Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Although we've had a fair amount of snow here, the temperature has been very mild all through the holiday season.  This has been quite pleasant, but very unusual.  More commonly we get a real cold snap between Christmas and New Year's Day.  So just when you want to go out and visit people, you think you'd rather stay home and keep warm.  It seems silly, but I've actually heard people complaining it's too warm.  (Well, one was a child who was afraid the snow might start melting.  The other was a snowmobile salesman.)  So I actually got a bit reminiscent of colder days - which brought to mind the following song.  I really like this video version as it includes photos of Toronto, Ontario Canada (which is also the setting of the song).

The Coldest Night of the Year / Bruce Cockburn

I won't be doing anything special for New Year's Eve because my husband has used up all his holidays and I'd rather just stay home and watch a movie or something.  So I'll probably just be the D.D. (designated driver) for my son.

Speaking of Toronto... wouldn't it be great if RA came to Canada and somebody snapped a picture of him... say, in a shopping Mall?

If only it were true!

I hope everyone has a fabulous time in the coming year.  Welcome 2012 and remember it's only 11 more months until we can see The Hobbit!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lighten the darkness

A memorial candle brightens the darkness of the season.

Even though this is not a Christmas song, it seems appropriate.

Long as I Can See the Light / CCR

This time of year can be very difficult for people who are far from their loved ones or worse, have lost someone close to them.  The long periods of darkness also lead to depression in some who suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).  

Lighting a candle to remember a loved one is a time-honoured custom.  Although it was traditionally done in a church, the practise does not need to be religious.  It does not even have to be a real candle.  If you wish, you can follow the highlighted link to Light a virtual candle.

Wintersong / Sarah MacLachlan

Just belting out a tune can help to lighten a mood. So if you have the blues, there's nothing better than to sing the Blues!

Christmas Blues / Amy Sky and Colin James

The angelic tones of this boys' choir named Liberia is definitely in tune with the Christmas season.

Light the Candles of the World / Liberia

The Jewish holiday of the Festival of the Lights (Hanukkah) started yesterday. Servetus from Me + Richard Blog has made a Chanukkah video starring none other than RA to help celebrate the festival.

Here are some photos of Richard Armitage featured in various roles, illuminated by candlelight .
 As John Thornton in North and South (episode 2)

 As Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood (series 3).

As Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit (to be released in Dec. 2012)

Bask in the glow of his loveliness and experience the Armitage Effect!

The days are now starting to lengthen again at the passing of the Winter Solstice.  Likewise the lack of news from The Hobbit is over with the release of the trailer!

(for Canadians who like Richard Armitage and/or Dawn French)

Tyme4t sent me a note that Vision TV will be showing The Vicar of Dibley Christmas specials (2006) Tonight!: Thursday Dec. 22 (Part 1), and Friday Dec. 23 (Part 2) at 8:00 ET (7:00 Central time)

Watching Harry Kennedy propose to Geraldine Granger lights me up - every time!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Snow wonder

Guy of Gisborne looking snowy
It has been warmer than usual so far this winter. Many parts of Canada haven't received their usual amount of snowfall.  I can't conceive of a Christmas without snow, so please let me share with you some snowy scenes and songs of the season. These two songs were both new to me and are both by very talented young Canadians. 

I love the retro sound of this song.  It was written and performed by Meaghan Smith who hails from London, Ontario.  She has a lovely voice and I find the bouncy, upbeat vibe of this song is very engaging.  The video appears to be by and about some university students celebrating a "snow day" when classes are cancelled due to a snow storm.  They look like they are really enjoying themselves. 
Please click on her name to see Meaghan's webpage where you can read her bio and see some professional videos of her songs.

