South African artist Lesley Martyn uses coloured pencil to create realistic drawings filled with brilliant color and fine detail. See more of her portfolio by visiting her website.
I was born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Our family relocated to South Africa when I was fourteen. As a child, I loved drawing—especially horses. Most of my friends in junior high remember me for the horses I would draw all over my school books. After I graduated high school, I attended Rhodes University. I obtained a degree in Industrial Psychology and Industrial Sociology, then worked in human resources and administration.
My art journey began at the end of 2017, when I attended a workshop by well known South African graphite artist Vincent Reid. He was holding a four session course in the basics of realistic drawing with graphite.
By the end of the course, we all convinced Vince to make it a regular thing and continued taking informal lessons in his studio once a week.
About six months after starting my workshops with Vincent, I discovered the world of coloured pencils. I was hooked. So far, I’ve learned everything I know about coloured pencils from following tutorials by artists such as Karen Hull, Lisa Ann Watkins, Victoria Manser, Deb Stanley and Bonny Snowden. I also joined the Coloured Pencil Community of Australasia (Australia, New Zealand and some neighboring islands.) I acted as their secretary until it closed.
A few months after I started using coloured pencil, I was approached by South African Artist Magazine to write a step-by-step article on drawing. My drawing of the famous Oyster Box Hotel cat “Skabenga” was chosen for their October 2018 front cover. Since then, I have entered a few online art competitions and have been fortunate to win awards.
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During the past twelve years, my husband and I have worked at a private game reserve in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. We’ve had a wonderful experience working with wildlife—even hand-rearing a few babies—springbuck, blesbuck, wildebeest and nyala to name a few!
We made the decision to do our own farming. At the end of 2018, we moved to a beautiful farm in the Eastern Cape Highlands. We raise the eye-catching indigenous Nguni cattle as well as South African Mutton Merino sheep. In between duties on the farm, I am fortunate to be able to pursue my art full-time. There is a never-ending source of fabulous material here to choose from.
I draw a variety of subjects and love to experiment with different papers. Currently, my main focus is on pet portrait commissions. I love the sense of fulfillment they bring me when I witness the pet owner’s reaction!
When drawing for myself or for exhibition work, I like to work in a realistic style, particularly on drafting film, using bright colours and focusing on the unique aspects of my subjects.
I’m part of a group of artists who have recently formed The Drawing Guild of South Africa. Our aim is to create awareness of the drawn medium in South Africa. We held our first exhibition “Degrees of Realism” in October of 2020. This was one of many we hope to host around the country. This was the first exhibition that my work was a part of, so it was a really big deal for me!
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