Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year in Review: 2011

Here we are once again, facing the end of another year while eagerly awaiting the genesis of another. As time races by, one must always take some time out to reflect on the events of the year past to examine one's achievements as well as one's shortcomings.

This year has exposed me to a diverse range of experiences. The year two thousand and eleven has taken me from tragedy to triumph and back.

With 2011 almost behind us, I will take this opportunity to recap my experiences this year in the visual arts.

In no particular order:

  • Republic Bank - Young Artists' Canvas to the World Project

In December of the previous year, 2010, I entered into Republic Bank's Young Artists' Canvas to the World Project.  Forced to paint during my end of term examinations of my first term in Form 4, this competition put my body and mind under a very large quantity of stress.

Thankfully, after a week or two of hard artistic labour between exams, as well as a very long month of tense waiting, I was invited to the awards ceremony at Republic Bank's head office.

There, I was announced as one of the seven winners of this competition. One of the champions.

My winning piece: The Magic of the Monarch

My winnings included $5,000 in cash for myself, $5,000 in art supplies for my school and the exhibition of my piece of art at the Piarco International Airport and at the Trincity branch of Republic Bank.

You can read the entire trilogy of this story starting here.

  • HOUSE M.D. Portrait

Earlier this year, at the beginning of my Easter vacation, I started a new portrait. The subject of this portrait happened to be a favourite television character of mine, Hugh Laurie in the role of Dr. Gregory House.

However, at the private viewing of Canvas Caribbean's exhibit, With an Open Mind, I was advised by my visual arts teacher to stop doing portraits of foreign celebrities. Hence I decided that since this was the last portrait of these celebrities and characters originating outside of our shores, I would be letting this one go out with a bang.

This decision as well as an improvement in my skills led to the birth of my (now famous?) graphite portrait of Dr. Gregory House.

This is currently my flagship portrait, but who knows how long it's reign as my best portrait will be?
2012 seems like a very long year filled with opportunities for me.

This portrait has been very influential in many of my successes this year.

You can read more about this portrait here

This brings me to my next achievement...

  • Guide to Online Schools' Student Blogging Awards

To all of those who can remember this button, I am deeply grateful for your support, your time and your energies towards promoting my blog. Your tireless voting put me into the winning spot once again.

With your appreciation of my post on the House M.D. portrait, your tireless voting placed me into the top 10 of the competition. Then, a panel of judges selected the five winning posts based on their quality.

I was one of those five.

You can read more here

  • Caribbean Beat Magazine

  Republic Bank was also responsible for another accomplishment of mine, being semi-featured in the Caribbean Beat magazine. This magazine is available free of charge to all passengers of Caribbean Airlines and Air Jamaica on their respective flights.

In the article in the May/June issue of this year, Republic Bank spoke about the success of the competition and its impact on the lives of its participants and its winners.

I was elated to see that out of the seven paintings, they chose mine to display on their article.

You have the opportunity to check out this issue of Caribbean Beat magazine by clicking here

  • Heritage - The Knowsley Building

With this being a year of many firsts, it was only fitting that I try to do something groundbreaking. Something that would make people talk for days, weeks, months, even years about a piece of art created by someone so new to the industry.

I wanted to make a statement that professionals need not be these larger than life, detatched individuals.

Greatness can be achieved without losing oneself to social constructs.
Individuality is key in becoming legendary.

Just look at classical Trinidad architecture.

Also, with this being my first major architectural focused landscape, I intended to set a high standard for my work. After five weeks of painstaking detail, shadowing and artistic substitution, 'Heritage' was born.

Heritage - 2011, Graphite pencils on paper: 22" x 17"

As it turned out, this piece along with my portrait of Dr. House became my premier pieces at my school's inaugural Visual Arts exhibition.

  • Secrets: The Inaugural Exhibition

As a student of Hillview College, I have the ability to represent my school by the way I conduct myself and the things that I do. I can choose whether to be a positive change to society or to succumb to the pressures of negativity and conformity to the social environment we exist in.

When given the opportunity to display my artwork for the public eye, I must admit that I was a bit concerned underneath all of my excitement and intrigue. However, after the magnificent experience I gained from this occasion, I have faith that my generation can rise from the ashes of Trinidadian society and construct a new reality for the future of the minds of this nation.

Secrets has been a very enlightening experience for myself as I experienced first-hand what it feels like to make a positive impact on others, no matter how miniscule that impact is.

I felt appreciated by people who hardly knew me, I became a celebrity for a week :) , I received some harsh critiques as well as some heartwarming compliments for my efforts. I experienced some extreme contrasts but I deeply appreciated every moment that was bestowed upon me during our exhibition.

You can catch a glimpse of some of the exhibition pieces here

  • The Gourmet Genie

As my first clients in the sphere of Graphic Design, I am deeply grateful to the owners of the Gourmet Genie for taking a leap of faith in hiring me to create a television commercial promoting their business in Southern Trinidad.

The Gourmet Genie is a lovely little store which specializes in gourmet food items, teas, coffees, seasonings etc. They also feature 'as seen on TV' products from a variety of famous Food Network personalities.

