Ron Campbell began working on the paintings a few years before his retirement in 2008. He viewed it as a way to keep himself busy, taking a page out of Chuck Jones’ book, the former director of many Bugs Bunny cartoons.
“When he retired he did paintings, and as I approached retirement, I thought, ‘What am I going to do? I think maybe I’ll do what Chuck did,’” Campbell said.
Campbell’s business has grown since the mid-2000s, and the success leads him to Hillsborough next weekend, when he will appear at Studio 71 Frame Shop & Gallery at 243 South Churton Street to host his one-person art show Friday through Sunday. For those who are familiar with some of the most iconic cartoon television shows of all time, programs such as Scooby-Doo, Smurfs, Rugrats, Jetsons, Flintstones, George in the Jungle, Winnie the Pooh and Ed, Edd, n’ Eddy, they’ve seen Campbell’s work before. Campbell has worked as an animator, director, producer and storyboard artist on those television shows and more, including the Beatles’ movie Yellow Submarine that was produced in the 1960s.
In total, his career spanned 50 years and one month as he became one of the most iconic animators of his time.
Now, Campbell brings those programs back to life through his paintings, all of which tie back to the characters and works he helped popularize.
“People seem to enjoy the paintings, we always sell plenty of them,” Campbell said. “It’s a successful little business that Scott Segelbaum and I have built up here and I get a chance, actually to meet the audience.”
Since Campbell first began touring with his paintings, he’s traveled around the United States and visited with countless fans. Many of them speak fondly of their childhoods, a time when they would wake up in excitement on Saturday morning to watch one of the shows Campbell brought to the public’s attention. Whether the children had childhoods filled with fond memories or dark times they would like to forget, Campbell is struck by the fact the Saturday morning shows were always a bright spot that could make all other thoughts disappear.
“That’s something that I’m especially glad to have been able to help provide,” Campbell said.
Although Campbell has never visited Hillsborough before, he will likely encounter more people with happy memories of Saturday mornings spent away from school watching their favorite programs next weekend.
Not only will those people get a chance to speak with Campbell, but they can also buy any of his 65 paintings on display, and admittance to the show is free.
In addition to handing over the painting, Campbell also draws a character of each customer’s choice on the certificate of authenticity and gives the person a chance to reminisce with him on special moments that transcend time.
“Now, I’m actually meeting all the people who watch the cartoons and it’s a lot of fun for me and I think a lot of fun for the audience,” Campbell said.