The Pervasiveness of Armitage Art: Richard Armitage as Muse to Russian Artist, SceithAilm

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The King – “Deep blue sketch” – SceithAilm, DeviantArt – OPEN FOR LARGER IMAGE

Olga Levina is a very talented and educated, Fine “Armitage” Artist.  Her striking use of color and light can instill a gasp, or even bring a tear, upon first sight.  Her subjects seem to glow from within – their focus often riveting, even in their own self-reflection.

Professionally known as SceithAilm, Levina shares her work on social networking sites such as DeviantArt, Tumblr and Facebook

In her travels, Levina has explored much to feed her fascination with, and passion for, Gothic Medieval and Renaissance art – particularly Spanish – including architecture and lore. Her art clearly reflects such influences, with additional admiration for the works of Tolkien and Shakespeare.

She generously talked on the nuances in her creativity, along with the details of her inspiration by one of her favorite muses, Richard Armitage.

Not only is she passionate about her work, Levina is also very free to share it.  Along with her overall process, she discussed her work at length, including on that of her creation of a soon to be completed, stunning calendar project.

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 CC: Tell us about where you live?

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OL:  I was born in Russia, in St. Petersburg. Our city is considered to be the cultural capital of Russia.  

CC:  Are you self-taught or where did you further your education as an Artist?

There are a lot of colleges and academies for artists [in Russia] , so when I started drawing I had a lot of learning opportunities.  I have loved drawing since the age of five, and soon this hobby became my profession.  I graduated from  Saint Petersburg State Academy of Art and Design in 2011 as an illustrator.  In addition to the education, I am self-trained to draw using a Tablet where I started painting in Photoshop.  After 11 years of classical drawing  I have opened up new opportunities for creativity.  CG Art brings me a lot of ways for self-development and improvement.  This is an incredibly exciting and rapidly developing art form.  So I can say that I am self-taught and a professional artist at the same time.

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Is that the treasure thou dost seek? “Inspired by Mr. R. Armitage and William Shakespeare” – SceithAilm, DeviantArt – OPEN FOR LARGER IMAGE

CC:  I first saw your work on Tumblr.  When did you first decide to start publishing your work on DeviantArt and other social networks?
 
OL:  I took part in the fan art contest for the Russian version of MMORPGs “Perfect World” last year and noticed that many artists put a link on DeviantArt gallery in their profiles.  So I started visiting DeviantArt frequently and realized that this is a very convenient way to accommodate my paintings, communicate with other artists and make self-promotion.  In addition,  paintings by other artists inspire me a lot and have helped me to continue my own work.  You cannot be lazy seeing so many talented artists around you. 

The other social networks I use only in order to keep up with world news and receive news of my favorite fandoms.  Perhaps my most favorite network is Tumblr, because every day I can find something interesting there.  But for the publication of new drawings and paintings I use DeviantArt gallery only.  Sometimes other users put my pictures on their blogs.  That’s the way my pictures appear in the other social networks.  I think it’s great.

CC: What art “mediums” do you use?
 
OL: Over the last couple of years I’ve tried different software and graphics tablets, but now I use a Wacom Intuos 5.  It is very comfortable and easy to use. (I hope this doesn’t look like a Wacom ad?).  And among the programs I prefer Adobe Photoshop because it seems to be the most convenient and functional.  I tried many other programs, but has not been able to get used to them. 

My favorite traditional drawing technique is watercolor and ink pen.  I prefer graphical techniques, linear drawing and clear silhouettes in the paintings.  Perhaps because I am passionate about the art of portrait miniatures of the Middle ages and prints by artists such as Durer and Rembrandt.  So I try to get closer to the level of skill of my favorite [artists].

CC: How did you come to be inspired by Richard Armitage?
 

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North “Fire sketch” – SceithAilm, DeviantArt – OPEN FOR LARGER IMAGE

OL:  Oh, how difficult it is to answer this question and not to look completely starstruck.

