Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hot Plate Boogie!

Here's a funny song I wrote a long time ago in about 30 minutes. Recorded it the next day with my buddy Duane Freeman, who put down a very entertaining vocal. Finally got around to making a video. Crank it and smile!

Hot Plate Boogie (words, music, all instruments by Nick Simmons)

My mama never cleans but Lord she loves to cook all night
No huffin' or a-puffin' or a rubbin' and a-dubbin' in sight
She just stand up in the kitchen hopin' everything will be alright

You see the rent's not paid so they took it all away, dunno where
Except for the kitchen you'd be bitchin' that there ain't nothin' there
But my baby sees it different and at dinnertime she don't care

She do the Hot Plate Boogie
And it goes somethin' like this

The children got no shoes so they gotta walk to school real slow
When in times of trouble it's their stomach that's the last to know
She says a well-fed baby never worries where the money goes

Well she should be cryin' but my baby will be fryin' tonight
Pork chops, green beans, anything you like she just might
That ol' hot plate glowin' and a-smokin' to my baby's delight

She do the Hot Plate Boogie
And it goes somethin' like this

Monday, December 19, 2011

Southern Caribbean 2011

Olga, Larissa, and I spent a glorious 11 days on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas in late November. From Cape Liberty in New York Harbor to beautiful Labadee in Haiti, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, Antigua, and St. Kitt's. Olga's brother Denys (see above) is First Officer on the ship, serving under the most famous captain in the business, Olav Nyseter. As in previous voyages, we were privileged to be on the bridge during a departure, and Capt. Nyseter let Larissa sound the horn -- something she nor the island of St. Maarten will forget anytime soon! We were also honored to sit at the Captain's table for a very elaborate dinner. Lots of sun, fun, and adventure. "Tak" and "spasibo" to the Captain and First Officer for making our vacation so memorable!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

NAWA at Strathmore Mansion

North American Watercolor Artists (NAWA) was formed in 2010 to represent the United States in international watercolor exhibitions, and is the only group of its kind in the country. Kathleen Alexander, Carol Carter, Mark Mehaffey, Thomas Schaller, Nicholas Simmons, and Keiko Tanabe have already shown their paintings in Mexico City and Madrid, and continue to receive exhibition invitations from around the globe.

Each member has gained a reputation as a leader in the development and critical acceptance of the watercolor medium, and each has been highly recognized for their art, garnering prestigious honors and media attention. NAWA enjoys a combined worldwide audience that includes virtually every watercolorist working today.

Their backgrounds -- personal and professional -- are as eclectic as their paintings, which demonstrate an impressive range of genre and approach: realism; impressionism; abstraction; figures; city, land, and seascapes; florals and botanicals; images depicting locations and cultures from Europe to Asia, as well as compositions that defy category or description.

Contemporary watercolor is a demanding and intensely competitive field, requiring one to maintain a personal vision amidst countless painters who consistently expand the limits of technique and creativity. That six artists should unite with a shared purpose is a testament to the camaraderie and mutual respect fostered by their common bond. Standing on the shoulders of the greats who have preceded them, they blaze a trail that promises a bright future for their beloved medium.

NAWA feature in The Art of Watercolour #5

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The Escodas extended a warm welcome to Barcelona and their factory in Sabadell where the world's finest artist brushes are produced. The people, the food, the culture, the music, Gaudi -- wow, what an experience! I had wonderful guides around the city in Angela Barbi of Enjoy Painting Catalonia fame, and Anna Morales Puigcerver, a cyber-friend artist I've been wanting to meet for a few years.

The highlight, of course, was the tour of Escoda Sabatés, S.A. which was fascinating. I've always wondered how a first class brush is made, and I observed the process from start to finish. Many of the artisans have been at Escoda for decades, and their skill is as impressive as the product. Most of the machinery was designed long ago by Josep Escoda himself, and is still in use today. But it's talented hands in concert with technology that make it all come together, and every time I pick up an Escoda I'll be thinking of these dedicated people.

