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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
JRRT Artist and Illustrator, Chapter 2 Visons, Myths and Legends Part III

Saelind
Lorien


Mar 8 2007, 4:27am

Post #1 of 11 (578 views)
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JRRT Artist and Illustrator, Chapter 2 Visons, Myths and Legends Part III Can't Post

I'm saving the rest of the Sil pictures till the end of the week. Tongue

Book of Ishness Part I

Before
“The torches suggest a sacred place, maybe a tomb, but the red and black colours give it a sinister look, and the converging walls make it claustrophobic. Perspective leads the eye helplessly to whatever lies at the end of the murky, lifeless corridor.”
http://img.photobucket.com/...lustrator/before.jpg

Afterwards
Afterwards forms a pair with Before and probably was drawn on an adjoining piece of paper (now separated) Have we gone through the door (of identical shape) to find a figure moving along a torchlit path? … The stance of the figure, bending forward with outstretched arm, suggests deep emotion, And it is a different, more sombre emotion than the one expressed in Before, as indicated now by cool rather than warm colours. It contrasts also in its detachment: with a lower point of view, and torches now a barrier rather than a gate.”
http://img.photobucket.com/...rator/afterwards.jpg

I don’t really think Before is “sinister”. The doorway certainly draws your eye towards the center of the picture but I don’t get a sinister feel from it. And does the doorway really lead to the corridor in Afterwards? I’m not so sure.

Do you think Before is sinister? We are told that the two pictures are connected but do you get the sense that the two pictures are connected?


Wickedness
Wickedness is even less explicable. It is an accumulation of details which evoke something far worse than the title describes: an evil, occult place, and impending doom. The hand on the curtain has 5 fingers rather than four and a thumb… the curtain itself is decorated with bat-like faces. The columns, spiraled as in Before seem to end in huge paws and to be surmounted by angular creatures. The cusps of the arch appear to be claws reaching towards the hand. We are watched by the skull and by multiple eyes while we cower behind the brazier, afraid to enter the scene.”
http://img.photobucket.com/...rator/wickedness.jpg

I find this picture creepier than Before. We are being dared to go through the curtain.

Thought
“It is moving and effective: there is a sense of physical presence in the flow of the robe over the figure’s shoulders and knees. The attitude of the figure who may be male or female, sitting with head in hands, is one of deep contemplation, or else of despair or sorrow – as we choose to interpret it. The stars on the chair and the radiating light suggest that this is some mythic being.” Hammond and Scull go on to compare it with descriptions of Nienna and Manwë.
http://img.photobucket.com/...ustrator/thought.jpg

What do you see?

The Land of Pohja
The Land of Pohja in fact is two paintings in one, made on two pages of the sketch-book. Tolkien first patinted a tree or perhaps it is three trees growing together, against a background divided by a digagonal line. Then he cut the sketch-book leaf along the diagonal, and on the sheet following painted an alternative upper background, which is visible when the upper part of the first sheet is pulled back. In the first painting the upper background is a rich purple; in the second it is blue-grey with a border of icicles (as shown in [41]). … There can be little doubt that the painting shows, with the flap closed, the Sun atop the tall fir-tree, and with the flap opened the land gripped by cold. It is an ingeniouswork, unique among Tolkien’s art - other than this, he did not go in for mechanical effects – and extremely effective”

Hammond and Scull say that the inspiration for this picture is from The Kalevala when the Sun and Moon settle in trees to hear some music. They are stolen away by the evil Mistress of Pohjola and hidden. Interesting effect with the split page. The colors do give the picture a Northern feel. Does anyone else think that the trees sort of look like a giant mushroom though.
http://img.photobucket.com/...llustrator/pohja.jpg






N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 8 2007, 6:08am

Post #2 of 11 (442 views)
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"Before" and "Afterwards" are a bit creepy. [In reply to] Can't Post

Before looks like some evil temple, and the figure in Afterwards reminds me of the "Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come" in Dickens's A Christmas Carol.


Quote
It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. But for this it would have been difficult to detach its figure from the night, and separate it from the darkness by which it was surrounded.



But what are Tolkien's pictures "before" and "after"?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Detail from earliest version of Thror's MapTolkien Illustrated! Jan. 29-May 20: Visit the Reading Room to discuss art by John Howe, Alan Lee, Ted Nasmith and others, including Tolkien himself.

Mar. 5-11: Tolkien's "Visions, Myths and Legends".


Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens


Mar 8 2007, 8:59pm

Post #3 of 11 (413 views)
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transformation [In reply to] Can't Post

 
Before
http://img.photobucket.com/...lustrator/before.jpg

I agree that 'sinister' seems to be too strong a word. All the same, the red and blacks imply danger (at least in contemporary western culture), evoking fear...additionally the door seems to me to represent the 'unknown', which is a thing humans tends to fear. Add to that, the indication that the person moving toward the door (we the viewer), is compelled, therefore has no choice...this is also a force evoking fear and dread.

