Artists create for many reasons, but for painter Julian van Mossel-Forrester, he paints to connect people together.
“I focus on subjects that are important to me, which include elements from my community,” he says. “I love exploring how people come together and my work often reflects events or moments where community meets.”
While Julian studied fine arts at the University of Waterloo, he hadn’t been creating art in the last several years. Working full time and raising a family can eat into a person’s creative energy. But a year and half ago Julian jumped into painting again with a renewed zeal and hasn’t dropped his paintbrush since.
Julian works in acrylic on canvas and has a very playful and colourful approach to his work.
Inspired by his weekly pick up of organic vegetables from the Fertile Grounds Community Shared Agriculture (CSA), he began working on a series of vegetable paintings, celebrating the locally grown food that nourishes him and his neighbours.
Passionate about music, he has painted several musicians-in-action, inspired by how music can pull people together in a shared experience. He has even experimented with capturing local events as they unfold in front of him, like the Porch View Dances in downtown Kitchener. He was eager to see what a concentrated effort in a short amount of time might produce.
More recently, he has been playing with the study of water, painting alongside the Grand River a few days a week. “Capturing the movement and depth of water is still a work in progress for me, but as I used to work for an environmental agency, water is subject close to my heart,” he says.
He sometimes works from a photo but mostly his initial sketch is done directly on the canvas as he studies his subject, adding layers of observation on top of one another. “The act of painting is pure joy for me,” Julian says beaming. “Those moments of observing my subject matter and following what I see with strokes on the canvas is almost a meditative kind of process.”
“As my arm moves, I absorb the action at the scene, take in how I am feeling at the moment or what is around me, and that helps me build a sense of playful chaos in the work, amplified by my bold and sometimes surprising colour choices,” he says.
For a painter recently reintegrating himself into the local arts scene, Julian has already shown his work at several events and shows, including being selected as the artist-in-residence for the Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival.
“I don’t paint to let my art sit in my studio,” he says laughing. “Art can bring people together and I want people to see what I’ve created.”
P.S. Julian’s favourite topic of conversation: He likes saying ‘hey, how are you?’ and seeing where the conversation leads.