About the artist

Interview by Lianne Smuts (former student):

Elma is a remarkably creative woman. She paints, draws, composes music, sings, plays guitar, piano and wrote and performed four full-length musicals.  For the latter, she trained and coached ordinary people to sing and act! 

Elma shares her talents generously. She loves teaching and developing people to reach their full potential. She has the ability to change people’s perspective by using art and music as media. Her reward is seeing others thrive and find their own creativity and confidence.

She has sold in excess of 300 artworks, mostly on commission.

 I am curious to know where your talent for art started. What training have you had?

I never realised that I had a talent for art.  I enjoyed drawing from a young age – I did not realise it was different and seen by adults as exceptional.  My only intention was to create. I portrayed what I saw in my mind and it was only much later that I realised I had a unique creative talent.

As a child, I loved trying out different media so I drew with crayons, pencils, pastels – whatever I could lay my hands on.

I have never taken art classes.  What I wanted to know, I read up and often observed others with an intense eye for detail.

How will you describe your style of art?

 I love colour and contrast, but not in a disturbing way – I prefer a picture to be colourful, with good balance and composition.

 Every painting I have ever done carries a personal message.  Every stroke has meaning.  The world stops when I paint. I live in the picture I am busy on. 

Do you prefer to work with a specific medium?

 My favourite media are Acrylic, Oil, Pastels, Pencil and Charcoal, but I have also worked with ink, watercolours, oil and soft pastels. I enjoy the scope of digital art very much too.

You have a very unique approach when you teach art. Can you share that?

 My approach is “learn to see first”. You need to see the global picture and at the same time develop an eye for fine detail - notice the shadows, colour nuances, undertones and overtones, the direction of light, every line or curve, shapes, movement of composition, contrast and become aware of the framework in which you work. 

I have also developed a very unique course on teaching students to find clarity and focus and unlock their hidden potential within a very short period of time.

 I believe everybody is born creative.  But as the child grows up, pressure from external forces (school curriculums, parents, etc.) start inhibiting their creative abilities and prevent them from applying this in-born creativity.   

Your passion is to touch lives through your paintings and through your teaching.  Please comment on this.

Indeed! My passion is to speak through my art and my music, while also empowering others to find their own creativity.

“Elma you are undeniably a brilliant teacher, composer of music and creator of special artworks.  I loved every moment of my classes with you. Every one of your paintings speaks to my heart.  Doing this interview with you were a special experience” Lianne Smuts