Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Art of the Hobbit

I don't know about you, but I've got the winter blues.

Looking back on past winters, there is always one thing (besides overdoses of sugar, of course) that manages to cheer me up, and that is The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films.

I haven't seen the newest installation of The Hobbit yet, but yesterday on a visit to the library I came across this book, conveniently placed in a display in the foyer (waiting for me, obviously).

The Art of the Hobbit, by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull

I thought this was going to be a book of trite fan art made by nerds devoted to the LOTR series, but it is actually a book of Tolkein's original illustrations for The Hobbit. What I learned from browsing the book is that these illustrations, particularly the color ones, weren't included in the original publication of the novel in order to keep the publishing costs low. In fact, the original publisher Allen & Unwin even concluded that the novel did not need illustration because its content alone painted a vivid picture in the reader's mind. This book reveals a fascinating look at the landscapes in Tolkein's mind.  Here are a few of my favorites from the book:

Trial dust-jacket

The Front Door [referring to the front door of the Lonely Mountain]

Rivendell

[detail]

Bilbo Comes to the Huts of the Raft-elves

Riding down into Rivendell

Nargothrond [I have actually no idea which fictional 
place this illustration refers to, but I like its simplicity]

Another fact I learned from The Art of the Hobbit is that Tolkein was a self-taught artist. He initially created paintings from real life places surrounding his home such as the beaches at Cornwall. It wasn't until later, when his colorful stories as well as imaginary languages came to life, that he started drawing fictional landscapes.

When the world around you sucks, create your own.

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