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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

"Fairer than Most" by Nanette-Rosie Gagnon, plus Jan-u-wine's “The Harvest”.

Posted on 2010.04.24 at 14:50
Tags: , , ,

Fairer Than Most - teaser

When jan-u-wine saw the finished Frodo manip I made in October from Ford Madox Brown's The Hayfield, she sighed. How she would like a painting of it, complete with the aged cracked surface of Brown's 1855 work. This led her to propose the project to her artist-friend, Nanette-Rosie Gagnon.

Rosie, or Nan (she goes by both names) painted a commission for jan-u-wine in the past, a folk-art illustration for Jan's poem "Across So Wide a Sea" (which tells of Sam’s coming to Tol Eressëa and his reunion with Frodo - see the post here). As requested, Nan used oils on canvas for her painting based on 'The Hayfield' manip, applying a crackle effect on top. She explained in her own post elsewhere about the piece, "Pippin rests by a bale of hay smoking a pipe, Sam & Rosie work with other hobbits in the field with the hay harvest, and Frodo is contemplating his birthday, after the War of the Ring. Eärendil is shining in the sky near the moon."

As a treat to me, rather than have Rosie send the finished piece directly to her, jan-u-wine had her mail it to me, so I could see it in person. I hung it on the wall (out of the way of kitties). My husband took photos so I could have a virtual copy before I mailed it on to Jan. Upon receiving it, she wrote me an email. I love what she said about seeing it for the first time....

.... [T]hen even the brown paper is off, and there is one more moment of suspense, while you read the title written on the back, smell the good oil paint smell, tell yourself to remember all of it, from the little sounds the paper makes, falling to the floor.....

It has seemed long, this wait. And yet, not so long, as our eyes meet, like friends who'd had tea the day before (and know they should have it again, upon the morrow). We might fall easily into a silence that says more than any speaking could. Or we might laugh and hug, full of delight in the moment, simply because we *can*. Of course.....we....*can't*.....

I'm finding it difficult to really tell you what I'm thinking or feeling. For me, that means that whatever it is, it is too large, emotionally, to be reduced to words. I think......I can't say something like "I love this" because that just seems so...inadequate. If Frodo himself were by my side, to tell him that *would* be inadequate. But what more can I say, what better word might I use? None, I think. When said with honesty, that is the very largest word there is.

I do not have an artist's eye, so I cannot offer an opinion in that sort of a way. I only have my own heart, and this touches me, as if I'd walked into a room, and found him there, waiting for me.

"Of course," I would think, "of *course* he is waiting for me." But, also: "he waited. For me. *He* waited".

A meeting as natural and looked-for as the sunrise, and as unexpected as a solitary bird raising its voice in the dark of night. I can't explain it better.

I wish you might have been here to share this with me, but I do hope that you enjoyed the painting while it was there. It's odd: having it, looking at it.....it's one of those things that does not assuage your longing, only makes the yearning more.....tender.

I think that must mean that Nan did with her brush what people say that I can do with words. And, like the best that I have written, her painting leaves me feeling that there is *more* (not that there SHOULD be more, as if the work were lacking)....a *more* that I might discover, if I but try.

Jan-u-wine wrote an excellent new poem, The Harvest, for this painting. It appears below the images.


The Painting:~Fairer Than Most, by Nanette-Rosie Gagnon.

Image of full painting, reduced for this entry (actual size 24 x 18 inches):

Fairer Than Most - image of full painting, actual size 24x18

Detail of Frodo's eyes from the full-size image of the painting:

Fairer Than Most - detail of eyes

Left side of painting, about 2/3 scale:

Fairer Than Most - close-up of left side

Right side, not quite the size of the real painting (24 x 18):

Fairer Than Most - close-up of right side

The Harvest

~ by jan-u-wine

An unaccustomed rain
there was,

this day,

the thick grey cloak
of it


with Sea-scent,

storm clouds
boiling, black,

like a ship caught

by the hard heel
of a careless wind.

Cold it was,

this bitter draught
of a rain,

sparking and smoking

upon buckthorn-green

the Sun,
at the last,

lying down in the West,
the tatters and fat fleece
of spent clouds

and close-held,

at the warm
rose-gold of Her breast,

the swept-clean sky-bowl

falling and fading
to burnt-blue,

the full Moon's
watered parchment

by the gem'd lamp
of Eärendil.

All of this.......

all of

within an ordinary day
of harvest.....

the broad flanks of the ponies

even in the quiet cool of dusk,

sweet steam

from the muted yellow of the hay,

rain-wetted bales
rose-tipped beneath

the moon's wavering light.

All of this.

All of


beating like my own

within me,
closing my fingers

inside the gentle

of memory,
filling my mind

with quiet song.

All of this.

It is......




Side note, on seeing paintings in person:

Emailing each other back and forth about the piece, I mused on the way a real painting is so different from a copy of it. This is about Nanette-Rosie Gagnon's painting, but could be applied to viewing any painting. I wrote something like this....

