In the Spotlight with Terra Brantley (Hilarie Couture Art)

Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 6:35 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - It’s never too late, to follow your dreams. And finally in life, that’s what Hilarie Couture is doing. In 2020, she bought a home in Fort Wayne, sight unseen, and moved to the Summit City. For four decades, Couture was a hairdresser. “I went back to college at age 55, and I got a degree in historic preservation,” she told Terra Brantley. Couture said her views on life shifted, after a professor criticized her various occupations up until that point, which also included realty and auctioneering. “He said, ‘well, you missed your calling!’” She explained, “I thought, I’m still alive! I’m not dead — how have I missed my calling?” That was the push Couture needed, to resume painting — a passion she had, since early childhood.

So, she donned a different brush for her new career as an artist. “If I’m in the zone, it’s the best feeling in the world,” she said. But the drastic change wasn’t too off-base for her — after all, she says showed a knack for drawing since the age of two! Couture found her father’s Playboy magazines, and would use a purple crayon to draw clothes on the women displayed. After earning scholarships for college, she practiced medical illustrations — but uninspired, she hitchhiked from St. Louis to San Francisco, and that’s where she would later become a hairdresser. “I had to make a living,” Couture told us. “People didn’t believe you could be an artist and make a living out of it.”

A lot of her work today, includes oil painting portraits. Focusing on individual subjects, is a big part of her latest project — which will soon be on display for all to see later this year. “Because I love painting people so much, I’m going to do a project on how many different kinds of people live in Fort Wayne,” Couture told us. “Being new here, I didn’t know how I was going to find these people. But, word of mouth, one person tells another person and then it build. Now, I have 50 slated to be painted, and I’ve already finished about 43 of them — and I started in March.”

She tries to have many of her subjects present for at least an hour, getting to know them as she sketches out the first draft of the portrait. But they won’t really get to see the completed work, until October 1, when her exhibit goes on display at the Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery at the Allen County Public Library. It will be free and open to the public at the downtown location for the entire month.

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