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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

New Frodo Art Travesty: Brown's "The Hayfield", plus jan-u-wine's 'A Fairer Than Most Birth-day'.

Posted on 2009.10.30 at 09:58
Tags: , , , , ,
~*~

Hayfield - teaser


This manip was created to complement jan-u-wine's new poem, A Fairer Than Most Birth-day. She wrote it as this year's birthday mathom, but, since I already had prepared a Baggins Birthday post, showcasing a poem written several years ago from Bilbo's point of view--with a Frodo Art Travesty to go with it--I didn't post it. I promised myself, however, that I'd make a post for the new poem, complete with its own illustration.

The featured poem, which celebrates the renewed post-war Shire as seen through Frodo's eyes, cried out for Shire imagery. Since I'd already screencapped every trilogy scene set in the Shire, I decided a new Frodo Art Travesty was called for. The resulting image, Frodo in Ford Madox Brown's "The Hayfield", captures well for me the mood of subdued but intense reverie in Jan's poem, especially at the poem's end, when the time has become dusk and the moon has risen.



~*~




Source for Frodo figure:

The source for Frodo's image is a well-known publicity shot for FotR. I believe it was taken by Pierre Vinet, the photographer who did most of the gorgeous production stills for the trilogy. I love this image. Frodo looks young, yet wise, fresh-faced and bonny-cheeked, yet worn and grubby, warm, yet reserved, keenly observing, yet reflective.


Here is a reduced version of the shot:






Source for background:

Ford Madox Brown was a Victorian-era painter often associated with the Pre-Raphaelites. Although never a formal member, Brown was from the Brotherhood's beginnings an important associate and acted as a mentor to its members. He gave lessons in oil painting to Dante Gabriel Rossetti, at the younger artist's request (who soon quit, a lax student), and produced an essay on historical painting for the group's magazine The Germ (1850). He kept an unvarnished and detailed diary which offers many insights into the life and work of the Pre-Raphaelite circle. Nevertheless, Brown had his own style and approach to art, although he used the detail and rich colours admired by the Pre-Raphaelites, as well as being drawn to dramatic and illustrative subject matter.

Born in Calais of British parents in 1821, he was shifted about between England and France as a child. A talent for drawing was noted and he began studying painting and drawing seriously from an early age. Although he was a proficient artist, his work much appreciated after his death, he was mostly ignored by the art establishment of his day, who saw him as an outsider, unwilling to compromise. He never made much money from his work. As principled and passionate in life as in art, he could be perceived as prickly in temperament, although he was considered a self-sacrificing and loyalfriend. He died in 1890. To see more of his work, browse ArtMagick's online collection here.

The painting was acquired by the Tate Gallery in 1974. A writer for their online site says of it,

Brown painted "The Hayfield" (oil on mahogany) directly from nature. The setting is the Tenterden estate at Hendon, in north London, looking east at twilight. He worked on the picture regularly from July until October 1855, finishing the details of the foreground in his studio, including the self-portrait of an artist relaxing in the lower left corner. The effect he particularly sought to capture was the way in which the brown hay was made to appear almost pink by contrast with the dense green grass. After it was finished his dealer rejected it on the grounds that he had never seen hay of this colour. Brown later retouched the painting before selling it to his friend and fellow artist William Morris.
Brown, like a certain manip-maker and LJ user, was apparently a noted maniac for continually tweaking his work, fiddling and re-touching paintings even after they had been sold. To see the Tate's online image of the painting, which although small and indistinct gives a hint of the "pink hay", click here.




Ford Madox Brown's The Hayfield, 1855:






The Final Manip (skip this if how-to's bore you):

Starting out, I thought it would be a lot easier to import an entire figure into a painting than just a face or head. As it turned out, trying to nuance Frodo's head into a painting is a lot easier than insinuate an entire figure of Frodo. The main problem is matching textures. "The Hayfield", which is not in good condition, presented a challenge. The large scan I worked from was much better than the tiny files I found on the internet, but it showed clearly the network of small to large surface cracks that covered the painting's surface, especially noticeable in its lower left hand corner. How could I make the perfect Pierre Vinet photograph look more a part of the original painting?

