Ilse De Villiers
Tzaneen; Limpopo, South Africa
Ilse was born in Durban, South Africa and grew up in KwaZulu-Natal, mostly in Pietermaritzburg, and presently lives with her family in Tzaneen, Limpopo Province.
“Although I was always considered relatively talented and always enjoyed drawing, my artistic abilities were never really recognized, nor was I ever encouraged to pursue art”, says Ilse.
Making a career as an artist wasn’t even part of her wildest dreams.
She acquired her teaching degree in 1986 & got married with the love of her life in March 1987. Ilse’s husband Abraham had an Agricultural degree & they was soon involvement in the family farm where they spent their first years & also started their family.
After a very tragic incident, and desperate to keep herself busy, Ilse found creative expression in the latest craft craze (fabric paints). She found painting therapeutic & and began spending more and more of her time surrounded by paints & fabrics. “And in a very roundabout way, that was the beginning of my life story as an artist”.
Relocating to Northern Kwazulu Natal they befriended the Ithala Game Reserves management & one of them asked if she would mind painting them a lion. “In fact, that was my very first wildlife art commission!” Ilse was very reluctant at first and clearly told her first client, “I don’t paint animals”-But she was pleasantly surprised by how satisfied she was with the result and, as they say: “The rest is history”.
In 1998, Ilse bought her first “serious” art materials: canvases and professional-quality acrylics. “Slowly, I made the transition from casual painting-for-fun to the realistic depiction of wildlife”.
“I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist and painting animals exactly as they are in nature has always been my mission”. Ilse has come a long way since 1998, and “I’m now very proud of how my technique has developed and my style has grown”.
To this day Ilse still hasn’t had any professional art-school training, “Although I would have loved to have had that opportunity, I know my path to become an artist happened exactly the way it happened for a reason”. That reason is that her work is pure ILSE, never influenced by anyone else’s ideas or judgment of what is “right or wrong” or “acceptable or not”. “I truly paint from the heart”.
Ilse finds inspiration in special scenes and settings of wildlife in the wild or through photos of wild animals. LIGHT, specifically the contrast between sun and shade “stirs and excites me and makes me run for my canvas and brushes”. Although she works from photographs as reference in her studio, “The animals on my canvas have to be ALIVE!”
.In 2008, Ilse had her first opportunity to show her work abroad & exhibited at the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) held annually in Charleston, SC
She showed at SEWE from 2008-2016 & has many fond memories of Charleston & SEWE. She has also shown her work at the Safari Club International Michigan Chapter, and at the annual wildlife art show Natureworks in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Since 2017 she annually exhibits her work at the Dallas Safari Club Convention- Dallas; Texas.
I’m proud to say that I have managed to build a solid client base over the years, both in South Africa and abroad…And every year I have the privilege to add a few names to this great group of wonderful & loyal clients who support me in all I do.
A doting animal lover, from family pets to wild animals everywhere, Ilse is a member of AFC-Artists for Conservation and has on numerous occasions donated paintings to be auctioned off to raise funds for different Conservation projects she cares about.
It is Ilse’s belief that artists can make a huge difference in making people aware of conservation and the plight of different species on our planet.
And lastly: “I can truly say I love doing what I do. Since becoming a full-time wildlife artist, I’ve found total fulfillment. I know without a doubt that this was what I was born to do.”