Snow Day (It Snowed) / by Meaghan Smith

This cover of The Little Drummer Boy is by a 16 year old High School student from Winnipeg, Manitoba named Sean Quigley.  He plays all the instruments himself, but especially loves his drums.  He also made the video himself with a bit of help in filming by a family member.  I love that he used the city of Winnipeg as his backdrop on a perfect snowy day.  The last scene from atop a building, showing the skyline is very effective.  Also very nice is that he shows friends of his holding up signs which read Merry Christmas in a variety of languages. If you click on his name below you can read more about him in a news article.  His video has quickly gone viral.
***Please Note:  Most people would not choose to wear shorts in the winter!***

Little Drummer Boy / Sean Quigley

You may think me a flake, but this is no snow job!  Looking closely will make my subject crystal clear.

Now that you are in a flurry of excitement - Here are some good wishes for you!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Crazy Christmas songs

Phylly finally feels festive!

Share in a silly seasonal sing-along.

I was dared to sing this once in public. I'd like to say I didn't take the dare but....

Porky Pig's Blue Christmas

We had a Reader's Digest Chistmas Collection of songs and this was our family's most requested one on the album:

All I Want For Christmas / Spike Jones

This is a fun song at the best of times but this is definitely a unusual version.

Must Be Santa / sung by Bob Dylan

This singing comedian can make a Christmas song out of almost anything!

I Am Santa Claus / Bob Rivers

Here's another childhood favourite.

I'm Getting Nuttin' for Christmas

And now a little something for my fellow RA fans!
Ooooo! I am soooo BAD! I really am getting nuttin' for Christmas!

 It seems so cruel to have him posing in a snowbank.
Here's one (by the artist who shall remain nameless) where he seems much warmer (and happier too!).

Best Wishes for the Holiday season!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Coldplay fanvids continued...

This is part 2 of an earlier post where I discovered that there were quite a few Richard Amitage fans who were also fans of the music of Coldplay.

If you haven't seen the original post (which was recently updated with a new fanvid for Spies) please click here.

The first fanvid up for your enjoyment is to the song Violet Hill.  The lyrics start with:
Was a long and dark December,
From the rooftops I remember
There was snow
White snow
which seems very appropriate for the current month.  It also fits well for the opening scenes of Thornton's mill in North and South with all the cotton flying around like snow.

The next video is from the short-lived television series The Golden Hour. I made reference to this video in my comments in part 1 of this post.  This is a private video on Vimeo but you will be able to watch it if you enter the password (which is supplied for you) into the box.

Fix You / by Yorkshirewench
(The password is butterfly)

The next three videos are by the same vidder and all are from the Robin Hood series. Liisakee is definitely a Coldplay fan as I had a couple of her videos in the Coldplay part 1 post.

 Lost by Liisakee

Strawberry Swing by Liisakee

Liisakee's last one is only for real Robin Hood fans.  There's not enough Guy in it to satisfy most RA fans, but if you enjoy the song and keep your eyes peeled you will be rewarded. As she states in her note headed by *please read* the song was picked for its faster beat and doesn't really follow the lyrics. But as she also says: "Coldplay + Robin Hood = Epic Win"

 Speed of Sound (Robin Hood Season 3) / by Liisakee

Here's a Coldplay song I wasn't familiar with. That's what I love so much about fanvids.  I have learned so many more new songs this way!

What If? / by Ganamona

This next video is based on a plot by Rosfan (I am guessing a fanfic?).  It imagines a deeper relationship between Ros and Lucas from Spooks in which they have both been deeply affected by the bomb in the series 7 season ender.  The song used in the video is Life in Technicolor (which is rather ironic since the video is all in black & white).  I also enjoyed the camaraderie of these two and every scene they shared very much.

"Fallout" (Lucas/Ros) / by JulietD001

The Scientist is the music for the next video by the same vidder.  It is from series 7 Spooks about the way Lucas North is yearning for some sign of love from his ex-wife Elizaveta.  It is really heartbreaking to watch Richard Armitage's portrayal of Lucas North's desperate attempt to connect with her as he is so coldly rebuffed.

Tell Me You Love Me? / by JulietD001

This vidder uses the sadness of the song 42 to help portray 
Lucas North's character for series 7.

42 / by salazarlp

The song Trouble seems perfect for the character of Lucas North in Spooks.

