A Tale of Two Ukrainian Artists: William Kurelek and Brandy Saturley

Art has the power to capture culture, history, and personal narratives in vibrant and captivating ways. In the realm of Ukrainian Canadian art, two remarkable painters have emerged with their unique styles and perspectives: William Kurelek and Brandy Saturley. While both artists celebrate their Ukrainian heritage in different times, their approach to storytelling through art varies, resulting in distinct bodies of work. This is a Tale of Two Ukrainian Canadian Artists.

William Kurelek, a renowned Canadian artist, was a masterful storyteller through his brushstrokes. Born in 1927 in Alberta, Canada, Kurelek’s art captured the essence of his rural upbringing and explored themes of faith, identity, and the human condition. His vivid and detailed paintings, often depicting prairies, farms, and landscapes, conveyed a deep connection to his Ukrainian heritage. Kurelek’s art not only showcased his technical prowess but also delved into his personal struggles with mental health, making his work deeply introspective and emotionally evocative. With a unique blend of realism and imagination, Kurelek’s legacy continues to inspire and captivate art enthusiasts across the globe.

The Rock, 1962, by William Kurelek

Brandy Saturley, a Canadian artist known for her vibrant and captivating paintings, effortlessly blends the realms of realism and pop culture in her art. Born in 1972 in British Columbia, Canada, her passion for painting began at a young age, and she has since become a prominent figure in the Canadian art scene. Saturley’s unique style combines bold colors, intricate details, and a touch of whimsy, resulting in visually stunning pieces that captivate the viewer’s imagination. With her distinct ability to capture the essence of Canadian identity and culture, Brandy Saturley’s art has garnered international recognition, solidifying her status as one of Canada’s top contemporary artists.

In this blog post, we will explore and compare the paintings of these two Ukrainian Canadian artists, William Kurelek and Brandy Saturley.

Tale of Two Ukrainian Artists

Reminiscence of Youth, 1968 by William Kurelek

  1. Cultural Themes and Imagery: One of the primary commonalities between Kurelek and Saturley lies in their exploration of Ukrainian culture and heritage. Kurelek’s works often depict scenes from Ukrainian village life, religious traditions, and historical events. His paintings delve into the deep-rooted traditions and customs, invoking nostalgia and a sense of community.

On the other hand, Saturley’s paintings incorporate contemporary Ukrainian motifs with a fresh and modern twist. Her works feature bold, vibrant colors and strong female figures adorned in Ukrainian traditional attire. Saturley seamlessly merges cultural symbols with contemporary themes, presenting a unique interpretation of Ukrainian identity in the modern world.

Tale of Two Ukrainian Artists

Ukraine Strong, self-portrait, 2022, Brandy Saturley

  1. Narrative and Storytelling: Both Kurelek and Saturley are storytellers, but their methods differ significantly. Kurelek’s paintings often tell deeply personal stories, drawing from his own experiences and struggles. His introspective approach invites viewers to delve into the emotional depths of his narratives, addressing themes of spirituality, mental health, and immigrant experiences. Kurelek’s works are often detailed and meticulously crafted, inviting viewers to unravel the layers of meaning within each piece.

In contrast, Saturley’s narratives are more open-ended and leave room for interpretation. Her paintings possess a dreamlike quality, with subjects engaged in ambiguous activities or situated in surreal environments. By intentionally leaving certain aspects unresolved, Saturley allows viewers to construct their own stories and connect with the art on a personal level.

Tale of Two Ukrainian Artists

After the Big Blow, 1974, William Kurelek

  1. Artistic Techniques and Style: Kurelek’s paintings showcase his remarkable technical skill and meticulous attention to detail. He employed a realistic style, using precise brushwork and capturing intricate textures and lighting. Kurelek’s use of earthy tones and a subdued color palette contributes to the nostalgic and contemplative atmosphere of his works.

Conversely, Saturley’s style is characterized by bold, expressive brushwork and vibrant colors. Her paintings feature a combination of realism and abstraction, creating a dynamic tension that energizes her compositions. Saturley’s use of vivid hues and gestural brushstrokes adds a sense of vitality and movement to her art.