Yet, the unknown is not necessarily something to fear. Life presents challenges of the 'unknown' continuously. The 'unknown' aspect is often not nearly as dreadful as feared.
Facing fearful challenges and moving through them can reap great rewards in terms of strength, courage, hope and growth. And, to do so by surrendering and going in choice can render even greater reward.

Additional comment: It's interesting that the shape of the entrance matches the shape of the entrances to Nargothrond in earlier thread.
http://i156.photobucket.com/...ind/Nargothrond2.jpg
http://i156.photobucket.com/...Saelind/mirkwood.jpg


Afterwards
http://img.photobucket.com/...rator/afterwards.jpg

Yellows, golds, and blues, to me, imply hope...perhaps a transformation.
The yellows seem to be some very bright light of some nature. I find it intriguing, however, that the brightest yellow is radiating from inside the passage the figure has exited from. And, now the figure is moving back into shadow.

There's a lot to ponder here: What did the figure pass through in the passage? What was the experience? What kind of transformation? What is the emotion felt by the figure? What is implied by the figure moving from light back into shadow...albeit a soft, gentle grey shadow, not dark and scary.

As with most art, a viewer brings their own experience and meaning to the interpretation of a piece. To me, this image implies a spiritual awakening (not necessarily religious), brought about by having gone though some experience and faced some truths. Such an experience can cause a strong mixture of emotions, some painful and some hopeful. The grayness of the shadows implies to me, that life, is not all good, or all bad and continues to bring challenges. After going through big challenges and changing and growing, a new strength is found challenges are no longer as fearful.


Wickedness

Quote
“... It is an accumulation of details: ... The hand on the curtain has 5 fingers rather than four and a thumb… the curtain itself is decorated with bat-like faces. The columns, spiraled as in Before seem to end in huge paws and to be surmounted by angular creatures. The cusps of the arch appear to be claws reaching towards the hand. We are watched by the skull and by multiple eyes while we cower behind the brazier, afraid to enter the scene.”

http://img.photobucket.com/...ustrator/thought.jpg

in this image, all the elements to fear are blatant and obvious, as opposed to being unknown as in "Before". I compare them because they both have a passage in which the viewer subject seem compelled to enter. It seems difficult to tell what is the most compelling force...the what lies behind the curtain, or one's own desires and lusts.

If it were not for the scary elements: skull, evil hand behind curtain, eyes, etc., the image would have a kind of beauty. The patterning above the arch, reminds me of peacock feathers. And I like the overall texture and warm colors of the image.


Thought
http://img.photobucket.com/...ustrator/thought.jpg

This image at once reminded me of Lost Horizon (1937) starring Ronald Colman and Jane Wyatt, directed by Frank Capra (considered his masterpiece by some). It is about a group of plane-wreck survivors in the Tibetan Himalayas, rescued and brought to Shangri-la hidden in the mountains. The group wants to get back to civilization, yet the mysterious leader (High Lama), for now is unapproachable. Some survivors discover the Utopian civilization, settle in and want to stay, while others dread it and feel they are prisoners. The group's well-respected British diplomat (Ronald Colman) finally gets a meeting with the mysterious & hidden leader of the land. When he enters the stark chamber, the image of the leader on his modest throne appears very much like this image.

The throne is stark and plain (no stars) and very little furniture, if any is in the chamber. There are no outright radiating streams of light, but the film's lighting is has a certain affect that is similar. (I can't remember if the figure on the throne is bowed at first sight, but he is small and somewhat 'shriveled'.)

Lost Horizon Screen shots: http://moviescreenshots.blogspot.com/...st-horizon-1937.html


The Land of Pohja
http://img.photobucket.com/...llustrator/pohja.jpg

In visual terms, this is my favorite of this set, perhaps the entire chapter. I love the colors, the contrast and the shapes. At first I thought it mysterious why a tree would have 2 "legs", then I realized there are 3 trees clustered there. To me, it is a beautiful image.

Websites Directory, my drawings, Aloha & Mahalo


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 Mar 8 2007, 9:08pm)


Morwen
Rohan


Mar 8 2007, 11:44pm

Post #4 of 11 (418 views)
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This jumped into my mind when I saw Before. [In reply to] Can't Post

From RoTK, describing Merry's return to Minas Tirith after being wounded:

So Theoden and Eowyn came to the City of Gondor, and all who saw them bared their heads and bowed; and they passed through the ash and fume of the burned circle, and went on and up along the streets of stone. Slowly the lights of the torches in front of him flickered and went out, and he was walking in a darkness; and he thought: "This is a tunnel leading to a tomb; there we shall stay forever.

