My paintings expose and explore an unseen consciousness  beneath the surface of awareness — both my own and that of my audience. While I began painting decades ago, my work has been enhanced immeasurably by the thirty plus years I spent as a professional jazz drummer. To me, brush strokes on canvas are rhythm and in many ways I consider my art to be a process of painting music. Like the best jazz, it’s about improvising within the discipline of a contextual structure.


My approach is spontaneous. When I paint, I don’t have a plan and I’m not sure where each painting is going until it’s underway. If I tried to imagine what I wanted to paint beforehand, it would stop my creative process cold. I work mostly with acrylic and might begin a piece with either a color or a shape. From there, I follow what I see in front of me and then go wherever it leads. I’m impatient when I work and am constantly in motion, almost gestural. I often move back and forth between my easel and my drum kit as the creative process unfolds. (In fact, I have a series of paintings that were created using drummers’ brushes instead of paint brushes!)


Artists like Miró, Chagall, Matisse, and Basquiat have influenced my style but musicians like John Coltrane have informed my sensibilities, as well. My paintings have been described as dreamlike, expressing a gestalt rather than a traditional understanding of concept. As an artist, that’s a response I appreciate and embrace.

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Copyright 2016 by Tom Cabrera