Ric's brush jar

More Thoughts from Ric Campman's Students and Colleagues

RIC HAD certain qualities:
- he could really listen to you -- and hear what you were trying to say, even the stuff under the words;
- and he loved to read and was so knowledgeable -- everything from art and science and philosophy and religion to movie reviews and kids' books and comedy -- lots of stuff . . . so he offered insights from a wide knowledge;
- and Ric trusted his intuition; he could be a conduit and let things come through him, so what he offered was wider than himself;
- and he was truly, truly generous; he wanted to give everyone everything he could;
. . . . and these qualities are what made him so wonderful as a friend and as a teacher.
- Lydia Thomson

RIC, I MET YOU during my first month in Brattleboro when I wandered up those stairs to RGS. I knew from that moment that I had found "home." - Carol Ross

RIC, THANK YOU for opening doors to a world of perception, visual and mental, for me and so many others. You have enriched us with your vision. - Liz H.

Ric teaching in a workshop

Ric working with students

I TOOK an independent study class from Ric this spring, and during a crit group (though he didn't like to call them that, we didn't ever come up with a better name) his words were, "You have to get out of the pond and into the stream," in other words, don't stagnate but keep trying new stuff (my words not his!). As a painter I think about that all the time and say to myself, "Well, Ric, I'm swimming in the stream today!" - Kate Spencer

I WAS UP at Vermont Studio Center and having total artist's block, dark night of the soul, thought I was wasting my time and their precious space just being there. I suffered for the night, then called Ric in the morning and told him my tale. His first response was something like, "Ah, the place of not knowing. What a great place to be." (Not what I wanted to hear at the time but a line I use regularly with myself and others to this day!) Then he told me to put away all of the art tools that I had brought and was used to. And to get the biggest piece of paper or the biggest piece of canvas I could find. To go outside and gather some sticks. Come back and get quiet -- inner quiet. Then have at it with the sticks as my mark-making tools with my paints or whatever I had. I did as he said, then painted for hours and hours and hours, had a total breakthrough with my work that triggered a body of work that went on for a very long time. I made a painting called Touching, and not feeling touched. . . . Ah, the place of not knowing! - Ginger Ertz

I CALLED RGS, full of intent and fear. You said, "Come on in. We'll have fun." I learned to play and dance. Left poetry for a while for those lovely little tubes of color. You are a teacher of my best and yet you accept the rest as well. Thank you. - Marilyn Allen

RIC, TO ME you are love and compassion, tenderness, grace, stubbornness, rage, outrage, courage, and the gritty sort of kindness that gets into the dark places and sets up camp. - Kimberly Carmody

WHAT I'VE learned from Ric: Enjoy being surprised by yourself. - Eva Mondon

Great Joy

BY HIS reverence and irreverence
his insight without ego
his willingness to cross boundaries
By knowing when to push, when to remain silent
In his love for brown-pink
his humbleness
and commitment
By his ability to see what is needed and go there
without judgment
And in his Great Joy
His influence is felt.
- Helen Schmidt

MY EYES and heart owe so much to you. Every encounter is a "Great Joy." - Doris Fredericks

YOU KEEP ME centered in truth that drives my creativity. You continue to inspire me with your vision. Thank you for your faith, guidance, and encouragement. - Melissa Scheid Franz


"What do you want to work on today?" Ric inquires. He teaches that artmaking is a path, a way of knowing, a way of seeing and being seen. Art is a way of finding the beauty and the whole in everything. Ric waits in the studio at The River Gallery School and greets me as if I never left. He stands in front of the window, framed by the river and the yellow-green summer mountain. He is wearing a forest green sleeveless cotton shirt, and shorts of faded denim. Ric is barefoot. There are splatters of paint and dust on his pale feet. I notice his elegant hands, his smile, intense eyes, and gravelly voice. His hair is growing finer, not like the coarse brush of wild brown he used to have on his head.

After fourteen years of studying with Ric, what are the gifts he has given me? He has helped me really see a field of wildflowers, a frozen river, raspberries growing wild on a hill. He has been Bob Dylan songs and Gregorian chants. He is always kind, able to see the truth of my work and reflect it back to me. He has taught me to see the subtle hues on an old barn door, that background is always as important as what's up front, and the importance of perspective. He showed me the marks of life and color that live on a white wall. Ric has taught me to challenge my habitual gestures, to make angels and shields, to find darkness and light in every painting. Ric has encouraged me to go deep within myself, trust my own vision and heart rather than the mind's preconceived notions.

Ric ended class today with a quote from a Zen master. "What holds up the world? A turtle. But what holds up the turtle? It's turtles all the way down."
- Lori Schreiner

Ric in fur hat

YOU DEALT with the fact that I am color-blind as if it is of no importance, and devised ways to get around it. My paintings may be odd at times, but without your encouragement and innovative ideas, I never could have done anything at all. - Vincent Brandt

RIC, YOU HELPED bring me back to art making and learning after years of absence. I never felt as seen in art school by any teacher as I have felt having my art work under your gaze. Thank you so much. - Collin Leech

YOUR COMMENTS, from "feel the energy of the tree" to "try indigo," invariably move me past a stuck place. I've been amazed at your ability to connect with so many people -- wherever they are in their artistic process. You possess a combination of great generosity and intuition, with a solid knowledge of technique. You're the best art teacher and mentor I've had! You make Brattleboro, me, and others much richer. - Liza King

Copyright 2006, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont

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