On the canvas: Beatriz Ragazzoni enjoys mental focus of painting
Published 1:40 pm Monday, August 8, 2022
Editor’s note: This story initially ran in Faces&Places 2022. Copies are available at The Clanton Advertise office, 1109 Seventh Street N in Clanton.
STORY AND PHOTOS BY JOYANNA LOVE
Painting has long been a passion for Beatriz Ragazzoni of Jemison.
Originally from Venezuela, Ragazzoni took art and ballet lessons from a young age, along with her siblings and cousins.
She said her mother encouraged her in these pursuits. Ragazzoni began painting at 13 years old. She said the art teachers in the city all knew each other and would have exhibit competitions at least every two years.
Ragazzoni entered national competitions from the time she was 13 until she was 22 years old.
For a while, painting was her profession, but now it is more of a hobby.
She said she enjoys being an artist because it does not feel like work, and it is a way to express herself.
“It is a very good therapy for my emotions and personal (wellbeing),” Ragazzoni said. “(It) keeps your mind sharp and focused. The creativity is always developing. It is always helping you to keep your brain active.”
She said investing in creative activities is important for everyone’s health, and more opportunities to be creative and learn about art need to be available to children.
In 2002, Ragazzoni immigrated to the United States.
“The situation in Venezuela was turning to communism, and we had to make the decision to go out of Venezuela and give a better future for our children,” she said.
Ragazzoni and her husband Ernesto moved with their three children to Homewood and lived
in Shelby County until their children grew up. After their children moved out, the Ragazzoni couple moved to Jemison to have land and space to retire.
Moving to the U.S. changedn the way Ragazzoni painted. She preferred to paint in oil while in Venezuela.
“But when I got here in the United States, … it was very difficult to paint with oil because oil takes a longer time to get dry, and in winter times it could take like 20 days to get dry between each coat of painting, so I began applying the same techniques of oil to acrylic,” Ragazzoni said.
She said oil gives a broader range of color shades, but acrylic can be used to get a similar result in less time.
These techniques are some of what Ragazzoni is teaching other Jemison residents through her painting classes at the Jemison Public Library. Ragazzoni heard the library was looking for someone willing to teach art classes and offered to do them.
“Her ability to teach is phenomenal,” assistant librarian Cheryl English said. “The way she teaches how to blend colors and make something light, how she makes light on a canvas is just amazing.”
English said a grant from the United Way of Central Alabama paid for the supplies for the class.
Ragazzoni referred to her seven students as “very talented.”
“My intention here is not just to allow them to put paint on a canvas,” Ragazzoni said. “I want them to learn how to work with color.”
She has done this through teaching about texture, shading and transitioning as well as encouraging students to use their imagination.
Ragazzoni said her enjoyment of painting makes it easy to teach.
Each of Ragazzoni’s painting has hours and hours of time invested in it. A large painting can take Ragazzoni six to eight months to complete.
When she was younger, much of Ragazzoni’s work was landscapes and things she could see.
Later, “(my) spiritual relationship with the Lord took me more to express what I have inside, my relationship with him,” she said.
“All of these abilities come from the Lord,” Ragazzoni said.
One of her favorite paintings portrays her interpretation of the empty tomb after Jesus rose from the dead.
She said the painting is so meaningful to her because it reflects “the principles that guide my life.”
Ragazzoni said it is sometimes difficult to get across the message she hopes to convey through her work.
“I want to keep it educational,” Ragazzoni said.
Another painting she was excited to complete was of a historical arch in Venezuela honoring those who had fought for the freedom of the country.