Lori Sokoluk Art

I posted about a month ago about getting back to work after a big event. As I prepare to go back into the studio after a break at Christmas, I realize that I forgot one very important idea: experimentation.

A big exhibit or open studio often means bringing a body of work to completion. Final touches, signatures, titles, and entering into inventory. Varnishing/sealing, framing, labeling and fitting for hanging. It all feels like completion. 


So what’s the opposite of completion?  Beginning. How do I begin? 


For me, a particular painting often begins with some groundwork (prepping the panel, gathering my materials and tools). Then I start building the piece with texture and/or drips. It’s low-stress and characterized by curiosity and taking actions without a clear sense of the outcome. Sounds like creative experimentation...


This is exactly how I’m going to begin painting again. I’ve set up my studio for painting again, and I’m going to try some of the ideas that came up whilst talking about my work with visitors to my studio at the Crawl and since. I’ll use small panels and materials I have at hand. I don’t intend them to become finished pieces, so I might even test out a few different approaches on a single panel.


I’m off to the studio to experiment! 


What does beginning look like for you?


As the year winds to an end, it feels natural to spend some time looking back, then ahead. 2016 has been an amazing year for me in my creative work.

2016 started with my first ever art residency. Uninterrupted focus and momentum allowed me to push the PortTown work in new directions, and I met a whole new community of artists. 

I am very grateful to all of you who have 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 will wrap up the year with one more exhibit at The Cultch that runs until January 28th (details are near the bottom of this email).  


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A huge focus in the first part of the year was finding a new studio, lining up studio mates, moving and settling in. I am so fortunate - it's one of the nicest studio spaces I've ever seen. If you haven't paid a visit, I heartily invite you to stop by on a First Saturday or to make an appointment.  

I spent more time than ever in the studio this year, creating an extensive series of work inspired by the industrial edge of our cities. I also put increased focus on my art as a business, working with Alyson Stanfield and a group of dedicated artists through Art Biz Coach

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Teaching has been a big part of my year once again. In addition to community centre workshops, I taught a weeklong summer school workshop at MISSA, and launched a new studio-based series of workshops. I'm deeply thankful for the workshop students and venues, and the private students, all of whom have trusted me to help them on their creative journeys.

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The 20th Anniversary of the Vancouver Eastside Culture Crawl capped off the latter part of the year. Being on the Board of Directors continues to introduce me to new artists and spaces, make me feel a part of history, and allow me to help make things happen for artists in this city. Participating in the Culture Crawl in my new studio location was also exciting - almost 4000 people visited my studio over the four days!

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And I'm very excited about what 2017 will bring ...

Last year was a year of significant change. In the year ahead, my plan is to extend and deepen what I've already started.

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It's great to start the year with an exhibition. Recent work will be on exhibit at The Cultch Gallery in Vancouver, BC through January 28th (details are near the bottom of this email). A solo show is already lined up for the fall.

I look forward to pushing and deepening my work. Some insightful comments and questions from viewers along the way have ideas percolating in my head. Next week I dive in to see where they will take me.  


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Teaching will continue to be an important part of my practice. I will be teaching at the Artists of Kerrisdale in January/February, and at the Gibsons Summer School of The Arts in July. You can also catch me doing demos at ArtsWest and Opus Art Supplies.


Watch my website, or subscribe to find out about new classes as they are scheduled.

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

Wishing you all the best in the year ahead,


This was the most impactful piece I had on display (in its almost-finished state) at the Culture Crawl last month. A significant number of you were drawn to it, spent a lot of time with it, and engaged in discussion with me about it. More of you saw it on Facebook or Instagram, and commented there. 

The Edge of Urban Time (48”x36”, mixed media and collage on wood panel, $3600, available at time of posting)


Thank you for all the positive feedback! It feels great to create something that resonates with so many people.