Tale of Two Ukrainian Artists

Pond Hockey Days, 2021, Brandy Saturley

Conclusion: While both William Kurelek and Brandy Saturley celebrate their Ukrainian heritage through their art, their approaches differ significantly. Kurelek’s introspective narratives and attention to detail transport viewers to a bygone era, while Saturley’s contemporary interpretations and dreamlike compositions offer a fresh perspective on Ukrainian identity. Regardless of their differences, both artists contribute to the rich tapestry of Ukrainian Canadian art, inviting audiences to explore their cultural roots and connect with the universal human experience through the power of visual storytelling.

Tale of Two Ukrainian Artists

Dochka Rising, 2023, Brandy Saturley

Tale of Two Ukrainian Artists

More paintings by Brandy Saturley that show influence of Ukrainian-Canadian heritage and her distinctive style of visual storytelling.

Spirit of Ukraine, 2023, Brandy Saturley

Tale of Two Ukrainian Artists

Perogies in the Wind, 2013, Brandy Saturley

Pysanky Puck: rubber hockey puck, paper, wood and acrylic paint, 2013.

My Ukrainian Idol, 2011, Brandy Saturley

Mother and Child, 2009, Brandy Saturley

Top 10 Canadian Painters to follow on Instagram

Canada is home to a vibrant and diverse arts scene, and social media platforms like Instagram have given top Canadian painters a platform to showcase their work to a global audience. Instagram has become a powerhouse platform for discovering new artists from all over the world. It provides a unique space where artists can showcase their work and connect with a global audience of art lovers, collectors, and enthusiasts.

Top 10 Canadian Painters

Compositional Study for They Walk Softly on This Earth 2022 Acrylic on Canvas 24″ x 36″ Kent Monkman

Instagram’s visual nature is perfect for showcasing artwork. Artists can share images of their work, behind-the-scenes shots of their creative process, and even videos of their work in progress. This provides viewers with an immersive experience that allows them to appreciate the artwork in a way that wouldn’t be possible through other mediums. The social nature of this visual platform allows for direct connections between artists and their audiences. This allows artists to build a community of fans and supporters, and it also allows audiences to engage with artists and their work on a personal level. This creates a sense of intimacy and connection that can be hard to achieve through other platforms.

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Victoria BC based artist, Brandy Saturley, in her studio.

Here are 10 of the top Canadian painters to follow on Instagram;

  1. Kent Monkman – This Toronto-based artist explores themes of Indigenous identity, sexuality, and colonialism in his bold and provocative paintings.
  2. Tim Okamura – This New York-based artist explores themes of race, identity, and representation in his powerful and expressive portraits.
  3. Kim Dorland – A Toronto-based artist known for his textured and expressive paintings of Canadian landscapes and urban scenes.
  4. David McLeod – A digital artist and painter whose bold and vibrant works explore the intersection of technology and nature.
  5. Brandy Saturley – Based in Victoria, BC, Saturley’s pop art style paintings capture the beauty and diversity of Canada’s landscapes and people.
  6. Peter Doig – A Scottish-born painter who has spent much of his career in Canada, Doig’s dreamlike and atmospheric paintings capture the beauty and mystery of Canadian landscapes.
  7. Jeremy Herndl – Victoria BC based Canadian painter focusing on the human relationship to place.
  8. Jen Mann – Toronto, On based painter whos work mainly focuses on the idea of self in a post-internet world.
  9. Andrew Valko – Winnipeg, MB based hyperrealist painter, drive-in movie scenes and conceptual nudes
  10. Christie Belcourt – Following the tradition of Métis floral beadwork, Belcourt paints in dots and uses the subject matter as metaphors for human existence to relay a variety of meanings which include concerns for the environment, biodiversity, spirituality and awareness of Métis culture.
Top 10 Canadian Painters

Christi Belcourt working in her studio, 2021

These are just a few of the many talented Canadian painters on Instagram. Whether you’re looking for landscapes, portraits, or abstract works, there’s sure to be an artist on this list who will inspire and delight you. So why not give them a follow and see what they’re up to?

READ MORE: Top 20 Canadian Artists on Instagram 

My Top Ten – Polar Bear Paintings

Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus) are magical creatures, loved by many. They are some of my favourite polar bear paintings. If you are in Canada, Manitoba is the place to go to see this largest land mammal, in the northern city of Churchill. Polar Bear symbolism and meaning varies amongst tribes. The Polar Bear teaches endurance and resourcefulness, a powerful and wise spirit animal. These white beauties often stir deep emotions in humans, especially now as their habitats are disappearing due to global warming. The Polar Bear is seen as a guiding spirit when facing dramatic life transitions, especially at the onset of a new path or major change in life. Seems timely as we are just coming through a challenging two years under the Covid pandemic and life as we know it is new again.

