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The process of painting, for me, is a slow investigation where I am most often uncertain about the validity of the outcome.  This uncertainty is a kind of blindness that rests between the vague vision of the mind and the tangible realities of the painted surface.  Many of my paintings evolve slowly over the course of months— and sometimes even years— because it is a search for the ideal connections between form, color, and communication.  This requires persistence through all the failed attempts of wrong color, wrong light, wrong atmosphere, insubstantial  form, etc.  I liken this to stirring up the bottom of a pond and waiting for the ripples to calm and the mud to settle back down— the ability to see everything clearly is similar to the slow crystallization of one’s vision in paint.        


In spite of all the uncertainty and fumbling, the opportunity to bring myself and the viewer into some previously unknown experience is absolutely intriguing. Painting has the capability to morph one’s thoughts into something concrete— a manifestation that offers the world a level of clarity into the mind of another.  This is how I have chosen to spend much of the time I have in life.



The Work


My work frequently hints at content reflective of my personal life experiences. It is a largely subconscious way of understanding and accepting one’s own being in the world. Topics vary from painting to painting, and occasionally, I will not even know why exactly I am drawn to certain imagery until sometime afterwards. When looking back over the years though, it is interesting to see how the work functions as an unintended journal. 


On the visual level, I am interested in experiencing some level of tension from the interweaving of seemingly disparate realities.  For instance, experimenting with the ways that form can simultaneously appear both tangible and vaporous. Or, how an embodiment might give way to dissolution via paint strokes. In the same way, I am intrigued by the idea of inverting logical expectations of natural phenomena, including the ways that light, shadow, and atmosphere are perceived. Lastly, I must mention color.  Color interaction has been a constant area of exploration for me since my late teen years, and many of the struggles in making my work result directly from attempting to optimize color relationships.


I’ll keep trying.   


-Steve Ziebarth  (2023)

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