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.
Living on the Piedmont plateau of North Carolina, Dempsey Essick has always felt fortunate to be in such close proximity to the white sand beaches and the islands of the Outer Banks with their great fishing and picturesque lighthouses. At the same time, it is only a short drive west to be in some of the most beautiful mountains in the world, the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of the Appalachian Range.
Some of Dempsey's fondest memories are of family picnics along the Blue Ridge Parkway and splashing in the tumbling waters of a cool stream. The play of sunlight on the still pools and reflections from the smooth rocks and verdant foliage, even when he was very young, appealed to his budding artistic sense. In those early days, he was awed by the absolute silence of the deep forest, the lush green of trees that were there when Columbus discovered America. He is still awed by those same things today. He spends much of his leisure time hiking, fishing and camping in the mountains.
One of Dempsey's favorite spots for camping is the Mortimer Recreation Area, in the Pisgah National Forest, just south of the Edgemont community. He spent two days on the hiking trails, looking for a scene that would speak to him and tell him that here was the site for his next painting. He had left the dirt road and was wading upstream in Wilson Creek where there was no trail when he came around a bend in the stream and the bells and whistles went off in his head. There before him was a view that almost took his breath away.
In the foreground, right at his feet, was a small rapid with the crystal clear water tumbling over rocks smoothed by centuries of being immersed. Just beyond was a clear pool that seemed to invite a dry fly. Framed by the break in the trees was a splendid view of the summit of Yellow Buck Mountain and, off to the right, leaning into the picture as if to say "look at me!" was a lone evergreen pine tree. Dempsey knew instantly that this was the scene he had been looking for.
Back home, with the pictures spread out to bring back the image that he carried in his mind, Dempsey started the long and labor intensive process of depicting each rock, each tree, each reflection that would take the viewer into the mountains with him to experience "Wilson Creek." A part of every painting is fantasy and Dempsey pictured in his mind what the scene would be like without the intrusion of a human. With that thought in mind, he added the doe and her fawn because that would truly be natural to the scene he was painting.
Those familiar with Dempsey's work will recognize a maturity in his more recent paintings. As he ages as a man, it is natural that his work matures also. Now, at this stage of his life, Dempsey Essick is producing the best work of his life.