Barbara’s relatives supplied her with all the paper and pencils she and her sister desired. Her parents supplied them with crayons and coloring books. She grew up thinking everyone made art. She also thought artists were like saints: they had all lived a long time ago. It was her eighth grade teacher who advised her mother that she had a talent to be developed when she saw a chalk drawing Barbara did as an assignment.
In high school she took shorthand. Years later she realized that she was drawing it as she loved the beautiful flowing lines. Many of her paintings incorporate free-flowing lines, reminiscent of these symbols, now also forming shapes.
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“As far back as I can remember, I have understood composition and the principles of art. Meeting artist/teacher, Ruth Janes, was a major turning point in my life. While I had always drawn and painted, she was instrumental in helping me focus and develop this desire through technical means. However, her greatest gift to me was opening my eyes to the spiritual in art, the deeper meaning.”
This is when Barbara started working abstractly. At the time she made extensive color charts of all her acrylic colors mixed with each other in three steps. She also mixed them with their complements to create grays and blacks which has resulted in her never using black for a dark as she can get much more lively darks using complements.
In Michigan, besides having her work in several galleries, she participated in many art fairs and her artwork was in many juried exhibits including one at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Although Barbara was born and lived most of her life in Michigan, for many years she had known that her heart was in Arizona. Circumstances permitted Barbara and her husband to move there in 2000 after which a second major breakthrough occurred: “I knew I needed the space that is Arizona even though I enjoyed Michigan for many years. This physical space opened the way for me to see deeper within myself and also become aware that all is energy.”
It is the beauty of this unseen part of our Universe that Barbara’s art expresses, a visual music. This is the space Louise MacDonald writes of in her art review: “All is surrounded by unknown space, a concept that forms the essence of Ragalyi's art and reflects the wide range of her inquiring mind.”
Some paintings are non-objective while others are figurative or abstracted stone shapes. The rock paintings are about sheltering that deep, dark, inner, hidden space, or a beautiful nugget. They are the opposite of the grand music and energy pintings.
Barbara’s hobbies are gardening and bird watching. She has been on tours to Trinidad, Tobago, Belize, Guatemala, Panama, Mexico, Ecuador, Galapagos Island, and Tanzania in pursuit of her bird watching hobby. She also volunteers at Montezuma Well National Monument to enjoy the local birds, visitors, and the outdoors. Grand Canyon has been her favorite park since seeing pictures of it in Life magazine as a child. An 8-day rafting trip down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon is one of the highlights of her life.