Nicholas Barron began painting three and a half years ago. He has been drawing and doodling since he can remember and his art grew out of that, a natural extension of a lifelong hobby.

Painting appeared at just the right time in Nicholas’ life, satisfying his need to express himself in a new way. He discovered his ideal medium in oil pastels and started by working on glass surfaces, painting on discarded windows he found in alleys. Nicholas immersed himself in marathon painting sessions and his apartment at the time showed the evidence, walls and furniture soon becoming smudged with color.

Nicholas has been a fixture on the Chicago music scene since the late 1980s, making a living as a musician for the past twenty-six years. As a singer/songwriter and guitarist, he is currently the front man for three bands, and he also performs as the Nicholas Barron One-Man Soul Explosion. Nicholas is the kind of person everyone greets when he goes into his local coffee shop. Whether they know him from his music or his funny, high-octane personality, everybody is happy to see him. He is a one-of-a-kind presence, a natural performer also capable of introspection and great feeling.

Nicholas now considers himself as much an artist as a musician. He has a gift for creating without censoring himself, and his artwork possesses a primal energy like that of cave paintings. He begins each painting without a plan, letting spontaneous shapes and color combinations guide him. Although he works on instinct, his paintings are never haphazard or easy. Surfaces have been reworked many times, layers added, and elements highlighted or blended together.

Paintings such as “Party Animals” look like snapshots of Nicholas’ subconscious. Half-dissolved memories and budding ideas are captured, momentarily frozen as they tumble and chase each other in a kind of mental blender. Certain images—fragments of faces, animal-like shapes—remain recognizable and intact, held apart by spasms of color.

As Nicholas says, he often doesn’t know what he’s doing while painting. This suits him just fine. As a musician and writer, he has learned to trust the creative process and to see it as his connection “to something wider and deeper.”