Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in Faces&Places 2022. Copies are available from The Clanton Advertise office, 1109 Seventh Street N in Clanton.
HISTORY AND PHOTOS OF JOYANNA LOVE
PPainting has long been a passion for Beatriz Ragazzoni from Jemison.
Originally from Venezuela, Ragazzoni took art and ballet lessons from an early age, along with his siblings and cousins.
She said her mother encouraged her in these activities. Ragazzoni started painting at age 13. She said that the art teachers in the city all know each other and will hold exhibition competitions at least every two years.
Ragazzoni participated in national competitions from the age of 13 until the age of 22.
For a while, painting was her profession, but now it’s more of a hobby.
She said she loves being an artist because it doesn’t feel like work and it’s a way to express herself.
“It’s very good therapy for my emotions and my personal (well-being),” Ragazzoni said. “(It) keeps your mind sharp and focused. Creativity is always developing. It always helps you 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 should be available to children.
In 2002 Ragazzoni immigrated to the United States.
“The situation in Venezuela was turning towards communism, and we had to make the decision to get out of Venezuela and give our children a better future,” she said.
Ragazzoni and her husband Ernesto moved with their three children to Homewood and lived
in Shelby County until their children grow up. After their children left, the Ragazzoni couple moved to Jemison to have land and space to retire.
Moving to the United States changed the way Ragazzoni painted. She preferred to paint in oils during her stay in Venezuela.
“But when I came here to the United States, … it was very difficult to paint in oil because oil takes longer to dry, and in the winter it could take about 20 days to dry. between each coat of paint, so I started applying the same techniques from oil to acrylic,” Ragazzoni said.
She said oil gives a wider range of color shades, but acrylic can be used to achieve a similar result in less time.
These techniques are part of what Ragazzoni teaches other Jemison residents in his painting classes at the Jemison Public Library. Ragazzoni heard that the library was looking for someone willing to give art lessons and offered to do so.
“His ability to teach is phenomenal,” said assistant librarian Cheryl English. “The way she teaches how to mix colors and make something light, how she makes light on a canvas is just amazing.”
English said a grant from United Way of Central Alabama paid for supplies for the class.
Ragazzoni called his seven students “very talented”.
“My intention here is not just to allow them to put paint on a canvas,” Ragazzoni said. “I want them to learn to work with color.”
She did this by teaching texture, shading and transition as well as encouraging students to use their imaginations.
Ragazzoni said his enjoyment of painting makes him easy to teach.
Each of Ragazzoni’s paintings has hours and hours of time invested. A large painting can take Ragazzoni six to eight months.
When she was younger, much of Ragazzoni’s work was landscapes and things she could see.
Later, “(my) spiritual relationship with the Lord led me more to express what I have inside, my relationship with him,” she said.
“All these abilities come from the Lord,” Ragazzoni said.
One of his favorite paintings depicts his interpretation of the empty tomb after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
She said the painting was so meaningful to her because it reflected “the principles that guide my life.”
Ragazzoni said it’s sometimes difficult to convey the message she hopes to convey through her work.
“I want it to stay educational,” Ragazzoni said.
Another painting she was thrilled to complete was of a historic arch in Venezuela honoring those who had fought for the country’s freedom.