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CREATIVELY SPEAKING - Out of the Darkness

By Robin Van Der Vleuten

While searching for a gift for my son, I was captivated by the beautifully created works of local artist Darlene Hlozan, of HeirloomMe. I've watched customers enthusiastically enquire about her work and how to order their own personal piece of art.

HeirloomMe takes a treasured photo submitted by a client which Darlene turns into ornaments, magnets, or stand-alone prints, creating wonderful keepsake memories.

Darlene was always a lover of the arts, even as a young girl, designing her own ‘paper clothing’ for the beloved paper dolls girls knew and treasured. She dabbled in painting and other artistic mediums throughout the years but put it on the backburner as life with children took over. It was the tragic passing of her son which brought the Arts back into her life.

She recalled one sunny day, vividly, “It was several, very difficult years before I wandered into Meta4, on a sunny day. I rarely left the house, and the sun had to be shining, if I gathered the strength. When in Meta4, I spotted a watercolour class with my favourite bird as the subject, the Cedar Waxwing. This was the beginning of my innate love for watercolour.”  

The encouragement from fellow artists, especially Karen Richardson, rekindled the spark to paint, and a new purpose was born. “Karen Richardson helped me to find my 'new' self, the old Darlene was a memory. Honestly, losing a child is so life changing, everything you think life is, is blown into oblivion. Life begins anew.”

Darlene took classes at Haliburton School of Art, to learn more, experiment with different mediums, and discover where her true passion lay. The love of working with wood, paint, photography, and digital design led to her creation of HeirloomMe. Then, Darlene expanded her business, by designing and creating ‘Whimsy Houses,’ hand drawn, watercolor and pen designs of clients’ homes and digitally created Tangled Greeting cards.

She even chose one of the whimsical birds on these cards, Emulina, as the main character in her very first children’s book which she is currently working on. With all of this, it is evident Darlene found joy in the Arts and strives to return it to others through her work.

You can see Darlene’s work, at

Robin Van Der Vleuten is a retired teacher, children’s author, artist and photographer. (

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