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Image by Tofan Teodor

ABOUT The Things I Do :) 

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I believe that art &  creativity shapes our world, fully and completely! 

I believe that art education should be recognized as essential subject within the curriculum so that all children are given equal opportunity to express themselves creatively each and everyday.  It has been proven that kids, teens and adults of all ages are happier people when they're given opportunities to express themselves in a nurturing atmosphere. Especially in today's lightning fast-paced world, young minds need a place to be creative, to be themselves while they express themselves at their own pace.  

I am continuously inspired by the great Leonardo da Vinci. He was born one year after the Age of Renaissance and because his parents were not married, was not permitted too attend proper education. Despite this lack, and societal rules, he chose to follow his heart and utilized his curious nature to discover the world on his own terms. 

 Creative  problem-solving is the way through everything...

My goal is for  kids to enjoy the process of learning and I fully encourage  individual expression. When it comes time for them leave the Studio , it is my hope that they are empowered by their accomplishments. As a child, perfection

 is often believed to be the goal, however it is the enjoyment-process of creative learning that is the way of traveling.  Adult brains assume the goal is only the outcome, but really it's only looking for fun! 

Kids and their creativity are our future.  So through my time with Serendipity Pre-Kindergarten, The Okotoks Community Programs and my Inspiration Studio I am grateful for the opportunities to teach children ages 6-108 and lucky to offer courses for creative adults ready and willing to jump in on the fun!

But What Do I DO??? 

My original work consists of a wide variety of mediums, subject matters, mediums and musings so I had to separate them by medium and by theme! Browse my many galleries here. There is much to see, and I'm always adding more:) Before the coronavirus pandemic, I was consistently hanging original art inside a local coffee shop, but now most of my work is on display inside my home. I don't currently have an online shop due to the amount of maintenance it requires and quite honestly, I'd prefer to simply have a chat online or meet in person or through video conferencing where I can take you on a virtual tour of my work. 

In late March 2019, I enrolled in full time 2 year Marketing Coordinator Diploma Program through The Academy of Learning Career College.and graduated in 2021!   

I have also teamed up with one Canadian-run, international online platform through Art in Canada for marketing to international collectors, both of which invited me to join their cause. With no commissions taken, I can keep my price points affordable. Original art is best viewed in person, so should you be interested in seeing a piece in person, or through Zoom you can set up a private viewing with me through my Studio. Or feel free to contact me through Social Media platforms:) 

Image by Pawel Czerwinski

My debut as a local respected artist came in 1990: Grade 9, at 15 I was asked to draw a commemorative portrait of a classmate who had tragically lost her life. It was completed in graphite, framed and hung prominently in the Okotoks Junior High today.  Shifting to my grade 12 year, I created a hallway mural depicting lockers slowly morphing into a road to symbolize the transition from school to the 'real world' which lead to my Art Award of Excellence from Foothills Composite High School.

Enrolled in Alberta College of Art & Design (now known as The University of the Arts) in the Drawing Program, gave me 4 intense years of high expectations, yet extremely inspiring professional arts education. In between semesters, I attended art markets, festivals and shows offering portraits and designing promotional material for local businesses 

At the end of my program, I earned my Diploma in the Visual Arts: Honours with Distinction. I found employment  as a graphic designer, muralist, portrait artist, cake decorator, gift shop associate and basically the go-to local artist. By 2001, I took a chance and offered three different courses to Okotoks Community Programs. Without knowing it then, I had actually embarked on my career as an art instructor! Those three little classes evolved into 19 years of teaching art classes, running fine art camps for a few years and of course, workshops for teens and adults at the Okotoks Art Gallery. 

In 2006 I achieved my Art Framers & Design Certificate and one year later, opened my Inspiration Studio to private art students that had 'aged out' of my Community Programs. These kids were seeking more one-on-one instruction and more advanced techniques that could not be accommodated within the OAG. Many of these students are now successful young artists in the fields of: Glass Blowing, Drawing, Painting, Film and Animation.

2008 - 2010 I joined forces with Master Silversmith and art teacher of many talents, Shirley Paradis teaching Fine Art Camps at The Okotoks Art Gallery.  2011's Fine Art Camps were run by myself along with Special Guest artists as my complements. 2012, I began The Fantasy Fine Art Camps through my Inspiration Studio until 2019 years running. In the complicated year of 2020, I ran three days of Canadian-inspired art camps at separated work stations. Wood Homes contacted me to run a week of summer camps  for their at-risk students. We spent most of our time outside to maintain social distancing requirements. Following the camps, regular lessons continued partially online and in-person. Restructuring of the entire Studio workspace allowed this to be acceptable measures to permit in  person lessons. 

The Studio has been host to Private and Public Christmas Parties, Show & Sales, The Cookie Contest, The Food Bank Tree, Rescue Foundations for animals in need as well as the Gingerbread Showdown and ISAFA Coffee Shop Shows.


