Dempsey Essick is a self taught, self expressed realist watercolor artist. He is known as the Hummingbird Bird Artist; not only for the hummingbirds he paints but for the hidden hummingbirds he hides in his paintings.
Nothing says “Old South’ like the ancient city of Charleston, South Carolina. From the lovely old magnolia tress to beautiful anti-bellum homes along the waterfront, Charleston is the epitome of the “Old South.”
Dempsey’s five paintings of Charleston scenes reflect not only the beauty but Dempsey’s love of the Old South. As you immerse yourself in the Charleston paintings you become aware of the clip clop of the horse drawn carriages and the smell of salt air along the battery. Charleston speaks of flowers, salt ocean breezes, and southern hospitalilty.
If you are an artist, no matter where you go, you always see your surroundings in terms of what would look good in a painting. You fall into the habit of looking at everything in terms of light and shadow; color and shape; setting and beauty. You always have a camera with a high resolution lens to record scenes that you may want to study later. Then, when the right bells go off you might revisit the site several times at different times of day to watch the shifting patterns of light and shadow. Always you are waiting for that little light to go on in your head that says "This is IT."
Dempsey Essick was spending a few days in one of his favorite cities, Charleston, SC, where early one morning on a casual exercise stroll, he turned a corner just as the early morning sun slanted in from the ocean and spotlighted the arresting scene of a bay window (at 5 Atlantic Street) which seemed to rise out of a tier of flowers. Flanked on either side by beautiful brickwork, wrought iron railings and a gate leading to a side yard with a large crape myrtle tree, the texture of the scene was enhanced by a wide, flagstone walkway.
The scene was almost made to order for an Essick painting combining, as it does, striking beauty, the texture of brick and flagstone with a lovely wrought iron gate and an abundance of hydrangeas and impatiens to attract the long bill of any passing humming bird.
So, Dempsey got out his palette and his watercolors and went to work. Slowly, stroke by stroke, hour by hour, he carefully recreated the scene for the pleasure of everyone who sees "Charleston Stroll." Everything is here for the Essick connoisseur from the carefully created individual leaves to the varied shades of gray in the broken and uneven flagstones, to the texture of the bricks and the wrought iron gate. The low angle of the early morning sun creates long shadows that delineate each board in the houses, make mirrors of the windows, and emphasize the trees and lower foliage.
If Dempsey has an identifying mark it is a hummingbird and he couldn't resist the opportunity to include one here, busily sipping nectar from one of the flowers. For those who love locating the rebus hummingbird he traditionally includes in all his paintings, that one is here too but you have to find it.
Print owners will delight in the fact that Dempsey, at no charge, will retouch the mortar of the slate sidewalk by adding a name, initials, or a special date.
Occasionally an artist will find a subject so compelling that he simply must return, perhaps more than once, to display all its facets. For Dempsey Essick, the Carrington-Carr House at Two Meeting Street in Charleston, South Carolina, is such a subject.
After doing three paintings at the location ("View from the Veranda", "Morning Coffee", and "Afternoon Tea") from a point of view looking outward from the arched veranda, Dempsey has figuratively stepped off of the veranda and walked out to the street for a look back a the magnificent building.
The task Dempsey had set for himself in undertaking the Two Meeting Street painting was daunting. With a reputation as one of the South¹s leading realist painters, Dempsey could not skimp or gloss over any aspect of the scene. Each brick, board, bush, blossom, and balustrade had to be depicted honestly and in scale with the overall scene. More importantly, the character of the house had to be the dominant and ruling factor of the finished picture.
There was no way he could do the painting from a distance using photographs and sketches. It was imperative that he be on the scene as each aspect of the finished painting developed. For this reason he rented a small apartment where he could get the solitude he required and where he could go daily to sketch and refresh his memory. He worked twelve and fourteen-hour days and Shelley noticed in their nightly phone call that we was sounding groggy. So she called a meeting of their Movie Club who agreed to meet Dempsey at Myrtle Beach for a weekend of rest and relaxation.
