EDMONTON -- An online art movement that started in Edmonton has been attracting some international attention.

Five years ago local painter Jay Bigam sent out a tweet inviting artists to post their original works on Twitter along with #ArtAdventCalendar.

Since then, artists have been posting a piece a day paired with the hashtag for each of the first 24 days of December.

Now when anyone searches #ArtAdventCalendar on Twitter they'll see their timeline transform into a virtual art gallery.

That first year yielded a modest buy-in, with 22 artists taking part… but it's growing.

"We've got artists from the UK, from the U.S., from Germany, from Belgium, from Australia," Bigam told CTV News Edmonton.

"Last year we had 276 artists from all over the world," he said.

That total had already been matched on day three of the 2020 campaign. Bigam says the hashtag was also trending number one in Edmonton and Alberta on Twitter on its first day of the year.

The virtual advent calendar has expanded its criteria since it first began, now welcoming photography and kids' art.

"The philosophy is if it's going to make someone smile, that's what we want to see," Bigam said.

In a year when many events have been forced to move online, Bigam says he's not surprised his idea is doing well.

"It certainly has expanded the reach of it."

The Edmonton artist says the hashtag is a good way for artists to network and reach new people, but also creates a positive alternative for Twitter feeds that can sometimes be littered with negativity.

"December can be pretty hectic," he said. "The days are dark and short and there's a lot of commercialism going around and I just thought it would be really nice just to bring some art to the timeline of Twitter."