Swiss Ndebele demonstration in collaboration with Sophia Beeler playing violin and kalimba

I’m delighted to share an updated version of my Swiss-Ndebele video in collaboration with a highly talented young musician, Sophia Beeler. Sophia is a musicology student at the University of Bern. She has Swiss-South-African roots and grew up in a village close to my hometown. We’ve known each other for about 10 years now and I am thrilled that she agreed to complement my painting with her talent!


Traditional Ndebele art was painted with natural pigments onto walls. We can draw or paint our artwork with anything from colour pencils, markers, watercolour, acrylic or oil paint. For this project, I used Molotow acrylic markers and fineliners on smooth surface heavyweight paper.


Use an HB pencil to draw a grid of 7 x 4 squares. On an A4 page, start your first line 1 cm from the edge. Draw further lines, the width of your ruler (38mm). Then draw perpendicular lines of the exact same width. Mark the center square. Now connect the outer top left corner of the centre square with the outer left corner of the second  top square. Repeat this step from the top right corner of the center square to the top right corner of the second last square. Repeat these steps with the bottom corners of the center square. Now draw parallel lines diagonally throughout the grid.


Note down 4 to 8 keywords of things, situations or people that are currently relevant to you. Now choose shapes or simple symbolic pictures to represent these keywords. Keep it as simple as possible, you could even use or adapt emojis or icons.

Design and create

Consider which keyword-symbol you would like to place in the center of this artwork.

Start by drawing any lines along the grid guidelines, starting from the center, within one half of the picture. Attempt to mirror the same lines on the opposite half of the picture. Play with the lines, combine them to geometrical shapes. Continue in this way, always considering where the other symbols might belong. Once you have placed all symbols, start filling the shapes with vibrant colour. Remember to erase pencil lines where you want to use light or transparent colours. Sometimes leave a small white edge between the black lines and colour fields.

Enjoy the creative process!

What is Swiss-Ndebele?

The Ndebele Tribe in South Africa already developed an excellent creative method of contemplating their life issues centuries ago.

As a part of my training as an adult educator in 2013, I developed Swiss-Ndebele as a new course concept for our school.

The paint course combines characteristics of the tribal Ndebele art from my country of birth with art elements which I acquired through my art education in Switzerland. It can be used as a tool to reflect on life and circumstances in our never-ending process of (re)defining our identity.

Although my roots are in South Africa, I am not an Ndebele. I do not have the “right” to consider this painting method my own. I use it in great respect of the tribe who first created it. My interpretation of the Ndebele Art is a mere reflection of my love for the simple forms and vibrant colours and the impact it had on my childhood.

Try out this meditative technique. You don’t need any experience or knowledge of painting to create an Ndebele artwork. A picture that can reflect this moment, a tool for contemplation and a great way of relaxing.

© Copyright - Michelle Ringeisen