• Today
    July 11

  • 04:27 AM

A change of art

NATANGA SMITH, natangasmith@nationnews.com

Added 10 January 2016


JEENA CHATRANI’S favourite colour is blue and she uses it a lot: “It is a vibrant colour and reminds me of the beach which I am always at. My next colours on the scale are green or purple.”

Jeena is in her home studio with jars of paint, palette knives, brushes and canvas stretched on frames.

She takes her work seriously as an artist – stating “work” as early as 6:30 a.m. and sometimes leaving as late as 8:30 p.m.

Some of that time is spent on social media, as that is how she gets the word out about her art.

If you were at the recent National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA), you would have seen her three 60”x80” paintings of Barbadian superstar Rihanna, and three elephants.

Jeena is no stranger to NIFCA, having won medals over the past eight years.

jeena-chatrani-011016“The three elephantst I did in Canada and I rolled them in tubes and brought them home. The Rihanna paintings I decided in June to do them for NIFCA.

“I wanted three different expressions, so the centre one she is the bad girl, the one on the left she is more good girl and the one on right she is more sexy.”

A past student of St Gabriel’s and Queen’s college, Jeena has a certificate in interior design from the Barbados Community College – done “because I wasn’t sure yet what I wanted to do.

“I always liked art but my dad said art was a hobby not a career, so we were trying to find a good compromise so interior design was a good choice.”

Jeena then went to Canada, where she graduated last year from the University of Toronto with a bachelor’s degree in architecture.

“I liked certain aspect of interior design and architecture was a compromise between art and math.”

She did a double major in architectural design and fine art history and a minor in  visual studies (art).

“I spent eight semesters there and it was an experience. I couldn’t deal with the cold so I came home two to three times a year,” she said, laughing.

She had good things to say about the art scene, explaining “it was very open minded”.

She  started taking painting lessons at age 13 when her mum saw her interest but Jeena was a reluctant student. She actually preferred karate, swimming, table tennis and even piano but when she saw how quickly she took to art, she continued with it till she left for college.

Jeena is an abstract impressionist and says the palette knives give her the texture she is looking for.

“I use jars and jars of acrylic. I do  everything by square inch so the smallest is about 500 square inches but I prefer the bigger ones because of the palette knife style.”

Jeena sources her stuff from Canada, as she knows the material better, but her wood frames are bought from a local store and then made by a carpenter.

“I stretch the canvas myself. I measure everything beforehand and I add a two inch border on each side for the stretching.”jeena-chatrani-with-work-011016

“I will have a photo for about two months before I actually start drawing. The names for them build-up in my head overtime. Sometimes I let people on social media help me name them,” she said, laughing.

A painting of smaller proportion takes like a day and a half. Each Rihanna took five days to complete.

“During a day I do inventory and check to see what paints I need to restock. I buy one-litre jars of paint and I can go through two of them a day. I do my prep work the day before which takes like five to six hours, sometimes a little bit longer since I do it all on photoshop first with my sketches.”

She was part of the Carmichael exhibition that was at the Crane last year and she submitted four.

“I was very happy to be a part of that.”

She gets her inspiration from pictures taken by photographers who she contacts to ask permission to turn them into paintings.

Jeena’s portfolio is varied, with Barbados flag, turtles, elephants and more and says she likes “zoomed in shots, whether animal close up or human face close up . . . or even a flower but really zoomed in”.

“When I use the photos all of them are changed up a lot from what they were originally to what I see them as.

“Ryan Rodrigues takes a lot of underwater photos of turtles and I love to use them.”

Clients find her on social media and have commissioned their own pieces, while also buying some that were already painted.

Jeena has a system for painting, so she doesn’t waste a lot of time on one painting.

“I basically have in my mind what I want the end product to look like so I don’t waste my paint as I have to order huge jars to accommodate the amount of paintings I do daily.

Her signature is in the bottom right hand corner and at a 60 degree slant.

“I wait till the painting is absolutely finished before I sign it. I want to get greater recognition in the Caribbean in general and I want to do solo exhibitions internationally at some point. There are different ideas I have in mind in where I want to take art in general.

“My dad has seen the  potential in it now . . . he is kind of letting me go with it. Both my parents (mum is Bajan, dad is Guyanese) are in the hotel industry so I can fall into probably doing hotel management.”

Art by Jeena, the name of her company, is now 10 months old. She started in April, “which is when I made up my mind that this is what I wanted to do and gave it a name.”

“I sell originals and prints and some are limited editions.”

Jeena’s paintings are in some hotels, and she is targeting a few more locally.

“I want to have as many paintings all over the world as possible and put a pin on the world map in places like Dubai, Switzerland, Zimbabwe where my paintings are being cherished.”


Dos and Donts

Welcome to our discussion forum here on nationnews.com. We encourage lively debate, but we also urge you to take note of the following:

  • Stay on topic – This helps keep the thread focused on the discussion at hand. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.
  • Be respectful – Meeting differences of opinion with civil discussion encourages multiple perspectives and a positive commenting environment.
  • Do not type in capitals – In addition to being considered “shouting” it is also difficult to read.
  • All comments will be moderated – Given the volume of comments each day, this may take some time. So please be patient.
  • We reserve the right to remove comments – Comments that we find to be abusive, spam, libellous, hateful, off-topic or harassing may be removed.
  • Reproduction of comments – Some of your comments may be reproduced on the website or in our daily newspapers. We will use the handle, not your email address.
  • Do not advertise – Please contact our Advertising Department.
  • Contact our Online Editor if you have questions or concerns.
  • Read our full Commenting Policy and Terms of Use.
comments powered by Disqus


Should the headquarters of a new regional airline remain in Antigua & Barbuda?