Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Polls are still open

Well, officially the fabulous week that was the second annual FanstRAvaganza is over.  But this blogger is not ready to let go just yet.  I hadn't finished putting up all my polls until just now.  I won't be able to analyze the results until I get home, and all the polls are closed.  So please continue to vote on the polls that are still open (if you haven't already).

If you are wondering why I am asking these questions, please refer to my first post for this series: Impressions of You.  I imagine I will see some similarities within our group of admiring fans, but perhaps not! We shall have to wait and see...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Elizabeth Alger: artist, writer, RA fan (and so much more)!


I am very excited to have a published author / illustrator on my blog. Thank you Lizzy,  for agreeing to this interview. Please tell us a little about yourself. 

Firstly, I’m a country gal – but only since December. Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, I thought I’d remain in the city/suburbs forever. But I was persuaded out into the rural outskirts five years ago and liked it so much that now I’ve made the big move out into real country. It’s heavenly out here amongst the rolling green hills of Gippsland. I live here with my sister and brother-in-law (that might sound weird, but there are two houses on the property) and our ‘family’ of seven horses, a pet Brahman bull, two dogs, a cat, a rooster and three hens. Almost all of our babies were saved from starvation, neglect or the knackery – my sister and I can’t resist rescuing mistreated animals and our family is sure to get bigger now that we’ve got more space.

I’ve been a horse rider since the age of nine and have owned, and adored, some wonderful horses. Unlike most horse-owners, I’ve never sold a horse, instead keeping them all into old age. My most loved was my perfect thoroughbred mare, Saldana – she carried me to many successes in show-jumping competitions.

My other big ‘hobby’ is sailing tall ships – I’ve sailed in eight different vessels and have crossed the Atlantic and Indian Oceans in the world’s two biggest sailing ships – both of them Russian. When there aren’t any ships around (which is most of the time), I’ll happily ‘mess about’ in little boats.

Please tell us something about your sailing adventures!  Have these experiences inspired you to write or to illustrate anything?

The Kruzenshtern is one of the great loves of my life. I’ve made three voyages in her: Puerto Rico to Bermuda to New York, Liverpool to Bremerhaven, and Fremantle to Durban to Cape Town. That last voyage involved a Force 11 gale off the Cape of Good Hope - a terrifying, mind-blowing, exhilarating experience. This beautiful ship was built in Germany in 1926 (her name then was Padua) - she was the last big engineless cargo-carrier ever built.  

This ship is Sedov, the largest traditionally rigged sailing ship in the world (three metres longer than Kruzenshtern). I sailed in her across the Atlantic, from Tenerife to Puerto Rico. She was also built in Germany in the 1920s, as the Magdalene Vinnen. Both of these ships are now owned by the Russian Ministery of Fishing and crewed by Russian cadets (all male... so that was interesting...)

The tall ships I’ve sailed in inspired enough drawings, etchings and paintings for two exhibitions of maritime work - both pretty successful as I sold almost everything. They also inspired me into public speaking - which still amazes me as I am normally a very shy person. It’s surprising how a great passion and enthusiasm can override nerves! For over thirteen years I spoke about my tall-ship experiences for hundreds of clubs/groups/fundraisers all round Melbourne - these engagements only stopped when I moved into the country and changed my phone number.

It sounds like you have a wonderful life! How do you have time to make a living? Please tell us something about your career and how you came to it. 

I don’t have time to make a living! Which explains why I’m always struggling to make ends meet. working freelance is probably not a good idea for someone as perpetually undisciplined and disorganised as I am.

When I am working, I’m a children’s book illustrator - I’ve worked for all of the major publishing houses in Australia. I loved drawing as a kid and being reasonably good at it, completed an art and design course at uni and ended up where most of my fellow students did - working in advertising. I eventually went freelance and, in a particularly stupid move, dropped all my commercial clients to concentrate on book illustration. Though I knew there was no money in publishing, I chose to do work I enjoy. Well... I have enjoyed much of it, but there are not enough good picture books published for children (especially in Australia with its small population) to keep illustrators in work. The ‘bread-and-butter’ work for us is in illustrating school text books and readers - and that work can be quite dull.

