The Humboldt and District Gallery walls are lined with distinctive artwork by two Saskatchewan artists with their own styles and visions of the province. Leslie Blacklock has her exhibition Endless: Land, Lake and Light on now at the Gallery alongside Sketches from Home, Leanne Harasymchuk’s exhibit. 

The two spoke and greeted visitors and art patrons at a full-house event on Saturday afternoon.  

Pick any spot in the display of Harasymchuk’s work on the wall, and denizens of Humboldt and area will experience immediate sparks of recognition with her urban sketch styled representation of iconic area buildings and landmarks. Those snapshot sketches come from Humboldt, Bruno, Lake Lenore, Pilger, Muenster and a host of other areas in our region.  

Harasymchuk is no stranger to these locales having lived with her family in their Marysburg home. Surrounded by architectural and design history unique to the prairies, she catches the essence and beauty of these familiar spots that we sometimes take for granted.  

Originally grounded in a traditional studio model with charcoal and art materials all bound to a single location, Leane said that her practice shifted over the years. Keeping nature journals with her three sons meant being mobile, and she found herself gravitating toward sketching and sketchbooks.  

“We kept sketchbooks of local plants and animals and used local field guides to identify them. It kind of gave us our bearings in our new home on an acreage in Marysburg. Shortly after that, I discovered urban sketching, and I discovered artists work that was really interesting. There was this loose, expressive, playful style that used line and colour – it was illustrative and not too serious.” 

Harasymchuk says she was drawn to the style and its more portable possibilities. She steered away from the usual motifs of urban landscape and world-famous landmarks and instead focused on the features of the small rural villages, hamlets and churches around her. Sketches from Home is the remarkable result, capturing the charm and the mystique of the familiar in our own backyards. 

Leslie Blacklock’s work in Endless: Land, Lake and Light is a broader, sweeping approach on canvas to the natural world. Whether it's farmland in the south or the forested lake areas of the north, Blacklock exposes the viewer to her world, often with broad and striking strokes.  

During her discussion, Blacklock took the audience through the stages of her work, focused chronologically. After a long career as an interior and architectural designer in Prince Albert, Blacklock has moved on to embrace her artistry in a substantial way.  

“I always wanted to paint, and in my brain, I wanted to be an artist. So, I embarked on the journey, not really knowing what an artist is. I thought that as an artist, you had to paint all the time.” 

Instead, Leslie said that artistry is there in taking pictures and simply observing and absorbing landscapes, features and images, and banking them away for future fodder.  Her childhood experience growing up on a farm just east of Saskatoon lent itself to the rustic rural scenes, dotted with Holsteins and hay land.  

Later, as she experienced workshops at Christopher Lake in more northern locales, her work shifted to the boreal forest and lake vistas with which she became increasingly familiar.  

From starting with sketching and graphite at early workshops, she eventually moved on to acrylic painting and watercolours. She joined Studio 10-10 in Prince Albert and has connected with many new colleagues and supporters during that time. 

Despite the contrast in styles and approaches, the two exhibits work wonderfully together to fuse the natural world and the human shaped environs of rural and northern Saskatchewan in a complementary way. Don’t miss this wonderful display of Saskatchewan art on at the Humboldt and District Gallery until August 2.