mariana cabral art

Mariana is as much an empath as she is an artist. Her own secrets are woven into the textures and colors of her creations. She, herself, personifies self expression. It is as real as the paint on her canvas. The colors call out, almost like plucking the strings of a Spanish guitar, in a quiet plea for understanding. Mariana understands. She gets it every time. Born in The Azores and growing up in Massachusetts, Mariana now finds herself in Los Angeles, making a space for herself in the art world. 

Perhaps her deep understanding is rooted in her early start.

“It just felt like therapy to me at that age.” 

From a young age, she has understood the need for self expression and self actualization. When she was younger she was mostly expressing herself through dance but she also did writing and painting. “It was my way of expressing emotions that I didn’t know how to process at that time.” As for her early art, “It just felt like therapy to me at that age.” What she couldn’t know at the time, is that she was already dabbling in the abstract. With delight, she described to me how she would just dump all her arts and crafts out and just go crazy putting different materials and colors together.

For her senior year of college she took abstract art as a summer class so she could have the credits to graduate. “I didn’t really know that abstract painting was a thing until college…Now when I look back on it, and I think of all the times I was ten years old and painting and creating at home…I was already abstract painting and creating in a sense, I just didn’t know it.”

Mariana told me about how eye-opening that class ended up being. “At the time, I was dealing with a lot of mental health issues…it was a really, really tough time for me…But that summer completely shifted just the way that I processed a lot of that stuff.” She continued, illustrating a treasured moment as vividly as if she had painted it: 

“One moment in particular we got this huge canvas glued to the wall, it was massive, from the ceiling to the floor. And I just went crazy, and I started splattering paint, and putting my hands all over it and scribbling it, and it was one of the most cathartic experiences of my life…From then on I was constantly painting.”

Mariana Cabral

This art class is what catapulted her love for art; it reminded her of when she was a child and would express herself through dance, getting lost in the moment, feeling and expressing. Abstract painting is more than just flinging your brush at a canvas, of course. “There is a knowledge; there is a spine of abstract painting that you do have to know,” she told me.

Expanding on color theory, the art of composition, and playing with textures, Mariana is glowing. It’s so easy to see how much of herself she puts into her art.

Overall, from the conversation I had with her, I feel like the core of Mariana’s art seems to be centered around mindfulness, the act of bringing peace to yourself through art and just making beautiful things. She draws influence from Jackson Pollock and, especially, Salvador Dali. “From a young age,” she says, “his work is what inspired me to kind of dive deeper into surrealism.” 

“I think my work is really active.”

Mariana Cabral

under the paint

There is a deeper beauty on her canvas. For Mariana, creating art is a cathartic, meaningful experience. Likening it to meditation, she gets lost in the joy she feels when she hits her sweet spot. “When your mind is just constantly on a rampage and you can’t shut it off…I never really knew that that was a thing until I started abstract painting and I could feel it shut off…It feels like meditation.” As a writer, I can relate to this. It reminds me of hitting your stride when writing a poem. All of a sudden, the world is shut out and it’s just you and your words. There are few better feelings in the world. 

Mariana talks more to me about the meaning of her paintings: “I let the painting guide me, and I let the materials kind of choose me…That feels very spiritual because you kind of go into it having an idea sometimes, and then as soon as you enter that flow state…it kind of takes on a life of its own.” That flow state, for Mariana, is a therapy. Throughout our conversation she touches on her mental health struggles and how painting has been a fantastic outlet for processing those more difficult emotions. “I would reach for the canvas and nothing would come out, and then over time stuff would start to filter out…I would look back on that canvas and I would see those feelings projected back to me.”

Mariana’s finished pieces reflect her intentions like a mirror. “I think a lot of my pieces, you look at them and you’re like ‘What am I…looking at?’ especially my more illustrative stuff. But then once you look for a while you might see pieces of things you may have seen in your dreams and things you can kind of make out.” That is, to me, the most apt description of her work.

The painting I bought from Mariana is so inviting. I am not a visual artist, nor is my husband, but when my painting came in the mail and I unwrapped the piece I recalled Mariana’s explanation of the abstract: the more you look, the more you begin to see. 

My husband and I spent a good chunk of that evening looking at Mariana’s art and picking out what we saw. I saw a young girl with an umbrella. My husband saw a wildcat. Even as I write this, I am looking at her painting. I keep it at my work desk, and whenever I feel overwhelmed, I take a few moments for myself and I look at this painting. It brings me peace, and I can’t even really explain why.

I am so moved by this painting. As a person who, again, really has never been good at any visual art, I was surprised at my strong reaction to it. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I would love it – I ordered it specifically for my apartment – but I had no idea how much I would love it. Under the description of the piece, Mariana said she was thinking of coffee, chocolate, and richness, all of which sit delicately on the canvas. 

is it all this deep?

Mariana, as in tune with herself as anyone could be, also relishes the simplicity of beauty for the sake of beauty. “Sometimes I like painting for aesthetics. Sometimes I really just want an abstract painting to look good in my house.” She’s laughing as she tells me this – many times her friends have asked her the deeper meaning behind some of her décor. “Girl, I just really wanted to make something pretty for my house!” I think she’s right – there is so much meaning and beauty in her work and yet, sometimes, beauty on its own is enough. 

Don’t tell that to her art teachers, though. That particular motivation was never a favorite among her professors. Laughing, she tells me, “That did not go well with my art teachers.” 


For Mariana, it’s not just about the finished product. As made clear through our conversation, and as you’ll soon see through her videos, it is just as much about the process. The process of letting go, feeling your emotions in an honest way, and being kind to yourself. Please take a few minutes and watch her video on visiting her family during the pandemic, the struggles and joy she experienced, and the art that comes out of it. It’s such a beautifully told story. Her talents with video editing and writing shine just as brightly as her art does.

“The only thing that’s really changed is that I’m comfortable with the…blemishes, I guess, in my life. I’m okay with them now. They are a part of me and I find them to be just as beautiful.”

Mariana, “Finally Opening Up”

I’ll be honest with you all – I cried a little watching this video. It’s so honest. It’s so moving – the story, her story, and how she weaves her life into her work. The result is just stunning. I didn’t know I enjoyed abstract art until I saw Mariana’s paintings. I didn’t know I loved abstract art until my painting arrived and I could sit with it and look at it in person. 

Watching the story behind the painting and the process itself was such a blessing. She is honest in her videos, and I am personally so grateful she chooses to share her work through this medium. “I wrote the script, I did the piece, and I kind of – It was full circle – It’s like, waiting to go to The Azores, painting that, being there, struggling and being happy at the same time and then creating something that I think hopefully captures that.”

Mariana has big plans. “I’m in a big transition phase right now where I think that, hopefully, [the] art selling and print making and all that’s gonna be my main focus. With that strategy there is going to come a lot more merchandise, so I want to do a lot of my prints.” She wants to reach further than that though. “I would also love to see my work in a gallery here in LA. It would be nice to get to know other artists around here.” As far as her marketing strategies, she is taking it day by day. Quite true to form, if I may say so.

Right in the here and now, Mariana continues her focus on creating and the process within it. Having come so far – from battling self doubt in her teens to putting herself out there as honestly as one could imagine on a very large scale, she is living her truth. She wants you to live yours, too. “There’s a medium and a way to express out there for everyone…There’s something out there for everyone to process what’s going on.” And, most importantly, “You don’t have to be amazing, you just have to be making something.” It’s all a part of the process.

You can buy Mariana’s prints on Etsy here.

Follow her on Instagram here.

Mariana’s Art

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