By Shirley Barr
Houston Watercolorist Becky Brocato Talks Gardening, Art and Family
When I visited watercolorist Becky Brocato at her house in northwest Houston in February, my yard back home was bleak. But here I was greeted in front with a profusion of pale pink azaleas, a giant bridal bouquet of spirea sprinkling tiny white petals with every breeze and a handsome specimen tree I didn’t recognize.
“You know it’s March when she, and her twin in the back yard, explode with color. And in late summer, their crimson bottle brushes are a magnet for hummingbirds, sometimes attracting dozens at once,” Brocato says.
The gardening experience continued with a framed pink azalea watercolor in the foyer, but the sunny family room tipped the scale. This was definitely the home of an artist.
Every painting on the creamy art wall isn’t by Brocato, but “most of them are mine,” she admits. The largest is a watercolor she painted after a trip to the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas. What looks like water on the floor is actually shiny tile with the light bouncing off it like raindrops, leading my eyes to three colorful hot air balloons just outside the open lobby.
“See how the biggest balloon is floating about one-third into the painting? It’s the ‘Rule of Thirds.’ I took this photograph and then realized it was so much like those in John Salminen’s book ‘Master of the Urban Landscape.’ He is one of my favorite teachers and painters,” she says.
Even though Brocato has been drawing since early childhood, she didn’t start learning watercolor until after her son, Trent, finished high school.
“We didn’t have art classes in Harden Jefferson High School in Sour Lake, Texas. At Lamar University instead of majoring in English — I love to write — I switched to graphic design,” Brocato says. “After graduating, I worked for ad agencies turning out brochures, ads, annual reports and even when I started my own graphics design business, every job had to meet a deadline!”
When Brocato began taking workshops at the Watercolor Art Society-Houston (WAS-H) in 2005, she was an apt student but kept repeating the basics. “I wanted to be sure I had the techniques,” she says, adding that winning smile.
She doesn’t paint in other mediums because, “I love the versatility of watercolor! It varies dramatically from one painting and artist to another. I also love the luminosity of watercolor, how the pigments blend and diffuse to create amazing colors. Layering transparent pigments is delightful but challenging as watercolor has a mind of its own.”
As a Signature Watercolor Art Society member, Brocato’s work has been in three WAS-H international exhibitions and won multiple awards in different shows, so currently her goal is to do more commissions.
“They are so rewarding because I get to commemorate people’s memories of children when they were young, family pets…even their favorite car as I did in ‘West Texas T-Bird’ commissioned by the children of Hugh Jackson,” she says. “Another commission, a bereavement portrait, was a joy to do because my painting of their brother, ‘A Life Well Lived,’ was so meaningful to his siblings.”
When Brocato isn’t painting or gardening, she may be taking photos or videos of her 2-year-old grandson, Ethan (he stays with her on day-school holidays while his parents are at work), or driving her MIL (Mother-in-Love) to the doctor or on other errands. This endears Brocato to her family. In fact her husband, Frank, says he has thought up a Western song tribute: “I’m the Man Because I Have a Woman Like You.”
Check out WAS-H’s next monthly show April 9-May 4 following the theme “Texas.” The opening reception is 3:30-5 p.m. April 9 at the organization’s gallery space, 1601 W. Alabama St.