Nick DePaolo home again

By Margaret Roberts | Jan 29, 2014

They say that you can’t go home again but apparently you can if you are local artist Nick DePaolo.

Nick lived here in Waynesville until his family moved to the Chicago area when he was 11. He never forgot how special his childhood was growing up here in Haywood County and after a 25-year stint in the military, he moved back to Waynesville. It wasn’t long before he needed to move back to Chicago but now he has moved again to Waynesville and lives here permanently.

He said at a very young age he met an artist who illustrated comic books and “I was enthralled!” All through grammar school he entered art competitions and by the eighth grade he had won at the local and regional levels and placed fifth in the state. In high school he painted the scenery for the senior play, a real honor. His high school years gave Nick the opportunity to express his art in many ways.

He attended both the University of Illinois and the Harrington Institute of Design in Chicago. He is a certified Bill Alexander instructor, incorporating his own personal style into his teaching. Nick is also a Grumbacher Paint Company certified instructor as well and spent 16 years as an illustrator for the Navy. After retiring from the Navy, he taught at Prairie State University in Chicago Heights Illinois. Whew! What a busy man.

Now that he is “retired,” he claims to have slowed down. He is the past president of the Blue Ridge Water Media Society, a member of the Main Street Artists’ Co-Op, Cedar Hill Studio and the Mahogany House of Fine Art and Studio (in Frog Level).

He teaches art in Waynesville, Franklin and Bryson City. In Wayensville, he teaches at Haywood Arts Council (Gallery 86), Mountain Home Collection, Michael's, and in the past at Haywood Community College. In his “free” time he enjoys giving private art lessons.

How does he do all of this? Well, besides being blessed with abundant energy he is fortunate to be married to a lovely lady, Pat DePaolo. Their wedding in 1998, complete with an Elvis impersonator, is the stuff made for an entirely separate and fascinating article. She is his publicist, sets up his classes and basically keeps him on target.

“We are generally a go-everywhere-together-twosome,” he said.

I was not surprised to learn that Norman Rockwell and Walt Disney are two of the artists he most admires. He also has great respect for Tom Lynch as a watercolorist and as a friend. When you view Nick's art in this article and in person you will easily recognize that influence.

Nick’s exhibits will nearly always reveal something about his interests. You will soon discern that he is an avid cowboy fan. He has paintings of cowboys, horses and even a portrait of Roy Rogers, his hero. He was lucky enough to meet him several times as a boy. As an adult he met Roy’s son Dusty at the Roy Rogers museum in California.

He was one of the last fans to see Roy before he died. Before Roy died Nick painted a portrait of him, but Roy never lived to see it. Roy’s wife Dale did see it and hung it in the museum. Nick went on to paint several murals in the California museum. At the family’s request, Nick painted a portrait of Dale and now both portraits hang in the new Roy Rogers museum in Branson, Missouri.

Pay close attention when you dine and shop in Waynesville. Many local businesses and restaurants display exhibits of his work. You could impress your friends by telling all about Nick, his life and his artistic influences.

Nick is the featured Artist of the Month for January at the Mahogany House.  For more information on Nick, you may reach him by email at