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.
It's everyone's dream of how a farm should look. For most of this century, travelers along the Winston Road north of Lexington, North Carolina, and passengers on the train next to the road, have been captivated by the sight of the Fritts Farm.
They first notice the big red barn surrounded by pastures with grazing cattle, then the green roofed house partially obscured by surrounding trees. It's a house with an unmistakable nineteenth century look; two stories with seven gables and covered porches on every side. It is obviously a dwelling built for a large family.
The new century had barely begun when David Thomas Fritts contracted with John Sink to build a new family home to accommodate his growing family. David eventually raised ten children in what was then called Maple Grove Farm. One of the Children, Charles Ray, and his wife, Helen, still lives in the house. Charles Ray's son, Henry, has restored the original loghome that his grandparents occupied.
In selecting a viewpoint, Essick has chosen the west face ofthe Fritts home because that is the side most familiar to people passing on the main road. For the same reason, he has painted the scene in early spring before the leaves conceal much of the building.
All the characteristics of an Essick painting are present in "Early Spring at the Fritts Farm." His infinite attention to detail, his flawless use of light and shadow to give depth to the scenes and his sense of perspective and composition which puts the viewer in the scene as surely as if she had been seated in the Adirondack bent-willow chair on the Fritts side porch.
Dempsey Essick does not require the viewer to stand back several feet in order to get the full impact of his work. Rather, the viewer is invited to get up close and examine the detail of individual bricks in the chimney and the individual boards in the siding. The leaves, the blossoms, the blades of grass, all invite an examination and appreciation of the hours of meticulous brushwork that go into an Essick painting.
Look closely and you will see a cat on the porch, a rooster near the old smokehouse, and cows in the distance.
Dempsey's wife, Shelley, says that of all Dempsey has ever painted, "Early Spring at the Fritts Farm is my second favorite piece. The brickwork on the chimney and the shadows on the brick are breathtaking. I am amazed every time I look at the painting of this hundred year old home. I would love for Dempsey to do a second painting there of the Fritts barn."