Art has become a way of life for Bantshwanetse Kebalepile, the 23-year-old who started being friends with a brush and paper from a tender age is now living her dream as a full time painter and the same job she finds joy in is the same one that pays her bills at the end of the month.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and her pictures and paintings have thus far managed to win so many people’s hearts. One look at her work and already a story runs through the mind of an admirer. She said her secret lies in her ability to see the ignored or overlooked beauty in the objects found deserted in our country.
“I enjoy travelling a lot and from these trips I always see beautiful nature and I get inspiration from this,” she said.
She added that what sets her apart from other artists is that when she draws, she makes sure that she concentrates on the little things that many people tend to ignore or take lightly especially about life. “Things like our culture, soil and attire are mostly not given expression by many artists, so I always focus all my energy on them and create new stories based on them,” she said.
Although Kebalepile doesn’t recall the exact date or day she started practicing her hobby, she is however convinced it was in her preschool days. “As much as I do not recall the days I started talking as a child, I also cannot remember the day I started painting but all I am told is that it has always been my favourite hobby from a very young age,” she said.
She explained that her magic on paper started getting recognition at junior school where she used to take part in different art competitions. “The more I got people’s attention and complements the more I got even more motivated to continue panting,” she said.
She further explained that coming from a family of artists also played a major role in her life. “I grew up watching my brothers Molaakgosi and Taolo telling stories through pictures they drew, all this was fascinating and the love for drawing they had rubbed on me and I also wanted to be like them when I grew up,” she said.
Kebalepile mentioned that her brothers’ constant support and mentoring made her stronger each day but most importantly made her realise that it takes patience and determination for one’s dream to finally materialise. It was in 2012 when Kebalepile moved from Ghanzi to Gaborone where she started growing her craft as an artist and registered herself as a member of Thapong visual arts.
“I started competing on various important recognised competitions which were hosted by both Thapong and other companies and within weeks I had already made a mark as being one of the best,” she said.
Although being a woman in a craft mostly considered as a man’s work has never de-moralised Kebalepile, she added that she has however learnt to stand her ground as a woman artist. “Sometimes I encouter problems where people doubt that I am the one who did the portraits because it will somehow be extra beautiful, but most times all I get are happy faces which encourage me to continue making magic,” she said.
Her wish as an artist is to see her work being recognised not only locally but also on different international platforms.