Tilly Willis


Born into a family of artists, I was brought up in rural SW England. Growing up in a creative household; my father sculpting and painting, occasional visits from my artist grandpa and my elder sister forging her career as a painter, all contributed to my own interest in art. I eventually went on to study Fine Art at The Byam Shaw in London in the 80s. Much of my work is influenced by my travels and over many years I have developed a deep love of Africa. Sketching quick portraits and painting outside always attracts attention and I grasp the opportunity, using my artistic skills, to meet people and to gain a deeper understanding of the places I visit. My love of Africa was borne in my 20’s on a visit to Kenya, bowled over by the vast landscapes and people. I went on to explore other countries and cultures, including Yemen, Russia, Madagascar and parts of W. Africa, keeping diaries, sketching and painting. These days, I spend time in Senegal with family in a fishing village, where I paint and immerse myself in African village life. Over time my African paintings have become commercially popular and are published worldwide in books, calendars, prints, cards and many education and charity publications. In 1996, I became a fellow of the RGS where I have since shown my paintings of Africa. At home in Somerset, working in oil or watercolour, the work I produce is varied. Local landscapes are an inspiration and when warm, I'll be in my garden or out in the fields, trying to capture the ever changing light. I also paint still life and enjoy juxtaposing unlikely objects to add a touch of humour. Portraiture has always been of great interest to me. I work to commission but equally enjoy painting friends, family and self-portraits. I work quickly to capture the essence of my sitter. I have exhibited with the RSPP and been shortlisted for the BP Portrait exhibition. In 2014 I took part in the Sky Portrait Artist competition. www.tillywillis.com