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 through a mutual friend at a celebration of life following the death of the 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, a couple haunted me, and one even frightened me. I had so many different responses to the same artist. My second impression of Beth happened when she and her husband Jason hosted my son's wedding on their amazing rural property. Working with her and setting up the reception hall, I found out 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 gives credit to her mother for listening when the art teachers made her take notice of her daughter's talent. After high school, Beth attended workshops given under artist Robert Burridge. After receiving personal instruction from him about career paths, Beth began painting freely and openly. Finding free time to paint while raising a family can be extremely challenging, and 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 famous 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. 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 you've ever created?
"The painting hanging at Johnnie Ray [Higginbotham]'s house is the biggest canvas I have ever stretched, prepped & primed. Jacque (his daughter), 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 saved a bunch of money and learned a lot from that experience."
Are there any bigger?
"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 feet tall and 12 feet 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 for 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 any artistic talent? If so, what kind?
"Both of my girls have talent with drawing. My youngest is very passionate and 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. 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" 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 was getting my grand-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.
Facing My Fears
About The "Hands" Paintings
When I first saw the "Hands" series my heart melted. The paintings are custom created for friends of hers as gifts to memorialize loved ones that have been lost. Beth has created several "Hands" series paintings. Each painting is a personalized tribute to a couple of the loved one that has passed. The subject that she paints is of the couple's hands joined together. The images speak for themselves.
Unfortunately, I will not get to interview any of the widows that have received the "Hands" works, but my very precious friend Jacque received one of these paintings of her parents’ hands after her mother died a couple of years ago. She wept as she showed it to me, as 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 work at the Royal Theater in Versailles, Missouri. The show was titled "Window 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" on most days. Beth is her husband Jason's office manager for their company, Colt's Tree Service. She recently graduated out of the home office to a beautiful new workspace. Beth's other interests include running and exercising.
© 2018 Vicki Wood