East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

A young Helena Saratova…?

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I have often mentioned how graphically inept I am, and how much admire – as a consequence – artists that can draw, paint or give shape to their ideas as images in any form.
My schooling steered me away from images at a very early stage, and I grew up to be language-oriented, written-word-bound. I do not complain… but I do complain.
While I’ve taken courses and done exercise, I am still hopeless with a pencil, don’t even mention brushes and paint.

On the other hand, I love to look for visual references when I’m writing – and while photographs are most useful when trying to catch the aura of a place, paintings and illustrations are still great sources of story inspirations, and of character ideas.

And yesterday night I caught a painting by Russian artist Waldemar Kazak, whose DeviantArt gallery you can peruse here.
Waldemar Kazak specializes in sexy, tongue-in-cheek, often satirical images, and many of his paintings do tell a story in a single frame.

But the image I saw last night is special…

Yes, the hair color is wrong, but then again, I doubt Helena ever wore the same hair color for more than a few months.
And yes, this is, to me, a wonderful representation of Helena Saratova, from The Ministry of Thunder and the forthcoming-ish The Ministry of Lightning. She’s very young in this picture, so I guess this was painted somewhere in the late 1920s, about five years before she moved to Tientsin and later met Felice Sabatini.
After her escape from Russia, and her stint as a nurse in an Italian army hospital… I wonder what she was up to.

And really, I have half a mind of writing a few stories, sooner or later, about young Helena, and her adventures before she met Sabatini.
Something a little spicier than Ministry.
I like the idea of Helena Saratova (or whatever her real name is) as a sort of female (and smarter) Harry Flashman.
Ah, so much to write, so little time!

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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