Three years ago today I started this blog to say Happy Birthday to Richard. Today it continues, even though so much is different, and yet some things do not change.
Richard, may you drink deep from the well of happiness, good health, and prosperity. May your good friends, and their love, be endless and unconditional. And may you have the most beautiful, productive (or restful,) and glorious of Birthdays!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Olga Levina (SceithAilm) has completed all the elements of her 2014 Geek Calendar in time for printing and gift giving. She has made her Hi-Res images available to all – and not just this blog – essentially gifting it to her fans, as well as the fans of the Artists depicted. The images are high quality and print beautifully in 11″ x 17″! (see below)
(To view higher resolution – click each linked image, then click to enlarge; right-click to save image)
The printing of this calendar on 11″ x 17″ calendar paper, including cover stock and binding, cost approximately $16 each at Office Max, which made great gifts for the holidays – including for yours truly.
Artist, Olga Levina – SceithAilm. Friend/Follow her at:
- Facebook page www.facebook.com/olga.levina.146
- Tumblr blog http://sceithailm.tumblr.com/
- DeviantArt sceithailm.deviantart.com
- The Pervasiveness of Armitage Art: Richard Armitage As Muse to Russian Artist, SceithAilm (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
- SceithAilm’s Beautiful Lord of the Rings Themed Tarot Cards (themarysue.com)
- The Pervasiveness of Armitage Art: Sarah-Pete-Designs (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
- Bedtime Stories for Ladies, Read by Richard Armitage (linnetmoss.com)
- The Pervasiveness of Armitage Art: Thorin As Muse to Korean Artist, EvanKart (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
- The Kings New Coat or A Different Circus Question (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
“I visited the Waitomo Caves and saw the glowworms. I skied down Mount Ruapehu. I skied at Queenstown and all of the ski locations there. I skied at Mount Hutt. I took a helicopter out to White Island. I took a helicopter to the Milford Sound.” – Richard Armitage
Return to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Los Angeles Premiere
My drive to Hollywood was an auspicious one, being that one of the visions when approaching the event was the very beautiful image of the Gothic First Hollywood Methodist Church silhouetted by a sunset backdrop. The sky looked as if on fire.
Because I was apprehensive about actually going at first, my very first reaction when I first arrived at the Premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was surprise at the relative sparseness of fans in attendance. I was actually both relieved and a little dismayed.
For my own sake, I was relieved because I do not do well with crowds. For the sake of the filmmakers and planners of such an event, I was dismayed because crowds make a premiere appear more successful. At the time I did not realize that LA people – like me – actually really do know how it works. If you come too early, you wait around a lot. If you come too late, you miss a good spot. Like most anything, timing is everything. It was also a work/school day, so many were probably still commuting. The fact that I got lucky in that respect was probably pure kismet, or just good timing.
But later, I would find that there were indeed more people than had met my eyes at that moment.
After securing a spot or two, with one retained in absentia by persuading some kind folk to look after a much-needed chair that I appropriated from another level – for a stranger who has had two knee surgeries and simply cannot stand for what might become hours – I then wandered the complex more to enjoy seeing the people, scenery and possibly find an even better vantage point.
I walked toward the front entryway, and virtual proscenium, to the street where the Black Carpet actually makes a right-hand turn into the complex and towards the Oscar steps. On my way I was pleasantly pleased to encounter a cosplay “Bofur”, who indicated that he was making his way to his own “Thorin” and in the direction I was headed. We emerged out onto the Hollywood Boulevard section that was now transformed into the carpeted and dressed “Hollywood Hobbit Greeting” for fans, paparazzi and guest talent that were to walk the 8 foot wide ebony ribbon laid out before them.
Bofur and I were then greeted by his friends Tauriel, Legolas and, of course, Thorin, who were holding court at the barricades and on the Walk of Fame Stars beneath our feet. Naturally, I begged permission to take photographs, which they graciously allowed. Immediately thereafter, the now increasing crowds descended in such a way that let me know I had broken the ice enough to want ask and take pictures themselves.
I then walked up and down the elaborate setup that was just now filling with photographers in mid-setup in preparation for the onslaught. Their onslaught.
The Real Hollywood
I would later hear what Benedict Cumberbatch would have to say about that very bank of paparazzi, which dismayed me. I think Los Angeles press photographers are getting meaner and pushier with the years of living in this town, and I think it is beyond sad and embarrassing. Nothing is more pathetic than saying to the world “You are welcome here as long as you do exactly what I want and I get what I want from you.”
