River Gallery School of Art

Sequencing and the Jazzman

State: Vermont

Date: 09/02/16

When I arrived in Brattleboro, I had one thing on my mind: finding somewhere to volunteer. However, as is usually the case, the place found me. While walking down Maine Street, a lady saw my sign:

Seth Stivalas backpacking sign
The sign on my backpack

I learned her name was Jennifer and she suggested I volunteer at the River Gallery School of Art. I decided to take her advice and headed over there.

When I arrived I was greeted warmly by Donna and Joslin who were eager to learn about my trip. I told them what I was doing and how I volunteer in each state to make the world a better place wherever I go and to prove that even one person can make a difference. They set me to work scraping clay and glue off of tables, sweeping, washing tables, and constructing a wall hanger for a ladder.

After a couple hours, I was about to head out to check out the farmers market (the other reason I came to Brattleboro), but Donna stopped me and invited me to come back the next day for an art lesson in sequencing. I had nowhere to be and everywhere to go, so I gratefully accepted her offer (plus learning how to paint is one thing on my bucket list).

Seth Stivala and Jen
Jen giving me my sequencing lesson

The next day I met with Jen, an artist and teacher at the school, who taught me about sequencing.

Sequencing is an art technique developed by the school’s founder Ric Campman. The process is where you take three pieces of paper, cover them with wax, and then paint with your fingers. But there is a lot more to it than that.

“Start off using your non-dominant hand,” Jen told me.

The reason, she explained, is because sequencing is about the process not the product. You just keep moving and let the creativity flow. Having fun with it, rather than letting that internal critic control your every move.

It was a lot of fun and we ended up doing two before Jen had to head to her yoga class.

Sunset over water


Night over water

If you want to learn more about sequencing and other cool art techniques check out the River Gallery School of Art’s Website:


I then headed out of Brattleboro after thanking everyone at the River Gallery School of Art.

As I walked, working my way toward Bennington, a car pulled over and the man inside offered me a ride. It turned out he was headed to Bennington himself. I learned his name was Eugene and he was a Jazz piano player who was heading to a concert at the Bennington museum. After I told him my story about everything I was doing, he invited me to the concert as his guest.

When I arrived at the museum, I knew it was going to make a good story because in the audience were many well dressed sophisticated and undoubtedly upper class people…and then there was me, looking like I just came out of the jungle after a long hike.

“Never been to a Jazz concert with a backpacker before,” one of the audience members mentioned with a good-natured laugh.

When Eugene was introduced, I learned that he wasn’t just a piano player, but the director of the Vermont Jazz center in Brattleboro and an Adjunct Professor of Music. His partner Wanda was a Grammy nominated vocalist.

I can’t put into words how beautifully Eugene played or how wonderfully Wanda sang, but it is a night I will cherish forever. My first Jazz concert could not have been better. This is what my trip is about. Experiencing new and wonderful things. Never knowing what is going to happen next, but going with the flow when it happens. Living the dream.

If you want to check out Eugene and hear him play, check out the Vermont Jazz Center in Brattleboro and their website:


Happiness is creativity without the internal critic

Forever your friend,

~The Outsider

Share this:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *