KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 3: Spring 2015
Visual Arts: Paintings (R)
Editor’s Note: 244 words

Five Mixed-Media Paintings

by John Sokol


Drowning in the Sea of Samos, mixed-media painting by John Sokol
Drowning in the Sea of Samos (11 March 2012)
Alcohol, gelatin, laundry soap, coffee, and sumi ink on Canson

Copyright © by John Sokol. All rights reserved.

Enlarged View


In the Red Forest, mixed-media painting by John Sokol
In the Red Forest (23 May 2015)
Coffee, mercurochrome, motor oil, mustard, pomegranate juice, and varnish
on Strathmore; 15 x 13″

Copyright © by John Sokol. All rights reserved.


Rotten Berries, mixed-media painting by John Sokol
Rotten Berries (11 November 2014)
Conté, coffee, cranberry juice, mustard, and laundry soap on paper; 14 x 11″

Copyright © by John Sokol. All rights reserved.


Tailing Sirius, mixed-media painting by John Sokol
Tailing Sirius (26 September 2012)
Alcohol, coffee, dyes, and laundry soap on Bristol; 14 x 17″
Private Collection

Copyright © by John Sokol. All rights reserved.


Temptation of St. Anthony No. 36, mixed-media painting by John Sokol
Temptation of St. Anthony #36 (22 September 2012)
Alcohol, coffee, dyes, and laundry soap on Bristol; 17 x 14″

Copyright © by John Sokol. All rights reserved.

All works are reproduced here by artist’s permission.

Editor’s Note by Clare MacQueen

The Paradoxical Beauty of Toilet Bowl Cleaner!

John Sokol reminds me of a mad scientist working feverishly in his studio, often creating a painting or drawing each day for days on end, by applying to paper an assortment of liquids and experimenting with the juxtaposition of unlikely media: from coffee and condiments, to laundry soap and bleach, to motor oil and varnish, to heat burns on paper. Talk about cooking up masterpieces!

While choosing works by Sokol to reproduce here in KF-3, I spent several hours perusing his online gallery as well as his Facebook albums. They contain hundreds and hundreds of images of innovative and spectacular paintings and drawings. Each in its caption includes details about media used. And I was truly awestruck by the range! Here’s a list, which I’m sure is partial, since I was unable to view his entire catalog due to time constraints:

  • acrylics, liquid
  • alcohol
  • beet juice
  • bleach
  • bourbon
  • charcoal
  • China ink
  • coffee
  • Conté
  • cranberry juice
  • dish soap
  • dyes
  • gelatin
  • gin
  • graphite, powdered
  • heat burns on paper
  • hot sauce
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • ink-and-reed pen
  • inks, unspecified
  • laundry soap
  • mercurochrome
  • mineral oil
  • mustard
  • Pine-Sol
  • pomegranate juice
  • printers ink
  • shampoo
  • soy sauce
  • sumi ink
  • toilet bowl cleaner *
  • varnish
  • walnut
  • wasabi
  • Windex
  • Worcestershire sauce

* Sokol’s Washing the River collection includes several works created from a combination of toilet bowl cleaner and other media. For example, Tragedy (2.25.14; China ink, coffee, and toilet bowl cleaner on Bristol; 17 x 11 inches).

John Sokol
Issue 3, Spring 2015

is a writer and prolific artist who was born in 1947 in Canton, Ohio (USA) and now lives and works in Akron, Ohio. He is known for his abstract and figurative paintings based on themes from mythology and Dante’s Inferno. He works with numerous media and combinations thereof, including: oils, acrylics, dyes, inks, tar, varnish, charcoal, condiments such as mustard and soy sauce, beverages such as coffee and fruit juices, household cleaners such as bleach and laundry soap, and chemicals such as alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. His drawings and paintings have been reproduced on more than thirty-five book covers.

He is also known for his collection of “word portraits” which depict numerous world-famous writers, using lines of their own words reproduced in pen-and-ink. For instance, his portrait of Walt Whitman is created with lines from Leaves of Grass.

Poems by Sokol have appeared in America, Antigonish Review, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Georgetown Review, New Millennium Writings, The New York Quarterly, and Quarterly West, among others. His chapbook, Kissing the Bees (winner of the 1999 Redgreene Press Chapbook Competition), and his first collection of poems, In the Summer of Cancer (Endymion Press, 2003), are available on Amazon.

His short stories have appeared in Akros, Descant, Mindscapes, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, Redbook, and other journals. One of his stories has been translated into Danish and another, into Russian. His collection of short stories, The Problem with Relativity, was published in 2006 by Ohio Distinguished Authors.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

The Art of Words by John Sokol, in Simply Creative (29 June 2013); Sokol creates pen-and-ink portraits by using words from well known works of seven writers (such as Walt Whitman and Flannery O’Connor), which are reproduced large enough in this blog so that individual lines are legible.

Art Shots: Authors in Their Own Words, ten Sokol portaits (only two of which appear among those in the Simply Creative blog above), in Zouch Magazine and Miscellany (13 September 2011)

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