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! 

Friday, November 11, 2011

More poppies

Last year when I went with a poppy-laced theme for Remembrance Day, my blogger friend Avalon Medieval made me realize I had missed a very iconic scene about poppies from the movie "The Wizard of Oz".  As the Wicked Witch of the North cackles, "Poppies will put them to sleep!"  We see Dorothy and her fellow travellers in the midst of a huge field of magical poppies, which have the poisonous effect of causing eternal slumber.

 Please click this link to the poetry website of author Josie Whitehead to read her poem which is a tribute to Remembrance Day:  Flower of the Eternal Sleep.

Screencap from Strike Back courtesy of Richard Armitage Central Gallery

Canada's Military has lost 158 soldiers to the land of the poppies. This webpage honours all of the fallen Canadians who gave their lives in service to Canada while striving to help the people of Afghanistan.

A section of Canada's Highway 401 between Trenton and Toronto, Ontario was renamed the Highway of Heroes to honour Canada's fallen soldiers as this is the route of the family and the military convoy carrying the body from the ceremony at Canadian Forces Base Trenton to Toronto.

Highway of Heroes / by Pete Fisher (2008)

The Canadian Hero fund is a charity to provide scholarships
for the children and spouses of fallen soldiers.

Here is Rick Mercer proudly wearing a poppy
and reminding us to pay our respects on Remembrance Day.

Some people seem to feel that a white poppy (as a symbol of peace) is a better choice to wear.  I definitely agree that peace is what we all need to work at.  But for Remembrance Day, the traditional red poppy, which symbolizes sacrifice and honours those who gave their lives to protect others, is the respectful choice.  One can choose a white poppy on another day of the year.

Canadian troops began returning from Afghanistan in June 2011.  I am sure all the families will be breathing a sigh of relief this Christmas.

Gari Glaysher sings Bring Him Home : a tribute to the Afghan heroes, from Les Miserables

I can't mention poppies without remembering The Poppy Family one of my favourite Canadian bands from the 1970's.  The group included husband and wife Susan and Terry Jacks.  I love the sound of Susan's voice. I was going choose their song Evil Grows, but then I found this song which seems much more appropriate to this day.

I Was Wondering / The Poppy Family

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bombs away!

photo courtesy of Richard Armitage Central Gallery
Remembrance Day (Nov. 11) has always had a special significance for me.  My father was a veteran of World War II in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).  It was something he never really talked about, as it is with most veterans.  The only war stories I ever heard were the more pleasant memories and those were usually told by old comrades who came to visit.

Talking Old Soldiers / Elton John

WWII Recruiting poster by Ted Harris
My Dad was a bomb aimer or as the Americans called it - a bombardier. It was after a visit from Uncle Charlie (who wasn't really my uncle but my Dad's closest friend in the airforce),  that I learned this piece of information.  As a youngster I was very curious about what Daddy did during the war and as children have very little notion of subtlety, I believe I posed the question, "Did you kill anyone in the war, Daddy?"  I remember he paused quite some time before he answered and when he did, he said words to the effect that  he aimed the bombs at factories, because that was what he was supposed to do.  I could tell that this was difficult for him to say, and seeing that he was so uncomfortable I never brought the subject up again.  But many years later, when I saw the movie "The Memphis Belle" I wanted to watch it with him, as I thought it did an amazing job of showing what it must have been like on a bombing run. In particular it showed the crucial role of the bomb aimer in ensuring the target was hit successfully.

The movie is based on the true story of the crew of the B-17 Bomber named Memphis Belle which was profiled by Life Magazine for being the first crew to complete their tour of duty safely after enduring 25 bombing runs.  The film tells the story of their last run, and in the following scene you will see Billy Zane as the bombardier who has just made the decision not to drop the bombs as the target is obscured by clouds.  Although low on fuel, the pilot (Matthew Modine) decides to take another run over the target.

Memphis Belle (1990)

Although the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force crews flew Lancaster bombers, everything else about this movie seemed to be exactly as I might have imagined it (from the little I had heard or read).  I never did get to share that movie with my father, which is probably just as well, because even though there are lighter moments in the movie, the drama can get very intense. I thought it did a good job of showing some of the moral struggles in the split decisions that had to be made in the midst of battle.  I had heard of crews that been returning from bombing runs with their bombs still intact.  They had to drop their load over the Channel before returning to England or risk an explosive landing.

A wartime casualty resulting from this practice is rumoured to have been the famous American band leader Glen Miller, whose plane disappeared over the English Channel after leaving France on Dec. 15, 1944.  Here is a tribute to him which includes the beautiful song Moonlight Serenade.

In a modern war story Strike Back episode 1, based on Chris Ryan's book of the same title, John Porter, played by Richard Armitage, makes a moral decision to save the life of a young, would-be suicide bomber by defusing the bomb. It is a heroic act that is later thought to have dire consequences for his future career in the British army.  The story is artfully portrayed using the poet-turned songwriter Leonard Cohen's magnificent "Hallelujah", sung by Allison Crowe.

Hallelujah / by Bccmee