Friday, September 25, 2015


Yesterday, while reading a few blogs I learned that we lost artist and musician, Nicholas Simmons.  Nick was definitely one of a kind - brash, bold, opinionated, funny, sassy, caring, sharing, sentimental - all the things rolled into one package that was fun to be around.  Our history goes back about 10 years.  

I "discovered" him posting on WetCanvas (where he liked to say he was kicked out because of his opinions), and we began talking and emailing.  Then I told my watercolor teacher at the time about him and convinced her she should have him come and do a workshop - and she did (twice).  So we met in person then.

A few years later when he was establishing himself as a workshop instructor, I took a workshop with him in Ohio (along with friends, Deb Ward and Sharon Roeder - in the photo at top) hosted by the Western Ohio Watercolor Society.  He was funny, witty, with lots of stories, entertaining, and shared all his tricks and techniques, holding nothing back.  

The class threw water and paint (fluid acrylic) on the paper taped to the wall, splattering and letting the paint do its thing (which is what Nick was all about - not controlling the paint but letting it do its own thing).  We all painted a geisha based on his drawing (his own original geisha painting won him a top prize in a watercolor society show).  

A year later, when he returned to the area for another workshop, he and I (along with Deb Ward), met for a fun dinner and lots of catching up.  I hadn't seen him since and know he just kept getting more famous and climbing higher and higher in the art world, not just the watercolor world.  

Nick painted in watercolor and fluid acrylics, he got a deal with DaVinci paints after using them for years and raving about their pigments, as well as having Escoda make a line of Nicholas Simmons brushes.  He was married to Olga, a Russian girl he met on a trip there many years ago.  He had many stories to tell about their meeting and the train trip where he thought he was going to be shot as a spy.  They had a beautiful daughter, Larissa (11), whom he adored.  It will be so hard for them without him.

His bright light will be missed.  There really was no one painting in watermedia the way he did, creating some interesting paintings that just kept pushing the boundaries of watermedia.  He threw paint on the paper, sprayed it away as it dried to create a batik-like look, took full advantage of PhotoShop to manipulate, twist, turn and recreate interesting images from original photos. 

No one who has posted about him has said what happened.  I read he was ill and had to cancel some workshops in August.  Perhaps it was something that happened quickly.  

You think someone is always going to be around don't you?  But that isn't always the case.  

Since Nick was sensitive about age, I won't say how old he was when he passed but the rumor is he was 47 - he would love that! ha ha 

You can find his work on his blog, on Facebook and on his webpage....start by going here and enjoy.  

As for me, today I'm going to go throw some paint around in memory of Nick (I once had finished a nice painting and showed it to him and he said what it needed was for me to get some white gesso and throw it on top of the finished painting and see what happened!!!  I was shocked and offended because I thought the painting was very nice as it was - of course, it just didn't have that extra pizzazz he was looking for.  As he said whenever he judged a show, "I'm looking for something I've never seen before!").


debwardart said...

Rhonda, what a wonderful tribute this post is. I heard also, and am trying to find out what happened. While he would enjoy being 47 (!!!) he still has passed at a fairly young age and I, too, have sympathy for his family and his many followers.

Bruce Sherman said...

Hi there Rhonda!... Your sad news today strikes a very resonant chord in my heart today!

Time is such a sneak really! Always hangs back noiselessly... perhaps just a background hum for we humans. And then...

He's standing on your toes... demanding payment.

Your description of Nick really drives home a very important lesson:

Live like there's no tomorrow. Throw paint without regard for affected results. Enjoy the rhythm of the dance of Life. Give it!... Share it! Give creative inactivity no quarter!!!

Good Painting!
Warmest regards,

Caroline Simmill said...

Sad news when a light goes out in our world. He certainly was a gifted and special individual and thank you for remembering Nick here and sharing with us all.

E.M. Corsa said...

What a lovely gift your comments are for his spirit and his family. I only wish I had had the chance to know him.
Moments Matter!

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

:( sad, but very nice memories posted about him

Gary L. Everest said...

Hi Rhonda,
Sorry for the art world's loss, as well as, the personal one for you. From looking at the photos, he was a bright light on the planet.
This post was a fine tribute to his energy and zest for life.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend throwing that paint around! :)

Alice Jo Webb said...

How sweet that what he taught you remains. Thats a legacy that matters.

Cathy Gatland said...

Oh that is sad news - thank you for the reminder of his wonderful work and attitude. You must have been an early encourager of him on his art journey!

Teresa Palomar Lois said...

Oh my, I didn't know he passed away, such a terrible loss, he was indeed unique and will be missed.