Rick Stich

Rick Stich

Ridley-Tree Cancer Center at Sansum Clinic is honoring local artist and art instructor Rick Stich, as he celebrates his 20th year of service to cancer patients. Stich has helped hundreds of people find a means of creative expression and relaxation during their cancer journey in his weekly Painting the Pictures of Health sessions.

“Many patients tell me they have never been to an art class,” said Stich. “It is great to see them come in, switch the channel, paint and laugh and find out they can produce a beautiful and original picture. What a joy it is to watch people light up that way.

“It has been a great joy and privilege to come and paint with patients interested in exploring their creativity,” said Stich, whose own artworks have been exhibited in local museums, galleries and private collections.

A number of paintings created in Stich’s class are featured in the reception areas on all three floors of Ridley-Tree Cancer Center. Patient art will also be displayed in the newly modernized Nuclear Medicine Department in 2020.

The revolving exhibits serve as a source of hope, comfort and inspiration for patients, their families and visitors.

The free art class is funded by the Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara and is rooted in current research which shows these kinds of therapies play an important and meaningful healing role.

“This class lets patients and caregivers relieve some stress and anxiety and  forget about cancer for a while,” said Matt Kunkel, vice president of oncology services. “What Rick does is truly amazing, and the patient art that hangs on our walls brings me personal joy every day when I walk through the doors.”

Stich’s encouragement and  support of patients not only provides them a distraction from their disease, it lets them connect with one another in a positive atmosphere.

“Rick’s class is a safe environment where all can come and explore their creative side. Everyone is a talented painter in there and he gushes over what people produce. It is sincere, from his heart and they feel it,” said Lisa Winebrenner, Wellness Programs director.

“Patients often tell me Rick is an important part of their care team here,” she said.

For more information on the art class at Ridley-Tree Cancer Center or its array of Wellness Programs, call 805-879-5678 or visit


— Nicole Young for Ridley-Tree Cancer Center at Sansum Clinic.