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

Saelind
Lorien


Mar 6 2007, 3:23am

Post #1 of 15 (639 views)
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JRRT Artist and Illustrator, Chapter 2 Visons, Myths and Legends Part I Can't Post

This is my first RR discussion so please bear with me. I have a few questions with the pictures but mostly I'm interested in your reactions and interpretations. I have tried to use the descriptions from Hammond and Scull but have tried to stay away from their interpretations.

One question to keep in mind throughout the week is: Does this picture make you think of something from Tolkien's Legendarium or in some cases where the specific connection is made, does the picture look like what you thought the scene, place etc. did when you read the text?

Northern House

“opposite this in the sketch-book was a more realistic drawing, dated 6 January 1914, of an unusual building or house with a central smoke-hole and steps that appear to lead to entrances on at least three sides. Rounded walls, a seashell-like roof, and a shaft of moonlight give it the air of a folk- or fairy-tale, and perhaps it was inspired by one. … The trees suggest a Northern forest, maybe Finland or Russia.”



http://i156.photobucket.com/...nd/NorthernHouse.jpg
Brethil anyone?

The Man in the Moon
“The picture shows the Man in the Moon, with a long beard and tall hat, sliding earthwards on a thread…. One can identify the British Isles, Europe, India, Africa, and North America on the Earth; but there are unfamiliar continents in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, presumably Atlantis and Lemuria. Tolkien later told in The Tale of the Sun and Moon that when the Valar created the Bessel of the Moon from the last blossom of Silpion and gave it into the care of the air-spirits, but before it was lifted into the sky,, and aged elf stowed away. He built upon it ‘a little white turret… where often he climbs and watches the heavens, or the world beneath’ and ‘some indeed have named the Man in the Moon’. …as told in the Tale it seems to have been derived from the illustration: a ‘shimmering isle…Rods there were and perchance they were of ice, and they rose upon it like aëry masts, and sails were caught to them by slender threads…”

http://i156.photobucket.com/...ind/manonthemoon.jpg

Wudu Wyrtum Faest

Pictures from Beowulf ‘wood clinging by its roots’. “The stream pours over the cliff, the water below is black as with blood. The frost-worn trees are deformed and almost anthropomorphic. It is the dark side of Nature, twisted, restless, menacing, what Kenneth Clark called (with reference to the same part of Beowulf) the landscape of fantasy, an expression of old obsessive fears from the days when men wandered the regions of the North.”

More gnarled trees. These seem to more realistic than some of his other tree pictures. I like #50 a little better in that the picture fills up the view whereas #51 is from further away and doesn’t seem to have the “dark” feel that #50 has.


http://i156.photobucket.com/...nd/Grendelsmere2.jpg
http://i156.photobucket.com/...ind/Grendelsmere.jpg


The Tree of Amalion

‘The ‘Tree of Amalion’ drawn in The Book of Ishness dated August 1928, is stylized and carefully balanced, with little variation in leaves but with a multitude of unrealistic, highly decorative flowers. Its ground line anchors the composition; at right, the peaks support the overgrown flower and suggest the distant hills painted by Niggle.”

http://i156.photobucket.com/...TheTreeofAmalion.jpg

Untitled (Three Friezes)

Decorative not connected with anything. I like the top one with the waves. I could see that as a nice border around a room.

http://i156.photobucket.com/...Wallpaperborders.jpg

The Wood at the World’s End

“Massed together, trees comprise The Wood at the World’s End, its title a commingling of two by William Morris (The Wood beyond the World and The Well at the World’s End)."

Nice landscape but it doesn’t really have any distinguishing features other than the wave-like appearance of the dark green in the trees. The setting sun doesn’t really draw your eyes like you think it might. My eyes are drawn in a horizontal direction following the trees.

http://i156.photobucket.com/...odattheworldsend.jpg

Water, Wind & Sand

“The painting indeed captures very well the emotional flavour of rock and wave on the Cornish coast when the sea is rough but as in a dream-vision, stylized and in extraordinarily bright colours.”

The picture does seem to have an "active" quality about it.

http://i156.photobucket.com/...aelind/whitewave.jpg











N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 6 2007, 6:46am

Post #2 of 15 (414 views)
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The Watcher in the Water. [In reply to] Can't Post

That's what Wudu Wyrtum Faest (A&I #50) reminds me of.

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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.

