Artistic Soul: Thelia Foster enables the therapeutic benefits of creativity one student at a time

She was pretty sure she was born creative and destined to be an artist. 

But sometimes doubt would creep in, thinking that being an artist wasn’t practical – and, well, her parents used to tell her that, too. 

So Thelia Foster put those creative aspirations aside and studied electronics alongside 134 male students. 

“I didn’t learn much about electronics, but I learned how to handle myself in a hostile environment,” she says of the experience. “Young males unified against the first two girls in the program. Yagi (the other student) buckled, I stayed.”

But she knew it wasn’t for her; she was destined for something more in line with the creative blood coursing through her veins. 

“I have an artistic soul. I finished electronics and started searching for a practical art endeavor. First was knitwear design. I love fashion, still do, but it seemed frivolous, so I moved onto sculpture.”

As a sculptor, she’s found much success in her field, having her work shown in galleries from Montreal to Calgary. She was also the premier artist for the inauguration of the Afrikadey! Festival in Calgary. 

Eventually, she decided to study jewelry making at what is now the Alberta University for the Arts. 

“It’s often a natural progression for sculptors I was told,” she adds. 

Foster’s jewelry has been displayed at the Royal Art Gallery in Edmonton, and she has participated in the Opera Coat Project for the Alberta Opera society as well other gallery shows. 

Her list of successes in different interests goes on and on – but it’s what captured her attention next that is most interesting. Foster became fascinated with the healing properties of gemstones along the way and earned a certification as a Colour and Crystal therapist, and a Clinical Aromatherapist. 

That led Foster to holding crystal healing retreats in Jamaica and Western Canada. As time passed and her children flew the proverbial coop, she began teaching multimedia art classes for the Cerebral Palsy Association in Alberta, the Calgary Women’s Centre and later, for Parkinson Association of Alberta.

“I count those jobs as being a significant achievement because I got to see and promote the healing power of creativity firsthand.”

Although she still makes special commissions for jewelry, she’s also earned her certification as an Intentional Creativity teacher.

“As the name implies, it’s a process of intentional discovery of one’s self and the world around us through creative endeavours such as painting, sculpting, weaving and others,” she explains. 

Although she is not an art therapist, which is a field of study that includes a psychology degree, she is a creative enabler. 

“I’ve always dragged my friends along on an art project. Teaching as I’ve grown old has been a natural progression. I’ve seen amazing transformations come over people when they engage in something creative,” she says, adding it’s been a very rewarding experience.

“It’s fascinating and heartwarming when you see the essence of a curious child come over the face of an older person engaged in creating art. Each time I see that distraction from the student’s problem, I feel a sense of gratification.” 

While the therapeutic benefits of creativity vary from person to person, it’s often a stress reduction for most, which can translate into a lessening of pain on a variety of levels — physical, emotional and mental, Foster says. 

“From grief to chronic pain, Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s disease, it provides relief. It is a distraction from our daily issues and there’s the added component of creating something of meaning to yourself and others.” 

Both art and teaching are creative endeavours for Foster, who says, “teaching is the action of sharing knowledge and art is the subject matter and the engagement with the process.”

If she has some parting advice for people who might be experiencing symptoms of stress or anxiety – whether due to the pandemic or due to the weather – Foster encourages people to
look for something creative to engage in. 

“Whether it’s planning a garden, doodling or taking an online class, there are so many offerings on a variety of topics that anyone can find something new to learn or different to engage in.”

If anyone would like to attend Foster’s online classes, information is available at

Krista Sylvester is a local freelancer writer and journalist with a flair for the dramatic and a penchant for whiskey.