As a kinder, gentler Angelina, for the most part, I would just like to say here to people visiting Los Angeles from other countries, that as rude as people can get here – or as shallow also as they might appear to be – on the whole we are really not all of us that bad. We can greet openly occasionally, share smiles and stories, and – thank goodness – even willingly save seats for strangers. We like tourists and visitors and do not see them as a hindrance or bothersome. We really do love our guests.
The is an unfortunate reality, however, there is just no room for them to stay permanently. The town is more than full and over-flowing and that overcrowding is making people mean and bitter, especially in regards to auto traffic. As nice as the weather is here, and as pretty as some of the people and specific places might be, it really is an ugly place. We hide the ugly as much as possible, like one would sweep dust under the carpet or hastily stash away junk in the closet or beneath the bed.
The “real” Hollywood is actually not in Hollywood at all. It is in Burbank, Century City, Culver City and a smattering of other outlying areas. The traffic connecting those parts of Los Angeles, the even more cluttered downtown area, and the vast, outlying urban-suburban sprawl spanning miles outside Los Angeles proper, is beyond unnerving, unhealthy, and down-right often dangerous.
And there is truth in the fact that we never walk anywhere if we can help it and we may never get to actually know our neighbors after living next to them for years. These truths probably seems odd to the rest of the world, and sometimes to me as well, but the reasons for it are not fear or – in the case of the latter – unfriendliness. From my perspective, it has been that when a complete stranger approaches in most instances, my first thought is often that they want something from me or they want to sell me something. Those are the pitfalls of living in a sprawling, stranglingly crowded, and fast city such as this one. But there it is.
This town taints and is tainted in ways beyond the effects of mere traffic frustration, and in ways that are just too numerous to fully describe. However, when I know there are tourists or folk who nearest me, and for an event such as the Premiere, with an almost unified purpose I have a tendency to force passed my shyness and push out the graciousness within me – both the “Virgo” willingness to be of service and the person proud to welcome someone who is possibly visiting for the first time. I want visitors to have the best experience possible when here, especially when I hear they have saved all their lives and/or traveled thousands of miles just to come here. It is then that want to show them what is actually beautiful, as well as what they would most like to see. Of course, since I have not a vested financial interest in it, I could care less that they bring money or business. They do. But better still, they go home retaining the memories of a place that I call home, so I would only wish them the best experience.
Like that of Jed Brophy, I have a pride in my home town that I would want to share with a visitor. But unlike Los Angeles, Jed’s home has far more breathing room and likely better air to do so.
After I left Bofur, Thorin and friends, I made my way back into the complex, taking elevators and escalators to the upper levels to scout, sight-see and people watch. Throughout my wandering, several people asked me to take pictures of them against the Hollywood sky line, such as the one above, of which I obliged gladly. I was relieved to find that many people had gathered further and were littered throughout the upper levels of the complex. Many preferred the birds-eye views that were afforded them, looking down into the sprawl below and taking in the glittering and sparkling scenery that culminated both the Hollywood strip, skyline, and Hobbit Premiere finery.
I was beyond elated.
To the folks who watched the online streaming, and to the actors and talent who walked the black carpet and “might” see this report, there was no way you would have know about the masses above you. If you were on the carpet and looked up, you might have seen some faces from way above looking down, but that would not have given you a complete grasp of the volume of people there.
After doing my own sightseeing, I made my way back to my spots, where one was thankfully still available.
I stood with a young woman of whom I thought was a photographer, but when asked she said “No, just a fan.” She had been getting eagle-eye zoom shots down from the upper level of the receiving line. I asked who she had gotten pictures of and asked specifically about Richard. She was not sure who was who in the initial arrivals, but said that a actor pulled up in an ostentatious yellow Lamborghini. My instincts thought No, but I described Richard anyway. From my description, she thought it might be him. She further described what he wore, that he was tall, and seemed to be very “all about himself” as she put it. I just that couldn’t be. So she showed me a picture, although slightly blurry, where it was confirmed that it indeed was not Richard. But I knew who it was. The who had emerged from the yellow Lamborghini was non-other than Manu Bennett.
Waiting for Romeo
My primary vantage point was that of a second level area to the right of the entrance way, or the right-most area as seen from the Live Streaming cameras. It was almost my very own “Juliet Tower” – a common, affectionate term for a small balcony for just such purpose in most theaters – and I settled there for a long time.
When things got busy down below, I had taken images that later I would discover were quite good, along with others of course that were, well, not so good. I also discovered some that I had not realized I had indeed gotten – such as that of Dean O’Gorman and Aidan Turner, along with Stephen Fry and Orlando Bloom – the latter image being far to blurry to post, but in existence none-the-less.
