katrin Eissmann and are used with her permission for the purposes of this discussion. More images and information about her work are available on her website :

Forum Admin / Moderator

Apr 17 2007, 4:51am

Post #2 of 13 (377 views)
Thanks so much, Modtheow! [In reply to] Can't Post

And with Daughter of Nienna and now you posting excellent summaries, I dare to hope that we may be witnessing The Return of the Summary!

I said little, but read much :-) Thank you for your in-depth presentation of the works of this artist. I thoroughly enjoyed becoming acquainted with her.

16:9, I believe, refers to the aspect ratio of a picture, which is the ratio of its width to height. There's a good explanation of it here.

Promises to Keep: a novel set in 19th Century New Zealand.

The Passing of Mistress Rose

Do we find happiness so often that we should turn it off the box when it happens to sit there?

- A Room With a View

Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens

Apr 17 2007, 7:10am

Post #3 of 13 (375 views)
Mahalo Nui Loa [In reply to] Can't Post

What a great week of art and discussion. I thoroughly enjoyed this week. Sorry I had to drop out toward the end. Taxes this weekend and baby shopping...I have two to shop for! (Grand-baby & Great-niece, the former I am totally delinquent on, eeeks...now for wrapping and packing and shipping.)

I started to compose a long response to one thread and just could not get it finished...my whole train of though is out the window now...And I really can't finish it to post it.

Besides such wonderful leading, I must applaud you on your summary ability...Although I did one, I find doing them excruciatingly hard.... it's all that editing and deciding what to point out and how to shorten it and what to leave out.... too much deciding...not my strong point. So, I covered it up with a fun gimmick! You do beautiful summaries.

Thanks again for a great week. I love Anke's work very much. I would say she is my second favorite after Alan Lee and I was so delighted that someone chose her.



Art Gallery Revised, Aloha & Mahalo, Websites Directory

Nienna: ď 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." ó Valaquenta


Apr 17 2007, 8:24am

Post #4 of 13 (382 views)
Thanks for introducing me to a terrific artist. [In reply to] Can't Post

These discussion of illustrations have not only taught me about art, but also about Tolkien. By having to think like an illustrator, I've started to pay more attention to Tolkien's visual descriptions. For example, when I think about Sam and Frodo, I'll now think about Sam's brown hand on Frodo's pale forehead. Or when thinking about the hobbits, I'll now think about their ability to laugh, and to cause others to laugh.

As for Eissman, I love what she does with foliage and light and body language and pretty much everything except the faces, and I'm convinced that last part has more to do with temperment, and perhaps cultural differences, than ability. I would love to see her paint more happy moments just to see her stretch her range. Or for that matter I would like to see what she would do with Theoden's funeral, where Merry sobbed openly. And I don't recall any orcs or ents or Balrogs or Barrow-wights or giant spiders or any of the other vast array of exotic creatures and spirits Tolkien invented.

Thanks for a great discussion and a great summary. Excellent job!


Apr 17 2007, 10:05am

Post #5 of 13 (366 views)
Thanks for a great discusion! / [In reply to] Can't Post


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

Aunt Dora Baggins

Apr 17 2007, 5:02pm

Post #6 of 13 (374 views)
Thanks, Modtheow. [In reply to] Can't Post

Though I was probably the most critical person in the discussion, I did enjoy it. And I loved a lot of what this artist did, especially that one of Orome. I think all she'd have to do to make me happy is use a little less white in the eyes. I also think maybe I'm reacting more negatively because of my age, possibly. There's an almost cartoon quality to her people, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just that, unlike my kids, I'm not used to looking for art in cartoons. They both grew up with anime and manga and are real fans of that genre.

"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
Chance Meeting at Rivendell: a Tolkien Fanfic
and some other stuff I wrote...
leleni at hotmail dot com



Apr 17 2007, 5:53pm

Post #7 of 13 (368 views)
Thanks, Modtheow! [In reply to] Can't Post

I would love to have any of Eismann's paintings on my wall but if I was to choose two, I think I would pick "The Fostering of Tuor" and probably "The Last Council".

I know I didn't comment much but I certainly enjoyed looking at the pictures.

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I wish you could have been there
When she opened up the door
And looked me in the face
Like she never did before
I felt about as welcome
As a Wal-Mart Superstore--John Prine


Apr 17 2007, 7:15pm

Post #8 of 13 (384 views)
An Ent and an Orc [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't recall seeing any of those creatures you mention except for a sketch and a couple of paintings of Ents. Here is one of Treebeard with Merry and Pippin. I've just realized that the hobbits are smiling in this one.

larger version

I don't see anything that's particularly tree-like in her Treebeard.

And the only Orc that I can remember is this dead one in "Searching for Merry and Pippin":

larger version


Apr 17 2007, 9:30pm

Post #9 of 13 (370 views)
I like human-looking ents, but even I [In reply to] Can't Post

would prefer a little more treeishness, such as barklike skin.

The orc head actually isn't bad -- although I always like her faces on the dead, dying, or sleeping characters. I wonder why she didn't draw any more orcs, or other exotic creatures. She really seems drawn to the elves, men, and hobbits, all of whom look roughly the same (i.e. no pointed ears or furry feet).


Apr 17 2007, 11:01pm

Post #10 of 13 (364 views)
Thanks, Modtheow! [In reply to] Can't Post

I haven't had as much time to reply as I would have liked to since I am no longer on vacation, but I have enjoyed lurking immensely. All of these discussions are a fantastic education!


Apr 17 2007, 11:26pm

Post #11 of 13 (365 views)
Another big Thank You! [In reply to] Can't Post

I had never experienced Eissmann's art, and am tickled pink at being introduced to new visions of Tolkien. I would probably echo others opinions in saying that I am not crazy about the characters faces or even the stiff characters themselves. However, I love her portrayal of nature, and amazing use of light. And several pieces are simply extraordinary, and I am very happy to have learned more. Thank you!

"A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it."

The Shire

Apr 18 2007, 9:21am

Post #12 of 13 (366 views)
yes, thank you! [In reply to] Can't Post

The discussion was nicely put together and it looked like you put a lot of time and work into it -- thank you!

Most Tolkien illustrations annoy me in various ways, so it was a nice surprise to find one I like so much. Great choice.

I won't try to analyze why I liked these and why I disliked others, since I know nothing about art, but it has been really interesting reading the comments of people who do and getting some great insights into color/tone/value/whatever, composition, and so on.

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

Forum Admin / Moderator

Apr 18 2007, 10:54pm

Post #13 of 13 (390 views)
Thank you, Modtheow! [In reply to] Can't Post

You did a splendid job of introducing us to the works of Eissmann, and an excellent summary.

Not knowing how to "appreciate" art, I do appreciate all the explanations and insights from you and everyone!

Hard for me to choose a favorite - I think I'll have to take another look or two at all of them... Wink

"And when Sam heard that he laughed aloud for shear delight, and he stood up and cried: 'O great glory and splendour! And all my wishes have come true!'"


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