Trouble by misshale78

I am always interested to see more RAfanvids to Coldplay songs.  Let me know if you find some that aren't in my Part 1 or Part 2 posts.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Getting all misty

 The song Misty was composed by jazz great Erroll Garner in 1954.  Just listen to the way he tinkles those keys!

Erroll Garner plays Misty

The lyrics were written by Johnny Burke who wrote quite a number of songs made famous by Hollywood.  Some of my favourites are Pennies from Heaven and  Swingin' on a Star.

Look at me,
I'm as helpless as a kitten up a tree
And I feel like I'm clinging to a cloud
I can't understand,
I get misty, holding your hand.
Walk my way,
And a thousand violins begin to play
Or it might be the sound of your hello
That music I hear,
I get misty the moment you're near
You can say that you're leading me on
But it's just what I want you to do
Don't you realize how hopelessly I'm lost
That's why I'm following you.
On my own,
Would I wander through this wonderland alone
Never knowing my right foot from my left,
My hat from my glove,
I get misty, and too much in love.
I'm too misty, and too much in love

The song was covered many times, with hits for Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra.  But no one had a bigger hit with it than Johnny Mathis.

Johnny Mathis sings Misty

This song was so popular in the sixties that it inspired a movie about a woman with a thing for a radio show host (played by Clint Eastwood) who likes to phone in requesting this tune.
Play Misty for Me was Clint Eastwood's first directorial attempt.  He did a successful job too.  The movie did fairly well at the box office (luckily because he was starring in it).  It still has a bit of a cult following today.  Also, it seems to be given credit for inspiring movies with similar plots, like Fatal Attraction.

Clint Eastwood and Jessica Walter in Play Misty for Me

Oh, did I forget to mention that the woman (played by Jessica Walter) is actually a psychotic fan?  She throws herself at him, and they have a little fling, until he realizes he has to get away from her, and that's when things get really crazy!

**Warning: ** This was going to be my Halloween post but I didn't finish it on time (obviously). Although normally I would find this movie really hokey, the context in which I am using it may seem very disturbing to some (even me).  I hope I don't upset anyone too much with this.
Play Misty for Me (1971) Trailer

 Yikes! A crazed fan!

That movie is a bit over-the-top (don't you think)!

All right, time to calm down now.  No crazed fans here.  
I hope I haven't ruined that song for you forever.  
But I have one more version of it to share which I hope will cheer you up. 

Ray Stevens' version of Misty

I wasn't certain how to take this upbeat, countrified version when I first heard it way back in 1975.  I probably wondered if it was a parody.  Afterall, Ray Stevens was known for novelty songs like Gitarzan (why didn't I use that song on my Tarzan post?) and The Streak (about that unique '70s craze of running naked in public). Once I realized it was a genuine cover of the original song I really fell for the whole toe-tapping, slide guitar whining, feel good sound!  I even prefer it now to the original arrangement!

There! That's better. I knew that version would make you feel better!

Deep cleansing breath ... Ah!  Much better.

Wow! Look at that smile.
Now I'm getting all misty again!
(But it's okay... really! Don't worry!)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Richard III Fan Art

I've been meaning to get to this post for quite some time!  CDoart has been running this Richard III fan art theme all month on her King Richard Armitage blog.  Recently the petition has passed the 500 mark!

Then, just when I was almost ready to post, my computer crashed.  It is now in the shop and I am praying I didn't lose my RA picture collection (which is replaceable but took many months of joyful snaffling to compile). What is not so easily replaced are the downloaded fan vids from some vidders who are no longer anywhere to be found -- hello Sooth -- are you out there?  (Not to mention my holiday snaps and personal photos -- waaaahhh!)
Anyway.... back to this topic...

I did a Richard III post back in August for Richard III week where I had a few Face in Hole pictures of Richard Armitage as Richard III.  Here is a new one with a different background.  This one is from Al Pacino's portrayal of the monarch in Looking for RichardGuy of Gisborne looks very regal in this crown, eh?