Image by Tofan Teodor
My Volunteer Work began in 2003 with the Okotoks Arts Council

By 2003 I joined the Okotoks Arts Council holding a variety of positions to further the respect and recognition for the arts in Okotoks. Soon my skills as an artist and event planner were recognized and I became a major influence and contributor running arts and craft activities for The Okotoks Children Festival, and painting live on several OAC Floats for the Annual Okotoks Parade. Along with many other tried and true members, I brought in new people with skills I didn't have and slowly became their unofficial marketing and promotional designer as member of their new Arts Outreach Committee. I was involved in many other activities such as strategic planning, website re-design, social media management, marketing efforts, Volunteer Connector, managing their Showpass accounts, attending board development meetings as well as planning a few AGM's. I remained a faithful board member up until February 2020 at the OAC's AGM to allow some fresh ideas, members and to free up time to finish my marketing course. 

October 2017 saw my debut and to my newly discovered skill as an Event Planner and Market Director.

Myself and a very small subcommittee of passionate fans of magic and mystery, the Okotoks Arts Council's "Wizarding World of Okotoks." I volunteered to run the Artisan's Market and my duties grew exponentially. With no real experience in this role,  I found myself collecting, curating and coordinating a fairly large collection of vendors and artists. Our committee was fierce! So along with the committee, I also took on marketing the event on social media, designing registration forms, taking registration, booking the location and preparing customized signage. As the months, weeks and days crept along, it was time to place each vendor with a healthy amount of competition ... so I also made a Vendors Map for them to find their way. The event was an incredible success bringing 180,000 guests out to Okotoks to celebrate the magic created by J.K.Rowling and Okotoks saw an influx of income to the tune of $300,000.00!!! But that's not where the story ends... 

Image by Pawel Czerwinski

Here are a few of my events

Image by Tofan Teodor

The "Wizarding World Event" EXPANDS!  

ENTER Enchanted Okotoks! Since our 38 vendors and 40+ participating businesses were really looking forward to a second 'wizarding event', I got to thinking about just how much I love Okotoks and the businesses and the grand people who run them along Elizabeth Street, McRae Street, North Railway Street and Elma Street and the idea struck me! Okotoks is truly ENCHANTING! I wrote out an entirely different event showcasing each type of business with ideas on how to show their uniqueness in a fantastical way. Upon our first committee of Wizards meeting, everyone was talking about how we could expand on the theme, including medieval knights, steampunk, faery realms, unicorns, mermaids, trolls, Irish dancing and so much more. I had stayed up all night up until about 2 or 3 am and was ready for our 9:00 a.m. meeting with copies in hand to share. 

By May of 2018, it was presented to and accepted by OAC Board of Directors, Planning was underway that NIGHT! We had a unicorn, a mermaid pod, a giant spider, a faery kingdom, new members joined our committee, then we got a medieval encampment, entertainers, dancers, faerie scavenger hunts, brand new maps, a DnD Epic Quest Game, 40 + local business participation and of course, The Enchanted Okotoks Artisan Market complete with kids crafts and cauldrons!  And I was even interviewed by the Okotoks Western Wheel and it continued on for another magical year:) 


2019 was our third magical event and while it was a smidge different, our fan base had expanded and everyone was excited to come out one more time. That year, I managed to connect up four groups to initiate a youth market within our local Library. 20 youth vendors were amazing entrepreneurs and quite a few sold out! 

Then, the snow came. It forced many events and vendors indoors or to close up early. Then the wind came... and more people were brought to my two artisan markets! All three years were great experiences in which I learned a vast amount of things, on a rollercoaster-like curve of intertwining curves! Enchanted Okotoks was determined to evolve as an economic driver for Okotoks, so going forward it was my hope that the Economic Development Team and the Okotoks Arts Council team-up will bring even more celebration of creativity and magic back to the core of the amazing streets of downtown Okotoks! And of course, I'd love to be a part of it!

ENTER 2020...and Covid-19. The shutdown of all things arts and entertainment and in-person connectivity. It was a bombshell to all of us across the globe. One month earlier, I had left the OAC to finish my college marketing diploma course and all remaining members were unceremoniously shoved online. As was I for my last 11 courses. But a new committee formed between the Town council and the OAC and have since made strong inroads so behind the scenes, things were happening. 