I had a difficult period in life and work some time ago.  Perhaps it can be called a kind of “artistic crisis”.  And then I saw “The Hobbit” movie.  I was just amazed.  It was incredibly beautiful and inspiring.  Characters in the movie were not similar to the storybook characters, but they were so charming and expressive, and their appearance incredibly beautiful and ingeniously created, so that I fell in love with them at first sight and of course wanted to draw them.  So I have become interested in Richard Armitage’s personality since I saw him in the role of Thorin Oakenshield.  His performance as Thorin was so unusual, not identical with the book version of this hero, but it was incredibly interesting and ambiguous character.  His exterior was so majestic, beautifully designed and full of interesting details, that I immediately wished to paint him.

For me, painting is the best way to express my respect and admiration for anything and anyone, so I started drawing Thorin and other dwarves.  Sometimes I depict them similar to how they look in the cinema, and sometimes I add something of my own.  And, of course, I wondered how the King of the Dwarves looks in real life.  I was amazed that a man with such a non-standard, slightly sinister beauty can be so different and so charming in any role of his. Richard is a wonderful person, very unusual and very expressive. He cannot be called a classically handsome guy, but his face, facial expressions, and movements reflect every thought, every emotion and every sentence.  Probably that’s why I’m so keen to draw him and his characters.  They are all so charming, and there is a mystery in each and every one of them, some very special and attractive feature, inspiring me to make new and new portraits.

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We Must Away, Ere Break of Day “Inspired by mister J.R.R Tolkien and mister R.Armitage” – SceithAilm, DeviantArt – OPEN FOR LARGER IMAGE

CC: What would you say is your favorite piece that you have done so far and which Richard Armitage character is your favorite?
 
OL:  I have no favorite picture at all. They can only be more or less successful.  Any picture seems to be absolutely disastrous after some time.  Because, at first, there is continuous improvement of your artistic skills and gradually you start to see technical errors, bad parts, incorrect lines and proportions. And secondly, all the time that I’ve been drawing, I never managed to complete the picture under the initial idea.

This is especially painful when you’re drawing portraits of celebrities, because you cannot attain similarity with the original.  And even if the figure seems successful, once you look at any photo of Richard it appears that again a sketch turned out to be not as I’d wanted.  But I think that for now the best of my Richard’s portraits is the painting “The King.  I hope, compared to the rest of my drawings, this portrait of Thorin conveys his controversial experiences and unexpressed grief better than others. 

Actually, Thorin Oakenshield is artistically the most bright and interesting object to create paintings.  This character is not only a wonderful acting masterpiece, but also as a beautiful object for decorative work on the hair, weapons, ornaments of clothes and other small details. 

Among the rest of Richard’s work in movies and serials my favorite characters are Lucas North in the TV series “MI5”,  John Thornton in the drama “North and South” and Harry Kennedy in the sitcom “The Vicar of Dibley”. Each of them is incredibly attractive and beautiful, but I prefer to draw fantasy or medieval characters.

CC: I am both moved and fascinated by the light that seems to eminate from beneath the skin, as well as the intimately detailed work on the hair, in your subjects.  Where do you begin when painting facial tone and other details?
 
OL: My working over digital portraits always begins with a simple pencil sketch.  It helps to find the required view, pose an interesting character and determine the proportions of the picture.  Then, already in Photoshop, I divide a figure by color spots, then set the general tone for skin, hair, clothing, and eyes.

You must find common shades of light and shadow in the picture.  Then you must scale the image.  It is then more convenient to start the detailed work using the smallest soft or wet brushes. To work with skin first, I form the surface of the large strokes, facial folds, shadows, wrinkles, highlights, and then I make skin surface smooth using adjustment layers.  At the final stage, working on skin, a texture is overlaid on top of all other layers with a special blend mode. By the way, you can sometimes use texture of stone or tissue for skin painting.  It composes a very interesting effect.  And making a hair texture just takes a very long time to draw each strand of hair and whiskers, and then flatten them with adjustment layers of light and shadow. 

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Untitled “Obsession-sketch. ‘Release the Hounds of Hell!’ In my mind” – SceithAilm, DeviantArt – OPEN FOR LARGER IMAGE

CC: Yes, I can see that “stone” texture you speak of in several images.  That’s an interesting tool for such a subtle effect.  So, do you you work on commission or is the work you do on DeviantArt just for pleasure?
 
