Montague high school student Marina Smith’s painting selected for front page of The Guardian

THREE RIVERS, P.E.I. – Horses are a common theme in Marina Smith’s life, from the clothing she wears to the quarter horse she owns.

When the Grade 11 student at Montague Regional High School needed an idea for a “Winter in P.E.I.” art project, it was an easy decision to incorporate her favourite animal into the project.

“I love horses and I just wanted to figure out how to put that into representing also P.E.I.,” said the 16-year-old student.

Her decision paid off as her watercolour painting of two horses at the P.E.I. winter woodlot tours won first place in The Guardian’s 2018 Christmas art contest.

“It definitely means a lot,” said Marina. “I don’t usually have confidence in my artwork that much, only sometimes, so it definitely makes me happy.”

Marina Smith, a 16-year-old student from Montague Regional High School, painted this beautiful Christmas Day scene on Prince Edward Island. The artwork depicts two horses pulling a Christmas tree behind a sleigh. Marina Smith, a 16-year-old student from Montague Regional High School, painted this beautiful Christmas Day scene on Prince Edward Island. The artwork depicts two horses pulling a Christmas tree behind a sleigh.

It was the originality and the proportions of the horses that caught the attention of professional artist Henry Purdy, who has judged the contest since its inception four years ago.

“The biggest factor is that it is so well done,” he said. “With young peoples’ art you look for a number of things — originality and so on — you don’t look so much for the technical perfection kind of thing. So, hers was extremely well done.”

Art is in the genes for Marina, whose mother Marie Smith is also a watercolour painter.

Professional artist Henry Purdy judges The Guardian’s 2018 Christmas art contest. Professional artist Henry Purdy judges The Guardian’s 2018 Christmas art contest.

Marina’s prize-winning painting is one of two watercolour works she has produced. The other watercolour painting, of a rocky Montague waterfront, was sold at the Artisans on Main art gallery for $60.

“That was pretty unexpected,” said Marina. “It was a last-minute decision to put that one in.”

Students taking the 401 art class at Montague Regional High School submitted their art work for the project. The class is an introduction to art, meaning many students are creating art for the first time.

“Considering they’ve only been doing art since September, they’re coming out with some pretty good pieces,” said art teacher Kathryn Rajamanie.

Art was new for Grade 12 student Geena Bushey when she started the class.

“I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would,” said Bushey, whose painting was of a bird amongst snow-covered trees.

The Grades 10-12 students had three in-class days to work on their contest submission.

Rajamanie said she was amazed by the range of locations reflected in the submissions.

“Some stayed at home and made Montague part of their piece and some went as far as Green Gables,” she said.

A wintery Green Gables was the inspiration for Grade 11 student Emily Gregory’s pencil drawing.

“I thought Anne of Green Gables because that’s kind of our livelihood, kind of what we’re known for,” she said.

Students could use any kind of artistic medium to create their contest submission.

Grade 10 student Samara Furness decided to use a stained-glass technique by painting plexiglass.

She recreated a winter scene of her home in Summerville at sunrise, complete with snowshoe prints walking away from the front door.

Samara said she is inspired by art everywhere she goes.

“Art isn’t just what I make, it’s who I am,” she said.

Meanwhile, Marina said she would like to continue pursuing art and drawing inspiration from the equine world, like her own horse, named Whiskey.

“It’s a lot of fun and I love when I make something I’m proud of,” she said.

The students of the 401 art class at Montague Regional High School show their submissions for The Guardian’s Christmas art project. Shown in front, from left: Barbara Ross, Whitney Dawn Campbell, Emily Gregory, Marina Smith, Samara Furness, Jacinta Tarenta, Brad Myers, Geena Bushey, Molly Loane. Back row: Ava Ellsworth, Drea Beck, Brianna MacDonald, Savannah Morrison, Leorah White, Trista MacLeod, Noah Davies, and art teacher Kathryn Rajamanie. Missing from photo: Tyson Hayter and Bethany McMullin. -Katherine Hunt The students of the 401 art class at Montague Regional High School show their submissions for The Guardian’s Christmas art project. Shown in front, from left: Barbara Ross, Whitney Dawn Campbell, Emily Gregory, Marina Smith, Samara Furness, Jacinta Tarenta, Brad Myers, Geena Bushey, Molly Loane. Back row: Ava Ellsworth, Drea Beck, Brianna MacDonald, Savannah Morrison, Leorah White, Trista MacLeod, Noah Davies, and art teacher Kathryn Rajamanie. Missing from photo: Tyson Hayter and Bethany McMullin. -Katherine Hunt Marina Smith, a Grade 11 student at Montague Regional High School, receives a $50 gift card to buy art supplies after winning The Guardian’s annual Christmas art contest from Guardian news editor Jocelyne Lloyd, right. With them is Marina’s art teacher, Kathryn Rajamanie. -Katherine Hunt Marina Smith, a Grade 11 student at Montague Regional High School, receives a $50 gift card to buy art supplies after winning The Guardian’s annual Christmas art contest from Guardian news editor Jocelyne Lloyd, right. With them is Marina’s art teacher, Kathryn Rajamanie. -Katherine Hunt