Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tolkien as Artist (Heraldic Symbols from Middle-earth)

We're continuing our study of imaginary landscapes in the afterschool arts program today. D. has been researching into art inspired by Tolkien – there’s a lot of it – and he’s also had a fascinating book and documentary video that showcase some of Tolkien’s own visual art.

I knew that J.R.R.T. had done maps, other drawings, and water colors. I had even seen a few of them (mostly the ones that appear on the covers of some editions of his books) but I had no idea how many lovely paintings and drawings he did. Not to mention some very fine doodling. As a somewhat prolific doodler myself, I was happy to see some of the interesting designs he created in pen and ink and watercolor.

One of the things that fascinated me most was to see that he had created heraldic devices, symbols for many of the characters and houses in Middle-earth. It doesn’t really surprise me to learn that he did, given the incredible amount of detail that went into the creation of every aspect of his subcreation: language, geography, cartography, legends, music. It makes complete sense that he would have colors and symbols in mind for his characters. But oh, I love them. As someone who likes to play with repeating designs, I find these symbols beautifully winsome. I think they have inspired me to try my hand at some similar symbols and designs for my characters in the Four Princesses.

They're all lovely, but I think this one, for Luthien, is one of my favorites:

(This is taken from the Tolkien Gateway site; as a non-profit, they use the image under fair use laws.)

1 comment:

Erin said...

How lovely! And how neat that he did that. I'll have to check them out... Do you recall if he did anything for the Gamgees?