OS:  I have great problems with working [on orders].  Every order entails many obligations in terms of discharge, subject and style.  I’m busy with this type of work for most of the time, as it takes almost 9 hours every day.  And this is the kind of work that has a lot of limitations and customer requirements, that’s why in my free time I prefer full freedom in creativity.  After all, if I delay execution of an order, or its quality is lower because of haste, fatigue, or laziness, it will turn out that I don’t fulfill promises.  It would be unprofessional.  In my Gallery [on DeviantArt] there are several works I made for friends, just as a gift, free from any responsibility.  Everything I do [in my Gallery], I do for fun.  I get letters with requests to draw something on commission quite often, and it’s very flattering, but unfortunately there is no possibility to take such a work. 

CC: Have you traveled outside of Russia?  If so, what part of the world has been inspiring to you?
 
OL:  I haven’t traveled much in my life.  A few years ago I didn’t have enough finances for frequent traveling, and now I don’t have enough free time.  So, basically, I travel around the Western part of Russia and Finland.  Here we have lots of interesting towns with fascinating history and beautiful medieval fortresses.

When I was 11, I made a trip to USA.  I spent some time in California, near Los Angeles.  I was too young to appreciate all the opportunities of this journey, so most of the time I spend near the ocean, in natural reserves and zoos.  There’s just amazing climate and nature and it would be great to know this place better.  I think, there is still a lot of interesting things.

About a year ago, I visited Spain, and I was absolutely fascinated by this country.  I visited Madrid, Bilbao and Barcelona.  It was such an interesting place and I had great fun.  There are the a lot of museums in these cities, it was simply impossible to visit them in just two weeks!  And finally I visited the Prado and saw paintings by Velazquez and El Greco, which I have seen before only as reproductions in books.  The Picasso Museum, the Barrio Gotico Barcelona, Park Guell, “Guernica“, exhibition of etchings by Goya, Guggenheim Museum, Thyssen Bornemisza… all of it just struck me – it is very essential experience for an artist.  For me were particularly inspiring collection of Gothic medieval and Renaissance art.  This is my favorite periods of world art, and to see it with my own eyes was very, very exciting. I think I could spend all my life in Spanish museums.  And I hope to return there someday.

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Guy of Gisborne – August Geek Calendar 2014 – SceithAilm, DeviantArt – CLICK OPEN FOR LARGER RES IMAGE

CC: Tell me about your work on The Calendar?

OL: Project “Geek Calendar 2014” began with drawing a portrait of Loki from the “Thor” movie.  He seemed a bit like a calendar sheet and I decided that it can be quite amusing piece of art.  I could not find an interesting calendar for next year for a long time; most calendars are dedicated to Chinese zodiac symbol of a coming year, and it’s so ordinary.  So I decided to work out an idea of a “portrait calendar”.  So I turned Loki’s portrait into the February calendar sheet, and started to look for ways to make the rest of the sheets.  The original theme was a calendar that consists of portraits of the most unusual and most beautiful men.  But that would be too monotonous, and besides, I’ve wanted to draw Helena Bonham Carter for a long time.  So in the end I decided that it would be “Infernal” calendar that includes the most “dark, evil, and melancholic” movie characters.

Furthermore I got an idea to add quotes that reveal characters’ mood and attitudes.  For me, this work is interesting because it combines traditional drawing and digital art and design.  I think I’ll continue to do similar projects in the future.

CC: Is the Calendar going to be published for sale by any chance?
 
OL: People often ask about distribution and sale of “Geek Calendar” but I used popular and recognizable images from modern movies and TV, so I guess that profit from selling fanart is unethical and illegal.  I would be very glad to print and distribute it, free of charge, but I need to have the sufficient financing for this. When this project began gaining popularity, I decided that it would be something like a New Year gift for my followers.  So in my DeviantArt gallery anyone can find and download Calendar for free, and print it on their own.   I’ll try my best to finish the project in time.All this is a great honor for me.  Thank you for your interest in my work, it is very important for me.

~ crystalchandlyre

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Sceith

Olga/SceithAilm – CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE

SceithAilm:

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A Conversation with Ali at RichardArmitageNet.Com

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richardarmitagenet.com – all rights reserved

Several years ago, and for many years, American television seemed to consist primarily of silly situational comedies, creepy and “unrealistic” reality TV, vicious gossip forums, and various types of vapid music competition shows. 

