LAKE PLACID — Using a technique that was new to her, 11-year-old Ellie Smoak won the children’s portion of the Caladium Festival Art Contest.

The sixth grader’s artwork will be used to promote the 2019 Caladium Festival with the design on the children’s T-shirts and her masterpiece will grace the lobby wall at Wauchula State Bank at the corner of Main Avenue and Interlake Boulevard. The bank also supplied the $50 cash award that she earned with her artwork.

Her proud mom, Tracee Smoak, said her daughter loves art and creating. The Lake Placid native can be found in the water swimming when she is not in elbows-deep in her watercolors. According to her mother, Ellie helps to keep her brothers, Gabe and Landon, in line.

“She has attended Lakeview Christian School for her elementary school years and will continue there for middle school as it expands this year,” Tracee Smoak said. “Her love of art and music have been evident her whole life. Her skills have been expanded under the guidance of Marian Sullivan through the consistent art program at Lakeview Christian and also through art classes with Samira Myers at Dear Cannon Art School. She is blessed to have such talented and loving teachers in her life.”

Ellie Smoak said she surprised that she won.

“I have always loved overlapping art,” she said. “I was trying to get them (caladiums) to look dimensional. I have always loved watercolor and I tried something that I have never done before. I used watercolor pencils and watercolor crayons. I was really excited and surprised just because I was just trying something out. I like to try new things.”

Bright green foliage and stems jump off the blue background. The heart-shaped leaves show hot pink veins that define them as caladiums. Her mom said she was glad that they still had art classes in school to foster her talented child.

“It was neat to see her win an award for something she really loves so much,” she said.

Tracee Smoak said her daughter hasn’t really had time to think about what she will do with the prize money from the bank. If she needs help deciding, Vice President and Branch Manager of Wauchula State Bank JoAnn Chandler can help her to invest it wisely.

“Ellie’s picture will hang in our lobby for the next year for everyone to see,”Chandler said. “We are pleased and proud to do this so that the community can enjoy the art.”



Ellie Smoak

Ellie Smoak created this colorful painting and won the child’s art competition. Her artwork will hang in the Wauchula State Bank for a year.


Wauchula Bank Vice Persident and Branch Manager JoAnn Chandler proudly displayed Ellie Smoak’s winning artwork in the bank’s lobby.


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