By Mercy Hills
Yvonne Mary introduces herself:
My name is Ekeoma YvonneMary Ahumaraeze, a native of Umuaka Orlu, Njaba, LGA of Imo state. I am a graduate of Accounting Education from the prestigious Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. I also got my second degree in Accounting from the same university.
My parents used to have this skill for drawing, because I came across some drawings they did when they were young couples. So, I think I inherited this skill from my parents.
Well, I started drawing from primary school. I was doing that as a hobby from primary school till I got to the university for my first degree. It was in my third year as an undergraduate that a friend of mine, JohnBosco Emeka Nwobu, introduced me into professional painting. I owe a lot to him, because with his help I started finding my feet in the industry.
Before I took up the career fully, after University, I served my country and then I began scouting for jobs. All the jobs I got never gave me that fulfilment my art career gave me. I remember when I was working as an admin staff, a Secretary in some firms, I never found happiness. Most of those times I would take my book and pen and I would sketch all day in the office. It went that way till I left the last job I was doing, and then I went for trainings, seminars and exhibitions, anything that had to do with Art.
Can you count the numbers of your art works?
I have lost count. In 2019, I made more than thirty works and this year, I have done up to fifteen. They just keep coming.
What inspires you to paint?
Well, I would say nature. I am a lover of nature and beautiful things and I love being in the spirit. As you can see, most of my works depict serenity, calmness, beauty of God’s creation.
Being in a male dominated industry, how have you been able to stay afloat?
I do not see it as a problem, rather I see it as a challenge, a push to do more, to be distinct and to be peculiar. Even so, as a female artist, I think I am more at advantage because people get excited seeing a lady do what only men are supposedly known to do. People patronize me more, mainly because I am a girl. I get incredibly happy seeing people recommend me, but I do not let it get to my head or let it change my disposition towards life. My watchword remains do whatever you find yourself doing excellently and get your reward based on that, not the other way round.
How do you get your materials?
I use glossy papers, art pencils (like lumo graph), colours, canvasses etc. and I get them from the market. They are not difficult to get.
Onyibor Collins uchenna, John Bosco Emeka Nwobu Chukwura Chinedu
How long does it take you to complete a piece of art?
Well, it depends on the size and complexity of the painting. Some take me two weeks, while others take three weeks.
Which of your artwork do you adjudge to be the best and why?
The artwork I adjudge to be the best is ”DEEP THOUGHT” I titled it that way because it is one of the hyper realistic paintings I have ever done. Another painting, I admire more is that of the former Governor of Imo State, Gov. Emeka Ihedioha. I have other good works which others may like, but I personally adjudge these two best because of the creative input in those works.
What makes yours peculiar compared to other pieces of painting out there?
I am still an upcoming Artist, but what makes my work different is the water concept I add to it. If you look carefully at my work, you must see water designs. So, my works, most times project nature.
Moreso, one of the best ways of finding inspiration as an artist is looking at other artists’ work and learning from them. And the more you paint, the more you learn, and the more you are able to look at other artists’ work and decipher what they were doing and their thought processes behind what they were doing the more you make your own better.
We saw a painting of the Catholic Pope here, what inspired that painting?
Laughs… well, I am catholic. I love the catholic faith and I love projecting anything that depicts morality. I had painted the former pope, John Paul II. I also did a painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, someone came and bought them all.
What strategies have you been employing to make your work better?
I have been practicing and training with professionals to get better. I intend to be a renowned artist, that is why I have been working with like minds to get better.
Who are the artists in the industry you look up to?
I remember telling you about JohnBosco, the artist I met in school, who opened my eyes to professional painting. Another who is very much good at hyper realistic paintings is Onyibor Collins Uchenna, and Chukwura Chinedu. They have inspired me and would continue to inspire me.
What were the challenges you faced when you left your job for professional painting?
There were challenges, because I sometimes forget I am no longer receiving salary and would be waiting to get an alert…(laughs). It is not easy at all, but the truth is I find fulfilment in the fact that I have realized my full potentials. Another thing is the money you get from one artwork is quite bigger than what you receive for salary in two months where I worked then. I am not saying I am a billionaire; I am only saying it pays to find self-realization.
Many young people have talents but are scared to explore, what is your advice to them?
The major fear young people have in this part of the world is not having enough money to cater for themselves. You will see an exceptionally talented person who should be practicing his skills in the music, painting or any creative industry still sitting in an office he or she is not productive and finds little or no fulfilment.
My advice is this, self-realization is the key. Do that which makes you feel fulfilled and be consistent at it. Soon, it would begin to pay. Never let yourself feel stuck to a place where you will be tolerated for lack of productivity rather use those God given talents and skills to do something you find joy doing.Keep pushing, be determined, focus, prayerful and consistent.
Where do you see yourself in few years from now?
With the way people are now appreciating Art in Nigeria, I see my works going far, that you would see at least two of my artworks in every home in Nigeria. I see my signature Ekefyn Art in Museums, Exhibitions and art galleries.
You studied accounting in both first and second degrees, do you have plans to go back to that path some day?
I have loved calculations since I was a child. And I don’t see a career path in accountancy affecting what I do. I plan to blend accountancy with what I do as time goes on.
Do you have a business name or something one can use to reach you?
My page name on Facebook and Instagram is Ekefyn Art. You can also reach me on my personal Facebook via Ahumaraeze Ekeoma YvonneMary on Facebook.
For Business, I can be reached through this number: 0706-082-1206