Lori Sokoluk Art

Photo credit: Jeremy Klassen/JCK Studios

Happy New Year to you!

As the year winds to an end, it feels natural to spend some time looking back, then ahead. I've pushed my art practice this year, and am considering how it will evolve and shift as I continue.

2017 had a wildly varied rhythm. The first 6 months moved slowly as I continued my PortTown series and faced some health issues. Summer saw an exciting pop of teaching activity. Then a broken ankle brought things to a crawl - almost literally! By September, I was was well on the mend, dove into activity, and the rest of the year was amazingly full and rewarding.

In particular, this year seemed to be about connecting with people through my art and teaching. A solo exhibit, 3 group exhibits, working with interior designers and new clients, teaching in new venues were highlights of the year.

I am very grateful to all of you who made places in your homes and spaces for my paintings this year. I've been fortunate to have multiple opportunities to share my work, and have a couple of great exhibits to look forward to in 2018.  



In my second year in the new studio, I've settled into a happy routine and community here with the same great group of artists, and with other artists beyond the Paneficio building. Studio space is under the same pressures as affordable housing in Vancouver, so I am extremely grateful that I have such a wonderful and stable home for my art practice. If you haven't seen the new space, I encourage you to visit! Contact me to arrange a time, or drop by during First Saturday Open Studios.    


Teaching continues to be an incredibly rewarding experience for me. In addition to regular community centre and studio-based courses, this summer I taught at MISSA and the Gibsons Summer School of the Arts - both times on crutches!! Huge thank yous to the students and venue staff who accommodated the restrictions of my broken ankle and made these sessions not only possible, but comfortable and enjoyable. 


I am deeply thankful to you for trusting me to guide and inspire you.


Forces of Progress and Decay (16"x20", mixed media and collage on wood panel, $650, available at time of posting)



By September, my ankle was recovering well. Good thing because everything really ramped up in the fall:

I went to Portland for a short but intense few days filled with studio visits, gallery hopping and an art business mastermind session organized by Art Biz Coach. Working with Alyson Stanfield over the past couple of years has given me confidence and guidance that has really helped me propel my artwork and practice. It was such fun to reconnect with artists and friends there, see a ton of exciting artwork, and snap some new industrial photos.

It was inspiring to see my PortTown series hung together for a solo exhibit at Deer Lake Gallery in Burnaby BC. 

As always, I love opening my studio for the Vancouver Eastside Culture Crawl. I'm always so happy to welcome you to my studio and to share what goes on there. One of my experimental pieces was included in the Crawl preview exhibit (5th fifth consecutive year), and I was thrilled to be invited to participate in the Take Flight benefit. Once again, I did a limited series of hand-finished prints that sold out. A seminal piece and a new experiment also found their new homes, as did many other pieces. I've got a solo show in 6 weeks, so I'd better get painting!


MidCentury Modern 1 and 2 (18"x36" and 18"x48", acrylic on wood panel, $1500 and $1700/$2700 for diptych, available at time of this update)



Looking ahead to 2018 ... 

I am excited about sharing my work with you and continuing to experiment with slightly shifting directions in my work.

Next up is another solo exhibition and a summer show with 5 other amazing artists from as far away as Chicago. 


a solo exhibition of new and recent work
February 16 to March 17, 2018

Place des Arts
Coquitlam BC

Industrial Perspectives
June 1 - 30, 2018
CityScape Art Space

North Vancouver BC

I look forward to pushing and deepening my work. Some insightful comments and questions have ideas percolating in my head. What if the pieces became more minimal? What if I use really big sheets of mylar? What if I delve more deeply into the history of specific cities or buildings? Next week I dive in to see where these ideas will take me. 

Teaching continues to be an important part of my practice. I will be focusing on entry-level courses at City of Vancouver community centres, and private and small-group courses hosted at my studio. Watch my website, or subscribe to find out about new classes as they are scheduled. I'm also launching 'paint in' afternoons once a month starting January 6th as part of: 


First Saturday Open Studio
Saturday January 6th  
Open studio noon-5pm
"Paint In" noon-2:30pm $25 

Redsokil Arts 800 Keefer Street, Vancouver BC  



I absolutely will continue to share my art with you.
Thank you for being a part of my world and my creative endeavours. 