My signature series of five brushes is not available quite yet, but they presented me with a mock-up of one of the packages. I also got a preview of the new catalog which will feature pages devoted to Alvaro Castagnet, Charles Reid, Joseph Zbukvic, and myself. This recognition has given me a new confidence, and I'm ready to embark on bigger and bolder watercolor adventures. More details to follow regarding the availability of my series.

I will be returning to Barcelona and Sabadell, sooner rather than later, and also am planning a workshop there through EPC. Actually, I have no choice -- a drink from the fabled Font de Canaletes on La Rambla demands it!

Si bebes agua de la fuente de Canaletes, te enamorarás todavía más de Barcelona y no importa lo lejos que vayas, volverás otra vez'. (see last pic)

A huge thank you once again to Ricard Escoda and family, Angela Barbi, Tom Dix of Global Art Materials, Inc., and everyone who made me feel so at home.

(posted from the Explorer of the Seas, somewhere in the Atlantic. See you in 10 days!)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Escoda & Nicholas Simmons

I'm truly excited and proud to announce my new partnership with Escoda, makers of the world's finest artist brush. This offer arrived like a bolt from the blue, and the honor of joining legends Charles Reid and Joseph Zbukvic as an Escoda artist is one of the best things that has happened to me. Soon I'll have a page on the new Escoda website and upcoming catalog, then to Barcelona to tour the factory and stage promotional events.

The biggest "muchas gracias" possible to Ricard Escoda, Tom Dix of Global Art Materials Inc., and Angela Barbi. Drinks are on me tonight!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Xin Jin #3

Xin Jin #3 was done using Da Vinci Artist watercolor on Fabriano Artistico 140 lb. hot press paper. The image measures 33" x 43" and framed is 40" x 50". Another in a series of Asian imagery inspired by last year's visit to Shanghai. This work gives the paint a lot of freedom, accentuating the power and spectacular effects unique to the medium.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

100 Artists of the Mid-Atlantic

Early last year I was contacted by author E. Ashley Rooney to contribute work for a book she was planning about Eastern seaboard artists. Thank goodness this was not another "pay-to-play" publishing offer (many of us receive them almost daily), but a real book by a real author; Ms. Rooney has written and edited a number of acclaimed books on art and other subjects.

It arrived recently, and I am blown away by the quality of the work, reproduced with stunning accuracy. Nearly all mediums are represented, and Rooney has selected an astounding group of artists to illustrate the creative talent of the Mid-Atlantic states. Truly a volume to be proud of, for the artists, author, and publisher. (I circled my pic on the cover!) 224 pages on very high quality paper, hardbound, complete artist information and bibliography, foreword by Charles Yoder. Available from Schiffer Publishing Ltd, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Manoir de Maison Blanche ~ Paris

Last week I conducted a 5-day class at one of the world's premier workshop destinations, Manoir de Maison Blanche, in the Dordogne region of France. Created and run by Alain and Véronique Duvivier, the Manoir is a magical place combining unparalleled atmosphere amongst 16th C. architecture, fabulous cuisine, and instruction from the top artists in watercolor such as Janine Gallizia, Alvaro Castagnet, and Joseph Zbukvic. A wonderful group of painters came from France, Belgium, and Spain, convening in the ancient barn converted to a modern studio. Translation was provided by the lovely and charming Berice whose talent for several languages was indispensable. I had the opportunity to finally meet some internet pals, and reunite with Janine (champagne time, see pic!) The week also included a side trip to a renowned foie gras farm where I made friends with a llama. Superb apertif hours, extended dinners, games, singing, and general frivolity provided a lot of memories that I'll hold dear. Oh...we did lots of painting, too!

I'm thrilled to return to Maison Blanche next year for another week, June 18-22. This workshop will sell out quickly, so contact the Manoir early for reservations.

After the workshop, I relaxed a few days in Paris to soak up even more inspiration. C'est magnifique!