Feb. 26-Mar. 4: Fan Artistry.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 6 2007, 7:00am

Post #3 of 15 (414 views)
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I've just encountered "The Tale of the Sun and the Moon". [In reply to] Can't Post

Most of The History of Middle-earth is known to me only from skimming, not proper reading, and I've only have a real go at volume 1, The Book of Lost Tales I, over the past two weeks. It was surprising to discover that "The Tale of the Sun and the Moon" is one of the longest stories there, much more fully told than in The Silmarillion, with many details, both choice and odd: for instance, there is a man in the moon, but he's a stowawy elf named named "Uolë Kúvion". But the poem, "The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon", as given in a note at the end of that chapter, describes an episode in the 20th Century, while this painting shows continents in an earlier age. (And where does "Lemuria" fall in Tolkien's mythology?)

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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 6 2007, 8:28am

Post #4 of 15 (420 views)
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"And the wood began to move" [In reply to] Can't Post

The Wood at the World’s End

Immediately upon seeing this, I was struck by the memory of another image. It reminded me of the scene in extended TTT when the Uruk-hai ran into a long horizontal stretch of woods. "And the wood began to move" . . . I often hear in my head how Shippey says that on the DVD appendices.

The image itself is very graphical and almost like a pattern.
Perhaps it was intended for getting some ideas out of head in a visual manner…like taking pictorial notes.


Northern House

This house is kind of whimsical and a little unexpected with its diamond shaped windows and door, and smaller round windows, and the domed, striped roof. It doesn't seem to fit anywhere in his work, accept maybe in Father Christmas Letters or some other children's work. The striped roof reminds me of a circus tent.


The Tree of Amalion

This is my favorite in this set of images. I used to make gift cards in ink similar to this, but not nearly as beautiful.


Water, Wind & Sand
The authors comment that this images "suggest he was uncomfortable depicting violently dramatic subjects, or else realized that it was not his forte in art — though he mastered it in poetry and prose." Sometimes their comments perturb me. I agree that this image doesn't really work …he tried a subject graphically and in a different media. But his ink and watercolor "cove near the Lizard" (#21, page 25) manages to depict crashing water over rock pretty well, though that is a realistic version. It is possible that he might have come up with an image that did work over several tries.
http://img.photobucket.com/...ustrator/early21.jpg


The Man in the Moon

That seems like a very odd image to me… though it seems to be fun & whimsical, and yet not… it's also intriguing and mysterious. A man (barely visible) sliding down a thread from the Earth with mysterious continents…onto where, the Moon's surface? What about the balls radiating out in a circular, seemingly rotating manner… what are they, I wonder.

Is that really from HoME volume I, Book of Lost Tales? Can anybody shed more light on the 'Man in the Moon' 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 6 2007, 8:30am)


Draupne
Forum Admin / Moderator

Mar 6 2007, 9:50am

Post #5 of 15 (414 views)
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The trees around the house remind me [In reply to] Can't Post

of spruce after a thourough wash in polluted rain. ("sour downfall" we call it, don't know the proper English term) The stems look like dead spruce, high, narrowing towards the top and with fairly short and "twiggy" branches. I suppose I think they look dead because spruce is an evergreen (and a rather dark and depressing one, I'm sure there must be lots of spruce among the huorns). But if spruce then they look like spruce that's been growing in a thick forest, maybe it's dead pine.Anyway, it's dead :-)
(for those who wonder which spruce and pine, my references are picea abies and pinus sylvestris, also known as Norwegian spruce and Scots pine I think.Which are also found in Finland and Russia, the stupid spruce came here from Russia over Finland and Sweden.)

Don't know about the wood at the worlds end, somehow it looks like a big, planted park. Could be the lack of undergrowth or that all trees look the same. Hmm, or that the dark green reminds me of evergreens in the winter but there's no snow there. That is clearly wrong. Maybe I don't know the same trees as Tolkien did. After all, the spruce hasn't invaded the British Isles yet although people are planting it I think. Soon it's going to take over everything.


a.s.
Valinor


Mar 6 2007, 11:18am

Post #6 of 15 (402 views)
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Where is Lemuria in Tolkien at all except this pic? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
But the poem, "The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon", as given in a note at the end of that chapter, describes an episode in the 20th Century, while this painting shows continents in an earlier age. (And where does "Lemuria" fall in Tolkien's mythology?)



Some of us (cough, read "a.s.") have to go Google Lemuria, which was known to me only as a vaguely "science fiction" name of a place along the lines of Earthsea or something like that...