Many of you have been fascinated by my use of photo transfers in my PortTown series. I love using photo transfers for a number of reasons.


  • Over the years, I have amassed a lot of photographs of ports in various cities in North America and Europe. I love sifting through and seeing them again. It brings back enjoyable memories.
  • Photo transfers are a way to add detail quickly and precisely. I remember drawing this kind of detail in architectural drawings. So glad I don't have to do so now! 
  • The straight lines and sharp detail contrast nicely with the surface patina and rougher, slightly crooked handdrawn elements. This also reflects one aspect of the port areas: old surfaces that have been out in the salt air for decades, and new modern industrial or residential buildings.
  • Sometimes I use a photo transfer to depict a specific structure. Other times, I use it more as a graphic element - a shape of particular tone and texture.
  • I love the deep blacks that I've been getting from these transfers! I have a love for deep velvety blacks.


In this piece, I'm using photo transfer to create a sense of detail, texture, and deep values:

The Edge of Urban Time

(48"x36", mixed media and collage on wood panel, $3600, available at time of posting)



Here, photo transfer is a quick way to depict a specific, detailed structure:

Looking For An Aerial View

(20"x16", mixed media and collage on wood panel, sold)



In this piece, photo transfer creates a large, graphic shape of a particular tone and texture.

Sometimes Windows Get Broken When Clamouring For The Best View

(16"x20", mixed media and collage on wood panel, sold)



Check my website events listing for free demos on the technique.


How might you use photographs in your artwork?


The Crawl is coming! With over 400 studios open, and many thousands of visitors, it can be a bit overwhelming. Here are some tips for making your Crawl the most enjoyable experience possible.


1. Research

  • Check out the participating artists on the Crawl website. Scroll down and see what catches your eye, or be more focused and filter by medium or building. The printed program also lists the artists’ mediums, and indicates artists who are new to the Crawl too, so you can check out.
  • Visit the preview shows to see what you like. There are four venues featuring the art of dozens of Crawl artists: The Cultch, The Firehall, The Arts Factory, and Alternative Creations Gallery. I have a painting at The Cultch Gallery, 1895 Venables.

2. Pace Yourself

  • There is no way you will be able to see everything. It’s good to accept this fact right up front. 
  • A good strategy is to plan visits to a few favourite studios and one studio building/area that’s new to you. 
  • Pick one area/building per day. Focus and enjoy!
  • Plan to take breaks for food and beverages (I know it’s hard to tear yourself away). Some studios may offer light refreshments as well.

3. Avoid the Crowds

  • Visit a smaller studio building or outlying area. The Crawl is more than 1000 Parker Street. There are many fantastic artists in ‘Parker’, but there are over 300 studios in the rest of the Crawl area, from Quebec to Clark, 1st Avenue to the water. Check out the map for ideas. 
  • Go on Thursday or Friday evening.
  • Even crowded areas are less so in the first and last hours of each day. 

4. Getting around

  • Parking is always a hassle, and especially so when thousands of people are converging on the same venues. Plan to take transit, bike (there’s a Bike Valet at Parker and Clark), or walk. Definitely wear comfortable walking shoes. 
  • There is also a free MODO shuttle that will get you from to and from various areas of the Crawl.

5. Have some fun!

  • Go with a couple of friends
  • Take in some of the many free demos. I'm giving a demo on photo transfer technique at 7pm Thursday November 16th.
  • Try something a bit different. The Culture Crawl Festival has grown to include a number of art activities in addition to the open studios: Moving Pictures, installations, etc. The Culture Crawl website has 3 pages of events and demos. 


Useful Links:

Crawl website 

Crawl Map  (on screen and downloadable)

Crawl Printed Program - available in many venues around the city, or download

I’m interrupting the series on Deepening Meaning in Your Artwork. My plans and artwork were recently interrupted when I broke my ankle. Things came to a sudden halt. 