At the last minute Dempsey decided that it wouldn’t be safe to leave the partially completed painting in the apartment so he taped it between two large pieces of corrugated cardboard (the non-traditional way to transport a valued original painting) and he took it with him. The group had great fun and Dempsey had a mental break.
By 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning, they had checked out and loaded their cars but then decided not to leave until noon so that the Lexington bunch would miss the race traffic. At 11:50 they were sitting in the lobby of the hotel playing cards when they noticed one of the maids dragging a large piece of cardboard en route to the dumpster that stood open and waiting. Shelley hollered and Dempsey bolted. THE PAINTING HAD BEEN LEFT IN THE ROOM! Ten minutes more and all would have been lost. Dempsey said, "I'm usually pretty laid back, but this time I saw my life flash before my eyes."
Well anyway, they saved the painting. Dempsey went back to the apartment and, after several more weeks (an estimated 832 working hours), he had finished the masterpiece titled "Two Meeting Street" though there was some consideration for calling it "The Cardboard Caper".
There is no record of how painters in the past transported their work. In Rembrandt's time there was no corrugated cardboard. Likewise Van Gogh did cut off his ear. Do you suppose he lost a painting and whacked off the ear in a fit of despair?
Anyhow, all's well etc. Shelley said it was the fastest she'd seen Dempsey move since they were in high school. And Dempsey still has both ears.
Viewers will be astounded at the fine detail, the control of color, and the balance of the finished painting. "Two Meeting Street" is, by any measure, the pinnacle of Dempsey Essick’s career to date.
The "Two Meeting Street" giclee presents the only full, extended, view of Dempsey Essick's popular painting. For the regular edition lithograph print, the sides of the image were cropped but with the giclee you see the full image as it was painted.
A giclee (pronounced gee-clay) is a recognized fine art print category like lithographs and serigraphs. Giclee is considered among the world's best technique for reproducing original works of art as it allows the print to be reproduced on the same quality paper as the original is painted. In our case, your giclee is printed on paper much like the watercolor paper Dempsey uses. Because of how the ink adheres to this better quality paper, giclees look very much like original art. However because of the cost of the paper, the fact that they are produced individually by state of the art equipment, the giclee is a more expensive print. The image permanence of giclees lasts up to 200 years when proper museum lighting is used.
Unique to the "Two Meeting Street" print is "Wings" - a pair of prints that complete and extend the art image by 5 inches on each side. Enhanced by Dempsey’s hummingbirds in the foreground, the 2 "Wings" prints can be placed with "Two Meeting Street" in one frame or framed separately to make an attractive 3 pc grouping. Because of their odd size the pair also look great flanking a doorway or window.
Please see our samples at the gallery and you’ll see that the pair of "Wings" compliment and can work with any of the Charleston prints.
Ambience is the word that crops up often in conversations about the antebellum city of Charleston, South Carolina. No place in Charleston exemplifies the ambience of the old city more than the one-hundred-year-old Carrington-Carr home, now an inn at Two Meeting Street.
It is a summer afternoon and a cool glass of tea has been set out on the west end of the veranda for the thirsty sightseer in from touring the old city. Except for the muted sound of motor cars on Meeting and Battery Streets, the scene could have easily been lifted from the nineteenth century.
"Afternoon Tea" is the third of Dempsey's paintings which look outward from the Two Meeting Street Inn. In this view he has included, in the foreground, the entablature which supports an overhanging second story room.
Dempsey has used the same color palette throughout the three 'Veranda' paintings and has adhered to the same scale so that the paintings can stand alone as the excellent pictures the are or they are or be hung together to form a stunning triptych.
Visitors to Charleston, South Carolina fortunate enough to get lodgings at the historic old Carrington-Carr horne at Two Meeting Street can bask in the ambiance of the city without ever leaving the premises. The house itself, from the Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass windows to the lovely old veranda with its double columned arches framing an unsurpassed view of the harbor across White Point Gardens and the period houses along Battery Street, is the embodiment of antebellum Charleston.
