Books by William Kurelek
To My Father's Village
A prairie boy's winter
A prairie boy's summer
A Northern Nativity
[ More about William Kurelek ]
Many people believe no one has been able to paint what the
prairies look like better than William Kurelek. Others think
he was best able to capture the Canadian landscape with his
brush. But few can argue that William Kurelek knew how to
paint the world around him.
William discovered his artistic ability very early. When he
was growing up on the prairies in the 1930s, William
attended a one-room schoolhouse. Outside one day, he and
another boy got into an argument about who was a better
student. Finally, William declared that he could draw a
better train, and he did. He realized that his ability to
draw earned him attention and respect from his fellow
William was the oldest of seven children, born into a family
that had immigrated from Ukraine. His paintings feature many
Ukrainian themes, and he created a series of paintings on
the difficult life for new immigrants.
Best known for his landscapes, Kurelek studied the geography
around him while growing up on the family farm. He was very
skilled at showing the sky on a clear sunny day, at
twilight, or in the middle of a storm. He also painted night
scenes, including one of children catching fireflies, and
another of a family trying to finish haying as the lightning
from a coming storm lights up the sky.
His last book was titled, To My Father's Village, and
describes one of the last trips William took to the place
where his father grew up, in 1977 when Ukraine was still part
of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. He went, he
said, to discover if he was "more Ukrainian than Canadian."
There, he painted the farms of his father's childhood, the
village, and all of its inhabitants, both people and things.
After a short month's stay, he returned home very ill, but
with six completed paintings and many more sketches. William
Kurelek died November 3, 1977 at age 50.