I had several large experimental piece on the go in the studio. I had two summer school art teaching gigs coming up at Metchosin Summer School of the Arts and Gibsons Summer School of the Arts


Suddenly, there was:

  • no standing/reaching/walking back and forth to view large art works
  • no driving, so all the errands, grocery runs etc fell to my husband at what is one of the busiest times of his year
  • lots of stairs: I live in a narrow 3-story townhouse, so I had to plan ahead to minimize trips up and down the stairs

Even carrying a cup of tea required ingenuity. A six block trip to my bank entailed calling a cab, waiting, waiting... then I did four errands on the same block and called a cab to get home. And waited...  I hate to think about how much money I've paid in cab fares in the last 2 weeks


I'm very fortunate in that my break was less serious than many. I have crutches and a walking 'boot' that I don't have to wear in the house. No plaster cast. No surgery. But no upper body strength either, apparently! Both art summer schools, both staff and random folks, have been fantastic about making accommodations so that I can teach my workshops as planned. Thank you for that!  


Luckily, I had a pad of lovely thick paper, some pens/pencils, and even a tiny watercolor kit at home. So with one foot up on an adjacent chair, I've been doodling, sketching, and experimenting. I challenged my self to work on a grid and on an all-over pattern, neither of which is a natural impulse for me. Here are the results of some of this work:

It's been enjoyable to just experiment. It's pretty hard to get tense over a 10"x9" piece of paper! I've challenged myself to try some compositions that I don't naturally gravitate towards, and, in doing so, have increased my range.


What might you do if you stepped outside of your normal routine?


Last time, I talked about the desire to deepen the meaning in your artwork.


If you want to deepen the meaning in your artwork, how to begin? I invite you to seat your logical mind at the back of the bus. We’re going on a journey of creative leaps and bounds, cause that’s how the creative mind works : )

Wind Through My Bones (14”x11”, watercolour on paper, sold) 


Start by asking “What are my predilections?”

  • what do you like to paint?  people? seascapes? flowers? 
  • what are you interested in?  Cities and how they develop? Horse racing? Tomatoes? 
  • what interests you about tomatoes? The variety of their glossy colours? Their smell? Memories of your grandmother’s garden?
  • what are your marks?
  • what colors do you naturally reach for?
  • do you like to work small or large?
  • do you like to have control, or go with surprises?
  • do you like a particular visual element? - ‘thin edges’ or ‘dark outlines’ for example


Think about the things that you ‘like’:

  • what do they make you think of?
  • what do they make you feel?    
  • what do they mean to you?


I like pale, attenuated shapes. Here is a ‘mind map’ of things that these shapes make me think of:


These ideas form a sort of ‘thought bubble’ within which I can work. The image at the top of the post, “Wind Through My Bones”, captures some of these thoughts and feelings.


Sometimes the linkages between things and ideas are hard to explain. My husband, a jazz musician, is a very creative man. Sitting at the breakfast table, we might mention kangaroos. The next thing out of his mouth is “twilight is the breath of both life and death”. I gape. His mind has gone from kangaroos, to Australia, to a 1950’s jazz album by someone who played a famous concert in Melbourne, to the title of that song “Twilight Dreaming”. After ten years of marriage, he still loses me frequently : )


So let your mind wander. 

Explore what interests you. If you are interested in octopuses, read about them, look for images and video of them, sketch them, research their varieties and where they live.


Next time we’ll talk more about how to recognize the ideas and meaning that start to emerge.

Can you answer quickly and succinctly when someone asks you "what is your art about?" ?

My Ancestor's Fertile Ground (acrylic and metallic leaf on canvas, 24"x48" diptych, $2590)


Over the next few posts, we'll look at deepening the meaning in your work and how to communicate that meaning to others. We may know how to go about painting a tree, or even golden late afternoon light hitting a tree. But how does one paint:

  • an emotion?
  • an inner state?
  • an epic story?


Questions we might ask ourselves are:         

  • How do I deepen the meaning in my work?
  • What do I have to say?
  • How do I develop a library of symbols, a personal language that conveys deep inner truth?
  • Will people ‘get it’?


Symbols are a great way to communicate meaning. Language is just a set of symbols that have been used somewhat consistently and people have come to some agreement about. For example, "table" means a flat surface supported by legs. As visual artists, our symbols aren't usually words. They are shapes, colors, and marks.


Let's think about meaning in visual artwork. I may be painting a tree, but:

  • Am I painting a lovely tree that catches the light on an autumn day?
  • Or am I painting a sentinel - a strong guardian and gatekeeper?

