From Eastend to Stockholm

Visual artist Bronwyn Schuster says growing up in Eastend was a blessing, though it was sometimes a difficult one. "My family and I moved there when I was a teenager, and I was also home-schooled, so at times I felt very isolated. The benefit of that was having ample time to draw, paint and explore who I was."

As a pre-teen, Schuster began taking "how-to" art books home from the library, later seeking out online communities, art classes and mentors.

Due to lack of accessibility, funds and opportunities, much of her education was self-directed. "I desperately wanted to learn how to paint portraits from life, but I was too shy to ask anyone to sit for me while I struggled to paint their face. My solution was to lock myself in my room and paint self-portraits," she says. "I spent hours studying one artist at a time, mimicking their essence, and then painted myself as though I were them."

Schuster soon set her sights on the Atelier Stockholm fine arts school in Sweden, "my dream school." In 2013, a Premier's Centennial Arts Scholarship helped make that dream a reality. The school offers an environment reminiscent of a Renaissance atelier. Its intensive three-year program requires students to work six to nine hours a day, five days a week, on their drawings. After her first year, Schuster says she has made "leaps and bounds of progress that would have taken me years on my own!"

From Eastend to Stockholm

Due to some technical difficulties with applying for her Swedish residency permit, Schuster is currently taking a year off of school to stay in Saskatchewan and paint, which opened up new opportunities for collaboration with other local artists. "Being free this fall, I was able to participate in the launch of a limited edition art book called Incunabula that I created with Eastend poet Melanie Boyd and her brother MJ Boyd." The project had been in the works for a year and came to fruition in November.

With the extra free time, she also had the chance to take a three-month trip through Sweden, Norway and Denmark, where she says she "devoured the scenery, culture and art. It's left me full with inspiration that will no doubt be feeding my work throughout the winter months."

Now that Schuster is back in Eastend and settled into the small-town routine again, her studio has her full attention. She is working diligently on shows for the coming year. "It's a shift from the school environment, which I look forward to returning to at some point, but in the meantime I am enjoying the creative freedom to it's full extent," she says.

After she completes her schooling, Schuster hopes to explore artist-in-residence opportunities in Canada and abroad but sees Saskatchewan as her resting place. "Every time I return, the land inspires me in new ways. And as I age, I appreciate it even more," she says. "I keep dreaming of having a little home studio with a garden and chickens."

For more on Bronwyn Schuster, visit

The Premier's Centennial Arts Scholarship program is funded through gifts and contributions from Eva Mendel Miller, Wally Mah, and Fred Mennie, and the 2005 Canada Games Building Dreams and Champions Legacy Program: Saskatchewan Arts Bursaries.