But rather than me messing around with Face in Hole (which I love, of course) because it is so easy to use!  There are real talented artists out there who know how to do a real work of art or proper manip with better graphic software!

Here are two from TeaTotallyNot. In the first one see how she brings a Renaissance look to the portrait with her use of light.  It looks rather like a Dutch master!

The next one is even more stunning.  Although it looks more like a photograph than a painting, the details are amazing.  I am wondering especially how she did those hands!  The placement of the fingers and the rings are just like the painting!

This is proof of a real master of photomanipulation at work!

Now I will need to repost a painting done by Elizabeth Alger.  I interviewed her during the FanstRAvaganza last March. Elizabeth is an author and illustrator who is also a fan of Richard Armitage and Richard III.

You are welcome to check out the other artists' Richard III fan art here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Armitage as Art: An Interview with ZeldaT!

 I first discovered the talent of Zelda T when I was looking for fan art to display for my art gallery post during the FanstRAvaganza.  Her portrait of Guy of Gisborne (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) was amazingly realistic.  She has since begun a blog called ZeldaT : Paint and Suffering and even made a video about her art.

 Here is Zelda's video which is provides an excellent sampling of her work.

Have you always been an artist?  Which artists have most influenced you?
Claude Monet Painting on the Edge of a Wood
(1885) by John Singer Sargent

I think I always have been an artist, or been interested in art. I started drawing seriously when I was a young teenager.

A lot of illustrators influenced me, like the artists you see who create book covers and movie posters. Two favorite illustrators are Bob Peak and Drew Struzan. I admire many classic artists as well, including Monet, Degas, and John Singer Sargent

What materials do you prefer to work with: pencils, charcoal, chalk, pen and ink, watercolour, oils, etc.?

I’ve used almost everything. In the past I’ve had an infatuation with pen and ink, colored pencils, watercolors, pastels, even airbrush! But the mediums I’ve worked with the most often are oils, acrylics, occasionally watercolors, and pencil. 

How do you organize your art supplies? Do you have a special case, or even a room?

My “painting table” is a lawn chair with a towel draped over it! ;) My “studio” is the corner of a larger room, which was chosen because it has fairly good lighting and adequate ventilation.

Because most of my paintings right now are so small (8x10 inches or smaller), I’ve been getting away with not using an easel. But recently I finally invested in one. I haven’t set it up yet.

I store my paints and supplies in several plastic totes, especially designed for artists. Since I have a serious paint addiction, I’ve got different totes for different kinds of paints. Like one for oils, one for acrylics, and another for alkyds, and so on. It’s getting out of control!

We painters get very invested in all our materials. With oil painting, there is the concern about being “archival.” (Something I’m still learning about.) We don’t want our paintings to fall apart in a few decades. With oil paints, if you do some things wrong, that can happen. But at the same time, if you do things right, your paintings can last centuries, as we’ve seen with many of the Old Master paintings hanging in museums. So there’s a whole science to using the right methods, the right painting mediums, the right kind of painting surfaces, to ensure longevity. In a way I feel a little silly, because I don’t believe my paintings will hang in museums in a hundred years. But at the same time, it doesn’t usually cost that much more to use the right archival methods, so why not?

Do you prefer realistic art like portraiture, still life or landscapes?  Have you also tried impressionism, cubism or other art styles?

I’ve always been a realist artist. One of my favorite art teachers called herself an “Impressionist,” so I think that rubbed off on me as well. Probably how I’d describe myself is a representational artist, which I think means that I paint recognizable images (recognizable as a cat, a horse, a person, a mountain).

Do you ever draw from real life, or do you use photographs?

I do both, and prefer to paint and draw more from life. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to get Richard Armitage to pose for a portrait! ;)

When I started out, I mostly drew from photographs, but later took some life drawing classes (drawing the nude figure). Drawing from life can be considerably harder than using photos all the time. It was tough at first to study from life, but I know it was one of the best things I could have done for myself. There’s a big difference between drawing from life and drawing from photos.