The former might feature a 'rule of thirds' rectangular horizontal composition, lyrical lines, and warm colors. The latter might feature strong angular linework that fills most of a square composition.



Here's another example. Think of a Victorian house porch with filigree woodwork and sunlight hitting hanging planters of flowers. Someone might paint this porch because:

  • it is representative of a specific period of architecture
  • the dappled light and shadow conveys a feeling of contentment and happiness
  • this is the house where their mother, their mother’s mother, and their mother’s mother’s mother were born

What kind of visual symbols might you use to convey one meaning vs another?



These paintings of the female figure are by five artists. They’ve all got something different to say about the women in these paintings...

1. Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, c.1485

2. Degas, The Ballet Class, 1873

3. Modigliani, Portrait of a Young Girl, 1910

4. Schiele, Woman With Bent Knee, 1917

5. Picasso, Weeping Woman With Handkerchief, 1937


What does each piece make you feel? What visual elements (marks, colours, composition, etc) perceive it this way?

If asked to provide a critique of someone’s work, how to proceed? The following is a version of a pretty standard format for a formal critique.  


Photo credit: Ray Ophoff


0. Set the parameters. Before the session, set the purpose and boundaries.

  • Ask the artist why they asked for a critique, and what they hope to get out of it. This will give me, the critic, some direction.
  • Remind the artist that different viewers may find different meaning in the work. Ultimately, they have to feel if something is authentic or not.

1. Describe what I see. This is a way to start looking at the work.

  • type of artwork
  • subject, objects
  • colors, shapes, lines, textures
  • light
  • first impression - what jumps out at me
  • predominant mood or visual effect

2. Analyze the artworkDescribe how the technical elements are utilized to create the overall impression.

  • color
  • repetition
  • lines, shapes, forms, direction
  • texture
  • proportion
  • contrast
  • balance
  • emphasis
  • rhythym
  • unity
  • how does each element contribute to the mood, meaning, and aesthetic sensation?

3. Interpret the artwork. Apply my own suppostion to the artist’s intended purpose.

  • What do I think the artist is trying to say?
  • Expand on the feeling conveyed, what it means to me and why.
  • Explain what I think is the artist’s purpose and how/why the choices of elements/materials/colors/etc contribute to that.
  • Identify any symbolism and how that contributes to the intended purpose.

4. Evaluate the artworkDraw conclusions and reach judgements about the work.

  • State what I think the work’s value/purpose is (for example: to evoke nostalgia, encite joy, ...) and why I feel this way.
  • Describe the work’s relevance to the art community and beyond
  • Explain where I think the work is strong and where it falls short.


Thanks to Dem Apples for this version.

When giving feedback on someone’s artwork, I like a sandwich. That’s where you start by saying something that’s positive. Then address the area that could use improvement. Close with another complimentary comment. It could be an Oreo cookie, if you prefer sweet analogies to savory ones.

We Stand As The Face Of Time (12"x24", mixed media on wood panel, $600, available at time of posting)

For example, one could say “I love the color palette you’ve used in this piece. It’s got a great, moody feel to it. Overall, the composition works well. This figure here, however, seems a bit disconnected to the rest of the piece. Perhaps if the shape overlapped these other figures, or it faced into the center instead of out to the edge, it would be more integrated. Then my eye would move completely happily thought the painting. It's got areas of rest and areas of detail. Nice Work”.


For more formal or in-depth critiques, I follow an accepted process that I’ll touch on in my next post.


When asking for feedback, give the critic direction. The more specific your request, the more beneficial the critique will likely be. 

  • Instead of “what do you think?”, try “I was aiming for a very ethereal feel. Do you think this piece conveys that?” 
  • “I’m so thrilled to have completed this 8’x8’ painting. It’s by far the largest I’ve ever done. I don’t want any critique - I just want you to applaud a massive effort successfully completed.”
  • If you want deeper, thoughtful analysis, give the person some advance notice. For example, “I appreciate that you know a lot of my work, and have seen its development over the years. I would really appreciate it if sometime this month you could spend an hour looking at my most recent work, and give me some thoughtful commentary on the new direction I’m taking. I’ll provide refreshments.”

Next up: a look at the anatomy of a formal critique.

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