Artist Statement

Sonja Rivett-Carnac at Portrait 100 Exhibition

Each individual holds a gift - their Uniqueness. When their inner world surfaces it traces a journey, finding expression in a glance, gesture, attitude and character. I enjoy searching for these subtleties of the individual.

A portrait reflects infinite intricacies - memories, dreams, fears, hardships, courage, and so much more ... I aim to capture some of this.

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.Oscar Wilde



Sonja's studio cornerPhoto courtesy of Herman Agenbag

Working in oils since 2003, Sonja’s successfully completed numerous commissions, including posthumous portraits from black and white photographs.

She received recognition as a Top 40 Finalist in the 2019 Sanlam Portrait Award, and Top 100 Finalist in 2017.

Sonja began learning traditional oil painting techniques with Christopher Ruthven in 2001, followed by classes with Marcelle Lyons (oils and watercolours). Her passion for portrait painting grew and while working on private commissions she participated in a Life Group with fellow artists (2004 – 2008). During the next two years she broadened her skills through Ceramic Sculpture classes with Delise Reich at Michaelis School of Fine Art (2008 – 2010), modelling heads in clay.

Sonja’s been a member of the South African Society of Artists (SASA) since 2002 and participated in 11 of their Annual Exhibitions (after a judging process) and 8 Merit Exhibitions.

She’s also a member of the Constantiaberg Art Society (CAS) and enjoys weekly life painting sessions as a member of The Artists’ Co-operative in Observatory.

Her artworks are in South Africa, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, the USA, Canada and Kazakhstan.

In 2012 Sonja married Marc (aka Boris) Rivett-Carnac. She lives and works in Cape Town.



Studio:Observatory, Cape Town
Tel:+27 (0)21 447 2073
Cell:+27 (0)82 870 1020
FaceBook:Sonja Rivett-Carnac Portrait Painter

Upcoming Exhibitions


23 August - 23 October 2019:
TOP 40 Exhibition - SANLAM PORTRAIT AWARD 2019 at Rust-en-Vrede Gallery, Durbanville

9 - 25 September 2019:
CONSTANTIABERG ART SOCIETY - 2019 SPRING EXHIBITION at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (Richard Crowie Hall)

30 September - 10 October 2019:
SASA ANNUAL EXHIBITION 2019 at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (Richard Crowie Hall)




  • Top 40 Finalist – 2019 Sanlam Portrait Award
    for “Spoonful of Comfort”
  • Commendation – SASA 2018 Annual Exhibition
    for “Lily”, Oil
  • Finalist – 2018 Tollman Bouchard Finlayson Tondo Competition
    for “Favourite Armchair Tracks”
  • 3rd runner-up – SA Artist magazine “Big Painting Challenge #4”
    for “Writing on the Wall”
  • 2nd place – SASA 2017 Eleanor Palmer Competition
    for “Joy – An Enigma”
  • 5th place – CAS “My Best Painting” 2017 Competition
    for “Happy Day!”
  • Top 100 Finalist – 2017 Sanlam Portrait Award
    for “Joy – An Enigma”
  • Honourable Mention – SA Portrait Society 2017 Living Portrait Master Competition
    for “Mama Angie”
  • Commendation – SASA 2015 Annual Exhibition
    for “See me in a Different Light (13 faces)”, Oil
  • Highly Commended – SASA 2010 Annual Exhibition
    for “Madonna Mirage”, Mixed Media