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William Kurelek



William Kurelek
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.08

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    knack, excursion, mindless, self-portraits, toil, untamed, settling, finest, historical, emotional, therapy, determination, difficult, setback, dedication, spite
     content words:    William Kurelek, Ontario College, Long Voyage, In Sickness


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William Kurelek
By Colleen Messina
  

1     William Kurelek had a knack for turning difficult experiences into scenes for beautiful artwork. He understood the struggles that the immigrants faced because his father was one. He became one of Canada's best artists, and he honored his heritage by showing the immigrants' struggles in his work.
 
2     William was born in Whitford, Alberta, Canada, on March 3, 1927. He was the oldest of seven children. They all grew up hearing the stories about the struggles their parents faced in the Ukraine and later as immigrants. Their family lived on a grain farm and later a dairy farm. Working hard was a way of life. The family faced constant struggles from bad weather, hungry insects, and illness. Like all immigrants, they had to keep on going no matter what happened.
 
3     William and all of his siblings did farm chores, but William was always known as a dreamer. He loved to watch the changing sky with its rolling, black thunderstorms and lacy cloud patterns. His father did not understand why his son only had a knack for staring upward. He thought his son was lazy. William's father did not want William to become an artist. His father didn't know that William's mindless daydreams would make him an outstanding painter.
 
4     William received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Manitoba and then attended the Ontario College of Art. He struggled with mental illness during this period, and his strange paintings showed his emotional struggles. He was hospitalized for a year in 1952 and did many self-portraits in the art therapy program. William had a great deal of determination in spite of this setback. He turned to religion for help, and this helped him to express himself. He eventually recovered from his illness, and his paintings became much lighter and happier.
 
5     William began painting scenes from his early life on the farm. During this time, he developed his unique style. He applied oil or acrylic paint to a board and then he drew an outline of his subject with a ballpoint pen. He created textures with colored pencils. His paintings had many details in them, even insects. He often painted 10 hours a day. If he went on a painting excursion, he worked all day and into the evening. He only slept for short periods of time and ate nothing except oranges!

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