I did a lot of experimenting, but ended up first smoothing the painting. After I had diminished the obviousness of the surface cracking, I carefully cut Frodo out of the publicity still (I worked from a high-resolution file), slapped him provisionally onto the painting, and fiddled until I got the size and position I thought looked best. Then I darkened and tinted the source scene (increasing the blue), to bring out the soft glow of the moon and deepen the dusk, adjusting the figure of Frodo to match. Then I worked a bit at trying to texture the Frodo image. I added filters in fairly translucent layers: "eggshell crackle", "film grain-rough", and "crayon-faded rub". These added character and broke up the photographic surface a bit, but did not add the crackled surface that matched the painting, a crackle pattern that nothing in my standard tools could produce. Discouraged, I decided what I had would have to do.

I saved the image as a jpg file (in which the layers can no longer be worked with separately) and, with the clone tool set at various transparencies, worked at nuancing the edges of the imported image, bringing background colour in and Frodo's colours out, painting in strands of hair, bringing strands out. Once he was well-integrated into the background, I could see that he still stood out from the painting, his texture too photographic. With a selection tool, I isolated his image and played around some more, further adjusting the colour and lighting, trying different filters to see if another combination would work, but the improvement was minor. Then it occurred to me to take a peek into the effects/filters available in Paint Shop Pro, a program I've only started to work with. Happily, after a lot of trial and error, I tried a texturing effect called "tinfoil". Adjusted, it produced the best semblance of the painting's crackle by far. I applied it, deemed the crackle it produced good, but too harsh. Thin layers of "watercolur-rain" and " watercolur-traditional" blended everything better. With a last, very light layer of "eggshell crackle" over the whole thing, I felt satisfied. Yet, like Brown himself, I still itch to tweak it. Every time I look at it I see room for improvement. With effort, I am forcing myself to let the "final draft" be final.



~*~







Frodo, in Ford Madox Brown's 'The Hayfield' (reduced approximately fifty per cent):












A Fairer Than Most Birth-day



It is my
birth-day.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

True-silver,
the dawn,

light-leaf
shimmering

in the grey,
sky-lake
clouds,

tattered pink
drifting

and giving way
to a brass'd

and
fleeted summer
Sun.

Later,

fog-wisps
yet lying

chill
in dips and

hollows,

my feet find
the narrow

curve
of the road,

its face dark with
the wet cling

of frost,

crystal dew-gems,
(like a drift of autumn snow-arrows)
lying upon lace-puzzle spider webs.

I shall walk
very far

this day;

so far, I imagine,

that the stars
shall rise

and sing
within the velvet catch-bowl
of the sky

before ever
I turn towards

Home.

The night air
will be sweet and heavy
with Harvest,

the wind warm
with the slightest

salt of the Sea,

the sharpness of it
like a secret

unfolding in
the midnight

strike of a clock.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


At the last, I stand
upon the crown of

the Hill,

the jewel'd finery of night
winking and

captured above me,

the soft amber-gold
of tallow-fat candles

beckoning below....


Like a friendly hand upon
a wanderer's strayed arm,

these kindly lights,

like Spring days and Summer nights,
like safe-within-Winter.

And I turn to Home,
my feet finding the familiar way,

road-dust rising fine
and autumn-leaf scented
about me,

smooth-limbed trees
unmoving

beneath my touch,
.
yellow-yolked Moon
pulling

sleep-cloaked song
from hidden thistle-birds.

The round door closes behind me,
hinges

lightly heralding the season's change.

I smile and touch it,

as if it were a beloved face
I should not like to forget.

So many things to touch,

to love,
to remember,

on this,
my birth-day.


September 22, 1420, S.R.**

____________________________

**this extraordinary year, in which the devastated Shire was renewed, was called "The Great Year of Plenty". It was also the last year Frodo celebrated his birthday at Bag End.













Detail of Frodo's side of the painting, slightly reduced:


Hayfield crop of Frodo's side at near full size









Frodo's face, detail, from full-size image:


Hayfield face crop at full size















Tables of Links:


~ Frodo Art Travesty LJ entries (entries that present selected manips, which may feature notes on the paintings and manip techniques, as well as essays or poems).


~ Album of all Frodo Art Travesties (a gallery of images only—be sure to enlarge images after opening).


~ All entries featuring jan-u-wine's poems.



