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I have been wanting to return to SW Saskatchewan ever since my April artist’s residency at the Wallace Stegner House in Eastend so that I could further explore, photograph and sketch the awe-inspiring landscape in the region. So Michael and I decided to take a road trip there the first week of October 2013.

Hwy 21 SK (1)Our car shadow – Hwy #3 Saskatchewan

This is a gorgeous time of year to travel past ripening and harvested fields, and the Saskatchewan slogan Land of the Living Skies is evident in the beautiful autumnal equinox light.

Hwy 3 AB 2Hwy #3, Saskatchewan

Hwy 21 SKHwy #21, Saskatchewan

When I was at my artist’s residency, I met a lovely artist couple, Diana Chabros and Joseph Naytowhow. They run the Sky Story B&B in Val Marie, Saskatchewan (and they offer an artist discount!) so we decided to stay there.

DSCF1168Sky Story B&B, Val Marie, Saskatchewan

Diana Chabros & Joseph Naytowhow, Grasslands National ParkOur gracious hosts, Diana Chabros and Joseph Naytowhow 

Diana and Joseph were amazing hosts, and took us out for a day on the Grasslands National Park. I had not been to this park before and I will be visiting it again. It is truly an awe-inspiring, epic landscape. No signs of human habitation – no fences – no wires – for as far as the eye can see. And the eye can see a very great distance indeed.

Grasslands National Park DSCF1315 (41)Grasslands National Park

Grasslands National Park DSCF1315 (16)Grasslands National Park

I took the half-marathon walk, and then I perched myself on a warm, sunny slope to sketch while Michael, Diana and Joseph continued on the full marathon hike.

Grasslands National Park (wee Michael)Michael, Diana and Joseph disappearing into the landscape

Here are a few of my ink and watercolour sketches. As I sat and took in the landscape, my sketches became simpler and more reflective.

Grasslands National Park 3Grasslands National Park 1 – ink & watercolour sketch by Marlena Wyman

Grasslands National Park 5Grasslands National Park 2 – ink & watercolour sketch by Marlena Wyman

Grasslands National Park 1Grasslands National Park 3 – ink & watercolour sketch by Marlena Wyman

Grasslands National Park 2Grasslands National Park 4 – ink sketch by Marlena Wyman

Grasslands National Park 4Grasslands National Park 5 – ink & watercolour sketch by Marlena Wyman

Michael, Joseph & Diana, Grasslands National ParkReturn to civilization – note fence in distance

Michael and I went to another part of Grasslands National Park the next day, along the Frenchman River Valley.

MW & MC shadows, Riverwalk Trail, Grasslands National ParkShadow portrait of me and Michael – Frenchman River

We saw more wildlife on this trip than I have ever seen in the mountains.

Moose near Val MarieMoose near Val Marie, Saskatchewan

Deer, Riverwalk Trail, Grasslands National ParkWhitetail deer, Grasslands National Park

Owl, Riverwalk Trail, Grasslands National ParkGreat Horned Owl, entry to River Walk Trail, Grasslands National Park

Leader DSCF1479 (7)Snow geese migration near Leader, Saskatchewan

On the way back home, we stopped at the East Block of the Cypress Hills in Saskatchewan, just a couple of hours away but a completely different landscape at 1275 metres.

Cypress Hills East Block SK DSCF1458 (30)Cypress Hills Lookout, East Block, Saskatchewan

Cypress Hills East Block SK DSCF1458 (29)Just a bit of snow on the pine trees, Cypress Hills Lookout, East Block, Saskatchewan

As we left Saskatchewan and crossed the border to Alberta, I sketched the farm land that links our prairie heritage.

SK farmlandPrairie farmland –  ink & watercolour sketch by Marlena Wyman

Goodbye Saskatchewan – we’ll be back!

Posted by Marlena Wyman

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