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Zionsville artist Nancy Noel dies; son calls mom ‘Indiana’s great artist’

ZIONSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Artist Nancy Noel died Sunday, losing her battle with cancer.

Noel was a Hoosier painter who lived in Zionsville.

News 8’s David Williams sat down with her sons who shared the heartwarming, inspiring and encouraging story of their mother. Her work is unique, iconic and moving.

“My mother was Indiana’s great artist,” Alex Noel-Kosene, Nancy’s son, explained to News 8. “A painter unlike any other.”

She painted just about every day. Her pieces include “The Unreasonable Now,” “Two Women Sitting” and “Letting Go.”

According to Noel-Kosene, his mother’s works hang in the homes of Oprah Winfrey and Robert Redford.

“Became known for portraits, especially portraits of children, and animals, and grew a big career out of that,” Noel-Kosene said.

In the early years of her career, Nancy went by the name N.A. Noel, so people wouldn’t know she was a woman.

“I think that knowing she was a woman, using her first name, ‘Nancy,’ she thought would be a detriment to her career, because really, male artists dominated,” Noel-Kosene said.

Over decades, Noel sold millions of prints, published eight books, and created more than 1,000 original works.

It is rare for people to see inside of Nancy’s painting studio. One of the last paintings she worked on depicts a young Amish girl playing in quilts.

Her sons told News 8 that their mom was known for her enormous creative energy. She loved animals and her family.

“Very loving,” said Michael Noel-Kosene. “Her boys were her life on top of her art, which was something we felt every day.”

Her work cut right to the soul.

“I’d like her to be remembered as Indiana’s great painter. I’d like her to be remembered as a painter who was able to get a unique emotional response from the viewer,” Alex Noel-Kosene said.

Their mother’s legacy will live on.

“She always listened to herself, and it paid off. Not many people can live every day creating the life that they want to live without compromise, and she did. I will always admire my mother for living her life and no one else’s,” said Michael Noel-Kosene.

Nancy is survived by her siblings, her two sons, and her two grandchildren.

Alex said funeral services will be private.

Alex also said a retrospective exhibition of Noel’s work will be planned.