~ Mechtild

Comments:


Shirebound
shirebound at 2009-10-30 16:31 (UTC) (Link)
That gentle manip and gorgeous, lyric poem go very well together.

The round door closes behind me,
hinges
lightly heralding the season's change.
I smile and touch it,
as if it were a beloved face
I should not like to forget.


*sigh*
Mechtild
mechtild at 2009-10-30 22:16 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, Shirebound, for stopping by. I have been working on this post and manip for about a month, but with many interruptions, mostly travel and family visits. I am so glad finally to get it posted. I made it a priority when we got back on Tuesday night. Jan was a huge help, proofing and advising, not to mention writing the wonderful poem that prompted me to make the post at all! Isn't she wonderful at getting inside the character - his point of view - yet without being pushy or indiscreet? I love what she does.

Edited at 2009-10-30 10:17 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2009-10-30 22:19 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, Mews. I have always loved this publicity still of Frodo, often making it my "icon" for various messageboards, but I felt as though Jan's poem really made it come alive for me, capturing both his obvious youth and freshness, yet the sadder strains underneath.
Lavender Took
lavendertook at 2009-10-30 20:23 (UTC) (Link)
That is a gorgeous manip--it works beautifully. I like Brown's background better than his foreground there--I love those hills and dividing trees and the luminous moon. The light of it really does catch the bittersweet of the poem.

That's one of my favorite pics of Frolijah. There he looks like book Frodo to me. Intellectually discerning and cahllenging--try to pull one over on him at your own risk of being subtly lambasted, such that you won't know how badly you were insulted until later that evening, or perhaps not until the next morning. Bingo's key words with his icon of it are, "homeowner bingo, polite, try me, bingo hobbit of leisure, dry, gentlehobbit."

This poem is so beautifully bittersweet, which is where Frodo is all that year. Dawn, day passed in a phrase, then dusk.

the velvet catch-bowl
of the sky


I love that phrase.

Like a friendly hand upon
a wanderer's strayed arm,

these kindly lights,

like Spring days and Summer nights,
like safe-within-Winter.


The place he stood before he left on the quest. And what he fought for--all the beauty and warmth there is, only to be observed by standing beyond it--so sad. Jan's caught it all there.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2009-10-30 22:49 (UTC) (Link)
Being a huge appreciator of that particular Frodo portrait myself, I loved what you wrote about it. Yes, "intellectually discerning and challenging" - I see that, too. What EW was actually thinking ("Are you done already???? I can't hold my eyes open in this sunlight much longer!") is -- perhaps mercifully -- a mystery, but what an evocative portrait it is. I was just telling Shirebound, through all my years on the messageboards, a crop of that portrait was almost always my icon.

I also love what you said about the poem. It's so full of appreciation for the Shire, so full of finely observed moments - but observed as if for the last time. Yes, it's all there.
 Paulie
not_alone at 2009-10-30 21:07 (UTC) (Link)
>>I love this image. Frodo looks young, yet wise, fresh-faced and bonny-cheeked, yet worn and grubby, warm, yet reserved, keenly observing, yet reflective.<<

That description is absolutely spot-on, Mechtild!! And he really looks as if he's always been in that painting! Reading the details of how you achieved this effect leaves me in complete awe!!

Jan-u-wine's verse is so beautiful - and heart-wrenching, knowing Frodo will never celebrate his birthday in the Shire again:)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2009-10-30 22:50 (UTC) (Link)
I'm so pleased you took so much pleasure in the manip and poem, Paulie. Coming from you, Ms. Journeys With Frodo herself, the praise is high indeed -- and very welcome. :)

Edited at 2009-10-30 10:52 pm (UTC)
addie71
addie71 at 2009-10-30 22:06 (UTC) (Link)
That is such a beautiful manip, and this from the poem

So many things to touch,

to love,
to remember,

on this,
my birth-day.

broke my heart when I realized which birthday it was.



Edited at 2009-10-30 10:06 pm (UTC)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2009-10-30 22:52 (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that jan-u-wine knows how to get to us Frodo-readers, doesn't she? And I love it, being go to. Thanks for stopping to read and comment, Addie. :)
Prim
primula_baggins at 2009-10-30 22:11 (UTC) (Link)
Your manip is exquisite, and the background you chose is very Shire like.