What are some of your favourite books / works of art and did they influence you in any way?

I read the classics almost entirely these days - Austen, Gaskell, Dickens, Trollope and especially Joseph Conrad. But the books that have influenced me the most are the fantasies I read as a kid and a teenager - Alan Garner’s books, as well as Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’, and Ursula Le Guin’s ‘Earthsea’ series. These books kindled my imagination and inspired me to pick up pencils, paintbrushes, biros... anything with which I could put my imaginings onto paper.

Another book that made a deep impression on me as a teenager was Josephine Tey’s ‘The Daughter of Time’. It began my lifelong passion for history - and led me to wonderful tours of Britain (hunting down sites connected with Richard III), and eventually to ocean crossings in the last of the great ‘windjammers’ of the 19th-20th centuries.

 Which of your published works are you the most proud of?  Please tell us why.  
written & illustrated by Lizzy

Getting rather tired of illustrating other people’s books, I decided to write my own some years ago. It was a true story, based on a wonderful pony I owned at the time, and it was titled ‘Bertie at the Horse Show’. I sent it to only one publisher - Penguin - and they snapped it up straight away. It was published with my full-colour illustrations and with not a single word changed from the original text I had sent them. It was all so easy! Unfortunately I didn’t follow it up with another... but I have written a 160,000 word novel - which I am also quite proud of. It’s a fantasy - and the hero is a knight in armour who  - surprise, surprise - resembles a certain TDH actor that many of us are very fond of...

Getting something published at the moment though is horrendously hard work (and I haven’t tried very hard!)  

What kinds of things do you prefer to draw?  (I am guessing horses and sailing ships?)

 Yes, I do like drawing horses and sailing ships - but I’ll happily draw any animal. I’ve been doing a lot of commissioned pet portraits for people lately - which is a nice change from book illustration. I also love drawing people.

 How did you become a fan of Richard Armitage?

I first saw him when ‘North and South’ was shown in Australia in 2005.  It wasn’t exactly love at first sight - it took till the end of the second episode... and then I was completely gone. I bought the N&S DVDs and must have watched them every day for the next six months. It was not just that he was the perfect cravat-wearing Period drama hero - I'd also realised that, with different hair and costume, he was the fantasy hero/medieval knight that I'd had in my head for years... 

Can you tell us something about what you are working on right now. An adult fantasy novel, right?

Yes - I’ve finished my first fantasy novel with its RA inspired hero (a knight in un-shiny armour), and have started on my second which will probably turn into a trilogy. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that writing books is MUCH easier than finding someone who’ll publish them.

 RA inspired!! I am so excited!  Thank you so much for letting us know more about you.  Before I forget, which was the drawing that you sent to Richard and he mentioned in one of his letters?  He says it was a watercolour so I am thinking it is the one on the left...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Phylly's Faves First Anniversary!

That's right! My very first post was right in the middle of last year's FanstRAvanganza!  I really didn't plan it that way.  I had no idea when I decided to finally go public, that my timing would be this interesting.  It's just that it happens to be March Break in my part of the world so I knew I'd be at home and able to put the final touches on it.  (In case you are wondering, yes, I do work in the educational system).

Right now I'm on vacation in the Hawaiian islands and while I'm having a fabulous time, it's been difficult to keep up with all my fellow bloggers' fabulous posts.  So if you are wondering why you haven't heard much from me, that is why.

Monet would have loved the sunsets here!

Monet in series


Thanks to CDoart for finding this for me! (Click to see it sparkle)
Claude Monet seems to have had a certain fascination with bridges.  In particular, the Japanese bridge he made over his lily pond in his garden in Giverny, but also he painted bridges in other parts of France and on his trips to London, England.

