Lori Sokoluk Art

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my studio recently, preparing for the Eastside Culture Crawl. With a deadline looming, momentum is high. But how do you get to that state where you’re firing on all cylinders, and progress is steady?

A Case Study:

  • Several months ago, I created a 10”x10” piece as a sample for a client. I thought there was promise in doing a series of similar pieces. 
  • A few weeks later, a stack of panels were purchased, and the base prints were ordered. 
  • Yet more weeks passed before I took a day to select, cut and mount the print sections that would form the base of each piece.
  • In the last week, I set up a table, gathered my materials, and laid out 3 or 4 of the dozen panels.
  • Since then, I’ve worked on these pieces without interuption to do other artwork. Each day, it seems easier to start, and the work progresses more quickly.
  • These small 10”x10” panels are stacking up!


How do you know you’re in that state of high momentum?

  • you’re eager to get into the studio
  • it’s easy to pick up where you left off last session
  • progress is steady
  • you sometimes take a big leap with the work


How do you get there?

  • Having a place where you can leave things out at the end of a session is ideal, as this eliminates many of the possible obstacles to starting work the next day. Just pick up your brush.
  • Show up consistently. If you can work with fewer interruptions or pauses, momentum will build. However, even if you can only spend 2 hours every Monday, Wednesday and Sunday, you will see steady progress if you keep at it.
  • Having a deadline (one of several, actually!) certainly helps! If you don't have an externally imposed deadline, challenge yourself to complete a certain task in today's session.



What do you do to build or maintain your creative momentum?


Dark waters mesmerize and inspire me.


The first Black Pool painting was inspired by time spent on the west coast of Vancouver Island, with nothing but the Pacific Ocean stretching out to the horizon line. 


Beautiful sand beaches from long scallops along land’s edge. Between each beach and the next is a rocky outcrop where huge boulders trap water. Surrounded on three sides by forest, these black pools are still as mirrors. I love to think that these pools reflect our world, while also acting as secret portals to mysterious otherworlds beneath the surface. 


Black Pool (48”x24”, acrylic on canvas, collection of the artist)



I reprised the idea in a recent series, entitled Black Pool, and the idea continues to fascinate me.  It’s showing up in my current PortTown series as well.


left to right:

Black Pool 2 (24”x18”, mixed media on paper, $600, available at time of posting)

Black Pool 5 (18”x12”, mixed media on paper, $400, available at time of posting)

Watching Dark Waters (36”x36”, acrylic and graphite on canvas, $2850, available at time of posting)



I was excited to see this recent news article about an artist who created black reflecting pools for his show in an Edmonton gallery. A friend of mine got to create a watery exhibit at the Tyrell Museum in Alberta. I’ve always wanted to flood a gallery floor too! 

It’s been a while since I’ve shown you my dirty laundry (meaning a painting in progress!). I’ll walk you through the development of a favourite painting entitled Aeons 2. It’s a large piece that I really enjoyed working on.


1. Get some stuff down

I put down layers of color and texture without a design in mind.



2. Start working with intention

I start cutting in shapes and apply metallic foil to the focus point(s). Did you notice that the piece has been turned upside down?

3. Pull it together

A lot has happened since the previous image. Often when I work this way, a painting can get very busy and fragmented. I pull it together by creating three main shapes:

  • top shape has the most saturated colour and contrast, and contains the focal point(s)
  • middle shape is an icy light value
  • bottom shape is a dark value with a bunch of subtle complexity going on

4. Finishing

I make a few tweaks in the top two shapes. I add layers of dark blue glazes to the bottom so that it hangs together better as a single shape.


Aeons 2 (42”x72”, acrylic, mixed media and metallic collage on canvas, $5800, available at time of posting)



I’m happy with the results. What do you think?

Sometimes the best thing is a diversion from all one’s busy-ness that makes you smile. This came across one of the feeds I follow yesterday... Who doesn’t love poignant animals made 40 feet tall from scrap?!!

Click here or on the photo for full article.


This is the work of Portuguese artist Bordalo II (Artur Bordalo). Check out his website, Instagram, or Facebook page for more.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been discussing “drawing well”: does this mean drawing with “camera accuracy” or does it mean expressing something about your process or why you wanted to draw this thing. I’ve touched on expressive drawing, exercises to help make your drawing more expressive, and books to guide you. 

Left to Right: 

Traces of Peoples, Industry, and Dreams (detail) (36”x72”, mixed media on canvas, $5800, available at time of posting)

PortTown 4 (36”x24”, mixed media on mylar, $1020, available at time of posting)

Paint Draw 3 (24”x20”, mixed media on paper, $250, availalbe at time of posting)

Loci (24”x20”, mixed media on paper, private collection)



What characterizes your expressive drawing?  


