by Laura Barnhart Corle (BFA ’77)
When I was very small, the Meadowgold Dairy wagons were pulled by horses in Lima. I was enamored and saw a fiery steed and knew I was going to be One with the horse. But in reality, it was a tired, dependable, bombproof horse that knew the route better than the driver. It didn’t matter. I was hooked. I had a need and it was filled by drawing horses all the time. By 6th grade, I knew I was going to be an artist. You do anything often enough, you become better at it, and I had a serious need.
My great grandfather, the Rev. J.H. Kuhlman, and his brother Rev. Edward Kuhlmann, were both Lutheran ministers in rural Ohio at the turn of the century. Back then, pastors and parsonage families were paid in donations, but you never knew what—or when.
It could be anything from potatoes to live chickens—or nothing. So my great grandpa and great uncle supplemented family income by painting frescoes in area churches. I grew up with original art on our walls and saw it in my children’s books. I thought everyone had art in their lives. So the path was broken for me, and from that beginning, I became an art major at Ohio Northern University.
To this day, the one artist who influenced me the most was Jim DeVore. There’s a handful whose knowledge allowed me to go into this chartered territory of the art world and to find my place as an artist. Tom Gordon, John West, Bruce Chesser and Jim DeVore: That group of men taught me more than they ever realized. But, it was DeVore who I owe my interest in watercolors, right down to the choice of colors in my John Pike Palette.
If I was asked, “Who would you like to exhibit with,” I would immediately say with Jim DeVore. It would be my biggest thrill to exhibit my artwork along with his. And that show became a reality in 2011. Called “Influence and Divergence: The Work of Professor James DeVore and Laura Barnhardt Corle,” the exhibition showcased the work created by the professor-artist relationship and examined the philosophical connections on technique, subject matter and content.
The quiet way he saw and translated images onto 300lb. weight d’Arches watercolor paper intrigued me. He taught me to see a whole image in terms of Burnt Sienna mixed with Ultra Marine Blue—with maybe one additional color. To limit my palette broadened the depths of how people could see into my work. It strengthened the connection from what I saw through synapses, then off my fingertips and on to the paper, and finally into a viewer’s eyes… and into their mind.