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.
Dempsey Essick had heard about the Pisgah Covered Bridge in Randolph County for years but had never visited the scene until last fall just after the leaves had dropped from the trees.
"I was at the new New Bridge Bank in Asheboro admiring the newly hung Essick Art when the subject of the covered bridge came up. New Bridge Purchasing Manager, Kathy Wilkerson, handed me a local magazine containing a photograph of the bridge in it and I was immediately drawn to it."
The scene stayed in Dempsey's mind, percolating like a strong pot of coffee, all winter. In February he had determined that this just had to be his next painting. He went again and began to select a point of view and to sketch and photograph the wonderful old wooden structure from every angle.
Asked about his reason for selecting the Pisgah Covered Bridge as the subject of a painting, Dempsey said that one of his favorite subjects had always been the series of paintings he did of the house at Two Meeting Street in Charleston, SC. But, from his first sighting of the old covered bridge in Randolph County he had felt that perhaps he had found a scene to challenge the Charleston paintings. "You have to be there and feel the antiquity," he said. "You have to stand by that old bridge and picture, in your mind, all the people and old wagons loaded with hay and all the buggies and hear in your mind the sound they make as they go over the old plans in the bridge."
Dempsey is at his artistic best when he is portraying an old wooden structure and the Pisgah Covered Bridge is no exception. His selection of a vantage point from the creek bed is designed to show the grand old bridge from the point of view of one of the woods creatures, a deer or a rabbit, or perhaps a chipmunk.
Plans were to release the painting in Spring but Dempsey's very nature and intensive technique would not allow it. "I could not rush it. Every leaf, stem, and branch had to be addressed. I had to do it justice and consequently it turned into a Fall Release"
The Pisgah Covered Bridge was built in 1903 and is located 12 miles south of Asheboro, NC. Turn right on State Road 1114 in the town of Ulah and the bridge is about eight miles on the left just past the Union Community Center. Picnic tables are provided and you will enjoy hiking around the trail.
"The first time I walked to the Pisgah Covered Bridge, I stopped in my tracks as I looked at the wood boards and the rock foundation stones with all the shadows from the streamside trees. I listened to the ripple of the stream flowing under the bridge. The scene captured my imagination so that I could not wait to get started painting. Thousands of shadows cast from different directions created an image of abstract shapes that had wonderful order. I actually sat right there on a rock for a long time and breathed all this in.
As I got into this painting, I realized it was going to take much longer than I had anticipated to complete it. My personality as an artist is that I cannot take shortcuts; this is my strength and my weakness. When I paint trees I pay attention to the bark, the limbs, the shadows, and the knot holes When I paint rocks I detail their different shapes and colors and the moss growing on them. My goal is to portray the scene as natural as possible. To put it simply, I take as much time as is required and I cannot be rushed. I want the viewer to feel that they can walk right into the scene and sit down on the same rock I did. That is why "Pisgah Covered Bridge" took 560 hours to paint."