ART CAN CONVEY many emotions. And for each viewer, it may be something different. Yet, when it comes to Becky Fos’ vibrant works, I think everyone can agree that the feeling is happiness. Vibrant colors and Becky’s impasto technique of applying wet, undiluted oil paint with a palette knife, adds to the joyful nature of her well-known pelicans and Louisiana motifs.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Becky wanted to help in the best way she knew how. Her art. “I woke up one morning and felt an urgency to do something to help out,” Becky says. “I just wanted to do my part and painting is all that I know.” She painted Heartfelt Heroes and America’s Frontline Heroes, featured on our cover, ultimately to raise funds for the Ochsner Pandemic Response Fund, which aims to boost morale for medical workers on the front lines. “Since Ochsner is the largest healthcare provider in our state, I felt that if I had to choose only one beneficiary, Ochsner would be the best vehicle. The goal was to reach and help as many frontline workers as possible.”
Heartfelt Heroes was printed on a bandana, and America’s Frontline Heroes a limited-edition paper print signed and numbered by Becky. The gallery sold over 200 mini paper prints which resulted in an immediate cash boost for the Ochsner Pandemic Response Fund. The prints were graciously donated by Renaissance Imaging in Baton Rouge.
When asked about the inspiration behind the two pieces, Becky states:
“Those people that have chosen a field in which they put their lives on the line to help and protect others were my inspiration. Fortunately for me, I did not have to go out in the thick of this. It was easy for me to hide behind a canvas and quarantine. But those that are risking their health were an inspiration to me for these two pieces. The well-deserved frontline heroes are getting most of the recognition (which I couldn’t agree more), but I’d also like to give a big thank you to all of those that have to go out and reported to work, such as the grocery workers, the garbage men and the postal workers, even though I’m sure that they would love to be safe at home with their families.”
Becky admits that having to stay at home has taught her that teaching isn’t easy. She has tried her best to become a sixth-grade teacher to her 12-year-old son, Jude.
As with learning to be a homeschool teacher, Becky’s road to becoming an artist had many twists and turns. As a new mom, Becky’s career as a hairdresser was not allowing the time she wanted with her son. She needed less-demanding hours so she chose to become a court reporter. But, because of test anxiety, she did not pass the national exam after graduation. In a 2018 Inside New Orleans interview with Shauna Grissett, Becky said, “Initially, I started painting to relieve the stress to help me pass the test. That, and I was tired of looking at the bare, white walls in my house. I needed ‘art’ to decorate but couldn’t afford it and thought I could paint my own. I went to Michael’s with my little boy, bought some really cheap supplies and just started painting. And, that’s how I got started.”
Today, to keep her mind off the bombardment of negativity on the news, she has continued to paint. “As an artist, it means a lot to me that I’m able to help out in the only way that I know how… through art! During this time, while so many are suffering, whether it’s a family member, a friend or a co-worker that has been affected, if my art can just brighten one person’s day against what they see day in and day out with this pandemic, then I feel truly blessed.”
“As an artist, it means a lot to me that I’m able to help out in the only way that I know how… through art!…”
She adds, “I am saddened to see the deaths, store closures, cities shut down and heartache due to this virus, but like after Katrina, I think that New Orleans will come back stronger. I hope that the camaraderie and unity will resonate for years to come. I also hope that we can all learn the valuable lesson to stop and smell the roses and especially to not take life for granted.”
As things begin to return to a new normal, Becky plans to refocus on a new collection she began prior to the pandemic. As for the future, she says, “I have no clue what’s next for me and the gallery. The only thing that I know is that I’ll continue to support my community and paint as often as I can to bring smiles to people’s faces as often as possible!
“I want to continue spreading joy with the colors that I use in my artwork. We can all make the world a better place if we just smile.”