Penelope Spyratos

LAS VEGAS — AiR TOUR — Issue 10

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2. Installation view, Ken Lum_ Death and Furniture, Art Gallery of Ontario. Artworks © Ken

Art by Penelope Spyratos

Penelope Spyratos

sM | What qualities in a portrait do you think are key in shaping a countenance?


PS ── What I find is essential for getting someone's likeness is being honest with the proportion and shape of their features. When I was first drawing people I knew, there was this urge to be polite and adjust things to look “prettier”. We're so acclimated to filtering photos of ourselves that many of us are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with our appearance. So much so that I found myself doing this not only in my self portraits, but projecting these ideas I had on the subjects I painted. Doing this erased

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the character in my faces. When I stopped making noses smaller and lips bigger, I could finally see a person I recognized.


sM | What sentiment do the depictions of flower arrangements evoke the most in your work?


PS ── Whenever I'm working on a piece where the subject is flowers, I try to remind myself that flowers are alive. They aren't just beautiful stationary objects, they change and move and breathe. It's easy for flowers to come off as stiff, and appear sort of perfect in an unnatural way. This is why I challenge myself to give plants a presence, with an energy and tone of their own. It almost gives them a surreal and fluid look, perpetually swaying in a breeze or tilting to follow a sunbeam. I feel placing flowers as the sole focus of a piece can still be exciting.