This holiday season, we’re excited to introduce Pomegranate, a publishing and printing company that offers its customers “art you can bring home.” In celebration of Pomegranate’s commitment to inclusivity, we’re proud to spotlight some of the brilliant women artists in their catalogue. Read more about Pomegranate below.
There’s something about artwork that can transport you to another place. It all lies in the heart of an artist who makes you feel the serenity of a time you spent at a lakeside cottage, the invigoration of a hike through a national park or the joy of that one family summer vacation you thought you’d forgotten.
Darlene Kulig is that artist.
Featured alongside other talented women artists in the 2022 Pomegranate calendar line, Kulig’s work celebrates the beauty and spirit of nature in a dance of saturated color — a mélange of bright and joyful colors in bold strokes all dotted with her signature effervescent champagne bubbles. For the viewer, Kulig’s luscious landscapes, snow-capped peaks, and stunning forests might seem organic and otherworldly, abstracted and anthropomorphic. They may even seem representative of different places around the world. But what sets Kulig’s work apart is how all her pieces reflect the raw Canadian grandeur. After all, it’s the place she calls home.
I caught up with Darlene Kulig to find out about her inspiring artistic journey, the impact she sees her art having in the world, and what the future holds for her as a woman artist whose work continues to excite and inspire.
RR: How did your journey into painting begin?
Darlene Kulig: After graduating from the Ontario College of Art (OCAD), I balanced running a graphic design studio while raising a family. But it was only after losing my dear friend, Cynthia Steljes of Quartetto Gelato to cancer in 2006, that I, without understanding why began to draw. I made beautiful pencil drawings of Cynthia’s clothes including a striped tank top that was included in a prestigious juried art show. Much later, I realized that painting was my way of journeying through grief. During the time Cynthia was battling her illness, I had lost touch with my artist self. But she encouraged me to make space for my love of painting. And so I paint as a way to carry Cynthia with me and to appreciate life every single day.
RR: Your work has been described as “bold and joyous, whimsical and eye-catching.” Tell us more about your artistic style and creative process.
Darlene Kulig: I describe my style as semi-abstracted spirited landscape. My work is carefully designed using flat shapes with a chalk outline along with a solid understanding of colour theory from my graphic design days. By building layers of colour, I use simultaneous contrast to create a ‘pulse’ that tingles through the use of my values and colour intensity. On the surface, my pictures appear quite simple and almost childlike. However, they communicate a depth of emotion—most notably joy!
RR: Where do you draw inspiration from?
Darlene Kulig: From everyday and exotic places. And of course from traveling around the world which I look forward to resuming very soon! I’m also inspired by the stories people share with me. If someone is passionate about a place it becomes emotional contagion in the best possible way. And as an empath, I completely soak in the specialness and spirit around me.
RR: Pomegranate’s “Art by Women” initiative celebrates so many emerging and established female artists by giving them an opportunity to showcase their work. What are some of the challenges women artists like yourself face and how do you navigate them without platforms such as this one?
Darlene Kulig: A huge challenge for me was subscribing to the notion that we as women can have it all. Once I embraced the fact that I could have it all—just not at the same time—I learned patience and perseverance. My work as a designer and my life experience as a mother enriches my art and makes me a well-rounded human being.
RR: Your work is featured on wall calendars, jigsaw puzzles, card sets, and pillowcases. Where else would you like your work to be featured?
Darlene Kulig: My relationship with the team at Pomegranate has raised my game as an artist and given me wonderful international exposure. Additionally, my pillows (printed by Bring Your Own Masks) are in Canadian embassies around the world where my work hangs in all its Canadian glory. I’d love to continue seeing my work in more arts institutions and public spaces. I’d also like the opportunity to facilitate the creation of ‘collaborative artworks’ in healthcare and mental health facilities where people and patients could participate in the creative process of making art.
RR: You recently teamed up with Bring Your Own Mask (BYOM) to feature your artwork on a series of face masks in support of your nephew’s Craig Kulig Memorial Foundation which was set up after he passed away due to cancer. As we all look towards a post-pandemic future, what place do you think art will have in the world? And what impact do you want your work to have on people’s lives?
Darlene Kulig: I continue to partner with The Ottawa Hospital raising money through my art for The Craig Kulig Memorial Fund. I’m also partnering with Sick Kids and Moorelands Kids to help fundraise and share my happy art with the world.
Today more than ever, we all crave stories of hope. And for me, art is storytelling at its best. Many of my patrons tell me about their personal stories and even share their interpretations of my work. I’ve even made new friendships during COVID through my masks, puzzles, and of course my art. From my depictions of a canoe ride on still waters in the moonlight to a tiny tugboat sailing toward home, people viscerally connect with my paintings. My art has given people a path to finding joy.
RR: What advice do you have for aspiring artists, especially women?
Darlene Kulig: Be brave enough to let go of critical thinking and judgment. As children, we create from a place of divergent thinking which is all about possibilities. But as we go through life we rely more on our convergent thinking which is about analyzing and judging. Sadly, we become afraid. So make space in your life for being creative without judgment. Let your inner child rise up and be playful. Stop apologizing. Work hard. Self validate. And make great art!
RR: What’s next for Darlene Kulig?
Darlene Kulig: I always try to inspire people to make art whether it’s in their gardens, kitchens, or through knitting, quilting, or taking local art courses. My Dragonfly Ascending into Twilight (Craig Kulig’s painting) hangs in the oncology department at The Ottawa Hospital. Two large East Coast paintings will be shipped later this month to hang in a world renowned medical center. I even had a patron phone me the other day to let me know that my art puzzles sustained her during COVID and have been a source of upliftment to her as her husband recovers from a recent stroke.
. . .Art heals. Art makes me happy. That’s why I paint.
The new 2022 Darlene Kulig Wall Calendar is available for purchase on Pomegranate.com. Check it out!
Remember: When you order directly from Pomegranate the artists receive a larger percentage of sales.
© Reanne Rodrigues (11/19/21) Special for FF2 Media.
Order the Darlene Kulig Calendar for 2022 (& more including puzzles, note cards & bookmarks) via Pomegranate.
Visit Darlene Kulig’s website.
Read more about Cynthia Steljes of Quartetto Gelato here.
Read more about the BYOM initiative here.
Read more about the Craig Kulig Memorial Foundation here.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Images from Pomegranate’s 2022 Darlene Kulig calendar have been provided by Pomegranate and used by FF2 Media with their permission. All Rights Reserved by Pomegranate.