Fascinated with the play of light on his subject over the course of the day, Monet used several canvases at once and moved to each new canvas with the changing light.
This method of painting meant he had many different versions of the same subject.  Besides bridges, Monet is known for his series of paintings of Rouen Cathedral, The British Houses of Parliament, Poplar trees, haystacks and probably his most famous -- waterlilies.

The website of The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC has an interesting post about Monet's series paintings. You can click on the featured paintings for some background information. Visit it here.

In this clip, Monet as an old man is played by Julian Glover.

I have gathered together a little slide show of as many of Monet's paintings and chalk drawings of bridges as I could find.

Here is a lovely video which shows many of Monet's series paintings. They are blended together to make a moving light show.

This video, which shows a series of paintings about The British Parliament buildings, probably contains one of Richard Armitage's favourite paintings (according to an interview).  I wonder which one he likes best?

Richard as Lucas North in Spooks 8.1 in front of the British Parliament Buildings.
photo couresy of Richard Armitage Central Gallery

Friday, March 18, 2011

Le Salon d'Armitage


Isn't he pretty as a picture with his head in a frame?
Many fans of Richard Armitage have been inspired to artistic endeavours.  There are all kinds of photographic artworks such as icons, avatars, siggies, banners, posters, not to mention videos which celebrate our interest in Mr. Armitage. I would like to focus on artwork that is more "old school".  To be precise, drawings or sketches, or paintings, done by hand. Not that I have anything against computer assisted graphics.  It is just that my theme is Monet in The Impressionists, so I am in an old-fashioned frame of mind. Or perhaps I am simply being as stuffy as the Salon members?  There are so many more fabulous works of art out there, I simply don't have room for them all!  The following is what I have managed to put together from the artists that I was able to contact and receive permission to display their work.
I hope these artists don't mind that I have framed their artwork.  But this is a fancy Salon after all!  So welcome to Phylly's Faves Gallery of Armitage Wonderfulness -- otherwise known as Le Salon d'Armitage. (Is my french phrasing correct? If not, please suggest a better term.)
Also, most of these artists have a page at deviantart.com. You are welcome to visit their pages and comment with the link provided.

Richard Armitage
by Jafean at deviantart.com

Richard Armitage -- BAFTA 2009

The drawing above and the pen and ink below are both by GizTheGunslinger at deviantart.com, a multitalented fan who is also a wonderful fanvidder as well as who manages The Russian Richard Armitage website.

Lucas North

Lucas North

By obiskus at deviantart.com

Lucas North

These two are by Darkangel66a at Deviantart.com

RA - John Thornton
by Theresebees at deviantart.com 

by zeldat at deviantart.com

by Elizabeth Alger (see Interview March 20th, 2011)

by VesperBond at deviantart.com

Stick Figure Richard  by Nat at RA Fanblog

I would like to thank these very talented artists for allowing me to publish their artwork on my blog.  This little collection is only a very small sampling of all the RA inspired artwork out there!

Other Galleries:
Richard Armitage Central -- Artwork Challenges
Richard Armitage Net -- Artwork
Elvira Sweeney's site (Richard-Armitage.net) -- Fan Art

Elvira's Photoshop Elements Tutorial -- Photoshop Art

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Green is the colour


Green brushstrokes to represent leaves
I love the colour green, especially a bluish green like the azure water in the sun-drenched Carribean Sea.  I love the yellow-green of new leaves and the richness of deep, clear sparkling emerald jewel tones.  Green is a mysterious colour, it can be youthful and spritely like an elf or dark and foreboding like an enchanted forest. It is the colour of life, but can also foretell an unhealthy decay. Green is the colour of peasants and kings, truly a colour for all people!

Here are some of Monet's paintings which use an extra amount of green pigment.

The Green Wave (1866)
Claude Monet grew up in the seaside town of  Le Havre, France. Boats and the sea are a familar subject for his paintings.

Le Pave de Chailly

Monet's first attempt at painting "en plein air" (in the open air).  This was a revolutionary way for a painter to work at the time.  First influenced by a local painter he knew in his hometown of Le Havre named Eugène Boudin, Monet became convinced this was the only way to capture the true essence of the scene.

