It takes years for some people to realize their true calling. For others, like Palmer Trinity junior Matthew Cabanes, it can happen before they even begin kindergarten.
His mother, Ania Fernandez, remembers the exact moment she discovered his natural penchant for the visual arts.
“He was less than 5 years old and was sitting in front of the TV watching a cartoon and he was drawing,” she said. “I walked by and his drawing was so good. I said, ‘Matthew, where did you copy that from?’ I thought he had traced it from another drawing. He said, ‘No mom, I got it from there,’ and he pointed to the TV. It was impossible how good it was for a 4-year-old. That’s when I realized he was an artist and began taking him to classes.”
Fernandez enrolled Cabanes in a painting workshop called Human Horizons and soon he was producing award-winning artwork, such as the oil pastel painting of a hummingbird he made in third grade that the family proudly has hanging in the hallway. It wasn’t until he began high school at Palmer Trinity — where he also has won awards for his art — and began working with such influential teachers as Tilly Strauss, Sandy Woods and Robert Moorhouse, that he began truly taking his talent seriously.
“I’ve been sketching and drawing for as long as I can remember, but I began really taking an interest in art and proving my skills when I met all of these new teachers,” he said. “I’ve been working with Mr. Moorhouse in the summer and talking to him. He’s been teaching me a lot and I’m really looking forward to finishing my senior year with him. He’s a really good teacher.”
In fact, according to the family, Moorhouse was instrumental in his making up his mind to pursue his passion.
“Matt wasn’t sure what he wanted to do until the end of the last school year,” Fernandez said. “This summer he told me, ‘Mom, I want to go into art — whether it’s teaching or doing art, that’s what I want to do.’ That was because of Mr. Moorhouse.”
Cabanes works in a variety of media including paint, oil pastel, watercolor, ceramics and charcoal — a favorite of his he developed under Woods. His set of styles ranges from caricatures and cartoons to portraits and still life, and he has begun selling some of his work online.
“I work really fast with everything,” he said. “It’s just how I am. My bigger pieces, like my charcoal drawings, definitely take more than a day, but it still takes much less time than it does for most people.”
With college just a year away, he is looking forward to discussing his options with the school’s college counselors. He maintains he is fine with any college provided it has a program that will help him improve his abilities and carve a clear path for his creative future.
“He is at as raw a stage as possible, so the work he’s producing now is amazing because he hasn’t had that really incredible amount of training,” said his stepfather, Ric Gil. “He has a natural eye — kind of like a blue chipper in football, you know?”
To view and purchase some of Matthew Cabanes’ artwork, visit www.printsgicleestore.com.