Sometimes it feels like I am exaggerating when I say Belize has it all, but when I take inventory of the many blessings our small but mighty country has, I quickly realize I’m not exaggerating at all; in fact, it’s an understatement! From our spectacular Belize Barrier Reef complete with stunning marine life, to our misty Maya Mountains chocked full of exotic flora and fauna, to exhilarating adventures and scrumptious cuisine, to fabulous accommodations large, small and completely unique, I will argue that by far our national treasure is the amazing people who call Belize home. Warm, friendly, and downright genuine, not only are they some of the nicest people you will ever meet, but they are talented as well! Musicians, writers, performers, crafters, and artists, these people are an essential part of our Belizean culture.

One artist extraordinaire who humbly shares his talent is Rony Israel Jovel. Rony’s passion for the natural world often shares the canvas with the sharp yet voluptuous features of his abstract portraits, celebrating the brilliant colors of Belize’s most flamboyant birds, butterflies, and flora. Magically, they intertwine as one entity, a Purple Gallinule bird frames the face of a full-lipped maiden, flowers, and vines lace the profile of a floral goddess, a female face emerges from the core of a Scarlet Macaw and butterfly wings fan from the back of a woman’s neck. As crazy as it all sounds, Rony’s talent for mingling the mundane with the fantastic transforms naturally as if the combination of these unlikely subjects were destined to collide into perfect harmony.

At the young age of twelve, Rony first explored his affinity for art. “I started to practice by trial and error. Later, my interest in birds started when I was working for The Peregrine Fund. It was then that I realized how beautiful and important these creatures really are. My background is in business administration, so for me to be out in the field working with birds, it really helped me develop as an artist. I was compelled to incorporate faces and birds to show the connection humans have with nature. Birds, as well as humans, have their own personalities,” he commented.

Often adding texture and even recycled items to his paintings, the materials produce dimension and exaggerated life to his acrylic creations. “I love to work with acrylic because it’s easier to work with. I also love to incorporate recycling into my art pieces because it is a way how I can help with the environment. Many are the time people call me crazy because I am not ashamed to collect garbage and make art. I see potential in any and everything that I can use. We, as artists, never stop seeing the world in an entirely different spectrum,” explains the young artist. “Sometimes I visit schools in my community of San Ignacio and teach the kids how to recycle trash and turn it into something cool. I think if we all put a little grain in the basket, we can all make the world a better place. Currently, I am at the Belize Bird Rescue and just got inspired to paint one of their birds that can never go back into the wild because she is missing the lower part of her beak.” Naturally, Rony is moved to honor her flawed beauty in a painting while the parrot dutifully poises and interacts with the process!

When asked if it’s hard to part with his paintings, Rony reflects, “ I don’t like to reproduce my work. I want people to have something unique that comes from within. Yes, it is hard to part with my artwork because it feels like a piece of me is going somewhere unknown. With each piece I can still remember where I was and what was my creative process to complete it. I still have my first painting when I was 12 years old! I decided to keep it so that I can remind myself of where I started.”

Originally from Orange Walk, Rony has lived in San Ignacio for the last seven years. He’s sold paintings in Norway, Panama, Houston Texas USA, Australia, Chetumal Mexico, and Belize City and hosted four exhibitions. Rony has also participated in two art competitions, winning second place in one of them. Although his paintings are not available in any galleries at the time, you can peruse (and purchase) his artwork on Facebook at Painting by Rony Jobel and on Instagram at Rony Jobel.

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About the Author: Tamara Sniffin

I’m a sucker for a fuzzy face, a feathered face, a face with fins or even one with scales! I am in love with the creatures and the flora that are synonymous with Belize and every opportunity I have to learn more about them and explore their wild habitats I am there! I’m the happiest when I’m snorkeling the reef and swimming with turtles, however my passion is not just limited to critters! Laced throughout this compact jungle gem of a country live the Kriol, Maya, Garifuna, Mestizo and Spanish people, and experiencing each culture, especially their celebrations is one of my favorite pastimes.

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