Camille Doncieux (Lady in Green)
Camille was Monet's model who became his mistress, the mother of his child and later his first wife.  The artists of that period in France must have lived a very avant garde existence to have flouted the rules of polite society in so many ways.  Claude Monet seemed to have truly loved this woman as he did not abandon her when his father refused to accept Camille as his future daughter-in-law.  Since his father was Monet's principal means of support, Claude could not afford to be married until he could sell enough paintings to support a family.  Sometime in 1868, in despair over his poverty, Monet contemplated taking his life. Luckily he was able to find a patron in M. and Mme Gaudibert. Claude and Camille were finally able to be married in 1870.

Green Park (1871)
Camille and Claude Monet took refuge in London, England (1870-71) so Monet could escape being sent to fight in the Franco-Prussian War. Monet had previously served in his county's armed forces.  His friend and fellow painter Frederic Bazille was not so fortunate. He was killed in battle in 1870.  While in England, Monet studied the works of John Constable and William Turner.

Train in the Countryside (ca. 1870)
  I was lucky enough to view this painting at its home in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

Green Reflections left panel
This is part of a larger work which Monet did in the latter part of his life.  He was always fascinated with the play of light on water and he explored this endlessly in paintings of his water lily pond which he designed and built himself in his garden at Giverny.  This particular series of paintings was created to display in The Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris.

In the Garden
Monet is well known for his love of his garden at Giverny where he made his home from 1883 until his death in 1926.

  Let us not forget the man himself! Here is Claude Monet as portrayed by Richard Armitage looking particularly dapper dressed in green.

Richard Armitage is able to beautifully portray both the sadness and the joy of Claude Monet's life in the BBC biopic "The Impressionists"

"Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment." 
Claude Monet
Colours by Donovan 

Have a very green St. Patrick’s Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Here she is...Bccmee!


Welcome to Phylly’s Faves! I have been enjoying your videos for awhile now and wondering about the person behind them. You seem to have a very good sense of humour which comes out in your videos (usually with an extra surprise at the end!)

Wow thanks for your kind words. It’s a source of amazement that anyone likes some of the crazy videos I make!  And I want to add that I get such great comments on my vids.  Some of them are so thought-provoking that I can’t even respond immediately, but I always try to answer each comment since the viewer took the time and trouble to leave their thoughts.   As of this writing, I’m still working on a Valentine’s Day new video.  It’s not as sweet as my Christmas fanvid, that’s for sure!

First and foremost I’m a computer and math geek.  And I’m very visual and I don’t like writing. I like to show and not tell.  Also, I love to try new things so I have very little fear. The only time in recent memory that I was out of my comfort level was when I made some mince pies at a friend’s house in the UK!  I don’t cook or bake and I usually order take-out which is quite common for people living in New York City. Although today I cooked a hamburger!

It must be wonderful living in New York City. I have never been there, but I have certainly read many works of fiction and seen many movies about people from that great city.  What part of the city do you call home, and what are your favourite things about living there? 

New York City. Just those words conjure up a sigh of love. Yes, I am in love with this city.  It can be dirty, noisy and smelly and yet I overlook those traits because of that love.  New York is different than --and superior to-- any city I’ve visited. It’s got the hustle and bustle and a certain energy and realness that I thrive in.  The people are friendly deep down even if they’re gruff on the surface. Perhaps it’s because we’re a mix of so many different cultures that we don’t become complacent. We’re the most international city in the world, although with “only” 8.4 million people, we’re not the most populous.  Still it feels like a small town.  We actually greet each other and hold doors open if necessary.  

