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Artist's direction shifts as she expands her medium

April 12, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

FUNKSTOWN - When Linda Sokol decided to give up teaching so she could devote more time to her art, she was a little uncertain about the step.

Now a year later, Sokol admits she misses interacting with the youngsters she used to teach at St. Mary School in Hagerstown.

"But I don't miss lesson plans," she said from her Funkstown home/studio.

Armed with a Web site and a pale lavender business card for "Designs by Linda," she is pleased with the new direction her life is taking.

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One of the things she is doing is exploring new forms of art. Since she began painting at age 14, Sokol has been into realism. The home she shares with husband, Mike, and their four sons reflects that.

"The first painting I ever did is upstairs in one of the boys' bedrooms," she said.

She is working on a painting of one of her cats who often sits staring out of one of the home's many windows.

"I added a butterfly just so it looks like the cat is really looking at something," Sokol said.

Her Web site touts her affinity for house portraits, pet portraits, murals and even trompe l'oeil, a form of painting that literally means "trick of the eye," such as painting a window scene where there is no window or view.

"Now I'm trying to get into impressionism, but it's hard for me," Sokol said. "You have to see beyond what you see. There is more movement and feeling - different people see things differently in impressionism."

When Sokol was teaching at St. Mary's, she said she always was amazed at how the students approached art.

"Kids paint what they feel," she said, and they aren't afraid to do so.

So abandoning her own fear, Sokol has been experimenting, trying tile art, painting on wood and glass, decorating ceramic pots and tin ware. She currently is working on a logo for a local high school.

"When I do murals, I find it very valuable for me to do a storyboard first," Sokol said. After listening to what the client wants, Sokol paints the scene in miniature, showing the colors and aspects of the mural before the first brush touches the wall.

Not only does that protect Sokol's designs, it also allows client and artist to agree before the work is started.

As Sokol explores her message, she also is expanding her medium.

"I'm doing more colored pencil work. It's great because all I need is some pencils, a sharpener and a piece of paper, and I can work anywhere," she said.

When she traveled in the past, Sokol found herself bombarded with images she would have liked to paint, but it was hard to pack paints and canvases for trips. Colored pencils solved that problem.

While business has been steady, mostly through word of mouth, Sokol said she likes being able to decide what and how much she will do.

She said she could work toward it being a profession that could support her, but likes the freedom of that not being the case.

Her husband travels the world in his field, audio engineering. He also teaches at colleges and workshops, and has written books on acoustic audio engineering and an acoustic musicians guide.

"I'd like to get to the places where I feel it all started - Florence and Paris," Sokol said. "I've got to see The Louvre someday."

Born in Staten Island, N.Y., Sokol, 45, lived there until she was 91/2 years old. She moved to Smithsburg, graduated from high school there and then earned her associate's degree from Hagerstown Community College.

Since then, she has attended many art seminars.

When she was 30, a friend signed her up for a painting class in Waynesboro, Pa., Sokol said. She later taught there.

Busy with her art, home and family, Sokol and her husband are getting into gourmet cooking, which is something they can do together.

"I find cooking is a lot like art," she said.

Sokol can be contacted via e-mail at linda@lindasokol.com or through her Web site, lindasokol.com.

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