elantu b. veovode

Elantu B. Veovode

artist, author, philosopher and so much more

Prior to 1980, my studies of knotwork patterns and zoomorphic designs were primarily focused on the work of the Bronze Age Eastern Europeans; then, I met and married a man whose mother claimed a long line of Celts in her lineage. Few experiences in my life have had a stronger creative input than the artwork that this remarkable woman introduced me to. At first, simply copying the designs took considerable effort, but by 1985, I had spent many hours studying the traditional patterns. My own work incorporates the traditional rules of Celtic knotwork design combined with elements of my own Slavic heritage and my love of animals.

Before I began to design zoomorphs, my work consisted of drawings and paintings of animals and plants as well as portraits and nudes, both male and female. Pieces such as these are still a common element in my work. Alongside traditional studies of animals, I have drawn on my Slavic heritage to produce a collection of animal studies in the Russian Lacquerwork style, familiar to most Americans as Palekh boxes.

The pieces are first drawn on the paper in India ink and allowed to dry sufficiently overnight. Then the first layer of coloris applied in flat colors of permanent ink and when they are dry, subsequent colors are washed over the top to define the spaces clearly. If gold leaf is to be added, it is applied to the painting a day after the inks are dried. Colored pencil and/or was transfer is added last and blended into the existing color scheme as an additional highlight.

My education in the arts has come by way of my own curiosity and experience. In 1972, I was fortunate to meet Aggeak Quakjuk, a prominent Inuit artist, and studied the Inuit perspective in art with him for two years. Russian was the focus of my study in college, but in 1986, I conveyed that to my advantage and won a grant to study a Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland. The focus of my work there was “Pre-Christian Elements in Eastern European Folk Art.”

Although I am not a native to New England, I lived in Vermont and in the Greater Boston area for nine years, and my work there attracted the attention of the New England Arts Council. I was one of twenty-six artists invited to show at the Helen Day Museum show of New England artists. Recent shows include the North Texas Irish Festival where one of my pieces was selected as the best in the traditional category.

Knotwork designs are found in artwork of many cultures both past and present, including ancient Greek and Roman art, Arabic art, and Russian art. Perhaps the cultures most associated with development and elaboration of the knotwork motif are the Celtic and Norse cultures. Elantu is noted for creating new knotwork designs that follow the traditional rules and incorporate both traditional and modern themes. She has won several awards in international competition for “Best Traditional Knotwork Design” because her work follows these rules.

The most important rule is the over-under rule. Each thread of the knot pattern is supposed to go over the first thread and under the next thread or vice versa. The thread is never suppose to cross over or cross under two or more threads at the same time. The illustration below gives you an idea of how the over-under rule is applied in a knotwork pattern.

Keywork is the process of filling the background of an image with patterned drawings. Many examples of older Celtic designs include keywork patterning in the design. Elantu usually includes keywork of various patterns in her knotwork designs. The illustration below provides an example of keywork patterning.

The Celts and Norse often used zoomorphic (animal form) designs in their artwork. Elantu builds her knotwork designs around zoomorphic and human figures. She has the knotwork threads weave in and out of the outlines of the zoomorphic and human figures. Elantu likes to work with odd numbers of figures in her designs. She particularly favors multiples of threes and fives. It is considered to be much more difficult to make an odd numbered knotwork design work out correctly without violating the over-under rule. It is much easier to work out even numbered knotwork designs.

The Celts often included dots around the design that served to delineate the knotwork as a whole. Elantu has incorporated this design feature into many of her knotwork designs.

After earning her Bachelor of Arts from Valdosta State University in 2018, Elantu immediately started working on her MFA at the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is a museum and art school in Philadelphia, PA founded in 1805 and is the first and oldest art museum and art school in the United States. The academy’s museum is internationally known for its collections of 19th- and 20th-century American paintings, sculptures, and works on paper. Its archives house important materials for the study of American art history, museums, and art training.

