Civil service illustrator uses her love of art, Air Force

ArkLaTex woman blends her love of the Air Force with her love of art

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Awareness and imagination turn into paintings that fill the walls of Marilyn Ann Couch’s home.

“Painting, to me, it brings me into the moment. There’s a part that it’s like you lose your sense of separateness when you paint.”

But before Marilyn was painting inside her kitchen, she was using her talents to help the military.

“We were civil service employees, so we were federal DoD — Department of Defense employees."

In 1972, Marilyn began working as a television illustrator at Fort Polk but soon left the South for New York to begin working as a graphic illustrator.

“When I went to West Point Academy, they had never had a woman in the graphics department. And I was the first woman and the only woman there."

She soon was back in Louisiana at Barksdale Air Force Base continuing her illustrating career.

“We did briefing covers," Marilyn said. "We did mementos. When people would retire, we would do pen-and-ink sketches of their houses because the houses are beautiful on Barksdale.”

Her work also can be found in Barksdale’s Global Power Museum.

“I would really feel the feeling of that painting and try to translate that into a mural."

Her 30-year career as a civil service employee has sent Marilyn all over the world doing a variety of different jobs. She’s been stationed at Air Force bases in South Carolina, Arkansas, Texas, Hawaii and even Guam.

She’s also worked as an arts and crafts director, chief of graphics and audiovisuals and has served as a mortuary officer.

After retiring, Marilyn came back to Shreveport.

One year, she broke her shoulder. Following surgery, Marilyn lost feeling her right hand.

“I was in rehab and I didn’t know if I could ever paint again,” she recalled.

Tonight Critical Mass winner Marilyn Couch opens her exhibition at artspace as part of #CCWeek

Posted by Shreveport Regional Arts Council on Thursday, June 25, 2015

“So I started to work with it. And I thought ‘Well, I’m going to go to a department store and get a canvas and some paints.’ And I painted a little picture.”

Marilyn began to work after her surgery and eventually submitted a piece to Shreveport Regional Arts Council’s Critical Mass III competition in 2015, which won her best in show.

That competition helped lead her to solo shows and exhibitions throughout Louisiana.

As she continues her career as an artist, she’s grateful for everything she’s experienced in her life.

“For a little kid that grew up in the bad part of Houston, I would have never imagined that I would be able to accomplish everything that I did."

Marilyn recently joined the Woman’s Department Club. As art director for the group’s art gallery, she works with artists and helps feature their works in the gallery every month.

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