Elly Smallwood

Canadian, b. 1989


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Every brushstroke that Elly Smallwood puts on canvas pains her in a way. The 28-year-old artist, who turns paint into thrilling, evocative portraits of people at their most vulnerable and free, often finds herself physically exhausted once she applies the finishing touches to a piece. “It’s a weird kind of exhaustion,” she admits to Playboy, calling from her studio in Ottawa, surrounded by her cats and prepping for her next commission. “My muscles aren’t sore, but I’m unable to do anything.” She might struggle to place its origin, but it’s the byproduct of an intense passion and dedication that’s singular to artists: losing yourself in process; translating a transient idea into something tangible.

Excerpted from Playboy

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