I love looking at the vibrant, glowing image of Rosie's painting on my computer screen, but the real painting has its own magic unlike what a person can see on a monitor or even a high quality print. Rosie said something related to it when I was emailing her about making the photographs of it. How hard we worked to get the glare off it, trying to photograph it, I told her. She answered she actually liked the glare its shiny surface made, because it was so like the sheen of an old painting.

This was a little "ah ha" moment for me, helping me see what makes appreciating a real painting so different from a copy of it. Oil paintings have a glossiness to their surface that reflects light. Museums displaying oils use really good indirect lighting, but there is always some glare, some reflection of light. No matter where you stand, some part of the painting (unless it is very small) has a sheen on it and the image is obscured. So the viewer must move around to really see it. As the viewer moves, the sheen moves; the obscured part of the painting becomes clear and a different area becomes hidden. Thus the viewer has to interact with the piece, physically, to really see it in its entirety. Looking at a big painting, one has move in to see the detail and back up to look at the overall composition. But in order to deal with the glare created by reflected light, one has to do some side-to-side movement. A large painting requires taking some steps this way or that, but even a small painting requires some head-shifting.

'Fairer Than Most' is not a large canvas, but it's quite glossy. One must do some accommodating in order to fully see it. If I focus on Frodo's face, the haystack with Pippin disappears. I shift my head to see the haystack, but Frodo disappears behind the light. I shift again, his face reemerges, but there goes the hobbit hole nestled in the hills.

When I look at an oil in person I think I am seeing a whole painting -- which is what a good image file or print shows, having been made in a special setting to remove the glare -- but I'm not. Without noticing it, I am shifting my perspective to deal with the reflected light. I now think that looking at an oil painting is like discovering a picture, area by area, parts of it coming to the fore as other parts disappear. In a way, paintings seen "in the flesh" are alive, like people. To really make their acquaintance you have to enter into a relationship with them. To see Frodo in Nan's painting I must draw near, pull back, change perspectives and continually shift between focusing on Frodo and his world. It's like getting to know a real person. But then Frodo is a real person, at least to some. :)

Related Entries

~ "Reunion" by Nanette-Rosie Gagnon, illustrating jan-u-wine's poem, "Across So Wide a Sea".

~ Brown, Ford Madox: 'The Hayfield', with jan-u-wine's 'A Fairer Than Most Birth-day', 10/30/09.


(Deleted comment)
mechtild at 2010-04-24 23:21 (UTC) (Link)
Hi, Mews! Ehanks so much for stopping and commenting. As you can see, I'm back. I'm going to check the f-list to see if you posted any update today on how you're feeling. Hopefully not desperately in need of that "swept clean sky", though that would be a delight on even one's best days.
jan_u_wine at 2010-04-25 00:44 (UTC) (Link)

and if ever.....

you are in California, you will be more than welcome to come see it in person, dear Mews. Thank you for the very kind words!

shirebound at 2010-04-24 23:34 (UTC) (Link)
What a beautiful painting. I especially love seeing the star.

And this... gorgeous...

closing my fingers
inside the gentle
of memory,
filling my mind
with quiet song.
mechtild at 2010-04-24 23:59 (UTC) (Link)
That Jan. She has a way with words, ey? Words to do with LotR characters, anyway. And I'm glad Jan requested the star. The painting didn't include Eärendil originally. It's the perfect touch, to me, since I strongly associate Frodo's story with Eärendil's.

Hi, by the way. As you can see, I'm back from my weeks away. It's good to be home!
shirebound at 2010-04-25 00:06 (UTC) (Link)
Yay, welcome home!
Lavender Took
lavendertook at 2010-04-25 03:36 (UTC) (Link)
Welcome back! I hope all is well with you and the kitties!

The painting and Jan's poem are gorgeous. I think my favorite part, though, is Jan's description of first gazing on the painting--marvelously joyous. I'm wondering if Rosie made Frodo's eyes gray to be truer to book canon or if that's just how she thought they would look night-darkened. Good points about the glare of oils, and the fullness of only seeing part at a time--and having to move to see all as if it were a living thing changing over time.
mechtild at 2010-04-25 04:30 (UTC) (Link)
Hi! The kitties and I are fine. Thanks for the welcome home, Lavender. I was just on my biannual visit to me dear old mum (where there is no internet).

I love Jan's account of receiving the painting and opening it, too. She always says she can't write prose but I say she can. And I've got the evidence to prove it!

I'm wondering if Rosie made Frodo's eyes gray to be truer to book canon or if that's just how she thought they would look night-darkened.

The eyes are blue in person, but very dark. On my monitor I can see the blue in the iris of his right eye in the close-up, but otherwise it's difficult to tell.

Here's a detail of the eyes from the full-size image:

Fairer Than Most - detail of eyes

The full image at this size couldn't be put in a post!

Edited at 2010-04-25 05:12 pm (UTC)
bagma at 2010-04-25 17:09 (UTC) (Link)
What a gorgeous painting, and so vivid! You can almost smell the scent of the hay. The poem is lovely, too.

