Born and raised in the South Eastern Transvaal of South Africa, Martjie was in a place surrounded by some of the most beautiful habitat of this country. It is a place where many of South Africa’s top artists choose to live. Having also grown up in an atmosphere of art, music and literature appreciation, her love for the artis and all things beautiful were firmly established.
Martjie’s talent and artistic abilities were recognised by her community at young age resulting in regular commissions for portraiture, as early as high school. One of these early portrait commissions was a portrait of C. J. Langenhoven, writer and intellectual who write the words to the first national anthem. Prints, with the words of the anthem added, was made and distributed to the schools. One eventually graced the walls of the South African Embassy in France.
In addition to her early career in portraiture she continued in her expanded studies of the arts. She gained a reputation for her fine art pencil drawings combining abstract and surrealistic forms with realism. In 1988 some of these pencil works was represented in a nationally televised exhibition at the exclusive Aleta Michaletos Gallery in Pretoria. The exhibition, called “A World Beyond Our Vision”, explored the “religious, spiritual and mystical as expressed through art” and featured prominent South African artists like Judith Mason-Attwood, Bettie Cilliers-Barnard and the late Maud Sumner.
Furthermore, her family encouraged her to explore a professional career in music as she is a gifted musician as well. She obtained a Bachelor of music degree from Pretoria University with piano as main instrument and flute as second instrument. Tenor saxophone also became a great love in later years. In 1999 she was one of the ad hoc players for the New Arts Philharmonic’s celebration of Duke Ellington at which American pioneer saxophonist James Houlik was the soloist.
During her student years Martjie received private tuition from Carl Jeppe, well-known South African artist, art lecturer and longtime board member of the South African Art Association. A foundation and love for good drawing was laid in this time. Mr Jeppe has the following to say about Martjie’s work: “Martjie’s portraits are a sensitive blend of talent, discipline, experience and compassion. She is brilliant.” She further augmented her studies with painting and drawing courses at the University of South Africa.
Through the years Martjie has executed hundreds of portrait commissions for people all over South Africa as well as overseas. People like prof. Nick Wiehahn ( recipient of the State President’s Medal for his contribution to the changes in the eventual Labor laws in South Africa) and many others commissioned her. American musician , James Houlik, the world’s foremost classical saxophonist , has also requested a pencil drawing of himself. Martjie has, on request of the public relations department of the previous police Force, done a portrait of former minister of Law and Order, Adriaan Vlok. In 1993 Martjie was featured in a coffee table book “Contemporary Artists of Pretoria”.
In 2000 she relocated to the USA and resided in San Diego California. During this time she did portrait workshops in the Metropolitan Museum of New York under some of the top portrait artists of the world like John Howard-Sandon, David Leffel from the Art Student’s League in New York and Richard Schmidt. She also studied at Studio Incamminati in Philadelphia under world reknowned Nelson Shanks who painted people like Pope John Paul II, Diana Princess of Whales, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher and Pavarotti. Studio Incamminati attempts to move modern art in the direction of a” progressive realism”. This means the artworks are inspired by classical principles yet incorporated with modern ideas.
During this time Martjie was promoted successfully by and worked in close affiliation with Timmons Galleries, a unique gallery in the heart of Rancho Santa Fe. Here she gained a good reputation in the difficult field of portraiture. Quoting Leigh Timmons, owner of the gallery; “Martjie is extremely talented,” says Timmons, ” and is gifted in capturing the individual spirits of her subjects on canvass……the results are always incredible.” Ranch and Coast Magazine, Febr 2004.
Since her time in Southern California, Martjie has had tremendous success with large scale and life size family portraits, as well as single and sibling portraits. Her loose impressionistic style complements any variety of California interiors. She has also twice been commissioned to paint Sammy Nestico who has composed and arranged some of the greatest American music of all time. He has done work for Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Columbia, MGM, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Bing Crosby, Quincy Jones and Liza Minelli . The first portrait of Sammy was commissioned by FAME ( Foundation to advance Music Education) and the second was commissioned by the “Big Band And Jazz Hall of Fame” who presented the painting to Sammy at a 2003 tribute concert of his work. This impressionistic rendering of Sammy conducting the youth group, the Band in Black, is now used by Sammy on the opening page of his official website.
In 2008 Martjie returned to South Africa. In 2009 Tswane University honoured mrs Graca Machel, wife of Nelson Mandela, with an Honorary Doctorate and commissioned Martjie to do a portrait of her. This was presented to mrs Machel at the graduation ceremony. In the same year the Gary Player Group asked her to execute a portrait of mr. Player for the yearly GPI tournament held at Fancourt George on the famous Links Golf Course, home of the 2003 President’s Cup. Mr. Player is one of the greatest golfers of all times who has won the Masters, the British Open, The US Open and the PGAChampionship. The GPI series takes place in the USA, Europe, Asia and South Africa and is aimed at raising funds for children’s charities worldwide. The painting was sold for a R100 000 and was bought by dr. Hasso Plattner, owner of Fancourt. Dr. Plattner is co-founder of SAP (Systems, Applications, Products) – the world’s leading provider of enterprise software solutions integrating processes. In 1998 he was also inducted into the German Hall of Fame and was ranked by Time Magazine(Europe) on its list of most important and influential IT personalities.
Early in 2016 Martjie was commissioned by the international company TMM Holdings to paint their owner Mario Jose Andrade Ferreira. In 2012 mr Ferreira was honoured by the president of Portugal with the Order of Merit. Later that same year she was commissioned by Jonathan Ball Publishers, the largest Publishing company in SA, to paint their owner and CEO mr Jonathan Ball. Mr. Ball also later commissioned Martjie to paint his beautiful late wife, Pam Ball.
Pretoria Boys’ High School, rated as one of the best schools in the word, has commissioned Martjie to paint two of their former headmasters, namely Mr. Bill Schroder and Mr. Tony Reeler. The portrait of Mr. Schroder was used by the Jonathan Ball Publishers as the cover for Mr. Schroder’s memoirs.
Martjie is currently living in Pretoria South Africa where she has her painting studio. She also holds a teaching position at Roedean, the exclusive private school for girls in Johannesburg where she teaches piano.