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Artist takes road back to self

Andrea St. John Nocher has found artistic inspiration in Lincoln County’s old barns and farm houses.
She lives in an 18th century brick house down a gravel road in west Lincoln, and there she spends her time painting rural scenes.
“The countryside gives me a lot of inspiration. I love the old barns around here, and I swear I’m trying to pain them as fast as I can, they’re disappearing,” she said.
Nocher, who was born to American parents in Germany, has lived in many places throughout her life, most recently Charlotte where her husband still works.
“I have more inspiration here than I did in Charlotte,” she said. “In Charlotte there are too many distractions, too much noise.”
Nocher’s landscapes will be exhibited at the Lincoln Cultural Center starting this weekend. Her works will be featured during a reception for the Star Light Christmas Tour of Homes, which is being held this Sunday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The exhibit will be her first solo show, but not the first place she’s sold her paintings and pastels. That honor belongs to a Virginia Beach boardwalk she lived near when she was 11-years-old.
“We had an artist living across from us, and she liked the way I painted,” said Nocher. “She took some of my paintings, and they all sold.”
Between that initial sale and her first one woman show this weekend, Nocher had a long break.
Marriage, law school and several jobs took up time. It was only 10 years ago that she picked up her paintbrush again.
“I accept what I am finally. It takes years to do that,” she said. “It’s who I’ve always been. I just lost it for a few years.”
Although Nocher was a devoted artist throughout high school, she didn’t start painting as an adult until she visited her sister in the Tennessee mountains.
She painted her sister’s house as a gift, and after that, she was hooked again.
“It just all came back. It was addictive,” she said. “It felt like I’d found an old friend again.”
She describes her initial portraits as slightly “Grandma Moses.”
“They used to be naпve,” she said. “But they’ve gone beyond that. I have some of those that no one will ever see.”
Since moving to Lincoln County, Nocher has set up shop in her old house, making paintings from photographs she’s taken, sometimes using more than one to finish a proper landscape.
She paints her own house in the open air, but she’s never plopped down on someone else’s land and attempted to create.
“I don’t need an audience,” she said. “I’m not that comfortable painting in front of someone.”
She chooses her landscapes based on whether or not they strike her, and she decides she’s finished with a painting or pastel once she’s no longer interested in it.
“I sit back and keep looking and looking and say there’s nothing more I can do,” Nocher said.
Sometimes the process is easy, but often it can be frustrating.
“If I attempt to force it, inevitably it doesn’t turn out, and I have to scrap it,” she said.
Nocher, who never attended art school, sometimes wishes she lived in a place with a larger community of artists.
“I’m learning on my own, but I have questions,” she said. “It would be nice to talk to other artists, I think that would help.”
Even so, leaving Lincoln County would mean leaving behind its landscapes, including the old barns she loves so much.
“I feel this need to paint them because they’re going away,” she said.

by Sarah Grano

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