The poem is lovely and so wistful. Since we know it's Frodo's last birthday in his beloved Shire, that makes it quite poignant.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2009-10-30 22:54 (UTC) (Link)
Primula, it is so gratifying to hear that the poem and image touched and pleased you. Thanks so much for stopping to comment!
verangel
verangel at 2009-10-31 01:06 (UTC) (Link)
I am going to read all this and digest but I have to say, THAT first picture blows me away. His flesh and vibrancy of it. His hands and the tones and the bones and angles and velvet and stark beauty in the sharpness of all this. I love staring at his hands and face. He's "uncut" and real.
Had to say this before I get into the read. hugs you xooxox v
Mechtild
mechtild at 2009-10-31 01:28 (UTC) (Link)
By "that first picture", I take it you mean the image used for Frodo, the wonderful FotR publicity still by Pierre Vinet of Mr. Baggins standing in front of Bag End. It really is a fantastic portrait of Frodo. Yes, yes, yes to all you said. Good to see you, Verangel!
verangel
verangel at 2009-10-31 01:26 (UTC) (Link)
Oh...I'm crying. The poem captures every essance of the beauty of change and moving to another time. There are so many textures in the words and I can feel it more with the picture you have given. The richness of the valley and lights and joyous colors of a wonderful evening. Frodo is so gorgeous in this as a forward closeness to the backdrop of the artist of the past. It is not surprising that THAT gorgeous face and body could easily transpose to generations of past artistry, but you moved him perfectly into it.
The words were amazing. "sing within the velvet catch-bowl of the sky" I read over and over and rolled these words in my mind.
"Like a friendly hand upon
a wanderer's strayed arm" Oh...me in NYC!

"The round door closes behind me,
hinges
lightly heralding the season's change.
I smile and touch it,
as if it were a beloved face
I should not like to forget.
So many things to touch,
to love,
to remember,"
Senses are so hightened in the words written here. I felt this day, even today as it was a warm day, lots of wind, golden leaves flying (much to my neighbors and husbands chagrin). It was 75 degrees and signaled the end of a gorgeous fall as tomorrow the cold of a border winter enters with rain.

I love this and am amazed at how you can do the magic you do in this picture, and met with the words are magestic.
hugs you both close. xooxoxox v


Edited at 2009-10-31 01:28 am (UTC)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2009-10-31 01:33 (UTC) (Link)
Verangel, thank you so much for taking the time to comment at length. The thoughts and feelings of Frodo, at just that time, in just that place, in just that transition point in his life, really are wonderfully well expressed by jan-u-wine. I love that you shared your personal, deeply felt responses to Frodo in this image and poem; you increase my own appreciation.

You mention a "border winter". Near which border do you live? It sounds as though you have been having a warm, golden autumn.

Edited at 2009-10-31 01:34 am (UTC)
Estë   (or ST for short)
este_tangletoes at 2009-10-31 11:37 (UTC) (Link)
*Heart clench* because of the image and the poem.

Thank you for sharing.

-- Estë
Mechtild
mechtild at 2009-10-31 14:43 (UTC) (Link)
You're welocme, Este. Glad to share the Frodo-beauty.
(Anonymous) at 2009-11-01 16:51 (UTC) (Link)
Did you go ahead and purchase Paint Shop Pro, Mechtild? I hope you're enjoying experimenting with it. You have done a great job with the texture and matching the tone of the figure with the background's twilight ambience. Frodo blends into the painting effortlesly, as if he belongs there. I have saved all ~ the full size manip, and the detailed close-ups.

This picture must be one of the most favoured images for Frodo fans, myself included. I wonder if it was EW's intention to be in character here? For me he is Frodo through and through. Who knows what he might be thinking behind that enigmatic expression?

Jan's poem is so beautifully descriptive, it's difficult to lift out a specific quote, but I love this:

Later,
fog-wisps
yet lying
chill
in dips and
hollows,
my feet find
the narrow
curve
of the road,
its face dark with
the wet cling
of frost,
crystal dew-gems,
(like a drift of autumn snow-arrows)
lying upon lace-puzzle spider webs.

Thank you both.

~ Blossom.

