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Enkaustikos Proudly Spotlights Our Featured Artist:
Eileen Goldenberg

Eileen Goldenberg in her studio

Meet the Artist
Eileen is an award winning artist and curator who has been supporting herself with her art for over 35 years. Her hand thrown porcelain is well know nationally for it’s signature black and white designs, as well as the unique glazes that she has developed.

She started painting with encaustic about 12 years ago and has had much success with her work. She shows nationally at a multitude of juried art fairs and group shows. In 2007 Eileen received a grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission, this resulted a One Woman shows with her Tea House paintings.

She presents lectures at the IEA Conferences as well as other national encaustic conferences. In 2009, she curated Tangible Wax, and was the juror for Working in Wax. In 2012 she will be curating a One Woman show of the work of Lisa Kairos and a group show called Three/3.
Eileen is one of the founders and past president of International Encaustic Artists. She had 4 One Woman shows in 2011, and is represented by galleries nationwide, such as Hallway Gallery in Bellevue WA, Conrad Wilde Gallery in Tucson, AZ. Eileen lives in San Francisco with her wife, Judith and their dog Lobos.

"The visual depth that I can create because of the properties of the wax is vital to my work. Wax is a wonderful, natural substance that allows me to actualize my concepts."

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Artist Interview

Q:  How did you first learn about encaustic and what was the draw for you that made you want to explore this medium?
I saw a painting by Raphael Goethals at an art fair here in SF many years ago and was very interested in the depth of the surface and the way she was getting this mysterious surface. I began to investigate the medium, found some websites and began to gather materials. As I worked, I found that I needed more information, so I took a 5-day workshop here in SF.  That kick started me to begin painting.

Q: Tell us why you feel using encaustic is important in your work?
I paint many layers of translucent colors to achieve the effect I am looking for, the visual depth that I can create because of the properties of the wax is vital to my work. Wax is a wonderful, natural substance that allows me to actualize my concepts. So encaustic is important, but the content and ideas are what really drives me to create.
Q: How has encaustic enhanced your artistic creativity and sensibility?
Encaustic paint seems to be the perfect medium for me, I took to it immediately, once I had the basics, I was off and running. The layering, the fusing, the way the wax hardens and holds color, all works for the way I need to express myself. It has freed me to explore and evolve as an artist.

Q: Where does your inspiration come from? Are there any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire or that may have influenced you in some way as an artist?
I have always had to create. My mother once asked me why I always had to have a sketchbook and drawing materials with me, I told her; “for me, it is like having air, essential!”

My inspiration comes from walking around with my eyes open to possibility. I look at natural landscapes, marks on the street, shadows. The act of drawing inspires me, I have dozens of sketchbooks filled with ink drawings that are a part of my artwork as well as drawings for my paintings.

I go with friends to gallery openings here in San Francisco every month, to museums, and the big art fairs, (I was just in LA at three fairs). I read art books, art magazines, on line art blogs, I go to tribal art shows, all things about art.
Some of my favorite artists are Helen Frankenthaler, Eva Hesse, Agnes Martin,
Max Cole, Eleanor Wood, Martin Puryear, Richard Deibenkorn.
Q: How do you begin? Do you draw to work out your ideas? Do you have a vision before you start painting or does it develop as you work?
 I do draw out some ideas for paintings, I create pages thumbnails, working out relationships and colors. I might have three in front of me when I begin to paint, or I might have none…I have a great collection of pens, color pencils, markers, etc. to help me represent the finished painting on paper. I work in long series, some as many as 350 paintings. I like to really explore an idea and try every possibility, every combination of colors, forms, scale, relationships, etc. I get many ideas when I am at the gym in the morning, sometimes they just show up fully formed, the best day is when I can go home, turn on the palettes and get to work.

