Jonathan Bethel was born in Nassau, Bahamas on November 1st, 1978. He attended St. Andrew’s School there for thirteen years, graduating in 1996. He then went on to Clemson University in South Carolina. There he studied art and graduated in May of 2001 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
Even at an early age, Jonathan displayed a strong interest and aptitude for art, particularly drawing. He would recreate anything he could get his hands on, from album covers to basketball cards. He also loved to invent his own cartoon characters, creating sketch after sketch of them. As a child, he participated in and won several art competitions. In school also he stood out with his abilities in the art field. He always took the art projects he was doing very seriously, and spent great time on them, sometimes even to his teacher’s disdain. It was probably always evident that his future would involve art in some form.
But it was while at college in South Carolina, away from home for the first time, that Jonathan really developed his appreciation and love for the beauty of the Bahamas. As the clichéd quote goes, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” So he decided to put that passion into his work. He devoted much of his painting studies there to capturing Bahamian scenery on the canvas. Most of his work at that time was done completely from his head, and was in part an attempt to feel closer to home.
To this day, Jonathan’s desire to recreate the Bahamas on canvas remains, and he has learned that it takes many years to perfect. Today his paintings realistically capture the majesty and character of Bahamian life and scenery. Using acrylic paint as his medium, he explores a wide array of subjects, such as historic Bahamian homes and landmarks, the beautiful Bahamian people, and of course the luminous waters of the Bahamas.
In 2001, Jonathan spring-boarded his art career when he received first prize in the Eighteenth Annual Central Bank of the Bahamas Art Competition (the most prestigious local competition for young artists). He has also participated in a number of group shows in Nassau and in the Family Islands, as well as several successful one-man shows. In May of 2008, Jonathan was featured in the annual Bahamas edition of the popular Southern Boating magazine, including having one of his paintings on the cover. He was also commissioned in 2014 by the Baha Mar resort to complete a series of 13 paintings for one of its public spaces. Today Jonathan’s artwork is in the private collections of many prominent art collectors around the world, including Queen Elizabeth II of England.