Here are my top ten paintings featuring this magnificent white beauty of Northern landscapes.

polar bear paintings

1. Face Off, 2011 Brandy Saturley

polar bear paintings

2. Polar Bear, 2015 Brandy Saturley

polar bear paintings

3. Lovers in A Polar Bear Time, 2021 Brandy Saturley

polar bear paintings

4. When Polar Bears Fly, 2020 Brandy Saturley

polar bear paintings

5. King of The Polar Bears, 2021 Brandy Saturley

polar bear paintings

6. Queen of The Polar Bears, 2021 Brandy Saturley

Canadian Paintings

7. Balance, 2018 Brandy Saturley

Canadian Paintings

8. A Handful of Polar Bear, 2021 Brandy Saturley

Polar Bear Painting Global Warming

9. Wanderlust, 2022 Brandy Saturley

Canadian Painters Brandy Saturley

10. The Conversation, acrylic painting 2023, Brandy Saturley

Polar Bear Paintings draw attention to their changing habitats

Sea ice is as important to the Arctic ecosystem and the planet as it is to polar bears who rely on the ice to hunt, mate, travel and sometimes den. The main threat to these bears is sea ice land loss from climate warming. Internationally polar bears are listed as a vulnerable species and one that is being challenged to adapt quickly right now, worldwide. These bears can currently be found in five nations including Canada, US (Alaska), Russia, Greenland and Norway. My goal in painting these symbolic narratives about polar bears is to draw attention to their changing habitats and honour their beauty and resilience. The are special, magical creatures to observe and protect.

See more paintings about The Great White North here.

My Top Seven – Paintings With Poppies

Over the years I have created a number of paintings with red poppies featured in the piece. In Canada, Scotland and England, red poppies signify Remembrance Day and often conjure memories and thoughts of loved ones who served on this day. Poppies are also seen in the Rocky mountains in late Spring and early summer, one of many spring wildflowers you can spot from roadside and mountain trail vantage points. While big red poppies with black centres are the most beautiful and common, you can also see large pink, blue and white poppies strewn throughout wildflower fields. The most common poppy is a wild poppy of orange, seen all over western Canada in the spring and often along highways and city garden plots. I love poppies they are proud flowers, with very substantial stalks and centers, with the most delicate tissue like petals that are transparent at times when sunlight filters through. They do not last long, but they are significant and stunning flowers.

In addition to being a strikingly beautiful flower with medicinal properties, the poppy is a plant steeped in symbolism. From darker themes such as death and war to hopes of peace, luxurious living, and imagination, the poppy represents many aspects of the human experience. Poppies contain many opiates, including codeine, morphine, and thebaine. While these substances can, of course, be harmful when consumed outside of medicinal applications, they are also effective pain relief agents and can induce sleep while settling the nerves. While many people instinctively associate the red poppy with peace as well as death because hope for a peaceful future seems a natural response to the destruction of war, the reinforcement of the poppy’s symbolism of peace has gained traction in recent years. I often associate poppies with imagination and dreaming, for me the dreamy quality comes from a scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy falls asleep in a filed of poppies. No matter your connection to this magical flower, you cannot deny it’s delicate beauty, no matter the shade. Here are seven paintings with poppies.

celebrating art in canada

Poppies For Louise, 2011 Brandy Saturley


paintings with poppies

I’ll Carry That Weight, 2020 Brandy Saturley


paintings with poppies

Dreaming in The Colours of Eh, 2014 Brandy Saturley


paintings with poppies

A Cup for Louise, 2013 Brandy Saturley


canadian paintings

Golden Ram, 2011 Brandy Saturley


remembrance day painting

Remember Us, 2014 Brandy Saturley


10 canoe paintings

Freedom Canoe with Poppies, 2015 Brandy Saturley

Seven paintings featuring scarlett red poppies. All very symbolic paintings, they bring memories, reminders, joy and peace. These paintings tell imaginative stories using the symbol of the poppy.

Like these paintings? See more paintings by Canadian visual artist, Brandy Saturley.