Being Authentic Means Being My Unique SELF.
And how fun it is!
As it turns out, I love teaching... and sharing what I've learned...and so I find myself on a crusade to fill the EARTH with more artists!
Funny experiences, historical anecdotes, fascinating ancient belief systems, art history, the origins of art materials including colours, questions about current art trends are all topics that come up during classes that help kids feel at ease when they can think, laugh and create freely in a room full of creatives who quickly become like-minded buddies!
My Artist Leagues, Workshops and Community Programs are tailored for keeners.
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 todays' lightning fast-paced world, young minds need a place to be creative, to be themselves while they express themselves at their own pace.
Leonardo da Vinci was born one year after the Age of Renaissance and was not given the chance to attend proper or consistent education only because his parents were not married. So he chose to follow his heart and curious nature to discover the world on his own terms. Regardless of rules, expectations and societal law. For his unending curiosity and limitless abilities he is my hero, my guidance counselor and maybe my higher goal to discover myself.
Fostering imagination provides an avenue for kids to creatively problem-solve.
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!
My interests include...
A Brief Authentic History of Me
The Year of the Dragon, when I was born in High River, Alberta a blizzard was taking place in December and I was in a hurry to by born! Boom! There I was, in half an hour snuggling with my mom:) I consider myself lucky to have always called Okotok home, but I have traveled to Europe, the US, B.C, Saskatchewan, and even across the globe to Australia.
My creative skills were discovered in Pre-Kindergarten when I created an elaborate cardboard castle with towers, flags and a draw bridge. Later, I completed a word search backwards. I was a proud but painfully shy member of Brownies, Guides & Pathfinders. AND I can honestly say, has saved my life in the strangest of circumstances. Figure Skating became my next passion so much that I competed in regional competitions, but I knew deep down that I was meant to be an artist.
1990: I was 15 and 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 'Stephanie's Corner' which still hangs in the Okotoks Junior High today. Fast forward to my hallway mural depicting lockers slowly morphing into a road to symbolize the transition from school to the 'real world'. Then, my Art Award of Excellence from Foothills Composite High School in 1994 .
To my surprise, I was accepted into the Alberta College of Art & Design at the age of 17 that fall. Throughout those 4 intense years of extremely inspiring study, I attended art markets, festivals and shows offering portraits and designing promotional material for local businesses
1998 found me graduating with the highest level of achievement at the time: A Diploma in the Visual Arts: Honours with Distinction.I found creative employment all over Okotoks as a graphic designer, muralist, portrait artist, cake decorator, gift shop associate and basically the go-to local artist.
By 2001, Bev Geier of Nature Arranged (formerly I've Been Framed artwork framing shop) suggested I offer art lessons for kids through the Okotoks Community Programs. I had no idea that I could teach without a teaching certificate. So since then, I have been teaching numerous 6 week courses through The Okotoks Art Gallery Art Studio two - three times a week from September - June for ages 6-17. And I occassionally offer workshops for adults and teens.
By 2003 I joined the Okotoks Arts Council holding a variety of positions to further the respect and recognition for the arts in Okotoks. I have remained a faithful board member ever since and will continue to stand up for my creative crusade to educate and inspire as many people possible until the day my light goes out.
In 2006 I achieved my Art Framers & Design Certificate and one year later, opened my Inspiration Studio to private art students. Many of which are now successful young artists in the fields of: Glass Blowing, Drawing, Painting, Film and Animation. I also joined forces with Master Silversmith and art teacher of many talents, Shirley Paradis teaching Fine Art Camps at The Okotoks Art Gallery from 2008- 2010. Shirley retired in 2011 so I ran that years' Fine Art Camp with Special Guest artists as my complements. 2012, I began The Fantasy Fine Art Camps through my Inspiration Studio now 7 years running, heading into my eighth. The Christmas season has served Private Studio Christmas Parties,, The Cookie Contest, The Show & Sale and a new favourite: The Food Bank Tree! Food items and gift cards, are collected and all donations are then given to the Okotoks Food Bank in time for their family hampers initiative. Watch for an expansion of a grand degree soon to come to this Cool Little Town of Okotoks!
October 2017 and October 2018 saw my debut and return to my newest-discovered skill as an Event Planner! for the Okotoks Arts Council's "Wizarding World of Okotoks, Hogsmeade Market"! I got to collect and curate a fairly large collection of vendors and artists. I had a great time with prepping signage, decorating and placing them within the best floor plan at our local Okotoks Elks Club to help them shine the most with a healthy dose of competition!
This year was a very unique year as the Okotoks Arts Council received a letter from Warner Brothers Inc. themselves to kindly ask us not to use any of their licensed property for our fundraising needs. At first, we as the Events Committee were a little freaked out! But then... as we thought about it, we five members were humbled that the great Warner Brothers took notice of how well we had re-created their own 'intellectual property'. PLEASE NOTE: WE did in fact have J.K Rowlings' blessing to go ahead, but somewhere along the way, she ceased to have that ability.
So then... we had to come up with a replacement event since our 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 9am meeting with typed out copies in hand to share.
By May of 2018, I presented it to the OAC Board of Directors and it was accepted! 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 even after 7 full months of planning and prepping, and meeting and coordinating efforts and shopping and designing and all those last minute things that pop up at the 11th hour... and taking about 2 weeks of so-called 'rest time" afterward... I'm prepared to do it all over again. BUT this time, I plan on actually earning a wage next time around! 2019's Enchanted Okotoks has come and gone already.. and NEXT year is looking to be so much ... MORE MAGICAL. Pssst... I'm building my own team;)
Stay tuned for updates on this exciting possibility!