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Of Oils, Pastels & Watercolors

Article Published: Aug. 18, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Of Oils, Pastels & Watercolors

Three painters, 100 years' combined experience.

Through Aug. 27, Blowing Rock Frameworks and Gallery is showcasing the work of three colorful, but distinctively unique, artists - oils by Egidio Antonaccio, pastels by Paul deMarrais and watercolors by George Kosinski.

High Country residents and visitors will share an opportunity to meet the artists and experience their work firsthand at an artists' reception Saturday, Aug. 20, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Antonaccio, however, will be out of town. In a sense, it's somewhat fitting.

"I'm an individualist anyway," Antonaccio said. "I feel my paintings are out of balance with (the others), because they're completely different. But it can be an interesting show, because that is different. You want to have some out of balance, some diversity."

Antonaccio was raised in Florence, Italy, where he studied fine art and later worked with an artist.
"In Florence, there's lots of things to do and see," he said. "my friends, they were going to the discotheque on the weekends; I was going to the museum. I'd analyze allthe paintings, all the artists were doing. Sometimes, when you go to a museum on the weekend, what you run into mostly are the artists, so you can sit and talk to them."

And that's what he did.

"They don't teach you secrets," Antonaccio said. "You have to steal it with the eyes. You need to be a good observer, and that's how you learn. Artists are jealous, they don't want to tell you their secrets."

Specializing in oil painting, Antonaccio later studied under American master artist Edward Szmyd. In 1981, he moved to the High Country. "Of course, you don't run out of inspiration in the mountains," he said.

You also don't run out of color, something Antonaccio deeply respects.

"I don't choose (the colors)," he said. "It's the painting that tells me, the color that you put on the painting, if everything is related to what it's mixed with. If I put a color on the canvas ... it will dictate what it wants next, to be balanced. Otherwise, you just close your eyes and become an abstract artist."

The Frameworks show has a landscape theme, and Antonaccio, whose artwork is collected throughout the nation, is happy to oblige.

"These works are with an original brush, with glazing on layers after layers," he said. "It's traditional, old-fashioned, the method I learned in Italy."

deMarrais learned his methods in the outdoors.

"I started out doing portraits, but I've always been kind of an outdoorsy person, so I got interested in plein air painting," he said. "It felt really good, so I did that for 20 some years or so."
Specializing in pastel painting, deMarrais keeps more to his studio these days, where he can be found creating his own pastels.

"I really delve into it about as much as I can," he said. "(With pastels), the color is really fresh. I really love color ... and there's a lot of room for innovation in it, using mixed media and under-painting with acrylics and watercolors. There's a lot of room to experiment, so it never gets boring. You can always change your surface or do something a bit different."

Based in Kingsport, Tenn., deMarrais uses his natural, familiar surroundings as the basis for his paintings.

"It's really beautiful here, and I feel like if you paint places that inspire you, it comes out in your paintings. Some of the things I've done over the years that I've liked best are the places I was really familiar with, and I could go to pain numerous times."

A couple of deMarrais' works in the Frameworks show reflect this, specifically a pasture near his house, "kind of my favorite spot," he said.

And color is held very dear.

"That's really the reason I paint," deMarrais said. "I really find color inspiring."

Kosinski can attribute inspiration to scenery, as well.

Born in Britain, Kosinski practiced in "the most beautiful part of England, the English lake district, so naturally I was exposed to a tremendous amount of beauty," he said.

Kosinski, however, first worked as an architect "in the old school, where there was drafting and drawing and painting," he said.

While traveling through the Middle East, he decided to change his career to painting.

"I found the training in art was integrated with the training of an architect," he said. "It was absolutely integrated. We used a pencil to draw with those days, rather than a mouse."

After traveling the Middle East, Kosinski found himself in another desert - that of New Mexico, where he was introduced to a couple of North Carolinians by a friend he'd met in Jerusalem. Because of that chance meeting, Kosinski ended up in the High Country, where his daughter attended Appalachian State University.

"I found myself responding to a very similar geography in North Carolina (to that of the English lake district) and consequentially realized why a lot of people from England and Scotland settled here. It comes out in my paintings. My subjects are local impressions of mountains and creeks and fresh water and rivers."

Kosinski often paints with oils, but his work at the Frameworks is in watercolor. "It's smaller, but the same principles apply - content, color management, making something fit into your response with the environment. There's a lot of reflecting on where we live that comes into it."

As it was when he studied architecture, Kosinski remains observational.

"I spend a lot of time looking between brushstrokes," he said. "It's not just about using a color and being happy about it. It's the relationship of the color with the one that's nearby. Once these relationships come into place, there's really no scientific explanation."

Blowing Rock Frameworks & Gallery is located at 7539 Valley Blvd. in the Food Lion shopping center in Blowing Rock. For more information, call (828) 295-0041 or visit
For more information on the artists, visit and

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