Lemuria was an ancient civilization which existed prior to and during the time of Atlantis. Physically, it is believed that Lemuria existed largely in the Southern Pacific, between North America and Asia/Australia. Lemuria is also sometimes referred to as Mu, or the Motherland (of Mu). At its peak of civilization, the Lemurian people were both highly evolved and very spiritual. While concrete physical evidence of this ancient continent may be difficult to find, many people "know" that they have a strong connection to Lemuria.



Further, from Wikipedia (from which I take everything with a grain of salt, but nevertheless this seems a good explanation):



Though the living modern lemurs are only found in Madagascar and several surrounding islands, the biogeography of extinct lemurs extending from Pakistan to Malaysia inspired the name Lemuria, which was coined in 1864 by the geologist Philip Sclater in an article "The Mammals of Madagascar" in The Quarterly Journal of Science. Puzzled by the presence of fossil lemurs in both Madagascar and India, but not in Africa nor the Middle East, Sclater proposed that Madagascar and India had once been part of a larger continent, which he named Lemuria for its lemurs.

The acceptance of Darwinism led scientists to seek to trace the diffusion of species from their points of evolutionary origin; prior to the acceptance of continental drift, biologists frequently postulated submerged land masses in order to account for populations of land-based species now separated by barriers of water. Similarly, geologists tried to account for striking resemblances of rock formations on different continents. The first systematic attempt was made by Melchior Neumayr in his book Erdgeschichte in 1887. Many hypothetical submerged land bridges and continents were proposed during the 19th century, in order to account for the present distribution of species.


As Lemuria gained some acceptance within the scientific community, it began to appear in the works of other scholars. Ernst Haeckel, a German Darwinian taxonomist, proposed Lemuria as an explanation for the absence of "missing link" fossil records. According to another source, Haeckel put forward this thesis prior to Sclater (but without using the name 'Lemuria'). [1] Locating the origins of the human species on this lost continent, he claimed the fossil record could not be found because it had sunk beneath the sea.

Other scientists hypothesized that Lemuria had extended across parts of the Pacific oceans, explaining distributions of species across Asia and the Americas.

The Lemuria theory disappeared completely from practical consideration, after the theory of plate tectonics and continental drift were accepted by the larger scientific community.



So, I'm not sure Lemuria ever appears anywhere in Tolkien's writings per se, except in this picture...which is interesting. The idea of Lemuria was "dropped" by scientists but picked up by mystics and theosophists and fantasy writers of all kinds (according to a quick Google search), and at the time of the Man in the Moon drawing must still have been a "scientific" possibility. Interesting that Tolkien included it in the drawing...

a.s.



"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


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 6 2007, 4:29pm

Post #7 of 15 (394 views)
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Sliding to not from the Earth. [In reply to] Can't Post

I have a hard time making out that detail in the picture, but in the poem that Tolkien wrote in the 1910s, the Man in the Moon, bored with his home and keen for some company, attempts a visit to Earth, slips on the way down, falls into the North Sea, and gets cold comfort in Norwich.

The Lost Tales themselves, the earliest version of the Silmarillion legendarium, are presented as told in about the fifth century to a Germanic seafarer who has come upon Tol Eressea. In the "Tale of the Sun and the Moon", this wanderer, nicknamed "Eriol" by the elves, says that he knows a legend of his own that connects to the elves' story of the man in the moon. Christopher Tolkien speculates that the poem, "The Man in the Moon Came Down too Soon", could be that story, but that JRRT would have had to rework it to remove the modern aspects, as indeed he did in the 1960s for The Adventures of Tom Bombadil collection.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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".


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 6 2007, 4:30pm

Post #8 of 15 (364 views)
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"Acid rain" is the English term. /nt [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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".


FarFromHome
Valinor


Mar 6 2007, 5:17pm

Post #9 of 15 (385 views)
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Asterisk poems [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I have a hard time making out that detail in the picture, but in the poem that Tolkien wrote in the 1910s, the Man in the Moon, bored with his home and keen for some company, attempts a visit to Earth, slips on the way down, falls into the North Sea, and gets cold comfort in Norwich.

I've never seen Tolkien's Man in the Moon poem, but there is a traditional nursery-rhyme on the topic:

The Man in the Moon came tumbling down,
And asked the way to Norwich;
He went by the south, and burnt his mouth
With eating cold pease porridge.


Is this another example of the type of thing we get with the Cat and the Fiddle rhyme in LotR - Tolkien imagining a lost poem to explain a rhyme that now seems silly because we've forgotten the full story?

