This week, the talented artist George Almond reminisces on his artwork he compiled in his tribute to Ian Fleming’s novel, From Russia, With Love.
Arrival in Istanbul
This one is part of a series I am especially fond of, and refer to as my “Legacy Collection.” It was done at a time of great experimentation for me, when I was using just about every variety of media and material you can name. Acrylic, aquarelle, gouache, colored pencil. Applied with every possible means of application; traditional paintbrushes, airbrushes, knives,…I probably would have used my tongue if I had thought it would help.
This scene is from “From Russia, with Love,” depicting Bond’s arrival in Istanbul. It shows, quite well I think, how a fairly quiet scene can be used to set mood as well as period and location. ( Mixed media on rag board )
Beneath the Embassy
Another legacy piece, this one rendered in acrylic, layered in glazes to achieve an atmospheric depth. The colors are very subdued, grayed down to suggest the very dim light and claustrophobic environment of the ancient, subterranean tunnel beneath the major metropolitan city of Istanbul. The only color with any saturation at all is in the periscope, to point out the sheer audacity and outrageousness of the idea….Can you spot the rat in the painting?
The Moon Killer
My purpose with this pencil illustration was to portray the feral viciousness of the psychotic assassin, Red Grant, whose motives derived entirely from uncontrollable blood-lust rather than political conviction. The light and dark patterns on his face contrast with those of the full moon behind him. I have even distorted the perspective of his face to add to the feeling of discomfort in the viewer.
The only time I ever tried using Fleming’s concept drawing as the model for Bond. ( More on Bond’s likeness later ) I never used it again for the simple reason that…it looks like Basil Rathbone!
The Orient Express
Back before the days of the internet (yes, there was such a time) an illustrators primary source for reference was the public library. This was the only photo I could find of a Turkish train depot. It is a far cry from the grand terminal in Istanbul, but it is an authentic stop on the route of the Orient Express from that period. I think its modesty adds to the intimate mystery of the scene, along with the cold, almost monochromatic color scheme.
From Russia with Love Cover Concept
An elegant, sinister valentine. Prismacolor pencil on red Canson paper.
One of my very earliest works from the early 80’s. It was quite small too, 8 inches square, I think. I slanted the “camera” angle to give a feeling of chaos to this frenzied, tangle of two desperate men locked in a fight to the death.
Born on Cape Breton Island, Canada, George Almond created his first painting at the age of five, following a school field trip to the local zoo. Having studied under the tutelage of such seasoned artists as Manuel De Leon, the noted anatomist, and Larry Brady, graphic designer to the J. Paul Getty Trust, he built a career as a freelance illustrator.
Today his work focuses mainly on children’s book illustration. Mindful of the influence picture books were to his own childhood development, as a person as well as an artist, he considers his work to be not only a vocation but a deep trust, aiding and enhancing children’s experience of learning.
Prints of George Almond’s work can be purchased at – www.007magazine.com