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Self Portrait of the artist Nik Courtney drawn with ballpoint and acrylic pens


I remember the summer before my daughter started reception back in 2019, we were filling in a booklet sent by her teacher – ‘All about me’. There was a space on the last page for her to draw a self-portrait. She jumped up and took the paper to her little desk and eagerly set to work. She has always enjoyed creating art in various media, I’m so impressed at how, even from a very young age of 2, she’s been able to draw something with such confidence. My phone is filled with thousands of photos of her drawings, paintings and sculptures. A while later she showed me her self-portrait, her little face beaming with delight at having created her masterpiece. It took me back to my school days when I enjoyed art lessons and remembered the feeling of finishing a drawing or painting. My dad was an artist back then too, I can see him now up in the attic listening to the Walker Brothers, adding the finishing touches to the oil painting he was working on for his art degree. We used to go out drawing and painting together by the river.

While life after those idyllic days took me in other directions, it must have been fate that, twenty years later, after having proudly pinned up my girl’s self-portrait in the centre of her art display, that I stumbled across a YouTube tutorial on portrait drawing. I was hooked. I ordered a mechanical pencil and kneadable eraser, dug out an old sketch book, and set to work on a portrait of my girl using one of my favourite photos of her as reference.

Being a full-time mum it took well over a month of drawing in the evenings for me to complete it but when I did finish it all those old feelings came rushing back, the best feeling ever knowing that I had created something special, something that no one else could create because it was done in my style, my way, with my heart and soul. When I posted my portrait on Facebook it got a great reaction and a few people suggested I should make a living from it.  The rest, as they say, is history.


First realistic portrait of the artist Nik Courtney's daughter. Drawn in pencil

First ever portrait - my girl

Now I’m still very much a dedicated mum, but during those hours my daughter is at school I’m living the dream. I’m a Portrait Artist. I get such a buzz from it….I just love bringing life to eyes with each mark, watching an expression emerge with each tiny detail, and seeing a story unfold with every layer. 

Life before I became a portrait artist


After working exceptionally hard for my degree in Astrophysics and a PGCE in Education, I went on to teach secondary science. While it was an enjoyable time I wasn’t ready to settle down and felt the urge to travel. So I decided to embark on a voluntary teaching placement in Malawi, before travelling around Southern Africa, South east Asia and the United States. After spending all my money I came home and having reassessed my options I plucked up the courage to see a HM Forces Recruitment Officer, which ended up being the start of a career serving as a Royal Naval Officer in Engineering Training Management. I’m very proud to have contributed to the training of amazing sailors both here in the UK and in Iraq. After leaving the Navy I met my wonderful husband and a couple of years later we were a family of three.



As a teacher, Naval Officer, Mum and Portrait Artist I’m very calm, caring and patient; dedicated, focussed and resolute. I’m extremely resilient and believe that anyone can achieve anything with a positive mindset and a willingness to step outside of their comfort zone. I’m a huge believer in following your passions in life… is short and we have to make the most of it. Well that's my serious side anyway, I do also have another less serious, more mischievous and adventurous side.... a bit cheeky, always up for a laugh, will try anything once, I love exploring new places, and it has been remarked on occasions that I lack a fair amount of common sense. This might explain why I'm incredibly accident prone. Honestly, I'm such a clutz......I've been hospitalised (including having been airlifted and rescued by firefighters) several times....I drop things all the time, things fall on me all the time, and I've fallen/run/bumped/crashed into/over/under/off so many different things including, but not limited to: horses, doors, stairs, tables, chairs, cars, bikes skateboards, a moped, a golf buggy, a field gun, a shopping trolley, a barbecue and an ostrich!

Photo of the artist Nik Courtney when she was a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy

Lieutenant Nik Tiebosch

as I was known in the Navy

Fun facts/Hobbies


I’m a twin – my brother will always be my first ‘other half’

I absolutely love a nice cup of freshly ground coffee but can’t stand tea

My favourite colour is orange (as if you couldn’t tell from the colour scheme of this website!)

My playlist ‘music to listen to whilst drawing’ consists mostly of 80s rock music

My favourite book in the whole world is ‘A Brief History of Time’ by Stephen Hawking

In my younger days I used to do kick boxing and later boxing….I have a punch bag at home and my brother says I have a mean right hook!

I do yoga every day, it helps keep me fit and grounded. My ultimate goal is to do a handstand scorpion pose without falling on my face!

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