We often drive through the artsy and quaint town of Robertson, and it’s become a tradition to stop at the beautiful and inviting Robertson Art Gallery (on Voortrekker Road). On one such occasion I saw the most captivating, soul-touching painting: a portrait of a woman by Marittie de Villiers. For some reason I did not buy it there and then, and I regretted it for quite some time. It was sold soon after I saw it. However, it all turned out for the better and what followed was such an amazing experience!

I contacted Marittie, asking her if she would be willing to do a painting that is similar to the one I saw in Robertson. We started talking and I told her what captivated me the most about her work is how her portraits show what it means to be a woman: there is a sense of strength and vulnerability in each face she paints. Marittie’s work is bold, she uses big brush strokes and a variety of colours. Her work is large and impressive, some on canvasses of 2 x 2 meters. It hypnotises you, you cannot help but stare in wonderment. But if you look closely, you see the softness, love and passion she pours into every stroke and drop of paint. What stands out about her portraits is that the faces do not really look like anyone specific; one can see a piece of yourself in any of her painting. And what is even more mesmerising, is that the background kind of absorbs the foreground, seducing you to look a little bit closer and a little bit deeper. Marittie paints soulful eyes that enchant you with their rawness. To say I love her work is, an understatement.

One of Marittie’s portraits inspired by me, called Sira.

Here comes the great part: Marittie said she wanted to use me as inspiration for her upcoming exhibition. I was over the moon! As a model, you are more of a coat hanger and this was an amazing opportunity to be a muse. I was so excited to see her work her magic! Knowing her work and style I knew it was going to be spectacular. She invited me to her home in Gordon’s Bay where I sat on the sofa with all her dogs on my lap, and we chatted like old friends. Marittie looks like a fairy from a children’s book, her smiling face framed by wild black hair. Her free spirit was so refreshing and her laugh contagious. Like me, she’s done quite a bit of traveling and she is also an avid yogi. We talked about life – my story, her story, and about her beautiful work. She then took some photos of me to work from and I think she started painting the minute I left.

After just two weeks Marittie sent me my painting. She named it Annecy, after the little town in France I told her about. She used hues of blue and softer creamier colours to create a serene atmosphere. This is the backdrop for the strong, raw face looking straight at you. Bold eyebrows frame big, blue eyes, and a red mouth just adds a pop of colour and vulnerable cheekiness. Again, what really stands out for me, is the fact that the foreground and background blend together to become one beautiful whole. Like humans, we are a blend of our past and of our future, of vulnerability and of strength. Marittie has the ability to perfect this balance because she pours her heart and soul into every painting.

My painting: Annecy, by Marittie.

On Thursday 6 April, Marittie’s work was featured at YoungBlood’s exhibition titled “Visage”, in Cape Town, as part of the famous First Thursdays. On the first Thursday of every month, you “can explore all the art galleries and cultural attractions in Cape Town.” The city came alive with people buzzing in and out of shops, galleries and restaurants; music and excitement hung heavy in the air. It was here that Marittie’s latest work, inspired by moi, adorned the walls. In total there were about 4 paintings inspired by me, and it was quite surreal seeing “myself” so big (the one painting was 1.4 x 1.7 meters). Marittie had some of her other work there as well, and each and every painting was as strong and striking as the next. We spent the evening drinking champagne, chatting, listening to live music – all this while surrounded by beautiful art and interesting people.

Marittie de Villiers and I with one of her paintings (A Bird Called Now) inspired by me, at her YoungBlood exhibition.

I want to thank Marittie for our beautiful painting (which hangs proudly in our home above our bed). And thank you for having me as your muse! It was such a fun and inspiring experience!

I urge you to go have a look at her work on her website and to keep in touch with her regarding upcoming exhibitions. She is such an inspiring woman and artist. And may we all live as her paintings: bold and strong, yet vulnerable and raw.

Love and light,

Katryn