Simple practise to keep your art in shape

What I’ve learned over the past two years is that practice is a lot more important than perfection. This applies to working out just as it does to making art.

There are a lot of fun, simple, and non-time-consuming activities you can do to stay involved in a practice.

The art exercises that I do on a regular basis are simple. I do blind contour drawing in different places. I might be at home at the kitchen table, in the car, at a cafe, wherever!

Sometimes I use a 3-minute timer and draw the same thing 3 times, other times I just draw. I usually use a black pen. Other times I use india ink and a calligraphy brush. And sometimes I add colour.

Playing around with these approaches has kept me involved on a regular basis.

These are the exercises I’ve chosen for myself, but you can easily find other excellent ideas. Just search, and then try them.

My practice helps me keep my eyes actively looking, builds my hand-eye co-ordination, and maintains a feeling that creating art is a normal everyday activity. It keeps me wanting more!

I feel great when I’m happy enough with one of my drawings that I want to show others.

Here are a few tips:

  • Keep your materials nearby, not locked away in a precious place. (These might include pens, pencils, paint, sketchbook, etc.)
  • Don’t treat your sketchbook like a precious piece of art. Be messy, try things out, learn, make mistakes and… learn more!
  • Repeat your exercises over and over and over, and see how you change each time.
  • If you feel like you’ve lost it, or fallen off the horse for a few weeks, months, or years, don’t worry. You haven’t! Pull out your pen again and put it to paper.

I’ve talked to many people over the years who are inspired when I talk about making art. If you’re one of those people, if you feel that itch to create, go ahead!

Choose a pen, pencil, marker, or other mark-making implement, and find some paper, and spend 3 minutes doing a drawing.

Then, do it again!

Paintings at the Button Factory

I’ve got exciting news! Things have been really busy for me at home over the last few months. There were about 5 juried shows that I wanted to apply to, but I only had time to apply to one: the Annual Juried Show at the Button Factory in Waterloo. The 3 pieces that I submitted were accepted!

The opening reception is Friday, October 28th, from 5-7pm. If you can make it, that would be great!

The show runs October 21 to November 11, 2016. Address: 25 Regina Street South, Waterloo.

I chose two recent paintings in my Lanterns series, along with one piece from last year entitled Our First Harvest – see below:

3 pieces at Button Factory 2016 Annual Juried Show

For more info visit the Button Factory website.

Art on Rain Barrels


Julian with painted rain barrel
Julian with his painted rain barrel

I had a lot of fun last Saturday night at the Summer Lights Festival in downtown Kitchener. The festival was awesome in many ways, but mostly because I had my paintbrush in hand and was decorating a rain barrel for REEP (my former employer!).

I was a little nervous leading up to it because I had only 1 hour to complete the painting – in public – on King Street.

I really enjoyed it, though, and I’m happy with the result! Four other artists were part of the event, which was a fundraiser. All of the barrels are being auctioned off, and if anyone bids more than $250 they will get a free installation by REEP.

Check out the main auction page set up by REEP (click here to see barrels directly)

Reception at Queen Street Commons

I’m excited for the closing reception for my art exhibit at Queen Street Commons,  downtown Kitchener. It’ll be on Wednesday, May 11 from 6 – 8:30 PM. There will be snacks, good conversation (I expect!), and my whole family will be there. Everyone’s welcome.

If you think you might be able to come, let me know. Here’s a link to the Facebook event.

Before the event, I’m adding 2 new paintings to the show. One to replace one that’s been sold, and another because I want to add another one! They’re both in the same series of work focused on local food – mostly the beautiful organic vegetables grown by Angie Koch’s Fertile Ground CSA. Here’s a work-in-progress shot of one of them:

Abstract painting of a basket of carrots by Julian van Mossel-Forrester
Basket of Carrots (work in progress – 2016), acrylic on canvas, 12 x 16″


Artist in Residence for the 2016 Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival

I’m happy to announce that I’ve been chosen as the Artist in Residence for the 2016 Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival!

Music is so important to me. It’s great to be able to paint with this inspiration and to build on work I’m doing with NUMUS.

In February I made this painting (see below) specifically for the jazz fest and applied to be their Artist in Residence. I had this very specific image in my mind (that’s unusual) and was able to translate it onto the canvas. I left the background completely white so that the form of the sax can be isolated and look more interesting on t-shirts, etc. The folks at the jazz fest said they’d  be interested in seeing that wasn’t bound by a “box” for this reason.

I’m looking forward to seeing how they work with the image – and to doing more  painting inspired by musicians and their instruments!

Saxophone - white version (2016), acrylic on canvas, 16 x 16" (not for sale)
Saxophone – white version (2016), acrylic on canvas, 16 x 16″ (not for sale – donated to Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival for their 2016 year)

Music Series – NUMUS Fundraiser

I’m doing a series of paintings based on the theme of music that I love – musicians and instruments. I’m having fun with colour, using brush strokes that range from loose and gestural to some finer, more rendered areas.

