Six years ago, Bristol artist Rogeria Christmas received a phone call asking if she would give painting lessons to a middle school student. The former elementary and junior high teacher had spent 20 years teaching various subjects, but never art. She agreed, and has been instructing students to thrive both with a brush and beyond the easel ever since. Rogeria’s work has appeared at the Bristol Art Museum and in the form of murals on the cafeteria wall of Guiteras Elementary School, Rosemary’s School of Dance in Warren, and Bristol Parks & Recreation’s Kula Yoga Studio. While Rogeria received her bachelor’s in Literature and Languages at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in her native Brazil, she has taken courses at MassArt and RISD. Today, she teaches adults and young people ages eight to late teens in oil painting and drawing, and offers insight into her art, her story, and her homeland.
DISCOVERING COLOR: I was always drawing from a very young age. I grew up on a farm and used only black pencil, charcoal from the stove, or red tile, which is used for roofs. I was seven years old when my oldest brother, who had moved away, brought home a box of six colored pencils. I had never seen a colored pencil before.
FAVORITE VIEW: I think everything [in the East Bay] is beautiful, but what intrigues me as an artist is people and their everyday lives. When I walk by houses next to each other, I wonder who lives there, why is the light on or off, why is the mailbox painted that color? It tells me something about their everyday life.
BEHIND THE MURAL: Walter Burke (retired Bristol Parks & Rec Director) showed me the yoga studio and wanted to make it more soothing. I come from the most mountainous part of Brazil, so the green hills along with elements from Asia with the bridges. I think it took about 40 hours. I generally paint for three hours and take a break.
OILS VS. WATERCOLORS: I am an oil person. It’s a flexible medium. You can begin painting and continue the next day. It is durable, it’s for life. I think the result is beautiful.
BEGINNER’S TIP: Paint or draw every day. Young people are less critical of their work. Learning to draw and paint helps with math, abstraction, concentration, and to appreciate art.
PERSONAL FULFILLMENT: I love to paint but my greatest pleasure is now teaching. What I have heard from parents has been very emotional for me. A parent recently told me “You have helped our son in more ways than art. We cannot thank you enough.” This for me makes my year.
MISSING BRAZIL: I miss the joy of the everyday style of life, to have time to have fun. Friendship is very important in the Brazilian culture, more important than making money.