With the exception of PBS Stations and Masterpiece, I was starved for decent television.

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richard armitage – john porter – strike back: origins

When BBC America reached American shores and became a cable channel staple, I believe I said a prayer of thanks to the Gods of Television – or at the very least suddenly became thrilled at the prospect of paying my monthly cable bill. (Trailer Video)

I very quickly became an addict.

Along with it came Netflix, which (then) for about $15.00 per month I was afforded all my new favorite shows and actors gifted from across the pond.

North and South was just such one of those shows, and with it came Richard Armitage.

Very soon I was clamoring to search for other work of Richard’s that was available, of which the aforementioned sources certainly did provide me the “hook up” – but still I wanted more.  So it was in my searches that I very quickly discovered the website, RichardArmitageNet.com (aka RANet.com).

Since then, the website has been a go-to for me for All-Things-Richard-Armitage, and where I simultaneously became a fan of the site as well.

Ali is the very talented, communicative and open Webmistress of RANet.com.  She generously agreed to speak with me about the website, its inception, her experiences, and the passion that fuels her as its Administrator.

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richardarmitagenet.com – all rights reserved

CC: When did you become moved enough by Richard Armitage, and his work as an Actor, to create a webpage for and about him?

ALI: “That’s not quite how it happened. I was asked to run a fansite (now closed down) for a short while with a friend when the current Admin [at the time] took a break in 2008. Both of us had met the Admin in real life and became friends so we were delighted and flattered when she asked us to run it for her. When she returned to the site my friend and I knew immediately we had to create our own site. It had been too much fun to let go and we now had the freedom to make design and content choices. There are now many sites of course and I think it’s great that they all offer something for everyone.”

CC: So you run the site by yourself now?  How did that come about?

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Richard Armitage – Robert Ascroft, 2012

ALI: “In 2010 my friend decided she needed to take a step back from the site, which involved covering for me during holiday periods, but in the end the break came about naturally. Although she still follows Richard’s career, her attentions have been diverted by an actor who plays the infamous tricksy Norse God. He’s attracted the interest of many an RA fan as well I believe!”

CC: When is the anniversary of the inception of RANet.com?

ALI: “The website was created on 22 October 2008 under a different name and then renamed in April 2009 to RichardArmitageNet.com.”

CC: How has the experience of creating and maintaining the website changed your life or affected you, or what have been some of the pros and cons?

ALI: “That’s quite difficult to answer. Has it affected me? It has introduced me to many people around the world, some of whom I consider to be good friends and meeting some of those people has led to several entertaining weekends and many happy memories. Sometimes I’m faced with a few challenges that I could do without. I’ve never been close to wanting to give up the website, but I won’t lie and say that it’s always easy. You encounter many different types of people with many different requests, but it is true that 99% of the time running the website is just plain, good fun. That’s why I do it I think.  Lord knows I’ve asked myself many times why I run this site, but I think it’s because it’s my hobby, it’s fun, I learn new things all the time, I’m introduced to many lovely people via email all the time, and Richard continues to entertain me with fascinating interviews and captivating roles.”

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a favorite – the weekly “double trouble”
richardarmitagenet.com – all rights reserved

CC: How many hours a week would you say you spend on the site?

ALI: “That varies enormously depending on what Richard is doing and my own schedule. If I need to update the site with news and check for new comments and guestbook entries then I might only log-in for half an hour or an hour a day, but if I’m doing some general maintenance or updating site content then I might spend a few hours. The bulk of my time is not taken up with the website but responding to emails, and this amount of time has reduced considerably since the picture of the day feature stopped. I’ve had to implement that change because the spare time I had for the site has now disappeared since starting a new career. I am concerned about the influx of news we will likely get at the end of the year when promotion begins for The Desolation of Smaug as I won’t be able to update the website as often as I used to or reply to emails as promptly, but I’ll get there eventually.”

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richard armitage – thorin oakenshield – the hobbit

CC: What would you say is your favorite article or audio interview of Richard? 

