Meet the Artist: Kendall-Leigh Nash


Cape Town evidently boasts a colony of artists, as this month’s featured artists also calls the Mother City home.

Kendall-Leigh Nash tells me about her journey to becoming an artist and her exploration of subject matter: “Honestly, my journey started from as early as I can remember.

As a child, I always loved drawing and painting. My mom is very creative and I grew up seeing her paint and make things and I guess this inspired me to do the same. I’ve dabbled in a few subject matters. I still absolutely love wildlife and will probably continue to create odd pieces here and there. The botanical element has just sort of stuck.

I tried to venture out into different mediums and subjects to test myself and find my ‘thing’, but the botanical subject brings me so much joy as I go out and take the photos myself. The act of doing this and being in nature is my form of meditation. Finding new ways to see existing things, inspire me and remind me to listen and pay attention. To be close to nature is something I actively seek out.

Portraiture was something that interested me when I worked as a photographer for a media company, we took beautiful photos of models, actors and personalities. I got to meet and be creative with people and this inspired my art. Having left the company, my focus just changed and I found inspiration in new places.”

Having been a photographer myself, I was quite interested to find out how Kendall-Leigh thought photography impacted her art. 

She was a full time photographer for 7 years at a media company and did all sorts of photography; product, fashion, food, décor, portraiture, travel and landscape.

“I’m currently pursuing my art career as my main focus and practice as a freelance photographer part time. But my knowledge and love of photography started as a child too. I got my first film camera at 11 years old. My family and I would go camping and we’d have photography competitions between the cousins. We were given tasks by our parents and we’d go out and try and fulfill the brief in the most creative way. Looking back, a great idea to get us out of our parents’ hair for a few hours. But my interest started there and I continued this into varsity where I received my Art degree, specialising in photography.

Photography has deeply moved me and definitely inspired my drawings. The focus on light and understanding how it works and how effective it can be-is one of the main driving forces behind the photos I choose to create.”

Kendall-Leigh’s unique experience of light and shadow is so evident in her striking black and white botanical pieces.  The contrast creates so much visual interest and the scale is large and eye-catching.  Her art seems to fill and dominate a room.

With a newborn at home, Kendall-Leigh admits that its a tricky adjustment and she is still navigating this new journey as an artist mom.  She works from home and shares her drawing space with her little one.  Doing both commissions and her own work, Kendall-Leigh tells me that there is little structure to her day at the moment and she draws when she can, squeezing her work in between nap times.

Her favourite medium is charcoal and pastel. She has also recently been experimenting with pan pastels, which she loves for blending!

“Paper wise, well, I usually go for bamboo or Fabriano and around 300gsm.”

Stalking through her Instagram feed I ask her about the beautiful brightly coloured pieces sporadically interspersed with her signature monochrome pieces.

“The brightly coloured paintings you see on my Instagram page, are a part of that journey to self-discovery as an artist and as mentioned previously, my way of finding my ‘thing’. I loved creating these pieces and it gives me a lot of freedom and sometimes just a welcome change from monochrome.

My focus currently is the monochrome botanical drawings, but I’m sure I’ll need to break away and add a splash of colour again at some point.”

Google Kendall-Leigh Nash and a whole host of results pop up.  She must be doing something right! Her answer makes me think…

“I can’t really give advice regarding social media and marketing, as I feel this is an area I could improve. I guess, just consistency and being visible. Again, this is something I need to work on. It’s been a weird journey with social media and marketing, because I can see the importance of putting yourself out there and a few opportunities have come my way because of it, but it’s also something you can get bogged down by. So it’s a fine line, promoting your work but not relying on it to be a gauge for your value as an artist is key.”

This is surely one of the most valuable answers I’ve received to date – be consistent, be visible, but do not allow social media to be your measure of your own worth.  I love that.

Thank you Kendall-Leigh – for your candid answers and rock-solid advice.  Enjoy your journey as both mom and artist – we look forward to seeing what you create next…