When it occurred to me that my vantage point was truly not a good one, I moved as fast as I could and made my way through the thongs and towards the Oscar steps.
As luck would have it, I had positioned myself just in time to see the very person I had really come to see – the one who could either make my night, or ruin it, if indeed I had missed even the slightest glimpse of him. But I did indeed get to see him – Richard Armitage – and in a way that may not have been optimum, but still would turn out to be special, even if fleeting.
Seeing Richard at the moment almost made time stop. And it only came to be that when I had actually stopped fiddling with my #@%&ing evil contraption of a camera to observe and “be” there. I watched him ascend the steps where possibly even he, at that moment, may have realized that others of whom he also admires have had actually walked. He may have also realized that millions of fans have walked those steps with also just that very thought in mind. He may have also said his own personal prayers of hope , as I did, that someday he would walk up the those very steps again, and to an awards show that would require him to descend down them while grasping that oh-so-familiar and coveted piece of gold, naked hunk of metal that means far more than its actual monetary value to the one who earns it.
I wish this for Richard more than anything.
While I reflect on these images, I recall what I thought at the time I first glimpsed his face. To quote from my comment in a previous post:
“I had looked directly into his face at one point. No eye contact, but I saw “him” and that too is invaluable…Those of us who have now seen him probably have different takes.
I will say this…where I should have said before, he was both alike and yet different from how I have imagined. Bigger-than-life is difficult to describe about an actor’s persona and physicality when compared to their actual physical being. For instance, some images appear to me to make his head seem larger. His head is better proportioned in reality, at least from my perception.
He is slender, but because I know that images can put “weight” on people, he did not seem any slimmer than in recent images. He is still slimmer than that of North/Bateman, John Porter or Sir Guy, but not skinny.
…I don’t know where he gets that he has a mean face. I saw much boy, and a softness (not fleshy – soft.) And I can now easily see how one might not randomly recognize him on the street, as he has said in interviews. He has the everyman about him – in countenance and looks. This is the truth.”
In that moment I could only lament that the time was indeed so fleeting. My own memory retention may not be the best – and often escapes me, and disappoints others almost as much as it disappoints me – but in this respect I can honestly say I am not embellishing or creating any new memories based on images seen in print, online, or on any screen – these memories are mine and they are unusually strong. This is probably because I wish to hold onto them so desperately, and I am consciously working to be sure that none are added to by other input.
When he walked up the stairs, and I stopped my useless and wasteful fiddling, I watched him ascend and felt nothing but pride and admiration. For someone who is a complete stranger really to me – as I to him – this is possibly viewed as an odd, almost disjointed reaction to someone reading my recollection from the outside. Probably. Although I don’t care really, I am still aware, acutely, of how it must look to observe a stranger so intently.
I think I comforted to know, as he has relayed in interviews – even recently – that Richard may practiced or experienced something like this himself, over someone he admires even now or has idolized in the past.
This thought gives me comfort really, even if there is a chance that it’s not true to the same extent in which I feel my admiration for him.
When everything was done, at least as far as I was concerned for myself, I headed east with the intention to get something to eat and maybe write. Once I secured a location (I almost went to Denny’s but I decided I really just wanted to get out of Hollywood.) So I settled on a place that I was more comfortable with, and closer to my own home, with the intention to have dinner and go home to write more.
I hardly ate a thing, just having a glass of wine and a partial bowl of soup, because I write the entire time I am there – essentially closing down the place because I was committed (obsessed?) to relaying as much as possible. But still, I was forced to cut it short at least to the point where I had an ending and could post in a reasonable amount of time relative to the event, unlike this one.
If I had had both the tenacity and energy to stay, I might have eaten instead there at the Hollywood and Highland to wait out the premiere exit and sought the after party.
There’s always an after party.
This could have been in one of several places, with the more likely being The Highland, the Grand Ballroom that normally holds the Governor’s Ball/Oscar Post Party or another ballroom immediately adjacent to the theater.
But wherever the location, it was there that Twitter friend and Freelance Journalist, Leena Tailor of @koolkiwis, along with her friend Abbey, indeed ventured to seek out the premiere goers. Although she indicated that she had seen Richard at one point, it was there that was able to connect with a Middle Earth Elf, rather than a Middle Earth Dwarf this time.
As with any post I do – and this is each and every time – I never know if anyone will ever even read it, much less find anything I have to say interesting. But I go ahead post, looking forward to any comments that might come my way that might express pleasure in what I have written.