Mechtild
mechtild at 2009-11-01 21:27 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, Blossom. I got Paint Shop Pro 9, and all because of you. I used it for the last trio of screencap posts I posted (The Houses of Healing series). I was so pleased with the results! It was a tremendous help, making this manip, since there was just nothing that would suit in my old standby photoshopping programs.

I love the word you used for Frodo's expression in that publicity still: "enigmatic". I said he seems this but that, that but this, but "enigmatic" would have said it all. :) It's a fabulous shot. "For me he is Frodo through and through", you wrote. That is probably the quintessential Frodo portrait from the films for me, too.

Thanks for stopping in, Blossom, and I'm so happy you enjoyed the manip. And I can't agree you more about jan-u-wine's poem. She has just a gift for painting in words, and especially through the eyes of her characters.

P.S. If you want the full-sized file of the whole manip, let me know. I think it would fit in an email. It was too large for either my free Photobucket or Scrapbook accounts to host without automatically shrinking it. It's 20.7 MB, 3178 x 2273 pixels.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
Cat Mallard
darklingwoods at 2009-11-07 14:42 (UTC) (Link)
Mechtild, this is just breathtaking my dear! I love how you altered the photo just enough, it's as if I'm not sure if he is stepping out of the painting or into it. I've never seen the original painting before either and what a perfect choice!

Of course a beautiful heart tugging poem by jan-u-wine!
Mechtild
mechtild at 2009-11-07 16:21 (UTC) (Link)
Why, thank you, Cat. I'm so glad you enjoyed jan-u-wine's beautiful poem and the visual project made for it. I've always loved this shot and never imagined I'd ever be able to use it for an art manip. I wish it were a real painting (something Jan and I concurred on)!

Edited at 2009-11-07 04:23 pm (UTC)
frodosweetstuff
frodosweetstuff at 2009-11-12 08:29 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that was lovely! Very atmospheric!! :) The moon just makes his skin look more silky. :))) Good job!
Mechtild
mechtild at 2009-11-12 18:13 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, Frodosweetstuff. I'm so happy you enjoy the new manip. Yes, the moon does things for Frodo, in this manip and in the films and in our imagined visions of him. ;)

[oops: editing blooper]

Edited at 2009-11-12 06:13 pm (UTC)
julchen11
julchen11 at 2009-12-21 22:52 (UTC) (Link)
How could I miss this wonderful, interesting and very moving post, mechtild.
The manip "speaks" to me. It made me lean back, look at it for a very long time and it made me think and dream. So very soft and peaceful.

"Like a friendly hand upon
a wanderer's strayed arm,

these kindly lights,

like Spring days and Summer nights,
like safe-within-Winter."

It goes perfect with Jan's amazing poem.
She's always so in the character she's writing about -she's simply amazing.

"The round door closes behind me,
hinges

lightly heralding the season's change.

I smile and touch it,

as if it were a beloved face
I should not like to forget.

So many things to touch,

to love,
to remember ..."

*sighs*

Thanks to both of you.

Love and big tight hugs,
Julchen



Mechtild
mechtild at 2009-12-22 00:09 (UTC) (Link)
I'm so glad you enjoyed the post, Julchen, poem and illustration. As for Jan's poem, you say it well: "she's always so in the character she's writing about". It's a gift, one I don't share with her, or not in that degree. I am in awe of it. I will give a heads-up to Jan that you have commented.
(Anonymous) at 2010-12-19 21:48 (UTC) (Link)

Thank you

Sigh...! Met, a gorgeous manip (where do you get the patience
not to give up is beyond my ken)--
J's words match it perfectly -- my favorite line
is "safe-within-Winter"...
There is do much joy and heartache in the art
and in the poem.
Thank you both!
Mart
Mechtild
mechtild at 2010-12-19 23:17 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you

Dear Mart, thank you for commenting. I'm so glad you enjoyed this. I'm glad, too, because opening up this older post I saw that the image of the full manip had fallen out of the post somehow. I've replaced it, so if you come back, you can scroll up to the top of the poem and see it.
(Anonymous) at 2010-12-19 21:51 (UTC) (Link)

Typo--previous entry was Mary, not Mart!

And thanks also for the background on
the original painting and artist. Very enjoyable!
Mary
Mechtild
mechtild at 2010-12-20 03:45 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Typo--previous entry was Mary, not Mart!

Ha! MARY!!! I was wondering who Mart was.
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