What do you draw? 

Do you have a favourite subject matter? Are you a doodler?


What do you draw with? 

Do you use ink? Ballpoint pen? Hard pencil? soft charcoal? Why? Do you like how it feels in your hand? Do you like the mark it makes? Is it just what was on hand?


Where do you start? 

Do you dive into the center of the page? Start off in the bottom left corner? Do you work from that point and fill out uniformly, or do you work ‘all over’ the drawing?


How much of the page do you fill? 

Are your drawings dense or sparse? Do you leave large areas of paper untouched?


Do you frequently use a particular composition? 

Do you love a grid? A serpentine flow?


What are ‘your marks’?  

Do you make lots of small, short marks? Continuous looping lines? Are your marks angular or curvacous? Tentative or bold? Do you have lots of shading or tonal areas, or do you stick to clear, defined lines?


* * * * * 


In the series of images at the top of this post, you can see certain similarities that characterize my drawing style:


  • Composition often features a high horizon line. 
  • Markmaking includes oval scribbles, slightly angular meandering lines, slightly rounded zig zag marks, and occasionally very dark ‘loci’.
  • I like to draw with black and greys, graphite, acrylic markers, lithograph and other crayons. I also ‘draw’ with my brush and scraping tools.
  • I tend to start with that high horizon line, then bring things down into the large space below.


Do you have a recognizable drawing style?

It can be fun and informative to hang a number of your drawings up together and look at them to see if you have any clear characteristics.

For the past couple of weeks, I've been musing on expressive drawing and a helpful book to guide you in this endeavour. Here are some ideas to get you starting drawing more expressively.


Some of my favourite exercises from a drawing class I attended at the School of Visual Arts in New York City are: 


  • Drawing by Touch: do not look while someone places an object in a brown paper bag. With your non-drawing hand, reach in and feel the object. With your drawing hand, draw what you feel. No peeking! It can be a lot of fun to have several artists do this exercise, feeling and drawing each object in turn. It's amazing how differently each artist will interpret the same object.
  • Fast Sketching: if you have the luxury of a model, have them do a couple of 2 minute poses, then several 1 minute poses, then a few 30 second poses. Just keep drawing on the same sheet of paper, overlapping the images. If you are using charcoal, you can wipe down between sketches.
  • Continuous Focus, Continuous Line: this is a classic exercise where you look at your subject, never at the drawing. Place your pencil on the paper to start, and do not lift it until the drawing is complete. Do not look at the drawing paper, only at your subject!

* * * * *


And another helpful book with exercises to shake up your approach to drawing:

"Drawing Projects: an exploration of the language of drawing" by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern. Some of my favourite projects in this book are:


  • dots and manic marks: using density and energy of marks, no lines
  • a beautiful scribble: no contour lines
  • tactile self portrait: feel your face and draw it
  • taking a line for a walk: continuous line drawing capturing a 360 degree experience


Give some of these exercises a try.

Next week, we'll look at what make your drawing uniquely your own.

Here is one of my favourite books on Expressive Drawing.


I did a weeklong Master Class residency with Steven Aimone earlier this year. It was a great experience, and the momentum really propelled my work forward. He offers workshops and Master Class residencies several times a year. You can find out more, and order the book, on his website.


I highly recommend his sessions and his book!

I want to return to the topic of drawing. You may want to reread this earlier blog post about drawing well, in which I muse about ‘accuracy’ vs ‘expression’ in drawing


While I can draw with reasonable ‘camera accuracy’, I’ve long been much more interested in expressive drawing that bends or distorts proportion to better convey emotion and the unique 'hand' of the artist. Earlier this year, I rediscovered my love of drawing, and my recent series about the textures, flux and mystery of ports features a lot of drawing.

“Traces of Peoples, Industry and Dreams” (detail) (acrylic and graphite on canvas, 36"x72", $5800, available at time of posting) 


* * * * * * *


Here are some of my favourite thoughts on this topic: 


"Believe it or not, I can actually draw." - Jean-Michel Basquiat


"Once I start making marks on the paper, it becomes more about responding to these marks and less about copying the image." - Mark Demsteader


"The next phase will be to draw, draw, and draw again, until somehow the alchemy happens. That's when I've so internalized the gesture and feel of the relationship, I will no longer need to work from my photos and will be able to freely imagine and play with all the elements to convey the spirit of what I'm after." - Margot Hattingh


"Realize that a drawing is not a copy. It is a construction in very different materials. A drawing is an invention." - Robert Henri


"Drawing is not following a line on the model, it is drawing your sense of the thing." - Rober Henri


"I draw what I feel in my body." - Barbara Hepworth


* * * * * * *


Are you interested in expressive drawing? Not sure how to begin? Next week, I'll share some tips and recommended books on the topic.

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