Anyone who's walked down the Heritage Parkway path in Okotoks recently is likely to have seen a few new sights.

Small clay sculptures have been affixed to logs and dead trees along the path east of the library.

The sculptures are typically brightly coloured characters, with most of them accompanied by a joke or funny slogan.

They're the work of local artist Gordon Mackey.

Mackey moved to Okotoks in 2015 and has found himself frequenting the town's scenic pathways fairly often.

He first took an interest in art in the seventh grade, but never took any formal classes, instead teaching himself.

Eventually, he got a chance to teach others.

"I was actually trained as a shop teacher and they didn't always have enough shop classes to keep me busy. There was an art class that nobody else wanted to teach and I always jumped at the class. I have taught art from grade 7 to 12."

He mainly works with acrylics and pencil sketching, but he's enjoyed his foray into sculpture thus far.

The little pieces mainly depict faces, albeit a pretty eclectic range of faces.

Mackey can't point to any particular place the idea came from, he just thought it might put a smile on the face of fellow walkers.

They seem to have done the trick, too.

"I've had a young fellow phone me from down on the pathways, I guess he saw my number there and phoned just to let me know he enjoyed it. As I've put them up people have stopped and talked to me. I've had nothing but favourable comments."

He's also been surprised at how respectful of the art people have been.

"I think one of them, at least, has been taken. I kind of expected that. What I'm really happy about is that none have been vandalized, just smashed. I have no use for people who'd vandalize stuff like that. If someone really wants one of those and feels they have to take it, whether they're supposed to or not, that's a little different than vandalizing something."

Even for an accomplished artist like Mackey, the pieces take a lot of love and care to create, but he thinks it's well worth it.

"It takes probably close to six hours of work to make one of those, so there is quite a bit of time involved in doing that but if I can make my adopted town a slight bit happier, that's great."