In past issues we’ve talked with artists who have won two awards in one competition. Meet Marty Coulter, the man who won four ribbons for one painting at the Augusta Plein Air Art Festival.
Coulter’s painting “Morning on the Farm” won Best of Show, Best in Oil, Artists’ Choice, and People’s Choice at the event, which was held at the end of April. “It was kind of funny because I had been three days late — I started at Augusta on day four because I was coming from the Eureka Springs event,” Coulter recalls. “And in all the following days I couldn’t even get an honorable mention at any of the paint-outs, and I couldn’t even muster a smile when my wife asked how it went. Then to win all the marbles at the end of the week was very strange.”
The Augusta event was structured so that painters knew the rough area where they were going to work on a given day. On the day that Coulter painted his quadruple-ribbon winner, the group was set to work in Defiance, Missouri, located north of Augusta. “I got there earlier than the start, about 7:20 a.m.,” says Coulter. “I recognized a few cars around, those of other artists, and I kept rolling along the road until I saw this farm. Just past it, I noticed that it was getting less rural and more developed.”

Coulter and his ribbons, with Augusta Plein Air Art Festival co-chair Cindy Kedrowski

The road was a busy one, and Coulter could just fit his Subaru in the space between the mailbox and the chain link fence. “It was optimal as a viewpoint, but big trucks were going by at about 70 miles an hour,” he says. “My stuff was getting blown around pretty good. I set up in front of the car so I wouldn’t get crushed if something untoward happened.”
Of all things, Coulter attributes some of the success of the painting to the odd format of his substrate. Coulter makes his own gessoed panels out of birch, and this sometimes results in non-standard dimensions. This piece was done on a 7”-x-18” panel. “It’s an oddball, panoramic size, but it fit the scene I was painting to a T,” says Coulter. “I had been saving that panel and frame for a special occasion, and it all came together in Augusta.”
Before the awards were announced, Coulter found a woman standing by his painting. She told him that she and her husband wanted to buy it. “After the awards celebration, I met them, and the husband said, ‘This might be one of my better investments I’ve made — I could sell this for three times what I paid for it!’”


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