I was floored and overwhelmed at the response to my initial story. The fact that I had more to say didn’t really occur to me until after I was prompted in comments by others, which was after a comment or two posted later that contained more of my reflections and memories.
So here it is in total. There really is no more. My hope, once again, is that what memories I was able to retain, and what few synaptic connections I still have been able, might afford any remaining interest in what I have to say still and nearly almost three days after the fact.
- Seeing Richard Armitage, Against All Odds or Welcome To My Hood, Richard (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
- Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage in photos from the L.A. premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (blogs.montrealgazette.com)
- Leena Tailor of @KoolKiwis Pleases With A Tease – Richard Armitage Interview & The Book of New Zealand (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
- Orlando Bloom, Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Armitage & More Bring The Super Sexy To ‘The Hobbit’ Premiere (socialitelife.com)
- ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ Los Angeles Premiere, Contest and TORn Pre-Party (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
- “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” unveils full look at the dragon (panarmenian.net)
I did something I did not think I would do. I actually went to the premiere. And yes, I saw Richard Armitage.
The decision to do this was a last minute one. It occurred to me that there would probably be no other opportunity for me available in my lifetime. Really. I am a realist. I freelance and I am small time and I am late in the game in my chosen profession. I do not have the connections under my belt to gain press access in a timely manner, and my own physical (mental?) restrictions prevent me from seeking out crowds.
I hate crowds. Tonight reminded me as to just why, but to be honest, it really was not that bad. That is probably not a good thing, as far as premieres go. But I, personally, am grateful.
It was worth it.
I began my trek from the Pasadena area around 4:35 pm and made my way to Hollywood proper. The freeways were mercifully clear, with a minor jam nearest my exit off of Gower St, spilling me off the 101 freeway at 5:00 pm. At rush hour, this is exceptional good time.
I came in the back way to the Hollywood and Highland, from Franklin, passing by my once Hollywood apartment which was about 6 blocks from my “now” destination. Pausing at the light, I look up to my left, and there is a new sign on what must be the corporate headquarters for the Dolby Theatre. This all is new. Well, new to me. I then turn left from Franklin onto Highland in my very familiar old ‘hood, and headed just one block to enter directly into the 15 year old complex known as The Hollywood & Highland.
Parking ease was a good sign also. However, this still required winding down 5 levels as I went straight to the bottom-most section of the structure, securing my usual spot which most folk have yet to grasp as to how easy it really is to find. Ready and eager to go, I grabbed my gear and made my way up 5 sets of escalators, working towards the Dolby Theatre, which was located on the 2nd level of the complex. By this time it is 5:15 pm.
Men in black suits littered the entryway of the Dolby open-air pre-foyer, screening those begging entrance to the Ticket Will Call. I myself had hoped that I would have secured tickets through the Women’s Health Magazine contest, but it was no surprise really that I did not. I don’t win contests.
I quickly worked easily passed the roped and shallow barricaded black carpet that lead from the street front and up the famous red steps of Oscar fame – steps created for just that purpose.
It is about here, however, where I proceed to make what I think are good decisions, but are actually bad.
At this point, things are not too busy. People are lined at the barricades, but they are only allowing single lines, so – good girl that I am – I heed this.
It’s 5:45 and I am told by a very nice Man in Black that “things” will start at 7:00. Okay. I have time.
So, for the next hour or so I wander the area to scope out a spot. I take pictures of the entire setup, and some of glittering landscape around, so that I can share it here. I make my way to upper levels, getting “eagle” eye views and capturing those as well. I do happen to know the complex very well, as I have taken many a set of relatives and friends from out of state on mini tours. And when The Highland club opened, I organized and held my 20 year class reunion there. I went to school just down the street.
This really is my ‘hood.
So finally, I settle on a position nearest the steps up to the Dolby and secure it. It is on an upper level looking down and there is a convenient chair. Expecting my zoom feature to provide decent images of my then vantage point, I keep the position, testing out my camera and what-not, so that when the time comes I am ready.
This was bad idea #1.
Of course, all of this activity has begun to wear down my battery. But no fear, I have my power cord and I miraculously secure an outlet. I hear screams from around the corner around this time, and because they come at 5 minute intervals, I vacillate between my secured area and the outlet to hover near my furiously charging camera, hoping that nothing “happens” while this is taking place. But I get impatient often and I am constantly unplugging, checking and fiddling with the camera, and replugging in the camera over the course of a 45 minute time period.
This was bad idea #2.
As I write this I am thinking about how I am too old for this, but hey – Richard is my age-ish and he has put up with far more, so here is where I stop whining…somewhat.
