- Arts and Design
Missouri Artist Shows Her "Hand" - an Interview With Beth Coulter
Getting To Know The Artist
I met local artist Beth Coulter a couple of years ago at a celebration of life following the death of my friend's mother. After that initial meeting, I began to notice her work in my friend's home, as well as her other family member's homes. Beth's art grabbed me, intrigued me, haunted me, and one even frightened me. I had so many different responses to the same artist and was surprised because I will usually have one reaction to most of an individual artist's work. My second impression of Beth occurred when she and her husband Jason hosted my son's wedding on their amazing rural property. While working side by side with her decorating and setting up the reception hall, I found that she is a small woman with a lot of energy. She works like a fireball but has the sweetest, calm demeanor. Being inside her lovely home afforded me a firsthand look at her most personal works adorning her walls, and I felt honored and privileged to get a peek into her world.
Beth grew up in Central Missouri. She always showed promise in art classes as a young girl, but not until junior high school was her talent really realized and encouraged. In high school, her art teacher introduced her to art shows and competitions. She cites Mrs. Hayden and Mr. Scherer as the teachers that guided her into appreciating her talents. Beth attended workshops under artist Robert Burridge. After receiving inspiration from him and encouragement to follow her own style, Beth began painting freely and openly. Finding free time to paint while raising two daughters can be extremely challenging, but Beth finds any quiet time she can to paint.
A Little Q&A With the Artist
Who are your favorite artist or artists?
"My favorite well-known artist is Vincent Van Gogh, and my favorite current artist is Leith O'Malley. Both of their works represent my favorite style. I love artists who make creations that are between real and abstract. I don't want to stand and stare at a piece trying to figure out what all of those brush strokes or drips of paint are trying to say to me, but I also don't get too excited about the same colors used in painting that I see in everyday life. I hope that makes sense. I'm sure there is a word for it."
There is- Abstract Modernism I just made that up, except I think the Belgium art movement has coined it recently.
"I love your made up a definition of my style."
After seeing a very large painting of yours at a friend's house, I am curious; what is the biggest painting that you've created?
"The painting hanging at Johnnie Ray's house is the biggest canvas I have ever stretched, prepped and primed. Jacque [Higginbotham], her sisters, and her brother asked me to do it for their parent's 50th anniversary. I thought it would be easier to make it custom size than try to have such a big canvas shipped. I learned a lot from that experience."
Have you created any larger than that?
"I painted a large mural in my high school art room, and I also painted a huge forest scene on the upstairs wall at the MJ's gas station in Gravois Mills, Missouri. I would guess it was 8' tall x 12' wide"
Switching gears here, do you feel that your family has been supportive of your art? I know that you and Jason have been married a long time, but you were an artist when he met you.
"My family was very supportive growing up. My husband has tried to be supportive but we have a business to run that feeds our family so that's always going to come first, naturally."
Do your kids show artistic talent? If so, what kind?
"Both of my girls have talent with drawing. My youngest is very passionate/talented with music, which is art to me."
I know that you give a lot of your work away as gifts. That's the way the "Hands" series started according to your website. I love the quote on one of your pages " "The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." Do you sell your paintings as well?
"I have sold several pieces. I have to enter art shows as a "Professional" rather than "Amateur" because I regularly sell my work. (When I have time to paint, of course)"
I don't think you should enter the "Amateur" category anyway, Amateur art is what I would do on guided paint night at a Paint the Town Event.
To me, a "Professional" is someone who has made a career of it. Maybe one day....
Have you won awards for your work?
"I have placed at least an honorable mention in every show I have entered. I made it into the Missouri Top 50 at the Missouri State Fair with my painting "Facing My Fears." I have received four awards for that painting, including "Best of Show" at a show that I entered in Jefferson City, Missouri. I haven't had time to enter shows for the last few years though."
"Facing My Fears" reached out to me while I had the privilege of being in your living room getting my gran-daughter dressed for my son's wedding. That painting just stopped me cold. It continues to haunt me when I see it. This is where I see your Van Gogh influence the most, just in my opinion.
"Facing My Fears" is the most personal painting that I have ever done. It may remind you of Van Gogh because his art was him. His art was a way to escape or free himself from his own mind. You can't get more personal in a painting than that."
About The "Hands" Paintings
My introduction to the "Hands" works began when I experienced a piece of the custom work Beth had done based on a loss in a friend's family. My heart melted when I first saw the "Hands" that Beth had created for my friend Jacque. The paintings have been custom created for friends of hers as gifts to memorialize loved ones that have been lost. Beth has created several "Hands" paintings. Each painting is a personalized tribute to the loved one that has passed. The subject that she paints is of the couple's hands joined together. These images speak for themselves. When my very precious friend Jacque received one of these paintings of her parent's hands after her mother died, she wept as she showed it to me, there were no words to express what that enduring memory means to Jacque.
Has Beth ever exhibited her work?
Beth Coulter joined forces with a friend whose brother was a charcoal artist and had passed away. Together, they posthumously honored him with an art show, showcasing both artists works at the Royal Theater in Versailles, Missouri. The show was titled "Windows To The Soul." I wish I had known Beth then. I would have loved to see all of her paintings on display together. Beth favors acrylic painting but also enjoys working in oils, even though there is a time constraint with drying these works.
Not Just an Artist
Beth is a mother and wife, as well as an artist. She tells me that she has to run the "mom taxi" most days. Beth and her husband Jason together own and operate Colt Tree Service. She recently graduated out of the home office, to a beautiful new workspace in the company's shop down the road from their home. Beth's other interests include running and exercising.
© 2018 Vicki Wood