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a word from elantu

Elantu B. Veovode

My writing, like my life, is all over the place; I’ve lived in a dozen locales, east and west, and while I have ranged from the mountains to the coast and back again, my writing has had love affairs with humor, philosophy, metaphysics, horror, relationships, nature studies and mystery genres. My recent submission, Eclipse – a metaphysical horror was published 7/7/11 by Amazon and I just completed the companion to my first published book, which appeared in the bookstores in 2003.

Ten Speed Press published my first book, The Contented Poacher. Poacher is a nature studies / humor /cookbook I wrote when I got a ticket for poaching, even though I: 1) had a valid license, 2) didn’t have any illegally acquired pheasant, but 3) did have an empty canvas bag with me and 4) I made a joke to the game warden. Bad form that, but the humor in the situation gave birth to a book that garnered enough attention to win me a write up in Backpacker Magazine, a small TV gig in NY for World News Now and a slot on the Jimmy Kimmel show. After that, I took a deep breath and hid out in the mountains of Colorado for five years. In the meantime, I went back to doing art shows, which is what I’ve been up to since I was seventeen. 

My mother wanted an artist. When other kids were getting Big Chief tablets and crayons, my mother was buying me Arches paper and Windsor & Newton watercolors. I used to try her patience by bringing snakes, tarantulas and small animals into the house. She convinced me that she’d prefer to have me paint a picture of my new friends rather than meet them in person and to this end, she insisted that I sit and the table and paint for a couple of hours a day. Her full immersion technique worked. I’ve had other jobs here and there (garbage truck driver comes to mind), but for the most part I’ve been supporting myself with my art. I started writing when I realized that my eyesight was refusing to cooperate with my fondest dreams. As of this writing, I see quite clearly within a small circle about a foot across and little more than a foot in front of my face. The rest of the world floats in an enticing mist, pulling away into the distance.

I didn’t begin writing until I was 39. Painting was that important to me, but like everybody else in this world, there were events in my life that kept erupting in the back of my mind. When I was 6 years old, my family took a trip east to visit friends in NY. One day when they were out and I was in the apartment alone, the woman upstairs was murdered. I could hear her fighting for her life as she died amidst a cacophony of shrieks and thumps. Needless to say, I hid under the furniture and tried to rock myself into a safety zone by conjuring up the comforting hills and turquoise skies of home. Trouble was, I could hear the murder’s shoes on the ceiling as he tried to erase the evidence of his presence. At 39, I wrote “Men’s Shoes” and tucked it away in a file drawer. Other short stories popped up here and there between paintings and art shows and I found that when I wasn’t exorcising a personal terror, that I quite enjoyed writing as much as I ever loved to paint.

One thing that I have been gifted with in this life is an array of fascinating people and events, some for only a few minutes, others for years, but each one has caught my attention and found a home in my memories. I met the physicist, Steven Weinberg, in a music store. We discussed Chopin and he told me that classical music conjured up the voice of the cosmos in his head. Lovely. I made friends with a homeless man in Pittsburg who sang for loose change in Point State Park. He had a voice to make angels weep for jealousy. Weekends at Randall Garrett’s. He always had a book to lend me by a new writer, never elevating his own accomplishments in the craft. An Inuit friend in Fairbanks, Aggeak Quakjuk, changed the course of my artwork by reminding me not to confuse the spirit with the fur. Mr. Tennyson, an aging immigrant, who taught me to read when I was 4. All the Navajo friends who laughed at my atrocious accent when I came down from my climb up Tsoodzil. The natural world: a maple tree in our yard in Cambridge that was so red it cast purple shadows; the green granite in Vermont that gave it the appellation “The Green Mts.”; the ocean as seen from Hurricane Ridge on the Olympic Peninsula; the otters who came out the river in North Carolina splashing and laughing to one another; the hummingbird who landed on my hand and the cougar who regarded me from the trees less than 20 ft away; the fire that took down a good portion of our house but spared me and my son; the earthquake in Alaska that shook more than my bones.

All of these things and many more, along with the murderer upstairs, color my work, the words I paint for my readers. 
Thanks. Elantu Baiat Veovode

Elantu with her husband, Harry

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