Visions of Middle-earth - Meet Tolkien Artist Anke Eißmann

Turin begs leave of Thingol and Melian.
Some of you may have noticed that I've added quite a few new images to our Art Gallery in the past week, most of which have been by one particular artist: Anke Eissmann. Her depictions aren't necessarily of the climactic moments in Middle-earth, but more often deal with the scenes other artists overlook, scenes which are still incredibly touching and artistically touching in her own way.

Now, you're not likely to see her name up in lights next to John Howe, Alan Lee, or Ted Nasmith, for she paints all of her artwork without the notion of publication--it is purely a labor of love. So, without further ado, check out Anke Eißmann's artwork!

Finally, Anke has also been kind enough to give us this introduction to her work in her own words:

My very first encounter with "The Lord of the Rings" was about six years ago when I was 15. Immediately I felt strangely familiar with the story, the characters and the setting: the book seemed to combine everything I had ever found fascinating, moving, or thrilling in other books. And yet here was something new. Never before had I been that deeply moved when reading a book.

Up until now it has remained my chief source of inspiration. Still, after much study of Tolkien's other works, and mythology in general, I cannot put into words what it is that makes me read the books again and again (once a year at least).

So if I cannot express it in words, I try to put it down on paper. Ever since I could hold a pencil I have been drawing, and later painting. My chief subjects have always been the stories that fascinated me at a certain time.

When I encountered the English edition of LOTR illustrated by Alan Lee I found that he has depicted the landscapes and characters and even whole scenes very much the way I had always imagined them (some little "mistakes" left aside), but could not paint myself. He portrays Middle-earth not as a foreign place, but as a part of our real world. Thus he expresses explicitly how I feel when reading Tolkien: at home.

Generally I share Lee's view not to interfere as an illustrator with the readers own imagination, but since I cannot do landscapes as well as he does, I had to find other topics to paint. I chose those scenes and characters which tend to be overlooked by other artists, scenes not charged with great action or emotion or drama, but nevertheless important for the story and rewarding to paint in my eyes.

Since I imagine the setting of Tolkien's works to be in a fictional time and real place similar to early medieval north-western Europe, my characters wear mainly costumes and weapons of the Anglo-Saxon-, Norman- and Viking-age. I also try to avoid the clichees so typical for fantasy-art nowadays (pointed ears for Elves, for example). All in all I want to stick as close to the descriptions in the books as possible.

My images shall express how I see Tolkien's works, although I must admit that I am not quite capable yet of putting to paper what I see in my mind when reading. The pictures are thus only one possible, very personal view. Each reader has of course his or her own. Since there is much I still have to learn and improve, I guess I will be practicing for some time still to make my painting match my imagination.

Anke Eißmann

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