Exhibitionists: Danielle Zirkelbach

Danielle Zirkelbach is a “surrealist ocean artist” living in Hawaii and waiting tables to make ends meet. Exploring the indescribable connection between us and the ocean, her paintings are provocative and emotional and very much in a style all her own. Learn a little more about what motivates her here.

1.) Who are your top 3 artistic influencers?

My first major artistic influence is the ocean. There are so many forms, colors, forces, unpredictability, and magic that happens in the ocean that we are inspired to feel the most alive we can when were with it/in it. The ocean can evoke every single human emotion that life has to offer: peace, bliss, fear, joy, happiness, loneliness, comfort, discouragement, wonder, and magic. I try to be unpredictable and change my style as much as I can. I try to capture all emotions in one painting while telling a real story from my life, my experiences, and my heart. And my other influences come from people who are just going after their dreams. I appreciate all artists for what they have to offer but couldn’t really single out one over the other. I really love surrealism and love work that has lots of meaning and twist to it. So when I see an artist display unique ideas or fearlessness to create, regardless of the world opinion, it’s really inspiring!



2.) Where do you create your art?

I have to be outside always. Right now I have a beautiful little studio on my Lani overlooking a rainforest backyard where you can pick out any color, and see how they interact in nature with each other. Luckily, I live on the Big Island of Hawaii where I can have an outside studio supplied with sunshine, paradise, and the endless smells of plumeria, which seems to make painting more of fun time than painting time. BUT I honestly flow better and feel more alive and connected to my pieces working outside.


wonderland - Copy



3.) How much time do you typically spend on each piece?

So many factors come into play for time spend on each piece. I LOVE LOVE LOVE to work big scale, which is easier for me, so it goes faster. The smaller I paint, the longer it seems to take. Funny how that works, yeah???!!!? I am a self made woman and artist following my dreams and getting help from no one. I knew this road would be hard, I knew it wouldn’t test my faith in my dreams, but I know I can and will achieve what I dream about. In order to make this happen I work two full times jobs, waiting tables to flip the bills which steals time from my painting time. By the same token, it might steal some of my time, but it gives me the means to buy my supplies, and build a foundation to be an artist. I HONESTLY think if I could spend five hours a day painting I could do one every three days. LOL AMBITIOUS!!!! PERHAPS, but as long as I can surf everyday, painting would be pie! I paint lots of 48 x 54 which generally takes me about a week give or take a few days.





4.) What mediums do you work in?

I use acrylic on canvas…I don’t use anything expensive. In fact, I challenged myself to take ordinary materials and see if I could create something magical out of it. I was really poor starting off as an artist and would go from garage sale to garage sale and buy old rubbish canvas for $3, strip them, prime them, and reuse them. I bought only old frayed brushes, and paints that most of the time were all contaminated with other colors. That experience has made me a better artist because I can make something out of nothing. And it really is the faith and magic you can put into your work, and who you are as a person that makes your work have life and meaning. These days, I buy my paint from Walmart since I go through so much of it. The only thing that I have become a snob about is my brushes…they can only be the white smooth brushes that are extremely soft to touch your face with.




5.) Do you have any advice for young artists?

DREAM BIG, GO BIG, AND DON’T LET ANYONE STOP YOU!!!! Take criticism like a champ, let it get to you but find a way to turn negativity into positive creative power. USE what little you have, leave your safety nets at home, be risky, grow your own style, take time to build your life not just your art. Be loving to yourself, BE LOVING TO OTHERS!

People usually don’t like what is different, and in my experience with moving away from the only home I ever knew, 14,000 miles across the ocean to Hawaii, being a girl, being a girl who surfs, being a girl who surfs and is white isn’t really something people warm right up to here. BUT I just took it one day at a time and on the days it irked me to no end, I went on long intense runs along side the ocean and would always end up with the realization that I would be the first to change their minds about judgements, prejudice, and negativity. I will never allow negativity to bring me down, distract, or deter me on my journey. Today I can stand with my head high knowing the people in my life are true, that I’m true to myself, to those who accept me, and that I have earned what I have. I don’t have to name drop the biggest names in the surf world, or in the art world, or in any world to be respected, I am doing this on my own. That power, used in a positive way, is limitless…find it, use it, love it.


For more from Danielle Zirkelbach:




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