Guests at Two Meeting Street Inn might spend the morning at the city museum, which is the oldest in the country, or perhaps take the boat trip out to historic Fort Sumter. Then, before a walking tour of the old city, they might pause first for a mid-afternoon tea break on the west veranda where the slow pace of sightseeing carriages and a light breeze through the palm trees, lend a timeless atmosphere to the scene.
Dempsey first watercolor from the vantage point of the Meeting Street address was "View From the Veranda". This was followed by a year later by "Morning Coffee" which expanded the view to include the east side of the veranda and a spectacular old live oak with the harbor in the distance. Now, with "Afternoon Tea," Dempsey completes the panoramic sweep with a vista from the west end of the veranda showing some of the old houses and palmetto palms along Battery Street.
"Afternoon Tea," like the other two paintings in the trio, stands on its own as a masterful work, worthy of any Dempsey Essick setting of location. Dempsey has used the same color palette and has adhered to the same scale for each of the "Veranda" paintings which permits a stunning triptych display when the three are hung together.
Plan your stay at Two Meeting Street Inn where Afternoon Tea is graciously served by the Spell Family.
On warm fragrant mornings, not long after the sun rises out of the Atlantic, guests at the Two Meeting Street Inn in Charleston, can sit at one of the wrought iron tables on the veranda and drink coffee while the birds and butterflies help usher in a new day.
In the painting, a butterfly tasting the petunias, draws the eye to a beautiful half round stained glass window. You can sense the chorus of songbirds just beyond the double-columned arches in the twisted old live oak tree which dominates the grounds. A brick sidewalk leads the eye through an arched gate in the wrought iron fence that defines the property, and across the famous Charleston Battery at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers is visible through the trees draped with Spanish moss.
For "Morning Coffee" Dempsey has returned to the Two Meeting Street Inn, the same location as his most popular painting to date, "View From the Veranda". This view looks outward from a different angle and stands on its own as a beautiful and desirable painting. "Morning Coffee" is a sister piece to "Afternoon Tea" in size as well as palette.
Plan your stay at Two Meeting Street Inn where Morning Coffee is served in the Victorian Dining Room or in the Southern Courtyard.
Founded in 1670, the city of Charleston, South Carolina is pervaded with the ageless charm of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Old churches, beautiful gardens, and stately homes set on streets designed for horse and buggy traffic recall the beauty and serenity of the antebellum south.
Dempsey Essick sometimes vacations at the Two Meeting Street Inn, in Charleston. Historically known as the Carrington-Carr House, the inn is situated on a double lot on the corner of Meeting and South Battery. Dempsey likes to relax on the wide veranda with its double columned arches which curve around one end of the hundred-year-old home in a manner reminiscent of an early river boat.
In his "View from the Veranda", Dempsey has captured the essence of Charleston's fresh salt air, flower garden, and quiet tree lined streets. Approaching the painting, the viewer's eye drifts past the big-leaf schefflera in the left foreground and settles on two invitingly comfortable porch rockers with flowered cushions and a wicker table set with a pitcher of lemonade.
In the background, framed by freshly painted arches, a sprawling old live oak's tangled and twisted limbs stand in contrast to the stately trunks of a row of palm trees which define the boundary of the White Point Gardens. The gardens mark the tip of the Charleston peninsula where the Ashley and the Cooper Rivers merge to form Charleston Harbor which can be seen just past the Battery walk in the distance.
The mark of an Essick painting is in the small details. After the overall impact of the picture, the viewer begins to notice such things as the texture of the cushions; shadow patterns across the floor and onto the wall and shutters; even a glimpse of brick walkway through the banisters. And, in the distant trees, tendrils of Spanish moss indelibly stamp the scene as being in the deep South.
Plan your stay at Two Meeting Street Inn where Afternoon Tea is graciously served by the Spell Family.