Andrea St. John Nocher has found artistic inspiration in Lincoln Countyâ€™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.
â€œThe countryside gives me a lot of inspiration. I love the old barns around here, and I swear Iâ€™m trying to pain them as fast as I can, theyâ€™re disappearing,â€ 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.
â€œI have more inspiration here than I did in Charlotte,â€ she said. â€œIn Charlotte there are too many distractions, too much noise.â€
Nocherâ€™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 sheâ€™s sold her paintings and pastels. That honor belongs to a Virginia Beach boardwalk she lived near when she was 11-years-old.
â€œWe had an artist living across from us, and she liked the way I painted,â€ said Nocher. â€œShe took some of my paintings, and they all sold.â€
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.
â€œI accept what I am finally. It takes years to do that,â€ she said. â€œItâ€™s who Iâ€™ve always been. I just lost it for a few years.â€
Although Nocher was a devoted artist throughout high school, she didnâ€™t start painting as an adult until she visited her sister in the Tennessee mountains.
She painted her sisterâ€™s house as a gift, and after that, she was hooked again.
â€œIt just all came back. It was addictive,â€ she said. â€œIt felt like Iâ€™d found an old friend again.â€
She describes her initial portraits as slightly â€œGrandma Moses.â€
â€œThey used to be naÐ¿ve,â€ she said. â€œBut theyâ€™ve gone beyond that. I have some of those that no one will ever see.â€
Since moving to Lincoln County, Nocher has set up shop in her old house, making paintings from photographs sheâ€™s taken, sometimes using more than one to finish a proper landscape.
She paints her own house in the open air, but sheâ€™s never plopped down on someone elseâ€™s land and attempted to create.
â€œI donâ€™t need an audience,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™m not that comfortable painting in front of someone.â€
She chooses her landscapes based on whether or not they strike her, and she decides sheâ€™s finished with a painting or pastel once sheâ€™s no longer interested in it.
â€œI sit back and keep looking and looking and say thereâ€™s nothing more I can do,â€ Nocher said.
Sometimes the process is easy, but often it can be frustrating.
â€œIf I attempt to force it, inevitably it doesnâ€™t turn out, and I have to scrap it,â€ she said.
Nocher, who never attended art school, sometimes wishes she lived in a place with a larger community of artists.
â€œIâ€™m learning on my own, but I have questions,â€ she said. â€œIt would be nice to talk to other artists, I think that would help.â€
Even so, leaving Lincoln County would mean leaving behind its landscapes, including the old barns she loves so much.
â€œI feel this need to paint them because theyâ€™re going away,â€ she said.
by Sarah Grano