Opportunity Works’ participants often have nowhere else to turn. Some participants have never been employed and many have experienced mental health issues in a way that has kept them from being employed for long periods of time. Opportunity Works’ participants deal with a variety of debilitating issues including ongoing mental health concerns, unemployment, subsistence living, isolation, despair and shattered self-confidence and self-esteem.

Opportunity Works’ participants are people who identify as mental health consumers and want to start their own business. We provide intensive, flexible, ongoing business and mental health support to over 100 participants each year, serving as many as 60 people at any one time.

Brian Pawlak, MFA

Receiving my Master of Fine Art, Sculpture in 1980 from the Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles, California was one step in my art education leading me to a life of self- study in the classical arts of drawing and sculpture. Studying classical artists in major museums around the world has matured my appreciation of realism as defined by today’s critics.

Durer, Han Holbein and Michelangelo are artists who have greatly influenced my work. Durer’s use of line in his woodcuts and his subject matter lead me to the Old Testament, out of which I have created several bronzes and gotten many ideas for stone works. Hans Holbien and his defining portraits, his use of line and ability to portray realistically his sitters reflect that he was one of the greatest draftsmen the world has ever known. When I approach my drawings I try to put into them some of that sprit. To see up close the techniques Michelangelo used to create his masterpieces was a great inspiration for me. It has influenced my subject matter and my approach when I work a piece of stone.

Living and studying in Los Angeles for three years; traveling to Europe twice – 1968 and 1974; living and studying in Italy six months in 1994; and with close ties to my family has given me a strong base from which to work. My parents, who were mature adults when they married, have educated me and provided me with life experiences that guided me into becoming a professional artist.

Web site:

Sandra Milne

Hi. My name is Sandy Milne. I’ve been drawing and painting all my life. I use many different mediums and techniques. I make greeting cards and will do almost any kind of commissions I can. I mostly get orders for cards, pet portraits, wildlife and landscapes. I make dog toys, too. I have advertised my art on face book and I’m currently looking at pintrest. One of my favourite paintings is of three horses. It won the top prize at the Heritage park fall fair. I also won a second place ribbon at the Calgary Stampede western showcase. I want to continue being artistic for many more years.

Colleen Peters

Hi my name is Colleen Peters and I also go by “Artist at Play”.

My artistic interests include acrylic painting, drawing, felting, poetry, prose, and singer songwriting.

My hobbies include reading, crocheting, walking, and going to movies.

I have traveled within Canada, to Seattle, throughout Europe and Great Britain and Cuba. I have earned a 2200 hour diploma in massage therapy and taken related courses. I have also taken ABC’s of Business and BB 30 at Momentum.

Web site:

If you are a current or former participant of Opportunity Works Calgary and would like to have your website listed here, please contact us at