Goodbye to Our Friend, Nicholas Simmons

October 01, 2015 5 Comments

Honoring Nicholas Simmons who passed away September 21, 2015

Nicholas Simmons was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and began painting in Sarasota, Florida. He studied under many well-known watercolorists, most notably Valfred Thëlin and Barbara Nechis. At the same time, Mr. Simmons pursued a music career as a professional guitarist. He did not return to visual art until 2004, when he began painting watercolor again and launched his website.

Mr. Simmons’ paintings have been featured in a variety of publications such as
L’Art de l’Aquarelle, Watercolor Artist, Watercolor , and a number of books. He
has been featured on Maryland Public Television, and in 2008 his acclaimed DVD
Innovative Watermedia was released by Creative Catalyst Productions. His work has graced the covers of classical music recordings, including those of world renowned guitar virtuoso, Manuel Barrueco. He is sponsored by Da Vinci Paintst, and Escoda Artist Brushes. His Signature Series of Escoda brushes were introduced in 2012.

Awards include top prize at the 2007 National Watercolor Society for his painting
Fresh Sushi, consecutive gold medals at the Pennsylvania Watercolor Society, 2008-2009, and the gold medal at the Texas Watercolor Society in 2010. In 2012 he was the first recipient of the National Watercolor Society’s special Masters Award.

A 14-page feature in the Winter 2009 issue of Watercolor magazine included this summary of the artist’s work, written by John Parks:


Nicholas Simmons paints in watermedia on a scale that rivals oil painting. The subject matter is a dazzling mix of figures juxtaposed with printed lettering, graffiti, Japanese block prints, neon lights, reflections, and lavish corners of nature. The effect can be disorienting, as though a camera has taken a picture by accident, revealing an image that is both exciting and mysterious. The paint itself swirls, floods, drips, and spatters, driven on by the general excitement of the imagery and giving the work a sense that it was done in a rush in a matter of minutes.


Mr. Simmons exhibits internationally as a solo artist and with major watermedia
stars in group and invitational exhibitions, as well as one of six members of North American Watercolor Artists (NAWA), representing the United States. He was the sole judge representing the United States at the Shanghai Zhujiajiao International Watercolour Biennial, the world’s largest watercolor exhibition, in 2010 and 2012. He has judged numerous other major exhibitions.

His work is held in public and private collection in the United States, Europe, and China.
Nicholas Simmons’ work has earned him a worldwide reputation as one of the most exciting artists in contemporary watercolor.


5 Responses

Harry Fager
Harry Fager

January 06, 2019

Like Julie above, my time with Nick was as my guitar teacher. It was in the late 90’s in Sarasota and I decided to relearn the guitar in my mid 40’s….. I couldn’t have ended up with a better instructor! Nick & I connected immediately, even though he was
15 years younger than me. He tought me more about playing the guitar in the short 2 years of lessons than I could have learned in 10 years from any another instructor. Years later, we re-connected via Facebook where I learned he had left Florida, moved to Wash. DC and was flourishing as a painter! He was an amazing young man and gifted beyond belief. His guitar playing skills were only surpassed by his talent on the canvas. I was shocked and saddened when I learned of his passing a couple of years ago.
I met a young painter earlier today and I got around to mentioning Nick.
I suggested he look him up and read as much about him as he could….what Nick accomplished as a painter in 10+/- years was astounding and certainly an inspiration to any young, aspiring artist. I looked up Nick when I got home and came across this site, read the other comments and decided to share my experience…..20 years following my time with Nick, I frequently think of him and thank him as I play my guitar at home or at a gig….whether holding a guitar or a paintbrush in his hands, Nick was a true virtuoso.

Julie Jefferson
Julie Jefferson

August 05, 2017

Dear Site Administrator/Owner: Please feel free to edit my comment in any way you see fit. Thank you, as I feel great sympathy for Nick’s family and friends. We all loved him, being he was so lovable!! I still cry. Thank you, Julie Jefferson [fka Julie Thompson, as Nick knew me] :(

Julie Jefferson
Julie Jefferson

July 31, 2017

Listening to Nick’s guitar playing on “Learning to Live Again,” and his video playing classical, “Venezuelan Waltz,” (when he was younger, when I knew him). I took guitar lessons with Nick in the early eighties, when just 15 and 16. I adored and idolized him, feeling extremely fortunate to be taking guitar lessons from him; Nick’s talent was something I had never before experienced, being so young.. And I will admit, he was my first big crush…seems so cliche’ – a young girl having a crush on her guitar teacher. He was good to me, always kind and sweet – he liked to teach old jazz tunes. He would write everything down on yellow paper, all the chords and notes came straight from his head; and, of course, I still have those lessons, written in his hand. I think I will work up one of those old jazz tunes and sing it “Julie London” style, in memory of my beloved teacher, Nick. I still play and sing; music is my therapy. One poignant memory is when my lesson fell on my sixteenth birthday, and in classic Nick style he broke out in song singing and playing for me Ringo Starr’s “You’re 16.” How lucky was I to have had Nick Simmons sing to me on my 16th birthday, “You’re all ribbons and curls, ooh what a girl, lips like strawberry wine, you’re 16, you’re beautiful…” I was so young, but as much as a clueless 16 year old could love, I fell. I lost touch with him as I grew older…and then learning he died in this way…that he was in such despair….my heart is breaking. I just learned a few weeks ago thinking I will look up Nick on Facebook. I am feeling sad for all involved, mostly sad for Nick’s family, his beautiful wife, Olga, and daughter, Larissa, whom I never had the pleasure of meeting but can see per FB pics they were a loving family. I cannot imagine what could cause Nick such unremitting grief that he felt the need to leave them in this way. Except for one…thing – Depression. It’s a terrible thing. I know depression having struggled with it in my 20s, on and off. I beat it though….I never knew Nick struggled with it…..I wish I knew, maybe I could have taught him something…how to get well from depression, for that I have mastered. I wish I knew. I do not think he let anyone know the extent of his suffering….I must stop for I am writing a book here! Nick…he will be missed by many whose lives he touched, deeply; or
…maybe I should not publish this….but people need to stop being afraid to speak about it. For to remain “silent” costs too many precious lives. …..Nick was more than precious. He was a father, a husband, a brother, a son, a teacher, a friend, as well as being imminent in his fields of water color art, and guitar. RIP Nick…

Christopher Green
Christopher Green

October 15, 2016

This is very belated as I still try to figure out….. I met Nick in Sarasota in 1987. He was my student and I was his student. A special combination. Nick taught me guitar and I taught him “10s” (tennis) Nick “loved” tennis and was quite good!! Nick quickly became friends with my “10s” friends from the Nick Bolliettieri Tennis Academy. Most notably, Mike DePalmer Jr. Top 20 ATP in singles and 4 ATP in doubles1984 to 89 and coach to Boris Becker; the Williams sister as teenagers and many more! To the best of my knowledge, I bought Nick’s first painting as a professional water color artist at his first showing at the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota on March 17th 2004. His wife was pregnant with their first child. I was too happy to purchase his art work! The “joy” Nick exhibited at this sale was “priceless” as he carefully wrapped his painting for me to have. We got together in L.A. several times for I had moved there. I miss Nick dearly. I miss my friend!

Marie Anne Patenaude-Alexandre
Marie Anne Patenaude-Alexandre

April 07, 2016

I had the privledge to study with Nicholas Simmons during 2 workshops. Talented, generous, and a passionate creative. I miss his comments on my work/posts and his friendship. My sympathies to his beautiful wife Olga and his talented daughter Larissa

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Register for our FREE bi-weekly newsletter