I hear screams from around the corner. They die down, but fairly quickly down the carpet comes Production Designer, Dan Hennah. And I have a feeling Richard Taylor, Creatures, Effects and “Orcrist” designer, went by as well, amongst a host of other fantastic crew folk too quick and too humble to work the crowds.
Again, I hear the screams, but this time is after a black SUV pulls to the front most area, and not with the other vehicles which are not in sight, but around the corner. Out of the SUV comes Luke Evans, who goes straight and fast out of sight, which was to the last leg of the 50 yard press line-up. He was still too far away for an image.
Then, 5 minutes later, there are screams. Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee), and his family, move down the carpet far too fast for any pics, stopping maybe once or twice for autographs.
Then in another 5 minutes, Philippa Boyens makes her way down. She does stop for autographs and I, of course, am not able to get decent images. She is just lovely.
I then see a large group forming and I realize that my position really won’t do. Suddenly a mass containing Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, and then someone yells “Peter.” I take some pics, but I just know that this will not do. So I move, and as quickly as I can, down the stairs and into the throngs below.
Men in Black try to keep the lineup at the barricades as “single” or as narrow as possible, and so we are constantly being moved – me and the throngs that are now getting frenzied. I am moving closer to the stairs, I recall a vantage point that might be a good one. I keep myself moving so that I don’t get told to move.
Then I hear it…several screams of “Richard!”
I turn around to find and struggle to secure as close a spot as possible. Then suddenly, he is there…right there. I aim my camera in panic and press. Nothing. I press again, and snap. No flash. I do this several times not knowing if anything is happening I just keep pressing and snapping. Then within seconds he is already up the steps, and rather quickly. I realize that I must just stop pressing the camera button because if I don’t I will not get to see much of him. So, at this point, for about 4 seconds, I just watch him walk up the “Oscar” steps. He looked good. Sharp and slender in his grey suit. But he did look like a man whose eyes had just been assaulted by camera flash for what was probably hour.
So I watched that familiar rear view, and one I have to acknowledge that I have never seen that close, from approximately 5 – 8 feet away, until he receded into the awaiting reception of the above open-air foyer to the Dolby. I then realized that I was staring and motionless and people were crazed around me.
Then it occurred why. I could hear the screams of “Aidan!”, “Dean!”, and “Orlando!”.
They traveled in a pack, I swear! This made it very difficult to actually do much of anything, but try I did.
Aidan was the best, frequently turning around while heading up the steps. But even then, I – and my camera – were not fast enough really. But he really is so very charming.
It was at this point I realized I was done.
This was probably the final bad idea of the night, since there were still many others to follow. No Martin and no Benedict – I missed them both. Live & learn.
I still feel good about this. As miserable as I felt the moment I checked my images to find that I had not shot off much at all, it occurred to me that – at the time I write this – Richard, his cast mates and the filmmakers are all in a dark theater, about 12 miles away from where I am now, enjoying a movie I will also enjoy in about 10 days, and in a place I grew up in and have watched metamorphose into what it is now – a re-imagined, premiere-worthy Hollywood.
So I now realize that I indeed accomplished something I did not even think I would try.
I saw Richard Armitage tonight.
- Richard Armitage at the Book of New Zealand Exhibit Opening (marieastra8.wordpress.com)
- Leena Tailor of @KoolKiwis Pleases With A Tease – Richard Armitage Interview & The Book of New Zealand (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
- ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ Los Angeles Premiere, Contest and TORn Pre-Party (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
- Richard Armitage Interview from Cinema Fanpage – A New Translation (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
- The Pervasiveness of Armitage Art: Richard Armitage as Muse to Russian Artist, SceithAilm (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
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.
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.
CC: Tell us about where you live?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
- The King’s New Coat or A Different Circus Question (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
- El Greco (jbeltran4.wordpress.com)
- Richard Armitage – The Ultimate Collection: The Desolation of Smaug Postage Stamp is here! (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
- The Pervasiveness of Armitage Art: Thorin as Muse to Korean Artist, Evankart/ (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)
- Historical Context : Velázquez Las Meninas (creategoatham.wordpress.com)
- New Mega Banner For THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (comicbookmovie.com)
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.”
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.”
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.
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?
ALI: “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?
Some of those pictures were requested by others, but the majority are mine. You’ll have to guess which ones are my favourites!”
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?
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!
- Latest “Strike Back” Media Blitz Highlights Richard Armitage (armitageagonistes.wordpress.com)
- Anglophilia – The Ripples and Tremors Felt Across the Pond (crystalchandlyre.wordpress.com)