Friday Finds: Ways to Grow This Year

There is nothing magical about a new year. We can choose to expand our horizons and grow every day. But magic or not, you cannot avoid the countless ‘New year, new you’ messages from every sphere. Perhaps renewing our hope mid-winter is a way to drag ourselves through the dark cold of a few more icy months? Perhaps, cliché as it may be, now is as good a time as ever to forge a better way forward. Here are some resources and ideas for stoking the fires of creativity and hope - perhaps even for making some concrete plans to improve your craft and share your art with the waiting world this year.

Criticize by Creating

Don’t like what you see? Create a better alternative.

‘Criticize by creating’ is embedded right in our Bleeding Heart Manifesto, so it’s no surprise I find much resonance with this recent post by designer Paul Jarvis. is full of thoughtful articles, but this is one of the more hopeful pieces I’ve read in a while.

Jarvis’ main point is that the kind of snarky criticism running rampant online is far to easy – especially when you consider the seconds it takes to type it vs. the hours the creator poured into the work being critiqued.

Jarvis paints a picture of a better world where 'Disagreements should spawn more art instead of more arguments.’ I’d like to live in that world.

Read the full article at

Take a Workshop or Go on a Retreat

There are so many options available if you want to improve your craft. Many of them don’t involve high tuition costs and can introduce you to a community of artists who will help you alone the journey. Some of them don't involve a plane ticket. Here are just a few local options from the art and faith world on your doorstep.

Art and Soul Retreat with Julie Drew

Julie is a local painter and friend who has been leading Art and Soul retreats for at least the past few years. Here is how she describes the experience on her website, SheDrewIt;

"This is a hands on workshop that will include both teaching and our own creating, and in our creations we will have the opportunity to both give and receive. This retreat is for artists, would be artists, and for those who are curious about art and faith. Students will be encouraged to create in the art of their choice -- painting, writing, sculpture, etc., and instruction and supplies for water color and drawing will be provided for those who desire it. There will be solitude and group time in the schedule. King's Fold is a beautiful location in the foothills along Ghost River.”

You can join Julie and other artists this year from May 9-11 or October 17-19.

Get all the info you need, and register, at

Julie Drew’s current art show, A Taste of Europe, is on display until January 29. Get details at

Film Workshop at Living Water College

Did you know there is an ecumenical, Catholic-run arts college right here in Alberta? This summer Living Water College is offering an intensive program to train film makers. You can find more information on that at

And Just One More

There will be a conference on The Fine Arts And Christian Faith on March 21 and 22nd at Concordia University. They are also looking for Papers, Posters and Artwork submissions for the conference. You can get more information on it at

Learn to Listen More

Dr. Brenè Brown is quickly becoming a favourite speaker of mine. This short video sets some of her words to illuminating, and yes, adorable, animation. According to Brown, the difference between sympathy for others and empathy with others is huge. Why not make it a goal to increase your empathy this year? You never know what you may discover when you listen.

(I discovered this little gem thanks to thanks to Daily DoGooder at

Sell Your Self

I know. This can be the worst part of trying to ‘make it’ as a creative person. Especially a creative person trying to live humbly. I’m struggling with it right now, as I put together my own website at But according to Janet Choi, once again over at, "You Were Born to Sell”. It’s just that your perception of ’selling’ has left a bad, used car taste in your mouth.

Selling, says Choi, actually has a lot more to do with that empathy video–a lot more to do with listening and what Choi calls attunement–than you may think.

Read the article at

Get Outside

Phew - all that could be a lot of work. Sometimes, the best way to stoke our creative fires is to step away from the laptop, stow the smart phone and step outside. I’ve found the best way to endure an Edmonton winter is embrace it the best I can, find some big ugly boots and a fuzzy parka, and enjoy the pleasures only snow can bring.

You can find just about all of winter’s joys at the Deep Freeze Festival on Alberta Ave this weekend. There will be skating, curling, ice and snow sculpting, sledding, an ice slide, wagon rides, and ice bar, cultural winter experiences, pretty lights, perogies and a lot of art! It’s all free and very family friendly. Deep Freeze runs this Saturday and Sunday, January 11 and 12, on 118th ave between 90th and 94th streets. I hope to see you there (we’ll be heading down on Saturday, before I head to The Carrot to host the Open Mic at 7.)

Get more info on Deep Freeze at

That’s enough for one week. Besides, I have a challenge coming up for you next week that you’re going to need to save your energy for. Enjoy the finds, and see you on The Ave!

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