The bittersweet ending of The Lord of the Rings is a scene that impacted many readers and viewers such as myself. It is the last we see of our beloved heroes after so many trials and tribulations in their story. In this scene, our heroes join the elves on a boat departing Middle-Earth to “a far green country under a swift sunrise.” Many see this as an allegory for death and the journey beyond, whether it be heaven or something else. Like Bilbo, I like to think of this in a more optimistic way: a new adventure in an unfamiliar land. JNJ Bricks captured the moment in the Grey Havens right before their departure in a striking, immersive LEGO scene.
The minifigures of Frodo, Gandalf, and the hobbits stand in the foreground, out of focus and facing away. The elves wait by the boat, ready to take them on their journey out of the completely brick-built harbour. LEGO parts make up everything in this scene, from the water to the sunset sky between the cliffs. My favourite detail, the arches, and towers across the water look just like the movie, despite being so small. The boat, being grey, is distinct enough to not blend into the background. The accuracy of this scene invokes the same emotion in me as I experience while reading the book or watching the movie. Now I am in the mood for some of Tolkien’s poetry…
It’s 1496 in Milan, Italy and the renowned artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci is finishing up his latest commission, a fresco spanning the wall of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Over the years, “The Last Supper” has become a symbol of the Renaissance art movement. More recently, it has been recreated as a LEGO vignette by Joe (jnj_bricks). In this stunning rendition of da Vinci’s masterpiece, Joe creates the appearance of a two-dimensional fresco with the illusion of three-dimensionality using three-dimensional LEGO bricks– it’s mind-boggling!
Let’s take a look at some of Joe’s illusionistic building techniques in “The Last Supper”. First, the floor in the fresco is built slanting upwards. This creates a deep shadow underneath the table, reminiscent of da Vinci’s chiaroscuro technique of contrasting light and shadow in his oil paintings. Next, the walls of the room within the fresco are built using slope bricks instead of standard 1x bricks, making the “back wall” appear to be much farther away than it actually is. Finally, the bordering brick “window” that frames the fresco completes the composition. Early illusionistic wall paintings that date back to ancient Rome would also use this technique to portray a vista into another world.
All of these techniques enhance the forced perspective in the overall build, creating a convincing replica of the real-life fresco. With the amount of realistic details and artistic techniques packed in this build, it’s hard to believe Joe hasn’t apprenticed for the Renaissance master builders!
Many people seem to have more time on their hands recently, with much of normal life disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. And as a result, contests are popping up out of the woodwork to give LEGO builders some inspiration, whether it’s Reverse Engineering or Alphabet Starfighters. Included in that is one called Style It Up, where the rules dictate color choices and style rather than content. Since the first week’s challenge is to build something with only one color, jnj_bricks went straight to black. As in black panther. Now, if you have ever tried to photograph LEGO, you know it can be a challenge to get the lighting right. When your build is black, it gets about a billion times harder because it reflects everything. Yet this cat is perfectly captured mid-step, standing out against the black foliage.
A lot has gone into the panther, with teeny tiny parts giving it an organic shape. I see flippers, a mohawk, and a cap, to name a few. But minifig arms and gobs of horns for the grass add further details, and the scene as a whole is both dynamic and vibrant, despite being monochrome.
Feel inspired? There is still time to hop over and get some entries in.