Zelda Thornton, can we assume from your pseudonym that the character John Thornton is very important to you?
I didn’t put a tremendous amount of thought into choosing the last name. I knew I wanted “Zelda” as my first name! I liked that it started with a Z! ;)
Indeed yes, John Thornton is a favorite character. I first fell in love with him thanks to the BBC miniseries, but since he is also a character in a classic piece of literature, I liked the idea of using his name, so it didn’t take me too long to decide to use it as my pseudonym. 

Would you tell us a bit more about how you came to “fall in love” with this character? How long ago is it since you saw this miniseries (North and South)? Did this interest draw you into finding out more about the actor who plays him? Are you a fan, and if so, what does that mean for you?

I’ve always liked romantic characters, like Mr. Darcy and Mr. Rochester. With North & South, I think I was looking for new period dramas to watch, and there it was. It was a few years ago. I had read the reviews for it and heard that Mr. Thornton was very special.

When I started to watch N&S, I couldn’t see what was causing all the swooning, because to me he appeared to be an average-looking guy with a big nose. (I’m sorry!) But about half way through the series, I started to fall under his spell. Suddenly he started to look a lot better. I first realized his true beauty in that scene where he’s going into the bad part of Milton to see Higgins. What a lovely jawline he has! ;)

I looked North & South up on IMDb and found that other fans were discussing the actor, Richard Armitage. I learned about his other shows, like The Impressionists (which of course I loved) and Robin Hood. After that there was no going back!

I’ve been a fan of many actors over the years. Once I’m a fan of someone, I usually remain a fan for a long time. But usually there are one or two guys at the top of my mental list of favorites, and for a while now, Richard Armitage has been at the top!

How much of a fan I am of an actor will depend on what kind of person they are, and what kind of work they’re doing. Another thing that can fuel my interest is being around fellow addicts. I hit the motherlode with Richard Armitage! There are so many blogs and the fan sites about him! It’s easy to get caught up in all of that. In addition, Richard Armitage seems like such a nice guy, and is doing exciting work. I loved North and South, but I didn’t expect to get so hooked on Robin Hood, but he was *that* good in it. And now we have The Hobbit to look forward to!

I first discovered you on DeviantArt. How long have you been using your account there and what is it you like about it?

Since the beginning of this year (2011). I’ve known about DeviantArt for years, but never have been active on it. I decided that it was finally time. I felt that DeviantArt was especially suited for showcasing fan art. Not all art communities as accepting. They either talk about how it is a copyright violation (which is technically true, of course) or they treat you like you are not a “real” artist. I felt that DeviantART was the best place for me to show my fan art as well as my “fine art” and not be unfairly pigeonholed because of it.

Could you tell us something about yourself? ie. Are you married, have any children? Any pets? Perhaps you could tell us also about a typical day in your life.

Not married, no children. I am a cat person and will sometimes do sketches of my cats. I have a few “cat studies” up on DeviantArt right now.

My typical day is very ordinary and I consider myself very average in many ways! But one thing that I am grateful for was that I was raised in a family that valued the arts and creativity. My interest in art started when I was a child. I was able to take art lessons when I was fairly young, and took some excellent art classes as an adult. I feel in some ways that I am “self taught,” but that isn’t really true, since I took all those classes. But I’m sure any artist will tell you, an education in art is what you put into it.

As I say in the “About Me” page on my blog, there are people with extensive formal education, but who came away from that education with very little actual artistic skill. So either they didn’t put their heart into their education, or the quality of the education was poor. (Sadly, these days, it’s often the latter.) Then there are those who are strictly “self-taught,” but because they were so dedicated and passionate, they have learned much and improved a lot. Perhaps more than some artists with the superior education.

Maybe that’s part of the reason I started the blog, is because I know there are a lot of dedicated self-taught artists out there, and even though I’m not technically one of them, I feel like I am in spirit, because I had to do a lot of self-study and exploration on my own. I know what it’s like to be searching for help and answers, and the feeling of frustration at not finding them easily. So I want to help others find answers, while at the same time, I’M still searching for answers. A lot of my blog is whining and self-discovery, as I learn that I suck at this or struggle at that! We never stop learning and we should never stop trying to improving ourselves.