Photo transfers provide a lot of the ‘wow’ factor in this piece. More specifically, the photo transfers create:

  • density: large dark shapes that anchor what is otherwise a very pale piece
  • detail: hard-edged, fine-lined detail that contrasts with the rougher, organic drawing that I did by hand
  • focal point: The photo transfers seemed to catch people’s eye, drawing you in for a closer look. 
  • velocity: while it takes some time to select, prepare, and transfer the photographs, the piece develops very quickly once I start to get these big transfers in place. 
  • specificity: many of you spent time trying to discern the specific places/buildings in the photographs, leading to another level of engagement with the painting.

The Edge of Urban Time is now finished and on its way to the Vancouver East Cultural Centre (“The Cultch”) for an exhibition. If you want to see how it finished up, I invite you to join me at the opening reception Weds Dec 28th 6-8pm.

As you know from last week's post, I recently completed a huge open studio event with almost 4000 visitors over 4 days. As that event approached, I stopped painting, did a lot of cleaning, rearranging, and tagging. The event was great. Now what?!! 

Big events are fantastic and sometimes pivotal, but they are a serious interruption to the rhythm of work producing art. How do you shift the focus and ‘get back to work’ after something like this? Here's how my shift typically happens:

  • Rest up! I often get a cold the week after the event. I've been pushing, pushing, pushing to get ready, and not getting enough rest. My body keeps asking "can you rest now?" and when the event is over and the answer is finally "yes", it's my body's way of making sure I take the rest that I need : )
  • Don't be surprised if you feel a little depressed. This is a natural result as the endorphins and adrenaline ebb. 
  • Set aside a day (or more) to do all my follow-ups: validate email addresses, send out sign-up bonus gifts, add people to my mailing list; pack up and arrange delivery of paintings to their new homes.
  • Move things back into their ‘working arrangement’ so that I can walk in and begin painting without any 'excuses' intervening.
  • Have sketches/ideas of what I want to work on next BEFORE the event, so I’m eager to get back at it. It could be the idea that I didn't have time to get at before the event, or something sparked by a conversation during the event.
  • Having something else scheduled that doesn't cause a lot of stress: I scheduled a watercolor course at my studio, and have an exhibit coming up. It could be a demo. Something that gets you back into 'working artist' mode, but doesn't require a ton of work (that would just extend the pressure period).

How do you shift your focus and ‘get back to work’ after a big event?

I just finished a huge open studio event, the Vancouver Eastside Culture Crawl.

I love to do open studio events. Here’s why:


  • Open studios give people a low-barrier way to visit. I’m here. There’s no expectation that you have to buy something. Also, I’m ready and willing to be ‘interrupted’, not working on something that can’t be put down for a chat and a coffee. 
  • I get to talk about art - mine and others!
  • Open studio day concentrates my visitors. Sometimes connections are made between visitors who arrived separately, which is lovely. And my work week doesn’t get broken up but a bunch of sporadic visits. 
  • It gives me a chance to share and talk about my artwork and my practice. Being a visual artist, words don’t always come easily. When put on the spot, I sometimes say something that’s exactly right. It is authentic, not forced. I can then use those words to help communicate about my work to others.
  • Fresh eyes and questions sometimes spark real insights. An insightful comment or question can inspire me or expose another layer of depth in my work.
  • I clean up the studio, sweep the floor, and put the tea kettle on.
  • It’s good practice to clear away all the piles and mess, look carefully and decide which work is my best, or determine what needs a small tweak to finish it completely.
  • Seeing all the pieces hung together with care is a real confidence boost that you don’t get from work stacked against the wall. 


Do you hide away in your studio, or throw open the doors?

It's time again to come Crawling! The Eastside Culture Crawl is one of the biggest art events in Vancouver, and definitely the biggest event on my annual calendar. This is the 20th year, and over 500 artists are participating. The event is completely free to the public.

I invite you to visit my studio in the Paneficio Building (C8 on the map). I have new work in my PortTown series on display, plus art notebooks from $12 and small pieces for $70-$150.


