Artist shelves degree to create master portraits


By Kefiloe Kajane

More and more young people in Lesotho are tapping into their natural talents and skills as a source of income to provide for their families and beat the vicious cycle of employment.

One such youth is Thabiso Motsamai a professional portrait drawer who hails from artist from Thaba-Bosiu in Maseru.

Portrait painting is a genre in painting, where the intent is to represent a specific human subject. The term ‘portrait painting’ can also describe the actual painted portrait. Portraitists may create their work by commission, for public and private persons, or they may be inspired by admiration or affection for the subject. Portraits often serve as important state and family records, as well as remembrances.


Motsamai – a sociology and democracy graduate from the National University of Lesotho – decided not to pursue career in his field of study but put his artistic gift to good use.

In an interview with theReporter, Motsamai said he has always been good at drawing and only got better and better with each year that passed.

In fact, he continued doing a lot of drawing even when he was still at varsity; he would make portraits and make good money, hence he decided this was the line he wanted to follow for the rest of his life.

Motsamai has painted many prominent personalities in the country and that largely contributed to him becoming who he is today.

“However, it is tough being a portrait artist in a country like Lesotho where people are always complaining my pricing just because they do not understand or appreciate art and its meaning and value.

“I do appreciate the support that I get, though, in the face of challenges of having to educate people about how I price my work and staff.

“When you have the love for something, it does not matter what you encounter; you just push and move forward. I believe I can make any type of portrait art – you just explain the face you want me to draw and I do it,” Motsamai said.

He uses pencil, acrylic, pastel and coloured pencil to make his drawings, in addition to drying out oil. He says his biggest achievement would be owning his private gallery where he can showcase all his work, especially to tourists.

Motsamai’s work can be found at Cura home industries with Pioneer Mall.