Everyone should visit New York City at least once. I will gladly show you around, and be sure to wear comfortable shoes!  I really enjoy entertaining out-of-town guests.  Depending on your preferences, we’ll ride past the Statue of Liberty (thank you, France) on the Staten Island ferry, which to me is a sunset-colored floating castle; walk across the Brooklyn Bridge with its criss-crossing cables doing a high-wire act; have lunch at a midtown cafe and watch the crazy taxi drivers make U-turns; wander through and get lost in Central Park; and we’ll see some big movie star onstage in a Broadway show.  Yes, I’m serious about that offer.

What was it that made you become a fan of Richard Armitage?

One day I was browsing on Netflix for something to watch instantly.  I had nothing specific in mind, except that I wanted a comedy. So I’m clicking through when suddenly I came across The Vicar of Dibley which sounded familiar.  Then I saw the episode title “The Handsome Stranger” and I thought, “Mmm, that sounds good!”  So I watched it streaming online.  As it turns out, I had never seen an episode of VoD before,  but I’ve visited the UK several times so I must’ve heard of it at least.  When Harry Kennedy opened the door of Sleepy Cottage I took notice and said aloud, “Who is THAT?!”  Finished watching both episodes and immediately commenced researching Richard Armitage.  He struck me as familiar too but as it turned out, when I looked him up on Internet Movie Database (IMDB), I had not seen his work before.  His name was recognizable because he shares that with an *ahem* “American politician.” But where had I seen his face?  Lo and behold, North and South had been in my Netflix queue for ages and ages. Even though he looked completely different between the two TV programs, his face must’ve registered on some level.  I watched all four episodes of N&S in one sitting which is remarkable for someone with my attention span.

This happened in March 2009 which makes this my 2-year anniversary.  So it was a case of mistaken identity. One of my better mistakes. My life sometimes feels like a series of random events.

Happy 2nd year anniversary! I noticed that your first fan video was of The Impressionists which you created just over a year ago.  You stated in the notes that it was your first fanvid. Can you tell us how you came to make videos and why you chose this one as your first subject?

Screencap from Claude and Camille Monet fanvid by Bccmee
Thanks for the anniversary wishes. Someone should design a set of greeting cards: “Happy Xth Anniversary in the Richard Armitage universe!”  I decided on a whim to try my hand at making videos after doing so many graphics.  It seemed like the next logical step.  I chose Monet and The Impressionists for my first video because it was not done overly much and I had just watched it and loved it immensely!  I have to admit that I did not like the screencaps of the Monet character but I adored him in action.  Someday I will make another Monet fanvid.  (Oh I really hope you do!)
Bccmee's fanvid about The Impressionists was showcased on a separate post this week.  Here is some background about the video from her description:

This is my first-ever fan video. Even though the BBC drama The Impressionists was made years ago, I first watched it the other day and I loved it! Whenever I visit the Museum of Modern Art or the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City or the National Gallery in London, I go straight for the Monet paintings. It's incredible to see them "live and in person."

One of the hardest things about making this first video was concentrating on the technical aspects and not getting too absorbed by the story. I plan to make more videos! This is fun.

What software do you use to make your videos? Is this the same program you started with? Do you find it user friendly? 

For my videos, I use Adobe Premiere Pro for cutting and basic transitions, Adobe After Effects for titles, color corrections and special effects and sometimes Adobe Photoshop for freeze frames and other little touches. After a quite a bit of practice and lots of tutorials, the basics have become second nature.  There is no way to learn everything but I try to stretch myself and come up with new ideas all the time.  Frankly, I doubt I’ll have time to make all the videos I’ve thought of.  I have two and a half notebooks full of ideas for future vids and notes on how I did some of my effects in past vids.

I notice you like to make little surprises in your videos (usually at the end), but now I have seen more hidden throughout your latest videos.  You really do seem to enjoy making these vids. I know your fans certainly enjoy watching them (or should I say participating in them)!