I wonder if Tolkien had an image similar to Before in his mind when he wrote that.


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


a.s.
Valinor


Mar 9 2007, 11:35am

Post #5 of 11 (397 views)
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nice comparison!!! [nt] [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"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 9 2007, 11:47am

Post #6 of 11 (421 views)
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**a.s. thinks about Thought [In reply to] Can't Post

One thing I particularly notice about "Thought" is that it's almost a mirror image from left to right. You could fold it in the middle almost, and have the left side perfectly match the right, like an ink blot. There are two of everything: two stars, two hands on head, two elbows on knee, two sets of three light beams, etc.

"Wickedness" looks almost like a fever dream, and very much like some "migraine art". I'll be bringing this subject up in my chapter discussion later (when we talk about "patterns"), but I'm struck by the patterns on the top of the curtain, and the eyes staring out from the top of the picture.

Now, I hate to be the one to bring this up, but it's possible to see the "Wickedness" picture as symbolically female. Please refer to the drawing: the opening surmounted by vaguely hair-like pencil lines; the vaguely feminine eyes at the top; the skull smack dab in the middle top of the curtain opening; the fire "within"...

Which makes the title interesting.

a.s. (all Freudian today)

"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


Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens


Mar 9 2007, 5:12pm

Post #7 of 11 (401 views)
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two more images [In reply to] Can't Post



In Reply To
Now, I hate to be the one to bring this up, but it's possible to see the "Wickedness" picture as symbolically female. Please refer to the drawing: the opening surmounted by vaguely hair-like pencil lines; the vaguely feminine eyes at the top; the skull smack dab in the middle top of the curtain opening; the fire "within"...
Which makes the title interesting.
a.s. (all Freudian today)


I had similarl thoughts about this picture. The very title itself relates to how society and the religions have thought about women for ages.

Here are two more images that are symbolically 'female' in visual terms:
the first one jumped out at me a few weeks ago. We have not come to it in the discussion yet.

Rauros Falls & the Tindrock (#159)
http://www.warofthering.net/...album=66&pos=176

and a little less obvious:

Rivendell Looking West (# 105)
http://www.warofthering.net/...album=66&pos=125

Websites Directory, my drawings, Aloha & Mahalo


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


Wynnie
Rohan


Mar 11 2007, 3:01pm

Post #8 of 11 (412 views)
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before & after [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Do you think Before is sinister? We are told that the two pictures are connected but do you get the sense that the two pictures are connected?


I do think "sinister" is an apt description of "Before"; I'm sure I wouldn't want to walk down that corridor. Red and black are colors Tolkien generally associates with evil in LotR -- Black Riders, Red Eye, Black Gate.

Hammond & Scull are assuming the two pictures are connected because of the titles, and the fact that they come from the same group/period. Also, Note # 4 tells us that "Torn edges on the two drawings appear to mate with each other."

If you accept that the pictures form a pair, then it makes sense that the doorway would be the same. It has the same basic shape, though as Daughter of Nienna pointed out, Tolkien often used that shape for doorways -- post and lintel (like Stonehenge), but with the posts at a slight inward-leaning angle. While it was the central focus of "Before", it's pushed off to the side and barely noticeable in "Afterwards".

I notice one thing that breaks the symmetry of the pair. "Before" gives us first-person perspective; the viewer is the one approaching the doorway. "Afterwards" shifts to third person; the viewer is outside, watching the figure in the drawing advance.

I'd guess that the doorway represents Death.



Owlamoo
ink drawing by JRRT


Wynnie
Rohan


Mar 11 2007, 4:47pm

Post #9 of 11 (385 views)
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psst DoN [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm afraid your links aren't leading to the images you intended. As we found out a while back, the URLs in the War of the Ring gallery aren't stable; they may go to one picture one day and another the next. Since you also cited the titles and A & I #s, it's easy enough to look up the ones you meant, though.


Owlamoo
ink drawing by JRRT


Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens


Mar 11 2007, 8:29pm

Post #10 of 11 (383 views)
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thanks [In reply to] Can't Post

you're right about the instability of War of the Ring site. It was just easy to go to previous post and open those images and copy the url than to look up images from a different site.

Thanks for letting me know. And I am glad the citations helped. The book images are a better quality than the internet images as print images always are. For that eason I included the #s. (and just in case there was an issue opening the images Wink)

Websites Directory, my drawings, Aloha & Mahalo


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 Mar 11 2007, 8:29pm)


Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens


Mar 11 2007, 8:49pm

Post #11 of 11 (426 views)
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First person / third person point - I like it! / [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Websites Directory, my drawings, Aloha & Mahalo


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

 
 

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