ALI: “I have two favourite radio interviews, the first because it’s downright hilarious and there is much giggling, and the second because Richard answered a question from me with the most brilliant answer about Gisborne’s back story. The funny interview is with Andi Peters on Heat Radio, October 2008  and the one in which he answered my question took place a year earlier in October 2007 in a radio interview with Radio Solent (#4 on this page).

It’s too difficult to choose a favourite [article] interview as there are so many. [Richard] always gives wonderful interviews to his original local paper, the Leicester Mercury. The interview on 15 Dec 2012 was a good one. I’m particularly fond of the Sunday Times Culture magazine interview, 30 April 2006, because that’s how I discovered Richard. Unlike most people who saw him first on screen, I saw him first on the cover of that newspaper and read the excellent article inside, intrigued by the guy who was going to play Claude Monet in the upcoming Impressionists series, as I’d heard that was airing soon and intended to watch it. After reading that article and watching The Impressionists, I bought the North and South DVD, watched it a few times, and then watched the first series of Robin Hood when it aired in the autumn of 2006 in the UK. I was hooked and found the Armitage Army forum (since renamed to the RichardArmitageCentral forum). So if you want to push me for a favourite interview, I’ll choose the Sunday Times 30 April 2006.

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richard armitage – john thornton – north and south bbc mini series

I don’t have a favourite video interview as there are too many. Any new video becomes the favourite, especially when he hasn’t made any appearances for a while.”

CC: I think anyone who is a fan of Richard’s who is prone to comb the internet for interviews the way I have, or has heard them first hand, has a favorite quote.  What’s yours?

one final questionALI: “His answer to the question in the Radio Times Oct 2005 article ‘Put a handsome bloke in a period costume’, etc. In that answer, he nailed the reason women yearn for the romance offered to the heroines of period drama by Darcy/Rochester/Thornton. The end of his quote succinctly states what is lacking in many modern romcoms. They could learn a lot from period drama about how to heighten the unresolved sexual tension.

Another quote is from the Vulpes Libres interview July 2009:

‘One of my great mantras is that ‘characters are at their most interesting when they are behaving out of character’, so when actors say:  “my character just wouldn’t do that”, I always say ‘well see what happens when you ‘make’ them do that!’ I had to instruct myself like this quite frequently with Guy of Gisborne, which is why he became interesting to me. He helped me to develop as an actor, for this reason.’ – Richard Armitage

I read and re-read this quote many times. I’m often exasperated by critics of a show who take issue because they feel a character has acted ‘out of character’. Richard makes an excellent point that those out of character moments offer such interesting challenges to actors, but also I think, to audiences. If the actor is good enough, he will convince us.”

CC:  I certainly agree with that.  Since RANet.com is often my “go to” place for recently released or found images, I was wondering if you have a favorite picture of Richard?

ALI: “I have lots of favourite pictures and they were all posted in the last month of the POD, which are still displayed on my website.

Some of those pictures were requested by others, but the majority are mine. You’ll have to guess which ones are my favourites!”

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richard armitage – lucas north – spooks (mi-5 in the u.s.)

 CC:  Of Richard’s work, what would you say is your favorite film and/or TV show?

ALI: “I don’t like to narrow this down as there are moments in many shows that are memorable, but if pressed I would say North and South. However Guy of Gisborne is my favourite character. It’s not happened yet, but I think the Hobbit trilogy might overtake N&S as my favourite if parts 2 and 3 are going to be as good as I think they are. I enjoyed An Unexpected Journey, but I think the best is yet to come.”

CC:  I do too.  Ali, have there been any perks or opportunities that have made your experience as Webmistress of RANet.com extra special?

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richard armitage – guy of gisborne – robin hood bbc

ALI: “I have been sent some DVDs which I have given away in competitions and Warner Bros have been in touch a few times to give me press releases. I have had some interesting chats with TV writers on Twitter. Dominic Minghella (Robin Hood series 1&2 lead writer) was very kind.  And one of the Spooks writers said he referred to my site many times during the broadcast of Spooks to read the reviews and related articles, which was great.

Also Twitter has been useful when it comes to interviews: some TV stations and PR reps have tweeted me to tell me when Richard was interviewed so that I will publicize it for them via Twitter and on the site, so that’s been great.

That’s about it!”

A huge thank you to Ali for all her patience and time for this interview!

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