Cold, hard stones are ordinary, mundane things to which we wouldn’t give a second glance or thought. But Yatie Joy did look again, and decided to add her own magical touch to them. And in her hands, stones become bright bits of art that are objects of much admiration and desire.
“Normally people will paint on paper or canvas but I wanted to work in a different medium,” says Yatie, 47, from Kuala Lumpur.
Three years ago the self-taught artist started painting stones as a hobby, just for fun. The mother of two teens, a boy and a girl, works full time as a sales administrator but finds working life rather stressful; she found that painting helps her to de-stress. On weekdays, she paints at night and spends most of the day on it on weekends.
In the beginning, she would give the painted stones to friends as gifts: “They make good paperweights or doorstoppers,” says Yatie.
By chance, a friend saw her artworks and suggested that she sell them at a bazaar in which the friend was going to take part.
“I was reluctant at first. I wondered whether anyone would buy painted stones,” Yatie recalls.
She needn’t have worried: People snapped up her beautiful stones, and they sold like the proverbial hot cakes.
Strangely, though, Yatie is always in two minds about successful sales: “I feel sad and happy at the same time. I feel sad when I’m separated from my stones. But I feel happy knowing that my artworks are in good hands!”
Indeed, seeing her customers smiling and admiring her stones in their hands makes her day.
When Yatie’s friends and family encouraged her to paint more stones and take part in other bazaars in the Klang Valley, she realised something: “It dawned on me that I could turn my hobby into cash and supplement my income,” she says.
Nowadays, she looks forward to bringing out new batches of 40 to 60 stone artworks for sale whenever there is a bazaar.
Since 2016, Yatie Joy, her brand, has showcased artworks in 16 events and bazaars, including Art Carnival (Nu Sentral), Pasar Artisan (Taman Tun Dr Ismail), 360 Bazaar (Quill City Mall) and ArtPod Bazaar (Sunway Putra Mall), all in Kuala Lumpur, and Valentine’s Special – Shall We Love Bazaar (The School by Jaya One) in Petaling Jaya.
Using acrylic paints, Yatie takes 45 minutes to an hour to paint one stone depending on the design, with complicated designs obviously needing more time. Once she’s satisfied with the work, she sprays the stones in a clear coat to protect the paint. She does not limit herself to a particular theme for her art and is open to a variety of designs and styles.
In fact, stone art seems to have set her creativity ablaze and Yatie has tried her hand at everything from tie-dying T-shirts (she learned by watching YouTube videos!) and painting on other objects (canvas, bags, shoes and wood) to making fridge magnets and bookmarks. She even learnt coffee art by observing how someone did it at an event!
With a self-deprecating smile she says, “I didn’t go to any special art school”. She simply loves to explore different media, not wanting to focus on just one medium.
At different bazaars, she has regular customers with different preferences.
“Some of them like owls painted on stones, others prefer flowers or abstract art. When I conduct stone painting workshops for children, they love to paint cartoon characters,” she says.
Sometimes, she teaches adult customers who want to try their hand at creating art on stones themselves. Then there are the customers who place orders with her and others who request personal classes in their homes.
At a recent bazaar, Yatie taught her oldest customer, an 85-year-old woman, how to paint batik. The woman’s daughter said that painting was therapeutic for her mother.
Last year, Yatie joined the Women Independent Society (in Malay, Watim, Persatuan Wanita Tunggal), a support system for single women supporting a household single-handedly. She was recently made a deputy president of the society.
“I joined this society because I love meeting other independent women, contributing my expertise and gaining knowledge from business seminars,” Yatie says.
And, grateful for having her own business, she donates part of her profits from her art sales to needy Watim members.
Yatie Joy’s Instagram is: yatiejoy_art.