Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Writer's Paintings

In J.R.R. Tolkien Artist & Illustrator, Hammond and Scull comment that “no study of J.R.R. Tolkien's written work can be complete without also looking at his art.” What do you think of that? Is it always necessary for a reader to examine the other types of artwork that an author completed (i.e. paintings, musical scores, etc.) to appreciate that author’s literary pieces deeply? Have you learned anything surprising from seeing Tolkien’s illustrations?


Anna Adams said...

For my long project I'm actually doing a creative portion that involves art, so I've been looking at the J.R.R. Tolkien Artist and Illustrator, too. I don't know that it's necessary to look at Tolkien's artwork to appreciate his literary pieces deeply, but I think I've gained a new way of looking at his mythology. It's very interesting to look at his own depictions of places or characters from his work. It's also interesting to compare his artwork to other people's art depicting his world. Various interpretations are always going to exist, and getting the chance to see Tolkien's is exciting. Although he was an amateur artist, I think he was pretty good at using watercolor and drawing scenery, which makes sense considering the emphasis he puts on landscape in his writing. Tolkien's interests definitely shine through in not just his writing, but his artwork, too, so I think you can learn a lot about him just by looking at his art. (I could actually say a lot more about his art, but I'm going to stop here. I need to save it for my long project. )

Julie Lautenschleger said...

I feel that viewing artwork about Tolkien's literary works takes quite a bit away from the imaginary aspect. Even if you are able to form your own mental images of the scenes and characters, once you view the image your mental images are forever changed. It is fun seeing someone else's perspective, however. It opens your mind, in a sense.

For me, viewing Tolkien illustrations have helped me to better understand what I have read, but truly have changed how I picture the stories.

sworland said...

I actually really appreciated the lack of figures in Tolkien's artwork. I liked the comment Troy and Lorin made in class on Thursday about the Hobbiton picture: the scene provides a backdrop for my own imagination. All I could think of after that was those flannel graphs my Sunday School teachers used to use and how they'd post up the felt background before they put on the characters. Maybe that's what Tolkien wanted to do with his artwork: give us a setting and let us go from there.

Also, I felt bad critiquing Tolkien's art on Thursday. I think it was something he felt very vulnerable and unsure about and probably a lot of those images were never meant for public eyes. Just like I'd hate to have an unrevised draft of my work released to the public, I'm sure that's also how Tolkien felt about many of his sketches.