PASSION: Francis Obonyo is only 21 years old and in his Senior Six vacation but he has not sat the holiday out as many. In this period, he has lived his art dreams and also recorded a gospel song.
JULIUS OCUNGI writes.
Unlike other Senior Six vacists seated at home waiting to join university, Francis Obonyo is busy minting money through painting.
The 21-year-old developed a passion for art while in his Senior One at Restore Leadership High School in Gulu.
On the first floor inside a noisy Gulu Main market, I am welcomed by the sight of strikingly beautiful art pieces displayed on the walls.
“I loved drawing since my childhood. In secondary school I took Art as a subject and I loved to draw landscapes and still photos,” a soft spoken Obonyo narrates.
In his Senior Three, a friend, Ivan Leku, introduced him to the real practical world of art.
“I remember a group of Whites from the US visited our school in 2013 and Leku challenged me to paint an art piece for them. I had never painted on a frame before and I had no idea what to do,” Obonyo says.
What he ended up with was a map of Africa and inside it was a woman carrying a jerrycan of water with a baby on her back.
It was bought at Shs50,000. This encouraged him and whenever holidays came, he wouldspend a week at Leku’s Art Factory learning more skills before he returned home to his parents.
After his Senior Six last year, Obonyo started commercial arts painting. However, although he had mastered some skills in painting, he was yet to get more training.
“It took me some good weeks learning proper sketching, painting and colour balancing. But because I am naturally talented, I got along fast,” he said. His parents have been supportive and that has motivated him to pursue his passion.
What he does
“As a Christian, I have always loved to do what impacts people’s lives. My art portrays messages of unity, hope, love and peace,” Obonyo says.
Since December last year, Obonyo says he has been able to earn Shs2.5m, part of which he has saved.
“I don’t depend on hand outs from my parents anymore, I am able to meet my basic needs, pay rent for the workshop and rent a house.”
Prices of his art piece
Obonyo’s art pieces range from Shs50,000 to Shs800,000 depending on the size.
His clients are mostly tourists from foreign countries, although he also markets his work to hotels.
Among the challenges he faces, Obonyo says: “Very few locals still appreciate the beauty of art. Sometimes I go for a week minus making sales,” Obonyo says.
Although his passion is in art, Obonyo says he wants to study journalism so as to become a professional media personality.
Besides painting, the young painter is also the founder of Salvation Music Group and an upcoming gospel rapper with a song titled Oh Lord.
He advises youth to learn how to be self-reliant and flexible.