You can find the Gourmet Genie at Ground Floor, SSL Building, 40 Sutton St, San Fernando

Feel free to visit their Facebook page

And so ends another year in our lives. Was it a worthwhile one?
The year ahead is filled with opportunities to embrace as well as those to decline.

My advice to you is to set your standards high and keep your goals in sight in the coming year.
True success and happiness is born out of hard work and committment.

Have a safe, successful and rewarding 2012.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Certified Student Blogger

Do you remember that lovely little competition in November where I desperately begged you, my readers, to click a large blue button to vote for me?

Do you remember the effort you exerted?

I will never forget your generosity.

The Guide to Online Schools recently held a student blogging competition which awarded the top 5 bloggers with a brand new Kindle from The top ten bloggers were determined by the number of unique votes each post gathered. The 5 winners were selected by a panel of judges based on the quality content of the post.

Let me officially announce that I am one of those five winners.

Thanks to your hard work at voting and promoting my post, I am a winner.
Thanks to all of you, I now own an Amazon Kindle.

I appreciate all of your support and I hope you enjoy the rest of my blog as much as you enjoyed the House M.D. portrait post.


I'm currently very much engrossed in the Bourne Trilogy.
It's very difficult to pry me away from my Kindle, just ask my parents.

Thanks again to all of you!

Secrets: The Exhibition

The first term of Form 5 is finally over.
Now I have the time to update the blog.

There have been quite a few hurdles to overcome this term and there have been a great deal of troughs and crests in our preparation for our inaugural art exhibition, Secrets.

The prospect of hosting an art exhibition at our school was very overwhelming when the idea was first conceived in May, 2011. At that point in time, we were 'enjoying' the all round pressures of the last term of Form 4 and as art students, when Mrs. Tappin - Davis announced that we had the opportunity to host an exhibition, we were very excited at the prospect of showcasing our work to the public.

Needless to say, the journey was a long and hectic one, but it was very much worth it in the end.

In our brave journey into the unknown, our art teacher and we upper school artists single handedly established Hillview College as an institution with a diverse selection of opportunities for academic improvement.

We placed Hillview College on the map for the study of the Visual Arts.

The opening night was abuzz with excitement as specially invited guests enthusiastically browsed through the diverse offering of the artworks created by students of Form 5 and 6.

Our exhibition boasted a total of thirty pieces from seven different artists.
Our display was held in the college's main hall/auditorium.

 Each of our thirty easels were adorned with artworks from our Form 6 artists such as Stephen Prince and Nikolai Maximay as well as our Form 5 artists including Duane Swift, Geovanni Ram, Marc Harroo, Matthew Babwah and myself.

Here are some samples of the artworks which were exhibited:

I shall start the display with my own pieces.
These very pieces gained me a perfect score in this term's Visual Arts assessment.
You may see some of my older pieces as well among the new creations.

All of my pieces:
Form 5M 
Johnathan Smith
Johnathan Smith: Copy of The Bongo Wake - 2010, Pen and Ink : 14" x 17"

Johnathan Smith: House M.D. (portrait 2) - 2011, Graphite on paper : 17" x 22"

Johnathan Smith: The Spiral - 2011, Mixed Media : 18 x 24
Johnathan Smith: Figure Drawing study - 2011 , Graphite on paper : 17 x 22
Johnathan Smith: Heritage - 2011, Graphite on paper : 17 x 22
Johnathan Smith: Pot of Gold - 2011, Mixed Media : 11 x 15

The other artworks were contributed by our Form 6 students, Stephen Prince and Nikolai Maimay, as well as the other students in my Form 5 class. I have included two samples each of my favourite pieces from their collections as well:

Form 6
Nikolai Maximay

Form 6
Stephen Prince

Form 5E
Matthew Babwah

Form 5M
Marc Harroo

Form 5W
Geovani Ram

Form 5M
Duane Swift

Secrets has raised much awareness about the artistic talents which can be found within the walls of the nation's secondary schools, especially those within Hillview College.

Honestly, who will take over as the nation's next generation of artists?

It starts with us, the youth.
Which brings me to another point...

I was elated beyond words by the dramatic turnout of Hillview's student population, on a daily basis, to the auditorium to experience our exhibition.

As Mrs. Tappin - Davis once said, the students came into this exhibition as an oasis from all of the stresses inside of the classroom. Inside of the auditorium, all wild behaviour and horseplay ceased. For the first time in my five years at Hillview, I saw a different side to the students.

They were serene.

I was also elated by the visit of the art students of two other secondary schools.

The Forms 3 - 6 art students of El Dorado East Secondary School and Gasparillo Secondary School both visited our exhibition that week. It was a very enlightening experience for me due to my own personal ignorance of art's appreciation in this country.

After seeing the neglect and pressures faced by the nation's art community, it was extremely refreshing, relieving and invigorating to see so many youths with a passion for the arts. Every single one of them displayed an indiscriminate love and passion for furthering themselves in the artistic realm. Their excitement fueled my love for the arts further simply by knowing "there are more of us out there in society".

It was an honour being part of this inaugural exhibition.

OUR exhibition.


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