Holocaust survivor and artist; Born September 19, 1921; Died December 11, 2007. Marianne Grant, who has died aged 86, survived three concentration camps largely thanks to a prodigious artistic talent. The title of a book she wrote in her 81st year, I Knew I Was Painting for My Life, starkly summed up her experience of being ordered to sketch death camp prisoners by the notorious SS doctor Josef Mengele.

Arriving at Auschwitz, Grant watched as grey-and-blue- striped figures ran around collecting the dead from cattle wagons. All her clothes were taken on a bitterly cold day. "We walked in front of these men, these officers," she recalled. "There was one with a whip whom I knew later on was Mengele. He showed you to the right or left."

It was Mengele who decided which new arrivals at the camp should immediately be gassed, who should be allowed to live and who would end up as victims of his gruesome experimental work. For the man dubbed "the Angel of Death" by inmates, dwarves held particular interest, and he ordered Grant to draw the family tree of one of the dwarf families in black ink.

The next time Grant was summoned, Mengele had acquired an architect's tool kit which he gave her to redraw the family tree in a more formal way. "Of course, he was walking up and down like a pendulum and I was petrified," she remembered. "I was shaking. If I had made a mistake I would have been finished. I knew I was painting for my life."

Grant was born in Prague in 1921 and was a relative of Franz Kafka, her uncle being married to the great existentialist author's sister. Her father died in 1938 and the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia the following year.

She and her mother lived in the city's Jewish ghetto but were eventually transferred to the Theresienstadt labour camp. On three occasions her mother was placed on the cattle trucks taking inmates to Auschwitz-Birkenau, only for Grant to free her. But the fourth time the call came, nothing could be done, so Grant opted to follow her mother to Poland.

At Auschwitz-Birkenau, as well as the family lineage he demanded, Mengele also ordered Grant to draw twins. Despite her uses to the notorious scientist, she was kept on a starvation diet. Asked later how she survived, she said: "To tell you the truth, I never was a big eater food was obviously very scarce and I could probably cope with the little food you got."

Nevertheless, she was once saved from desperate hunger and illness by an SS guard who found her food and medical help in gratitude for a book of pictures she had produced for his family. Grant spent seven months at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she also painted a children's block with an illustration depicting the youth of the world. This was recreated from memory a decade ago at the Yad Vashem memorial in Israel.

As the war neared its end, Grant and her mother were sent as part of a labour gang to the area around Hanover, before being sent on to Bergen-Belsen. By the spring of 1945, typhus was rife in the camp. In the surrounding chaos, Grant was able to paint and produced some of her most powerful images. One work depicted a pile of prisoners either dead or dying from disease or malnutrition; it now hangs in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow.

After just 10 days in the camp, Belsen was liberated by the Allies. Grant, who could speak English, became an interpreter with the British Army. In her new role, she even once got to dance with the hero of El Alamein, Field Marshall Montgomery.

At least 22 members of her family died in the Holocaust, although her mother survived and, following the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, the pair travelled with aid from the Red Cross to Sweden. They spent several years in Malmo before a friend put them in touch with a family in Glasgow. Her husband-to-be was a lodger with the family; the pair became pen-friends before meeting and finally marrying in 1951.

The Grants settled in Battlefield and began a family before moving to Newton Mearns when Jack became a minister at the local synagogue. Although she brought her artworks to Scotland with her, for half a century they lay in a trunk at her home. But, in 2002, the Kelvingrove Gallery displayed her pictures, filmed an interview about her experiences and published a book about her life and works, entitled I Knew I Was Painting for My Life.

In the book, Grant said that "it hurt to survive", so she devoted herself to teaching future generations about the horror of the Holocaust - a dedication recognised when she was awarded freedom of the district by East Renfrewshire Council. The Scottish Executive even funded an education pack based on her experiences, which was distributed to every secondary school in Scotland.

In 2003, Grant's testimony formed the centrepiece of the third annual National Holocaust Memorial Day, while her pictures were displayed for the second time at Edinburgh's City Art Centre. In 2005, when the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops was commemorated at Westminster Hall, Grant was introduced to the Queen. This meeting was repeated when the refurbished Kelvingrove was opened in 2006, the same year Glasgow City Council purchased some of her works for its art collection.

Her husband died 21 years ago and Grant is survived by her children, Susan, Geraldine and Garry, and sons-in-law Martin and Michael, four granddaughters and five great grandchildren.