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.
For the second poster in his "Down Home" series, Dempsey Essick has painted a nostalgic view of the deserted American Children's Home dairy barn which is located on Hwy 47 in Davidson County, North Carolina.
In the picture a flight of Canadian geese passing over the derelict milking barn intrudes on the stillness of a winter day. The raucous call of the echoes from pristine snow fields and through empty silos and buildings that no longer know the bustle of an active dairy herd. Inside the barn all the milking stanchions are gone now and broken windows in the milk house stare out across fields where cows no longer graze. Birds echoes from pristine snow fields and through empty silos and buildings.
The Children's Home dairy barn, as a subject for a painting, had been filed away in the back of Dempsey's mind for a long time, just waiting for the right moment. "I've driven by the old barn for years," he said, "and I knew that someday I would use it as the subject for a painting. Then, one day last year, as I was passing, I saw a flock of Canadian geese fly over. There were only three of them but, in that moment I felt that I had found the perfect setting for the second poster in my Down Home series of Davidson County scenes."
Having memorable recollections of my growing up at the Junior Order Home, there are many that come to mind of the milk barn, milk house, and cow barn. Twice a day the cows would be gathered at the gate and file over to the milk barn. There were thirty stalls and almost every cow would return to the same one each day. It only took a day or so for the new milk cows to settle on a particular stall and stick with it.
The milking crew would get up around 4 am to start our first milking. After that we would clean all the buckets, strainers, and cooling equipment for storage in the milk house. After attending to all our other chores and going to school in the morning, it would be to do all over again in the afternoon. It was in that time before our second milking that I can remember being caught up with our duties and I would lie down outside the milk barn on a cold day in the sun and fall asleep in the grass against the building for a short nap. The barn would block the wind and it felt like an Indian summer on many a winter day. These are just a few memories I have from my days around these barns and I will never forget them.
"I am thankful to have captured the memories of the old dairy barn as it burned down on September 19, 1994, two years after the print was released" Dempsey shared.
The American Children's Home was opened in 1928 on 320 acres of land in Davidson County, North Carolina. Originally, 120 acres as designated for a dairy farm but in the later years, before the farm was closed in 1979, beef, pork, chicken and vegetables were also raised on the property.
Former milk-boys, who milked at 4:30 in the morning and at 4:30 in the afternoon, seven days a week, and did all the other cleaning and feeding chores, say that the experience equipped them to go out into the world when they became eighteen, confident that they could succeed at whatever they chose to do with the rest of their lives.
"It has been my pleasure since 1989 to create the annual Christmas card used by the American Children's Home. Each year the original painting is reproduced into 5,000 cards and mailed to supporters."
You may receive Dempsey's card by donating to:
American Children's Home
P O Box 1288
Lexington NC 27293