Today, we’re talking with Teneal Kotzé, a “poetic painter” and art student who is unafraid of experimenting with different themes and mediums. We are excited to share her story with you, and welcome her to the #PeopleOfPaperblanks community. To see more from Teneal, be sure to check out her art profile on Instagram: @a_poetic_painter.

A Little Bit About Teneal

Name: Teneal Kotze
Age: 20
City: Pretoria, South Africa
Places: I have travelled through South Africa although there are still a lot of places I would love to see. I have travelled to Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia, which are neighbouring countries to South Africa.
Passions: Passions of mine include reading and writing and travelling to places with people who are important to me. International artists who have inspired me are Vincent van Gogh, Monet, Yoko Ono and South African artists who inspire me are Willem Boshoff, Carla Crawford and Guy du Toit.
Education/Training: I am entering my third year of Fine Arts at the University of Pretoria.
Occupation: Student
Creative Works: In 2016 my work was exhibited in the Venice Biennale in a group exhibition. The exhibition contained individually painted chairs containing a piece of South Africa [editor’s note: check out this review of the Teater Vol Stoele for more information].
Favourite Quote: My favourite quote is from the movie Mr. Right where Anna Kendrick says “I am a T Rex! I am invincible!”

2) We saw on Instagram that you recently began an account to showcase your art. What made you decide to start this profile?

I’ve always wanted to start an Instagram account and I finally decided on making a journal-type account. I would like to bring out a book containing different pieces of my art and poetry and some of these pieces are stored in a journal form. I guess the account is my way of sorting through some of my journal entries and making myself vulnerable to the world bit by bit.

3) What appeals to you about creating within an art journal?

I like creating in a journal because journals are easily transported. It is something I can throw into a bag and carry around with me so that I can create anywhere I go. I keep art journals as a type of diary where I document my everyday life. In university we are encouraged to keep visual journals to draw and document our surroundings. A lot of my bigger university projects have come from my art journals where I had one idea and then I could expand on it later. Not all my drawing and writing are perfect but that is where my inspiration stems from to create bigger pieces of art. It is a personal and safe environment to grow and discover without a lot of gawking eyes to judge your every brush stroke.

4) Elements of nature seem to play a big role in your art. What is it about plants and flowers that inspires you?

Living in South Africa we are surrounded by a lot of nature even when living in a big city. There is a nature reserve close to my house where I like to walk and draw inside of my journals. Nature has always been important to me. As a kid growing up we would always go on holiday in remote places where nature is the core theme and I think subconsciously it has always stuck with me. I see flowers as a personal symbol and I think it is something that will always appear in my art.

5) What other themes do you find yourself drawn to?

This last year I have worked a lot with the themes of loss and illness. My boyfriend was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis in February 2017 (he is one of the few to survive this illness) and that made me think a lot about mortality and how little time we really have on this earth. I like looking at personal experiences to inspire me in my creative process.

This is a hand crafted wood carving of a Kale (flower) crown that is symbolic to bacterial meningitis. Each type of flower and berry is edible and it is healthy in restoring the brain after going through physical trauma.

6) You create a lot of watercolours. How did you get into that medium?

I got into this medium about four years ago. My art teacher at school introduced it to me because at that time I only worked in acrylics and she wanted me to expand a little. It’s a nice medium to carry around when working in a journal because it’s also something that’s easily transported. Water-based mediums are my favourite because I do not have to wait for it to dry when I do layering.

7) Do you have any other mediums you like to work with?

There are so many to choose from! I like to expand and try out different mediums such as welding, acrylic painting, etching, etc as I go, but I would say for now wood carving and lino printing are mediums I like to work with.

8) Have you received any formal training in the arts?

Yes. This year I am starting my third year of Fine Arts at the University of Pretoria. I have always known I’d want to study art.

9) Has anyone, or anything, in particular inspired your creativity and artistic passion?

Different people have inspired me such as my parents, lecturers and friends. What inspired me most to create is personal experiences and the therapeutic nature behind it.

10) Other than creating visual art, what are your passions?

My other passion is drama – theatre and film. Although it is not something I do anymore, it is still something I support and like to catch up on. It is its own kind of art with its own challenges. And each text is just as complex as an artwork can be.

11) Any advice you would like to share with aspiring artists?

Advice I would give to aspiring artists is that everything is a learning process. Keep working and keep moving and you will get better. I was at an artist’s speech once (I can’t even remember his name) but what I do remember is that he told us this: Everybody makes bad art. The hard part is to keep making art and practicing until it becomes “good” art. Although good and bad art are irrelevant terms when it comes to art.

I think artists should always stay students and learn new mediums, discover new ideas and work in different environments because there is always something new to learn.

Would you like to share your art with the world, or do you have any artistic friends whose talents you think should be showcased? Message us on Facebook or send us your friend’s name to be featured on our Facebook page as part of our new #PeopleOfPaperblanks series.

About Paperblanks: 25 years ago, we created Paperblanks to help keep book heritage alive and vital in our modern age, and to offer an inspiring space for people to express themselves. Thanks for joining us on this journey! For more about Paperblanks, go to our website at


  1. Dear Teneal, your art is so beautiful, congratulations!

    If I may add a piece of advice too: if you plan to publish your work in book form, it’s better not to post those parts intended for print publishing on the internet beforehand, because editors won’t print anything that has already been published in any form, even if you take it down later on (at least, this is true for texts posted in blogs, (online) magazines, etc.; I don’t know exactly if the same applies to illustration, photographs and posting on instagram though). Exceptions may be collections from established writers/artists, for example short stories which have appeared in different magazines over the years (print and paying, most of the time). This is understandable – because why should they invest lots of money into work that anyone can read/look at for free?
    So be careful to only post pieces online which you don’t plan to include in the work you want to present to publishers.

    Please anyone correct me if this is not the case in all countries or for all art forms. I certainly don’t want to discourage anyone! Just a little caveat.

    Keep up the good work!
    Greetings, Ursula

    • We couldn’t agree more! I had a wonderful time chatting with Teneal and look forward to seeing what the future holds.

      Robyn and the Paperblanks Team


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