Ilona Petzer: Flowing, Colorful Paintings

By Cassie Rief in Featured Artists > Watercolor Paintings

Ilona Petzer is a native of Nelspruit, a capital of the Mpumalanga province in South Africa. Her artistic career began not with a pencil or paintbrush, as many might guess, but with ballet shoes and a love of Spanish dancing.

Ilona’s gracefulness acquired from dance translates beautifully on paper, in the fluidity and soft curves of each line, her smooth color transitions, and the swell of emotion she portrays in each piece.

Birth of Venus is a watercolor piece that contains light hues of lollipop pink and tangerine. Ilona painted a loose frame with these powdery colors, drawing the eye in and helping the viewer to really explore the focal point of the painting—the organic, curving structure of a single conch seashell.


Etchings of other seashells and a dragonfly mimic the fine lines encrusting the shell, relics earned by tossing and turning into other shells and abrasive sand throughout its tumultuous life.

What better medium than watercolor to represent the life of a seashell spending much of its time in the depths of the ocean? The unexpected pop of royal purple lends a shimmery opulence to the fragile, finely pointed shell, while burnt oranges and stormy grays add depth to the painting, allowing its complexity to grow along with its dimension.

Joy Fleeting Moments is a monotype piece, created by painting on a smooth, non-absorbent surface and transferring that color onto paper through a printmaking process. You can see this technique through the textured, dry appearance of the paint and smudges left during the transfer process.


Multiple lines surround the figure depicting ongoing movement, a quick tempo, and happy, lively feelings. I like that the background is done in a color similar to the figure so as not to distract from her pirouette, completed in a second of pure adrenaline and happiness.

This piece hits home with me because it showcases Ilona beautifully, from her love of dance to her ability to transform onto paper how it makes her feel. This figure exudes light and grace all around her, and all else darkens in comparison—quite literally, as seen by the slate gray and teal walls framing her elegant pose.

Lastly, Buffalo is a richly colored oil painting showcasing the gorgeous contrast between the camouflaging tans and taupe’s of the wild grass, and the sheen of the buffalo’s hide.


The foliage in the background comes alive with deep, emerald and moss colors. Likewise, shadows along the buffalo’s underbelly are beautifully captured through alluring purples and blues.

The painting is a bit impressionistic, but tiny details, like the twigs in the forefront and background, as well as the buffalo’s facial expression, draw it a bit more into reality. The colors blend wonderfully without being overblended to the point of muddiness, and I admire the balance she found with each paint stroke.

Ilona has a wide array of artistic skills which are all reflected in her online portfolio. I hope you’ll take a minute today to view the rest of her work online and see exactly what I mean.


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