Created to Create, JoAnn Williams Walker

On the side of the road, just outside of Highlands, is a uniquely quaint shop, The Brier Patch.  

Tucked up against Shortoff Mountain, The Brier Patch has been in business here for 70 years.  It’s full of flowers, pottery, and other unique gifts displayed in beautiful cabinets and well-decorated tables. Through the back door is a porch that looks out onto a magnificent view. A bubbling fountain sits on a table next to an inviting couch and a comfy chair. Facing the couch is an easel with a beautiful painting of bright red flowers in a colorful vase. 

Similar paintings can be found all throughout the store. You can’t help but be captivated by the bright vibrant colors that bring local landscapes like Whiteside Mountain to life and capture the essence of the seasons.  You can almost smell the flowers in the depictions of the French countryside; feel the breeze blowing through the Italian villas; and see the Florida shrimp boats bobbing against the dock.  These images are all the work of resident artist JoAnn Williams Walker.

This July, JoAnn, a Florida native, will be returning to Highlands for her 23rd summer as the resident artist at The Brier Patch.  In addition to being a gift shop, it’s the only gallery in North Carolina to showcase JoAnn’s artwork; and the shop carries her work exclusively. 

“Her bright and colorful personality is reflected in her paintings,” says Catherine Appleton, owner of The Brier Patch and lifelong friend of JoAnn’s.  “People love to come and watch her paint on the back porch.”

She couldn’t have chosen a more relaxing and beautiful studio.  JoAnn spends her late mornings and most afternoons at her easel on the back porch.  Working from photographs and sketches, she has a way of taking a scene as dynamic as a landscape and simplifying it with her abstract impressionist style. Her strong, vibrant palette reflects her strong personality. JoAnn looks forward to visiting with old friends and making new ones.