Sonia Penaranda.


Words by Sam Rakestraw

There’s always been something magical about water. The way sound and light reflect off it, the replenishing feeling when drank, the crisp color and movements or the ethereal like space one enters when sailing on it. Since she was a young girl in Colombia, Sonia Penaranda sailed the waves of the Atlantic and Pacific. 

When Sonia paints water, boats appear as motifs. It’s nothing extravagant like an ocean liner, but small humble rowboats that one would see themselves sitting in the empty seat lapping along the waves. They’re similar to the ones Sonia grew up sailing. The bodies of water she creates are from imagination, stretching the calming hue of blue wherever she pleases on the canvas. Because of this, Sonia prefers open water as opposed to limited bodies of water such as a lake. However, she always stops to admire the beauty and reflect what emotions they invoke in her. 

Since moving from Colombia 25 years ago, Sonia has been to all the major coastal cities studying architecture and taking inspiration from sea to shining sea, like New York, Los Angeles, Boston and now the Lakeshore city of Chicago. The study of boats also has her hooked. “When you’re sailing, you’re at the mercy of the wind,” says Penaranda, “You need to understand both the water and the wind. It’s always peaceful calm after the storm. That’s what so great about sailing.”