Artist of the Month features secret codes

October 16, 2015

The Artist of the Month in North Gower’s branch of the Ottawa Public Library is Elena Khomoutova.

Read more about Elena in this week’s edition of the Ottawa Community News, here.

The Artist of the Month program has been running in North Gower for more than 20 years; it was started and still managed by North Gower library manager and resident Karen Craig.

Richmond artist puts owl, ‘seven’ in paintings

Stittsville News

Richmond artist Elena Khomoutova always includes two features in her paintings, no matter what the subject.

One is the image of an owl while the other is a representation of the number “seven.” The owl could be in a tree in a landscape scene or could be an outline randomly placed in the painting. The number “seven” could be seven of something, for instance, children in a painting or it could be the numeral “7” incorporated into the artist’s signature on the painting. In one painting showing Parliament Hill, the Peace Tower clock is showing seven o’clock. So there are numerous possibilities but both the owl and “seven” are there in some form in all of her paintings.

The owl is meant to represent and convey wisdom while the number “seven” is meant to bring luck to the viewer.

To identify where the owl and “seven” are in a painting, Elena writes a note on the back of the painting explaining where the two images are located in the painting.

Elena also paints all of her paintings in the presence of an angel-shaped candle holder which she lights whenever she is painting. She uses this as a way to impart luck and joy to people through her art.

She also gets inspiration in her painting from a pet budgie bird which is allowed to fly around her studio, sitting at times not only on various perches set up around the studio but also at times on her brush as she paints. The budgie’s name is “Joy” and the bird’s presence helps Elena convey that feeling in her paintings.

Indeed, Elena’s art has been bringing joy to many around the world ever since 1995 when her artwork first appeared on UNICEF greeting cards. These cards with her artwork on them have been distributed in 67 countries around the world over the years.

And this exposure on the UNICEF cards led to approaches from Canadian greeting card companies and now both Elena and her husband Alexander Khomoutov, a photographer, are providing their art for greeting cards. This year alone, there are 19 different cards with their art being produced by three Canadian greeting card firms.

Alexander notes that providing images for greeting cards allows both himself and Elena to bring the joy of art to as large an audience as possible. He confirms that having the images on greeting cards has not led to any sales of the original artwork but that is fine with him and his wife. He says that bringing joy to more people through their art on the cards is reward enough for them.

He says that the cards are not just regular cards but rather each one is “a good luck energy card,” conveying good luck and positive energy to the recipient.

And these cards with their artwork helps in spreading the art to everyone. Anybody can afford a card, Alexander says.

Elena has done a number of paintings featuring hockey scenes. She was the official artist for the Ottawa Senators in the 1998-99 season, producing a painting showing hockey being played on the Rideau Canal which was used by the hockey club for promotional purposes. In that same season, she was commissioned by the Ottawa Citizen to do a painting featuring some of the Ottawa Senators and which was featured on a two-page spread in a special edition of the newspaper. She even put the faces of herself, her husband Alexander and some friends in the crowd around the players.

Elena and Alexander are from Russia. Elena remembers being interested in art since she was about six years old, albeit just as a fun pastime in her youth. She eventually worked for a scientific journal publishing house but she wanted to do something more creative in art.

In Russia, her husband Alexander worked as a scientist but loved photography which was a hobby for him at the time while Elena pursued her art career.

While in Russia, Alexander as a scientist came to the attention of the National Research Council here in Canada and he was invited to work at the NRC for six months. His time at the NRC kept getting extended and extended and eventually he and Elena went through the immigration process and became residents of Canada.

In 2009, Alexander decided to follow his passion and became a professional photographer and digital artist. He now is totally focussed not only on promoting Elena’s work through their website but also in creating his own photographic art and writing books. He has just finished one book, not yet published, dealing with art and how art influences people.

Elena currently has some of her art on sale at the Koyman Gallery in Ottawa, although the art there features just Ottawa scenes. She enjoys painting Ottawa scenes but she also enjoys painting works that are more spiritual in nature, focussed on joy and good luck.

Elena admits that she sometimes gets ideas for her paintings from dreams. Indeed, she now keeps a notebook and pen beside the bed so that she can write down or sketch about the dream right away during the night. She began this after she found that sometimes she could not remember the dream if she waited until the morning.

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