I have no sympathy with the belief that art is the restricted province of those who paint, sculpt, make music and verse. I hope we will come to an understanding that the material used is only incidental, that there is an artist in every man; and to him the possibility of development and expression and the happiness of creativity is as much a right and as much a duty to himself, as to any of those who work in the specially ticketed ways.
In every human being there is the artist, and whatever his activity, he has an equal chance with any to express the result of his growth and his contact with life . . . the object is intense living, fulfillment; the great happiness in creation. People sometimes phrase about the joy of work. It is only in creative work that joy may be found.
The Art Spirit was a book my high school art teacher referred to frequently in our classes. Later, I got a copy of my mine, which I eventually replaced. It’s been a while since I read it, but I took it off the shelf earlier tonight and revisited some of the wisdom this American artist (who passed away in 1929) and art teacher had to share.
Reading the above words, I thought of how many people who do not think of themselves as artistic (my husband being a prime example) really have a lot of creativity to share. I also thought of Monsieur Monet, the personal quotes I have read and the performance Richard gave in The Impressionists. We saw the portrait of a man who pursued his life’s work with a passion, with intensity; one who, in spite of struggles, obstacles and disappointments, surely found happiness in creation. Funny. Sounds a lot like Richard Armitage himself, doesn’t it?
A little play on words. You’re broke when you’re out of money. Like many artists throughout the centuries, Monet had his years of struggle to establish himself as a painter. “Starving” is a word that has often preceded “artist” for a reason. At least in Monet’s case, he found both critical and financial success whilst he was still alive and was able to reap the fruits of his labor at his home and gardens in Giverny.
I find myself thinking of Richard and his struggles, that fallow decade when the auditions were unsuccessful, when the parts didn’t materialize, when he had to work the front of the house and watch actors on stage that he knew deep in his gut were no more talented than he, when he spent more hours laying floors and building bookcases than rehearsing his lines. Careers in the arts can be very precarious.
He must have faced so much disappointment and frustration, just as Monet did when the critics rejected his work and the paintings didn’t sell. I am sure there were times, in spite of his being careful with money, when Richard was close to being “baroque.”
Richard and Sophia Myles rehearse for their roles in the stage play The Four Alice Bakers. Myles and Richard would later work together in Spooks.
We’ve speculated that Richard’s early experiences with being teased, with feeling like an outsider looking in, have worked to make him a better actor and a stronger human being. I wonder, too, if he’d be the man he appears to be today if it all had fallen into place early for him. If he’d come fresh out of drama school and fallen into roles that made him a star.
Richard has a great deal of talent and that’s always been there, waiting to be honed and polished. And I believe his parents and mentors helped instill strong values in him from an early age. By all accounts, he’s always been a pretty decent guy.
But I do believe all he’s gone through has made him even stronger; more empathetic, more insightful, more willing to help other actors, ready to defend others who are being teased and bullied.
I believe he is a good man who also happens to be a fine actor. Like the brilliant and dedicated artist he portrayed in The Impressionists, he has so much to offer to the world. Above and beyond his breathtaking physical beauty and charisma, he has talent, versatility, dedication, determination and a marvelous sense of humor.
And I am truly, truly glad he did not give up.
Richard in one of the interviews pre Captain America, being his usual articulate, thoughtful self.
I have been combing through my picture files looking at some of the screencaps from Mr. A’s earlier, smaller roles in movies and TV series. Having played with several of them in good ol’ Photoshop, I thought I would share them with you. As I have said, I really don’t think the man has ever given nor will he give a pedestrian performances, strolling through a role as we have seen some well-known actors do. It may be a cliche, that saying, “There are no small parts, only small actors,” but there’s often truth at the basis of such sayings.
Richard seems to have given time and attention to supporting roles such as faithful family man Peter MacDuff in Shakespeare Retold: Macbeth, caddish Philip Durant in Ordeal by Innocence, sportsman and murder suspect Philip Turner in Inspector Lynley Mysteries, even Ephiphanes in Cleopatra, where he wasn’t called on to do much more than ride around on a horse in a very fetching toga.
I am so glad for his sake and for ours he was able to overcome the early problems he seemed to have with the audition process; that his winning the role of John Strandring in Sparkhouse proved a real turning point in his career. And now at least, here he is, poised on the brink of stardom this “very smart and very kind” man. He always had the talent, he always had such potential. Thank heavens he had the drive and determination to hang in there through the lean years.
And it really couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, could it?