The shutdown ended my contract as an art teacher for the Town of Okotoks. It came as a shock and parents were left scrambling for their kids' afterschool schedules.(Side note though: I ensured that all of my Inspirations Studio art classes continued online with the purchase of my new webcam, headset and studio restructuring) I collected all of their art folders, packed up the full studio of supplies and reached out to all 24 parents. Now they had options. A few kids came to some mini sessions to finish off their last three classes and some other simply picked up their work. Mask rules did not apply until the following month. During the month of March, I created drawing tutorials and set up three downloadable PDF's - still available today! I posted the remaining kid's artwork in my home window and shared a photo of it on social media. April saw my "Take Away Easter Projects". Parents would purchase my pre-made kits with instructions and pick up their supplies from my cardboard "Treasure Box" off my front step. In May, I created a few projects inspired by Star Wars Day and more art kits were prepared, sold and picked up. Some kids shared their creations online. The end of June I set up three miniature one-day art camps for up to three kids. By July I had collected a huge pile of my own project samples aka unfinished drawings and categorized them by theme. These became a contest for kids of all ages to choose one and 'finish it in their own style". However, I selected 11 drawings for very special kids who I knew would love to finish my work. They became my Secret Apprentices! And during the contest, I posted their finished work online to showcase it and inspire others. You can see their incredible work here. Just scroll down. 

The art studio at the OAG where I had worked was still closed to everyone and it was July 22nd. The staff didn't know what to do. So I started looking at my options for the fall and pondered starting up an art club or two. By early August my Art Club idea took off and I had eight kids registered!! My Artist Leagues were filled to the max and I was getting a ton of requests for more teen classes. It was unbelievable. I could barely keep up with everything on top of still finishing my college program... never mind all the Window Marketing Murals I was creating from April to December for a few local businesses trying to stay afloat!! I was creating new one each month with consistent updates following restriction updates. In the end of August, I was approached by Woods Homes seeking art camps for their at-risk FASD members. I agreed to set up four days of camps for four-five different kids each day with a requested Minecraft theme. This meant I had to completely change the set up of my Studio to accommodate social distancing and minimizing high touch areas as well as create art kits for each individual student to restrict any sharing of any tools. Barrier screens were installed, supplies sourced , purchased and collected, art kits created and filled to order... and then I had to devise a way to work with them outside to minimize time spent in the studio. Five separate tables were set up in my backyard with a large borrowed tent from Woods Homes. It was in incredible amount of work and I had to take three weeks off of my college program. The Woods Homes Camps were a success and the kids were elated to find out that they got to take all of their supplies home as well as their swanky aprons donated by Swinton's Art Supplies, Instruction & Framing. 

Three weeks later, I was teaching online art classes to 17 kids a week!!! Into October and December more and more requests for teen classes kept coming. So, I offered a 3 hour, partially self-directed course for ages 13 - 19 and before Christmas - it was full, bringing my total number of students to 21. With so many millions of projects to plan, kids to teach and families to keep up with, invoices to manage, supplies to replenish, insane cleaning routines taking up more time, my college program continued to take a back seat. I was getting very nervous about the deadline of the 31st of October. I had just a few courses left but I wasn't going to make it. So I started the difficult process of requesting an extension. This took just about 3 months and was extremely stressful. Here's an abridged version: a lot of phone calls to CRA, National Student Loan Center and the college, emails, forms, sending registered mail and signing on the dotted lines... and my deadline was extended to December 31st but I finished the course on March 4th. (apparently they didn't care as much as I did?) Just three weeks shy of two years of schooling. GRADUATED, diploma in hand, photo taken and payments begin on July 31st. 

November 2020 I was invited back with my art students (former and current) to the Town of Okotoks Municipal Center and paint a window mural on all 12 windows. Following a modernized 12 Days of Christmas, we created "A Very Covid Christmas" which you can see here on a special page just for Youth Artists involved.

While this was a whirlwind of crazy busy-ness, worrying, reorganizing, restructuring, rethinking and helping out those in need where I could, I would not have done it any other way. 2021 was an incredible year of expansion and excitement as the arts in all facets being recognized as an essential industry and artists as well as the millions of creative thinkers that helped us connect with each other through technology and innovation! 2022 until present, the Studio keeps gaining popularity and more and more students are gaining arts education. Win win;) 

My Fundraiser Window Mural for Okotoks Cinemas was created for free. The were really struggling with the shutdown. I created the whole thing with no charge - only payment accepted was free popcorn:) Take a peek of it right here! And then my collaborative13-paned Youth Window Mural called "Choose Kind" and my huge undertaking of creating my 70 square foot Castle of the Arts. I wanted to create it for a number of reasons but I definitely needed help. Some helped me find recyclable materials, some brought forth innovative ideas to secure it in place, some encouraged me to keep at it when thing got tough... some brought me tape (I really love tape!!) and others helped me move it to it's summer home. But it was my students and their parents who helped me put it all together into it's final stage! I offered some free mini sessions for registered kids and then some Art Camps for those wishing to be more involved and it sat at that location for all to see at a local and super cool colouring book bakery and cafe known as 94 Take the Cake from July 24th to August 28th:) 


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