They’re all 12″ x 12″ acrylic on canvas and priced at $250 each. I’m donating 25% of any sales from this series to NUMUS as a fundraiser for their work.

Here are the first three:

Tony Allen's Drums (2016), acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12" (sold)
Tony Allen’s Drums (2016), acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12″ (sold)

Koop Vibes (below) is based on a photo that I took in Toronto at a Koop concert in 2007. They are a Swedish group that combines electronics with pop jazz – lots of fun.

Koop Vibes (2016), acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12" ($250)
Koop Vibes (2016), acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12″ ($250)

This one (Bell Orchestre at Hillside – below) is based on a photo of Richard Reed Parry that I took in 2008 at the Hillside Festival in Guelph. Update, March 6, 2016: This painting is now sold.

Bell Orchestre at Hillside (2016), acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12" (sold)
Bell Orchestre at Hillside (2016), acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12″ (sold)

Here’s a link to the NUMUS website:

Stitch ‘n’ Kitsch Wrap Up

The Stitch ‘n’ Kitsch Winter Market was this past Saturday and was really fantastic. This was my first time being a part of the show, and I had a lot of fun. It was great to see so many friends and show them my artwork – many have not seen my work yet. I also met quite a few new people.

My Stitch 'n' Kitsch Table - Winter 2015
My Stitch ‘n’ Kitsch Table – Winter 2015


In terms of sales, it was what I expected. I sold a lot of my greetings cards (still have some left), sold a couple of miniature paintings. The best part is that I sold my 14×14″ lantern walk painting as well!

Seven Lanterns at the 2014 Lantern Walk (2015), acrylic on canvas, 14 x 14" (sold)
Seven Lanterns at the 2014 Lantern Walk (2015), acrylic on canvas, 14 x 14″ (sold)

Lantern-Inspired Paintings!

The Stitch ‘n’ Kitsch Winter Market Show is coming up next week and I’ve been working on some miniatures inspired by the lantern walk that is actually the day before the show! Here are some of the miniatures:

Lantern Miniatures
4×5″ Lantern Miniatures on Panel


CNR Signal Lamp Miniature
4×4″ CNR Signal Lamp miniature – 1 of 4

I’ve also had 10 different greeting cards made using images of my paintings.

Stitch 'n' Kitsch greeting cards

Daikon Painting In Process

Here are a few shots of my painting of daikon radish in process, with the finished piece at the end.

First phase: a warm under painting, then a dark made with ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, and a light made with white and a bit of colour.

Daikon (working shot 1, 2015), acrylic on canvas, 24 x 20″

Second phase: added a bit more dark using a purple.

Daikon (working shot 2, 2015), acrylic on canvas, 24 x 20″

Phase three: Added a few layers here. Cool yellow, blue-green, pink, and red. Following the form with gestures, almost blind painting. Still, refining the form with each layer.

Daikon (working shot 3, 2015), acrylic on canvas, 24 x 20″

Phase four: Starting to add the neutrals based on the pink, to tone down that colour’s intensity. It’s still really quite pink! And I added a bit of a neutral brown in the background. Also, to start to redefine some shapes and enhance the darks, I added a deep red.

Daikon (working shot 4, 2015), acrylic on canvas, 24 x 20″

Here’s the finished piece. I added more neutral lights into the radishes and the foreground fennels on the right, and a cooler grey to push back the fennels lying underneath. I also added these colours throughout the painting in smaller areas that related in their lightness. I also added a dark  blue to enhance the darks along with the red that added earlier.

Daikon (2015), acrylic on canvas, 24 x 20″, $350
Daikon (2015), acrylic on canvas, 24 x 20″, $385


Studying Vegetables (and Fruit)

I’m working on a bunch of paintings of vegetables grown by Angie Koch of Fertile Ground CSA. Her vegetables are always so amazing looking (and tasting), and presented so beautifully when we pick them each week through the growing season.

I started with this one: Turnip, Fennel and Kale.

Turnip, Fennel and Kale (2015), acrylic on canvas, 24 x 20" (sold)
Turnip, Fennel and Kale (2015), acrylic on canvas, 24 x 20″ (sold)


I also did one of two of the three apples that grew on the tree that we planted between our house and our neighbour’s last year.

Our First Apples (2015), acrylic on canvas, 13 x 16″, $225
Our First Apples (2015), acrylic on canvas, 13 x 16″, $225


I started the daikon painting around the same time as the one of the apples. Here is the finished painting. I have posted some in-process shots in in this post.

Daikon (2015), acrylic on canvas, 24 x 20″, $350
Daikon (2015), acrylic on canvas, 24 x 20″, $350


I’ve started another painting of some squash in a crate. Here is an in-progress shot:

Squash (working shot, 2015), acrylic on canvas, 24 x 20″