Louis Maqhubela’s early works were images of figures, religious characters, animals, birds and town scenes – in watercolour, crayon, or collage. In 1966, Maqhubela won the “Artists of Fame and Promise” prize, which included a trip to Europe; and this was to significantly influence his work. Meeting many other artists there, he also found new kinds of expression. One artist who especially impressed and influenced him was Douglas Portway, whom he met in England.
Maqhubela began using oil paints, on paper as well as on canvas. He produced a series of semi-abstract works, at first, with line drawings still suggesting human or animal forms over dark tones, and vivid flashes of pure colour. But by 1971, the transformation in his works became more complete. He began to create purely abstract compositions, layered with complex overlapping shapes and lines. His technique often involved adding colour upon colour, and then scratching down almost to the surface of the paper or canvas.