But then Frodo is a real person, at least to some. :)

You can count me among these people.:) The feelings I have for him are real, so it doesn't really matter if the person who inspires them is fictional, if you know what I mean.
mechtild at 2010-04-25 17:12 (UTC) (Link)
>>>"The feelings I have for him are real, so it doesn't really matter if the person who inspires them is fictional, if you know what I mean."<<<

That is most certainly true. Thanks for commenting, Bagma!
frolijah_fan_54 at 2010-04-25 22:48 (UTC) (Link)
What a wonderful painting - thanks so much for sharing that and sharing your very perceptive feelings as well.

And thanks to Jan-u-wine for another touching poem - you really do touch my heart with each and every poem you share. When I read the begining with the stormy sky, it felt like how Frodo must feel inside post-Quest. That beautiful, quiet, peaceful scene must have brought some soothing to his heart.

*BIG HUGS* to you both!!
mechtild at 2010-04-26 01:54 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks so much, Frolijah Fan. You are a doll to stop by and say such appreciative things. I hope Nan/Rosie gets over here to see this post to read the comments (she's not on LJ). Jan, too. :)
not_alone at 2010-04-26 20:51 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much for letting us see this amazing painting!! And your observations about viewing oil paintings are really interesting. Another gem of a post, Mechtild - many thanks to you and to jan-u-wine for her beautiful new poem:)
mechtild at 2010-04-26 21:42 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for your very gracious comment, Paulie. I am so pleased you made it over here. And I LOVE your icon!!! Who made that??? I want one!
not_alone at 2010-04-26 22:26 (UTC) (Link)
>>And I LOVE your icon!!! Who made that??? I want one!<<

It's beautiful, isn't it? Made by the icon godess annwyn55 :) Her LJ is friends-only but if you ask I'm sure she'd be happy to 'friend' you. She often has icon givaways!!

mechtild at 2010-04-27 00:07 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for that info, Paulie!
addie71 at 2010-04-28 00:32 (UTC) (Link)
The painting is beautiful and so is Jan's poem. Thank you for showing the larger image of Frodo's eyes, I could get lost in them.
mechtild at 2010-04-28 04:22 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks so much for stopping in, Addie. Yes, the eyes are wonderful. In person, they seem to be looking right at you.
Cat Mallard
darklingwoods at 2010-04-30 02:49 (UTC) (Link)
oh my!

this is just beautiful! And of course Januwine's poem is a perfect companion to it!

Thank you for taking such care in sharing the photos, I especially appreciate your thoughts on viewing paintings. You are always so insightful, I adore your posts!


mechtild at 2010-04-30 13:32 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks very much, Cat. I'll send a note on to Jan so she'll see your comment. She almost never visits LJ. I'm so glad the piece came out so well, too. She was pacing the floor, wondering how it would turn out. And I'm so glad it inspired such a poem. It is a cool piece, especially in person. I love the crackle finish she put on over the glossy top. I don't know what it was but it really makes the painting look aged. I hope it holds up! That's my only worry, really, that the aged finish will mean the painting is not properly protected the way it would be with a lacquer (or whatever they use) layer that wasn't cracked. But maybe the crackle goes over an underlayer that's fully protective.

~ Mechtild
(Anonymous) at 2010-05-04 01:31 (UTC) (Link)

wondrous triumvirate - poem, painting, commentary

Oh, how lovely!

Ice-spears (rain)... fat fleece(clouds)... watered parchment (moon<--my fave part of the poem)... and the beautiful, crack'd painting...even a description of the breathless opening of The Package...

and I had never realized that I have had to walk back and forth in front of large paintings in order to see them in full, due to the glare/shine. I just did it, without realizing why!!

It all draws me in to a lovely place. Thank you, thank you!
mechtild at 2010-05-04 02:13 (UTC) (Link)

Re: wondrous triumvirate - poem, painting, commentary

Mary, hello! It's lovely to see you. Aren't the paintings lovely? The oil painting and the word painting, that is. What gifted artists Nan and Jan are (and their names rhyme - how cool is that?)
frodosweetstuff at 2010-05-07 11:02 (UTC) (Link)
That's a beautiful painting. Thank you for sharing. She got the eyes just right!!! :))))
mechtild at 2010-05-07 18:12 (UTC) (Link)
The eyes are very good, aren't they? I think my favourite part of the painting, funnily enough, is the background. I love the way she portrayed the haymaking vignettes, the twilight sky behind the silhouette of the hills, the little smials nestled back there, the whole look and feel of it. It's very Shire-ish.

Thanks for stopping, Frodosweetstuff! :)
Estë   (or ST for short)
este_tangletoes at 2010-05-10 17:58 (UTC) (Link)
This wonderful post, with the lovely painting and accompanying poem, drew the longest and heaviest sigh from me.

Graces three, I thank you all for sharing.

mechtild at 2010-05-10 18:23 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Estë, I'm glad you got to see this. Isn't it satisfying to see what Mr. Baggins can inspire in those who love him?

I hope you can take a look at my new manip, too, which is made from Caravaggio's "The Musicians". Jan-u-wine wrote an excellent poem for it. Let me get the link....


Perhaps it will be my last Frodo art manip (there really no other paintings left I think would work well, except ones for which I can't find big enough copies to work with). If it is, it will probably remain one of my favourites I've done. :)

Edited at 2010-05-10 06:24 pm (UTC)
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