That is so cool of you to say “participate!”  Having interaction with the viewers has always been my unspoken, and sometimes spoken, goal. Indeed I do enjoy making videos; it’s so much fun to change the stories from the way they’re presented in the TV shows. Depending on the song and the choice of clips, Strike Back can be a drama, a romance (or porno), or a comedy.  Someday I want to make it into a horror film!  I would also like to do a collaboration someday.  The simple reason I decided to do the surprise endings in some of my videos is because I always sit through the closing credits at the movie theater and occasionally--but very rarely--there is a little surprise.  I wish more movies would do that, so I decided to make my own wish come true.

Tell us about your new website. What made you decide to create one. Have you ever done a website or blog before?

I had websites back in the 1990's but this is my first in a long time. It's fun to click all the buttons and widgets available in the blog, but I don't consider myself a "blogger" because that would involve maintenance and upkeep to which I'm not suited.  Since I don’t much like to write, it’s almost laughable that I have a blog. However, it started out as a necessity.  I posted a clip of the Hobbit Press Conference on YouTube and close-captioned it.  However after one day and about 4500 hits, it was removed under a copyright claim.  Since I did not agree with that decision, I filed a counter-copyright notice.  It took two weeks but I did win my case.  Details can be found on this page of my blog:  http://fanvideos.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/copyright/

At the time I filed my counter-copyright claim, I had no idea if I would win or not.  Regardless, I did not want the video to be unavailable for any length of time, so I quickly found several new hosting sites and decided to put it on a blog so the video would have a stable home base.  I’m delighted that the video is back up on YouTube because that’s the only site that has closed-captioning for its free accounts.  I’ve posted a few more interviews and their respective transcripts. In the future, I’ll have some more things to post.  

Have you always been a creative person?

Until recently, I did not consider myself creative. I was more into math and science and computers.  I still can’t draw, but I have become handy with my graphics tablet for cutting out Richard Armitage characters!  In one of my videos for Spooks, I used Photoshop to remove Lucas North from several scenes so it looked like he disappears or appears. 
Click link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdUTthKJPSw 
watch here:

Here’s an example of one of the shots:

Why do you think Richard Armitage seems to inspire so many of his fans to so many creative endeavors?

A big part of the reason so many Richard Armitage fans explore their creativity is because of the community support. Also, the actor himself is so versatile that at least one of his characters will capture the imagination.

You recently visited England. Did you find yourself looking up any locations for any productions in which Mr. Armitage appeared?

I had a great time in England and Scotland.  One day I found myself in Greenwich and thought the columns looked familiar so I took a picture. 

It was confirmed that this is where a scene from Spooks was filmed.  There were a few other locations that I accidentally came across, but I never sought any out.  

A large percentage of your videos are about Strike Back. Is this your favourite show starring Mr. Armitage? 

And check out those biceps!
Oh  yes. *heavy sigh* John Porter is my favorite Richard Armitage character and has been since that first promo picture showed up.  

What is it about that show that appeals to you so much?

The reason I find the John Porter character so appealing is his raw masculinity. 

Here's lookin' at you Bccmee!

This may offend some, but I always thought of the Lucas North character as merely pretty.  One reviewer said of the character, “Lucas North (Richard Armitage), is wasted in counter-intelligence work. He should be modelling for Hugo Boss.” Immediately after reading that, I made a siggie based on a Hugo Boss ad.  

John Porter represents the rescue fantasy--the knight in shining armor. The story with Katie is my favorite of the three Strike Back episodes. Here he is, looking totally hot in contemporary leather, bringing flowers to Katie in the hospital.

It’s difficult to see, but John Porter is holding Katie protectively in the helicopter.

And Katie definitely doesn’t want to let go of him. Who can blame her?

I’ve made hundreds of graphics and 18 fanvideos for Strike Back.  Eventually I’ll be posting more of these on my new blog.  Right now, you can see some of my artwork on RichardArmitageNet http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/sigs/188.html and all my fanvideos are on my main YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/bccmee

Thanks for sharing your videos, screencaps and photos with us, Bccmee!  It's been great fun finding out about you.  As a final treat, I'd like to show your Strike Back comic book video. It's very clever and artistic as well.  May you continue to create more music videos starring our favourite actor for a long time to come!