The Crawl is an opportunity to see all kinds of art, talk to artists, and purchase artwork directly from artists in their studios. Check out the map, plan a route, invite your friends, grab an umbrella, and participate in this amazing event!


Thursday November 17th   5-10pm

 Friday November 18th   5-10pm

 Saturday November 19th  11am-6pm

 Sunday November 20th   11am-6pm



I have indeed been painting up a storm recently. But now it’s time to put that work aside and get ready for two big events in my studio. It’s hard to let go of the momentum I’ve built up, but I’ve had to make time to do non-painting things like:


  • put away all the stuff that’s been accumulating 
  • design, order, and install a sign for the studio door 
  • patch and paint the studio walls
  • varnish/seal and prepare paintings for hanging
  • log all the paintings in my inventory system
  • organize assistants for the event, train them, prepare reference sheets for them
  • get the word out: distribute postcards, posts on social media, send invitations and reminders
  • hang the artwork
  • prepare labels, signage etc
  • purchase/gather packing materials

Sometimes what sounds like a simple task actually has a bunch of steps.

For example, getting the studio door sign involved several brainstorming and design sessions with my studio mates, two trips to the hardware store, one to the framers for glass, pinging the landlord for door paint, finding a signage place, trying to determine the best way to get the proportions right in Photoshop, learning how to save the file in a useable format, back-and-forth with the signage place to confirm the design, a trip to their location to select a color...  you get the idea! I use a digital ‘to do’ list called ToDoist to keep track of all the tasks.


My Mother taught me well.

My mother was a great hostess. I learned her success strategy for getting ready for an event, which has three main principles: 


1. Plan as much as you can in advance. I used to pin pictures of the serving dishes with a note of their intended contents onto the fridge. 


2. Don't get caught in your slip. Make sure you complete the stuff you really don’t want people to see you doing. Do NOT be in your housecoat, ironing your dress, when the first guest arrives.


3. Your guests are your friends. Stuff that you can be doing when the first guests arrive can wait (like setting out glasses, or plating appetizers). Give them a glass of wine and invite them to help out.


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The first event is in 2 days. I’m still trying to complete one more painting before the Culture Crawl next week.


And I still have to figure out what I’m going to wear...

I'm an artists because I love making art. But it's not a hobby. I make art. I teach art. I show and sell art. I'm a small business owner. Some day, I may have other people who do some of the non-art-making tasks, but for now, I'm the business. 

I'm heading to Colorado for an art business conference with Alyson Stanfield and Art Biz Coach. So I'm thinking about all the non-art-making activities that are part of my life as an artist.


I teach. That means I also:

  • devise the cirriculum
  • find venues
  • contact locations/groups and schedule the sessions
  • create web pages and related communications
  • answer questions from prospective students
  • buy and/or gather materials
  • prepare demo materials
  • prepare hand outs and other related information
  • pack up gear to take to off-site venues
  • travel to and from the teaching venue
  • publicize the sessions (posters, flyers, social media, website)

I show and sell art. That means I also:

  • research potential venues
  • check listings for submission calls
  • prepare submissions (write statements, edit photos, compile documents)
  • order framing materials
  • frame pieces and fit for hanging
  • pack and ship/deliver artwork
  • determine and maintain standard pricing


I run a business. That means I also:

  • lease a studio space, pay the bills, and keep the common supplies stocked
  • maintain a good relationship with my studio mates
  • keep my website up to date
  • keep my social media platforms up to date 
  • engage with others on social media
  • attend openings, exhibits, and talks put on by galleries and other artists
  • do my bookkeeping, file my taxes (pst, gst, and income tax) and pay installments on time

Whew! I'm tired just thinking about this list!


Many artists say that they spend about 50% of their time making art, and the other 50% doing these other activities. That's about my average as well. 


How much time do you spend on these other activities related to your art business?

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