Would you describe yourself as an extrovert or an introvert? (As a cat lover, most people would guess you might be slightly introverted?)

I’m probably introverted, but not completely. I’m not really sure how to explain it. If I were completely introverted, I probably wouldn’t have a blog or show off my artwork. But being anonymous on the Internet makes that easier.

This is a photo taken up the California
coast, north of San Francisco. I’d love to
do a painting from this photo someday!
Do you like to travel? If so, where are your favourite places to visit? Do you like to sketch when you are on holidays?

I love to travel, but don’t get to do as much of it as I’d like. My favorite vacation spots are out in nature, wherever there are trees, mountains, lakes, or the beach. I enjoy painting when I’m on vacation. As far as I’m concerned, the best part of travelling is being able to paint all the beautiful scenery.   I’m a city girl who loves to get out in the country to take photos and paint. I’ve always lived in a bigger city and probably wouldn’t be happy living in a completely rural setting.

What other hobbies do you have?

I have several hobbies. I like to dabble with making music on my computer, but I’m not very good at it. I also love to read, mostly classics and romance novels. When I was a girl I dreamt of painting bodice ripper book cover art!

Ooo! I do love a good bodice ripper!  I would love to see Mr. Armitage model for a book cover like that!  Could we persuade you to do one for fun? Pretty please?

LOL! It’s crossed my mind! I’ll have to think on that some more. If I do a bodice ripper type cover, it would either be for North & South or Robin Hood. 

I am excited!  No pressure, but if we could have it in this interview -- that would be awesome! There is no time limit for this interview ….

I don’t think I’d have it ready in time. I would want to do an oil painting, and it can take days or weeks, because of the drying time between layers of paint.
I love that you do tutorials on your blog. Are you interested in teaching an art class in real life, or have you already?

Thanks! No, I don’t teach and have no plans to start. The tutorials are enough for me. Part of the reason I wanted to write them was because I see a lot of fan art tutorials which show how to do fan art digitally, or in pencil. So, I thought I’d try to give fan art a “fine art” slant with oil paints and some acrylics, as well as cover other things that I didn’t see mentioned in other fan art tutorials. It sounded like fun at the time, anyway.

I also thought I should ask you..... What compels you to use Richard Armitage as a subject of your art?   Is there a particular feature of his you enjoy trying to capture? Is there one most difficult or easier?

He’s simply so beautiful. That sounds so dorky, so I should explain that I think a lot of people are beautiful. But his beauty isn’t that superficial kind. After all, John Standring (the less-than-glamorous scruffy farmer from “Sparkhouse”) is beautiful, but not in an obvious way. He becomes beautiful the more we get to know him. That’s real beauty.

I’ve been watching his shows for a while now, all the time thinking how lovely he was in this shot, how great he looked there, how expressive he was as Guy of Gisborne or Lucas North, but I wasn’t at the time able to do any portraits. So when I did start doing some fan art, I had all these ideas for portraits almost bursting to come out of me!

Of his features, I love his mouth the best, and then I think his jawline. But it’s the whole package. So expressive. A great subject to draw, and with so many “looks.” I can see myself extending my “Richard Series” of portraits for quite a while, though I do plan on doing portraits of other actors (and actresses) along the way.

And finally, I’ll admit that I knew that with all the fans out there and the bloggers, that there would be an audience for portraits of Richard Armitage. LOL! Of course I wouldn’t (couldn’t, really) do this many portraits of him if I didn’t truly find him fascinating, but it’s rather boring to do a portrait of a celebrity that is a super-popular among fan artists. (Like Angelina Jolie. Or Jack Sparrow from “Pirates.” I feel they have been done quite enough.) But there aren’t enough portraits of John Thornton and Guy of Gisborne yet, so I felt the need to do some! :)

So true! His expressions are so varied for each role, he is like a chameleon in how he can change his “looks” as you say.  There are certainly not too many portraits of Richard Armitage out there and we are very grateful for your work!