...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.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 7 2007, 2:14am

Post #10 of 15 (367 views)
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Roverandom [In reply to] Can't Post

Man in the Moon brings to mind Roverandom: the little dog, on the back of Mew the seagull, flies along the "Moon's path" to the Moon, where the Man-in-the-Moon lives in a tall thin tower.

Tree of Amalion is so eye-pleasing - and one of my favorites of all Tolkien's drawings. It reminds me of his term, "effoliation", of taking a simple twig/tale/thought and allowing it to bud and flower into something new and fantastic.


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Still 'round the corner there may wait
A new road, or a secret gate...


Wynnie
Rohan


Mar 7 2007, 4:02am

Post #11 of 15 (354 views)
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another version of the tree [In reply to] Can't Post


Northern House
Goodness, I'd love to know who lives in that funny little house. Tolkien's storytelling skills are intertwined with his drawing skills, and this picture seems to want to tell a story.

Wudu Wyrtum Faest (#51)
That tree on the right hanging onto the edge of the cliff has a sinister look -- snaky branches in a clawlike configuration. I wouldn't feel too safe walking under it.

Tree of Amalion
Beautiful! I saw from Note # 77 that another similar drawing appeared in J.R.R. Tolkien : Life and Legend, so I looked that one up. Here it is:



I do like the bird, but I think overall the tree in Artist & Illustrator is more graceful and polished.



Owlamoo
ink drawing by JRRT


Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens


Mar 7 2007, 4:40am

Post #12 of 15 (352 views)
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I do have a pile of Tolkien books I never seem to [In reply to] Can't Post

get to reading...I'm slow at reading and I do better with visual media. I will get to them eventually.

Thank you for the information.

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 7 2007, 9:00pm

Post #13 of 15 (355 views)
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Cove comparison [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Water, Wind & Sand
The authors comment that this images "suggest he was uncomfortable depicting violently dramatic subjects, or else realized that it was not his forte in art — though he mastered it in poetry and prose." Sometimes their comments perturb me. I agree that this image doesn't really work …he tried a subject graphically and in a different media. But his ink and watercolor "cove near the Lizard" (#21, page 25) manages to depict crashing water over rock pretty well, though that is a realistic version. It is possible that he might have come up with an image that did work over several tries.




I agree that Cove near the Lizard is a superior take on the subject. It was done about 6 months earlier, in Aug. 1914; Water, Wind & Sand apparently dates from early 1915.

Cove near the Lizard was one of my favorite images in Chapter 1, and I'm not generally a big fan of black & white. I think Tolkien did a nice job of capturing the power of the waves. The no-exit claustrophobic composition is well fitted to the subject; the cove is a closed space and the viewer is trapped there. The rocks break up the water so that the white foam sketches a Z shape that leads the eye through the picture. The vertical orientation was a nice choice, in defiance of the traditional horizontality (is that a word?) of landscapes/seascapes -- in that respect, it reminds me of El Greco's View of Toledo.

I gather that Tolkien was experimenting, finding his own style, during this period. I get the impression he ultimately preferred working in color, and preferred flat, stylized representations to realistic ones. I like the bright colors and simplified shapes in Water, Wind & Sand, but it was probably just an early trial of a new style, and leaves much room for improvement.



Owlamoo
ink drawing by JRRT


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Mar 7 2007, 11:19pm

Post #14 of 15 (367 views)
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And that's so like Howard Pyle's book "Garden Behind the Moon" [In reply to] Can't Post

where the little boy travels on the moonpath to the moon and meets the man in the moon who lives in a tower there. Pyle's book was published in the 1890s, and I've always wondered whether Tolkien was influenced by it, whatever CS Lewis may have said ("No one could influence Tolkien. You might as well try to influence a bandersnatch.")

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"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

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Daughter of Nienna
Grey Havens


Mar 8 2007, 5:49pm

Post #15 of 15 (378 views)
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When it comes to black & white [In reply to] Can't Post

I think most people respond well, naturally, if an image has strong contrast, though most don't recognise that that is what they are responding to. Few have the words or the eye training to know that.

The Cove has very strong contrast. It was my favorite from chapter one as well. I love black & white images with strong contrast. In this image, it the contrast and the texture that appeal to me most.

Contrast is equally important in color images. Color has thre properies: Hue, Value, Intensity.

Hue - What color it is (where it sits on the color wheel)

Value - how light or dark it is. (how much black or white is added, some colors are light or dak naturally)

Intensity - how pure a color is (how much gray or a color from the other side of the Wheel is mixed in it) which caused a color to gray out)

Of the three, Value (not Hue) is the dominant properiy.

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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