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 is a self taught, self expressed realist watercolor artist who realizes his talent is a gift from God. He lives in the house where he was born and raised on a small farm in northern Davidson County. He is a graduate of Forsyth Technical College with a degree in mechanical drawing; no formal training in art.

Dempsey and Shelley

He is married to Shelley, former postmaster turned gallery manager. They have two children; John, Jr , a college professor and Elizabeth, a physician assistant. Dempsey is known as Poppi D to Elim, Grant and Pierce Brookshire and to Olin, Leif and Wren Inscore-Essick.

Dempsey is known as the Hummingbird Bird Artist not only for the hummingbirds he paints but also for the hidden hummingbirds he hides in his paintings. His exhibits include; The National Academy of Design in NYC, The National Watercolor Exhibition in California, and the Rocky Mountain Water Media Exhibition in Colorado. His work has been routinely used by the North Carolina Wildlife Commission in their annual calendar. He is pleased that his art is used annually to create Christmas cards for The American Children’s Home and the Baptist Children’s Home of North Carolina.

Dempsey is a signature member of the elite National Watercolor Society and is named an official B.A.S.S. Artist. He is an avid birdwatcher and is a former president of the NC Bluebird Society. His daily routine includes 8am and 5 pm feeding of live mealworms to his favorite bluebirds.

Dempsey teaches watercolor through Davidson County Community College. He volunteers at the local homeless shelter, teaches a Community Bible Study and delivers Meals-on-Wheels. A new endeavor is ministry to inmates of the prison system. Dempsey is a member of the Piedmont Emmaus Family, Walk #59, Table of Peter. In addition to bird watching, he enjoys hiking, camping, and especially fishing.

How he became an artist, well that was an accident. On a daily basis Shelley Essick passed the old derelict and run down Cottongrove Country Store on Hwy 8 en route to her job as postmaster in the small community of Southmont. She had for over two years begged Dempsey to do a watercolor of the local landmark to hang in her quaint little office. When she finally received it as a Christmas gift in 1988 she was thrilled.

The couple took the painting to be framed and when picking it up they were told that the shopkeeper had taken orders for 50 prints. "We were shocked as we had never considered doing prints," Dempsey said. Amazed, they took the painting to another frame shop and there received the same response. Up until now Dempsey had painted only for a hobby and he was quite shocked with all that had taken place.

Dempsey borrowed the money to have 500 prints made of his painting "Cotton Grove Country Store" and every copy sold out within two weeks time. So Dempsey began to paint and the public loved it. With the support of his wife and children, he quit his 9-5 job to devote full time to his paintbrush. It turns out that people just like Dempsey’s straightforward style. Every print is a slice of life or a little touch of history.

"In retrospect it was as if God nudged me along this path, making decisions for me that I was incapable of making on my own. I never meant to walk this path. I have never had any formal art training and believe me, I never foresaw a future as an artist."

Even though retired from the retail end of business, Dempsey has been signed to paint for one of the world’s largest licensors so you may expect to see more Essick art in various forms. Nowadays there are a couple of gray hairs (just a couple) but Dempsey’s outlook is still a fresh as it ever was and his skill with the watercolor brush is unmatched.

Take a look at Dempsey's Scrapbook to find out a little bit more about Dempsey.

Read Dempsey's Columns and Articles and see what Dempsey has to say.

Dempsey Essick Studio
2144 Rowe Road
Lexington, NC 27295-0572
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Last Update: 2/7/2019
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