Drew Mosley is a self-taught Canadian artist whose fascination with the wild is very apparent in his work.
Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
I am originally from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; I have skipped between Vancouver and Ottawa twice now and am again back home. There is a strong art community here in Ottawa and would like to get more involved, maybe do some curating and run workshops.
What’s you're background as an artist?
I am a largely self taught artist, save for the couple years in Ottawa, Canada where I took an abstract expressionist painting class over and over again because I was new to making art and didn’t know any better. I was amazed that you could explosively express yourself onto a large canvas and it didn’t have to be a still life drawing like it did in high school. It was new and fresh but art school confines and critiques were too much, I just wanted to make what ever I wanted to make and explore. I had this huge planet of creativity built up inside of me trying to get out so I needed to explore. I soon after met a new group of friends who were really into graffiti and making art in the streets. I was totally floored by this and was obsessed making really terrible stuff for a long time. But from that led me into doing more illustrative and character based work. I have always enjoyed experimenting so in the last 10-12 years I guess you can say I've been developing my own way through loose experiments but tight line drawing. My wife is a life long trained artist and she has been really great in helping me see. We used to do tons of portraits to practice, of each other or of anyone who would come for dinner. I would show her mine, and she would say gently, "those aren't her eyes, LOOK at her eyes, notice the shadows, the different colors just in those shadows, look at the shape." From obsessive drawing and painting I eventually settled and found that through illustration I was most able to convey my thoughts, feelings and fears.
Tell us a bit about your work.
Using acrylic inks primarily, most pieces are done on watercolour paper or on wood panel. I don't have much of a process, I have sketchbooks but they are mainly used for jotting down ideas or compositions, no pre-sketches. My style would definitely be illustrative with heavy influences from all nature; Trees (oh there are some big ones here!), animals, the flora and fauna, and the mountains. I spend most of my free time hiking in the forest off the beaten path wandering and daydreaming. I get a lot of ideas for my paintings on these walks. And with this love of nature comes my concern for our future and how we treat the earth. This is how I vocalize these daydreams and my anxieties.
What's the craziest thing you've seen in the wild
The company I just left, Macdonald and Lawrence, their shop is situated right down by the ocean in this pretty isolated area outside of Mill Bay on Vancouver Island. It was late spring early summer and we had started to pull our work outside. I heard an eagle cry and looked up, their were 20+ bald eagles courting in the air. This happens when they pair off, fly like fighter pilots at each other, lock talons and fall spinning like maple keys to the ground. Pretty spectacular to see that many. I turned to walk into the shop and there were another 20+ eagles sitting in the trees on the mountainside watching the display.
From the same shop we would see whales passing, migratory orcas mostly. Seeing a great animal like that in the WILD is so breathtaking to me. But to most of the locals there it's just a part of everyday life.
I have come across all manners of beasts over the years hiking and camping, wolves, bear, elk, moose, and countless deer. I thankfully haven't had any bad encounters.
The winter in eastern Ontario is very pretty, super bright and crisp. My friends Brendan, Robbie and I have spent a great deal of time in the forests around the Ottawa valley, tracking animals, finding abandoned barns and buildings and constructing occasional shelters and shacks in the middle of nowhere.
Do you think that animals have cross-species friendships like you portray in your work?
For sure! We have a 155lb Newfoundland dog named Olive who is so tender with any creature she comes across. We have three cats as well in the house right now and they all love and respect each other. I come across little stories and news clippings of unlikely pairings of animals and especially bizarre ones are the stories where a predator will take in its prey if it has been found abandoned and care for it as its own. How inspiring is that if applied to people? If these "beasts" can get along, or at least respect each other why can't we?
What do you do when you're not painting?
I work full time as a traditional carpenter (building barns and timber frame homes). I have been skateboarding for close to twenty years and still love it as much as when I first discovered it. I really like riding my bicycle and finding abandoned forgotten places to paint outside. Last year got a Yamaha xt500. It’s a beast of a bike that can climb mountains, cross rivers and take a serious beating, although I have left it behind in Vancouver for future adventures.