Q: I see you use repetition as an idea, can you talk about that? What are some of the concepts and ideas in your work?
I start every painting with repetition; it calms me down from being out in the world, a sort of visual meditation. As humans we love repeating forms; think of windows lined up on a building, rows and rows of food in the grocery store, ducks in a row, etc. The orbs that I paint look the same, but in fact they are all a little different, I see this as a metaphor for people, we are all similar genetically but also all a little different (that is why the construct of race is false, we are ALL humans!) The Array series is called that because of the order, like a telescope array. I maintain the “hand made” quality of my work by not using rulers or any mechanical means, everything is done free hand.
People think my paintings are about the dots, but for me they are the building blocks, as much as the bricks are what a building is about. The whole painting becomes a unified idea, conveying my mood that day, how I was feeling, and my energy.

I notice that people who think they don’t “get” minimal abstract art, could just stand in front of the art and enjoy the feeling of it, nothing to explain, no tricks, no hidden images, or things to find. When I tell them this they relax and then they do enjoy the art.

Q: Can you share your color palette with us and explain how the use of color is an important element in your work?
Color is vital to my work, and I love color! It expresses emotion, sets the tone, and allows me to create subtle surface transitions. I love many of the Enkaustikos colors, Indian Yellow, Cadmium Red Medium, Quinacridone Magenta, Cadmium Orange to name a few.

Q: What are some of the hurdles you have encountered working with encaustic or as an artist in general, and how do you deal with them?
The biggest problem is education, people are scared that the painting they are buying is going to melt as soon as they get it home. There is still an urban myth that using wax is toxic. I have signs all over my booth at art fairs explaining how durable encaustic is, how long it lasts, how the dammar hardens it, and yet I still end up explaining it over and over. What I do is talk about the incredible translucency of the medium, how you can see the layers underneath, how the colors are so rich and vibrant. I talk about content and what ideas I am working with, then I ask them to pick their favorite piece. This focuses the discussion of what really matters, how they respond emotionally and which one they will take home.

Q: Do you work in other mediums and how does working in encaustic influence other mediums?
I have been creating hand thrown porcelain for over 35 years. And I show it with my paintings at many shows. I also draw with ink, colored pencils, markers, etc. on paper. I can throw or hand build any form out of clay, it seems like I would go in that direction, but I find I love to paint on wood, go figure!

Painting is what I love to do the most, it is very fulfilling, it feels like pure expression, when I am painting I am totally in there, immersed in the work, in my right brain, happy!
Q: What do you want people to walk away with when they see your pieces? What is it like for you to see people’s reaction to your art? Where can we see your art?
I want people to enjoy and feel the mood and emotion in my paintings. When people love my work and start to envision it in their home, it makes me very happy. They connect to me as a person and as an artist. My work will be included in the R&F Biennial book, I will be having my third show in March 2012, at Hallway Gallery, , Bellevue WA, and I will be at the Contemporary Craft Market here in SF Mar 10,11 at Fort Mason. I am adding shows to my schedule very day. My website is
Q: How do you share your talents? Do you personally teach any encaustic workshops or lectures? Is there any community outreach that you are involved in?
I teach in my studio, intro and advanced workshops, and do demos in art supply stores. I am writing a monthly column for the International Encaustic Artists newsletter called Smart ART Marketing. I go to and present at all of the IEA conferences and I presented at the first 4 of the east coast encaustic conferences. I currently Co-President of the Northern CA IEA Chapter, and am one of the founders and past president of IEA; the largest non-profit organization of artists who use encaustic in the U.S. I have been curating shows here is San Francisco, in 2012 I am curating a One Woman show of Lisa Kairos’s work and a three person show called Three/3.
Q: What are your goals for the future? Do you have any parting words of advice or inspiration?
My goals are to expand my gallery representation, get awarded more grants, have more time to paint, and help other artists with the same goals. I love being able to brainstorm with my artist friends about their work and how they can further their careers. I want to do more curating.

My advice for artists is spend as much time as you can in your studio and  be smart in the way you market your work. Always have a color postcard of your work, with your contact info in the back. Find the best venue for you, be polite when approaching gallery owners and show up for your friends.

Visit the Artist's Website Here

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