Lori Sokoluk Art

This Saturday, November 2nd from 2-4pm, I'll be doing a free demo at Opus Granville Island called "These are not your Grandmother's Watercolors".



I'm really excited by these new works and want to share them with you. We'll go beyond traditional techniques to experiment with mixed-media, and look at ways of presenting watercolors other than matted behind glass. We'll look at the balance of play, discernment, and intention that combine to create these modern, dynamic pieces. 

Please register for this event so that you get a good seat!

Call the store at 604-736-7028 to register.

This is a new adventure for me! My intent was to meet a wide audience with a range of affordable artwork and services. I showed a new series of mixed media/watercolor paintings, acrylics, and glicee prints. Here's the booth/wall I shared with Sandy Kay:

Vancouver Home and Design Show  October 17th to 20th at BC Place



I know it's Labour Day weekend, and with the cooler nights, people's thoughts turn to autumn, the school year, etc. But our days are still so lovely that I'm not ready to relinquish the pleasures of summer until I am forced to do so! 


I used to do a lot of hiking and plein air painting. In recent years, my art practice has been centered on my studio. This summer, I picked up my simple plein air watercolor kit and had a great time painting in the park, etc. I taught a workshop, and will do so again next June.


Plein Air painting kits can be very simple, or very elaborate. You see some painters that need a packhorse for all their gear: easel, chair, umbrella, panel carrying case, .... Over the years, mine has become smaller, simpler, and lighter. Here's what's in my kit now:

- small watercolor palette, with multiple mixing areas

- 6"x9" watercolor paper pad

- 2 brushes (small round and 1" flat, synthetic bristles) rolled up in a bamboo mat. 

- narrow 'Sharpie' or Pitt pen with waterproof ink (not shown)

- 2 small  yogurt containers

- bottle of water for drinking and painting with


If you wanted to be even more minimal, you could just use one brush, sawn off to fit in the palette, and use the lid from your waterbottle instead of the containers.


When I'm in the field, I don't try to do complex, full-on watercolor paintings like I would do in my studio. Instead, I use a combination of line and colored washes to capture the feeling of a place. I may use the sketches, and photographs, to create more finished paintings back in the studio later - or I may not. I do find that by stopping to look carefully enough to paint a scene, I really remember what it was like to be there. 


Here's the courtyard of a place I stayed on a holiday:


It's not to late to grab a brush and get outdoors!

Happy Painting.

Last time, I shared my love of black velvet. The work of Odilon Redon, Lee Bontecou, and others inspires me, and my love of velvety, dark blacks emerges in my own work in various ways. 


I love to take along my Lyra 9B water-soluble graphite crayon when I go out into the field. Applied dry, it give the sheen of graphite that we know and love from our first grade pencils. Add water with a small brush, and magic happens! You get the most luscious, velvety matte blacks!  Yum!!  Kroma and Opus now carry a similar product shaped like tailor's chalk that makes a beautiful wide mark.


The Black Pool drawing series (recently at the Federation Gallery on Granville Island) use these and every other black I have in the studio: gesso, India ink, soluble oil crayons, lthograph crayon, acrylic ink, ... (you get the idea). 


 I also love a black gesso ground, seen here in Shaman's Cave. It is so freeing to take a failed painting, or one I'm just bored with, and paint over it with broad strokes of black gesso to create a new start!



Those of you that know my bold colorful paintings may not realize that I also have a love of black velvet. Not the Elvis-on-your-uncles-recroom-wall kind of black velvet, nor the box of chocolates at Christmas kind of Black Velvet (okay, I will admit to a fondness for the carmel ones from the corners of the box...). 


I mean the black velvet voids in Lee Bontecou's massive, powerful steel sculptures. This one is untitled, from 1961:



Or her charcoal and soot drawings. She creates depths of space, into which you could fall in endless silence. Lee Bontecou is an American artist who found fame in the 60's, only to leave the New York art scene for over 20 years to raise a family and work in a barn in rural Pennsylvania. See more of her work in this video.


Another source of velvety black inspiration are the lithographs of Odilon Redon, a French Symbolist artist who lived from 1840-1916. His later work is very colorful, but early in his career, he made portfolios of prints like one, entitled "Captive Pegasus":


Check out more about Odilon Redon here


Coming soon: how these inspirations emerge in my own work...


I organize my palette for consistency, ease of color mixing, and efficiency.

Here's my watercolor palette:



1. I arrange the colors like a color wheel.  

Lemon yellow (lower right) next to warm yellows and gold. Next comes orange-red, then cool reds running across the top. Next, at top left and running down the left side, are the purples and blues. Around the corner to the bottom row, you find the blue-greens and greens.


2. I postion the palette in the same orientation whenever I paint. 


These two practices support color mixing and efficiency in the following ways:


a) the arrangement reminds me of color mixing principles without having a color wheel posted for reference. 


b) I firmly believe in body memory and muscle memory. By having the colors in the same place every time, my body knows where to reach for a color without having to really stop to look or think about where it is located.


When I am painting with acrylics or oils, I use a modified version of this system. I squeeze out only the colors I am using on that particular painting. I locate colors in the same place on my palette for the duration of the painting, but I don't follow the color wheel arrangement as strictly. Instead, I put the white and unbleached titanium at the top of my palette, the warm colors on one side, and the cool colors on the other.


Coming Up: what are the colors on my palette?


Here are some 'recipes' for mixing darks without using black. Many artists recommend "mixing your darks" rather than using black. It can help to keep your painting harmonious to mix your darks using pigments that are used elsewhere in your painting.


1. ultramarine blue and burnt sienna

2. alizarin crimson and viridian green

3. dioxazine purple and sap green

4. neutral tint and another colors


Things to think about are:

1. Use at least one color that is relatively dark to begin with. In the examples above, ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, and dioxazine purple are all quite dark. The colors mixed with them are also moderately dark: burnt sienna, viridian, and sap green.


2. Another tactic is to use 'neutral tint' to deepen another color. Neutral tint isn't exactly neutral - it's quite bluish/on the cool side. But it can be an easy way to get some dark values.





















I've recently started working on small panels, as a break from the large, multi-layered paintings currently on my easel.  The dogs are a special side project for me. 


I wanted to share this great easel that I found. It's a panel holder really, that sits on your easel, and makes working on 6x6 and other small panels so much more convenient.


This lovely gadget was designed expressly for these small panels. Many artists use for their 'daily painting' practice.  Check out Carol Marine's work for examples.  She also has a great blog.


Click to order a panel holder.




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