If you have never seen the show, you need to watch The Joy of Painting. The show and its creator inspired me to get back into art and painting.
Bob Ross was regularly on the TV when I was young and I remember I used to watch the joy of painting as I played with my LEGO or GI Joes. It was hypnotizing. That quiet calming voice of his. The way a truly amazing image would form from a few random blobs of paint on a canvas.
Fast forward to 2016. I was flipping through NETFLIX looking for something to occupy my time. I caught a glimpse of old Bob Ross in the bottom corner of the show menu. I gave an audible chuckle and thought back to those days as a kid hearing Bob say, “and then we will put a happy little tree over here” and then, “and we will give that little guy a friend.” At first, I kept scrolling down the menu trying to find something exciting. But when I couldn’t find anything that struck a cord I came back to The Joy of Painting.
I hit play on the first episode. Bob Ross with his frizzy afro immediately welcomed his viewers to the show. He wasted no time getting into it. “The colors you will be using today” rattle across the screen faster than a squirrel up a tree.
Bob whips up a batch of sky and it seems to melt onto his canvas. He grabs his knife and starts making what look like rough bird shapes. Then he scrapes the birds into the canvas smearing them into an unrecognizable dark mass. The knife is loaded with a new color and he begins to spread paint over the dark mass like peanut butter on bread. The knife is cleaned and loaded up with Titanium White. Bob begins spreading the peanut butter again, and BAM! It catches your eye! Those are mountains! They look so real! How did he do that so fast?
Now old Bob switches over to his trusty 2” brush. He starts mixing colors on his palette spouting of the names faster than they were shown on the screen earlier. Anyone following along is already left in the dust. This gentle afro sporting guru is now tapping his brush on the canvas and a forest in the background begins to emerge. Happy little trees are popping up left and right.
At this point most people would look at this and say, “wow, what a great painting.” But old Bob isn’t done blowing your mind yet. A magnificent spruce tree seems to grow in front of your eyes. And tiny bushes take shape at its base. The grass and a few pretty flowers pop up as though they could not wait to escape the ground.
As Bob is tapping this world into existence the cameras take a break and you are now watching footage of a squirrel. The cheerful little forest creature plays around in some foliage. The camera pans out, and we see it is not foliage. It’s Bob Ross’s hair! The fury little rascal is Bob’s pet squirrel Peapod.
Cut back to Bob. The painting looks alive and I stare in awe at how real it seems. All of this came to life so fast. As if watching god create the world, bringing everything into existence with a paint brush. Bob Ross’ paint brushes are not tools, they are magic wands.
Amazed at what has been created before my very eyes, I assume He has completed this painting. It looks finished. Nope! Bob washes his brush and beats it against his easel laughing to himself as he says, “just got to beat the devil out of it.”
He then throws a few new colors together mixing them like a mad man creating some strange concoction. His magic wand begins to spread randomness into the middle of the painting! NO! Bob! What are you doing? And the moment you think he has ruined the painting BOOM! A beautiful waterfall materializes. Just as fast as old Bob started he says his goodbye and god bless and that is that.
Dumbfounded, I scramble for the remote. On to the next episode! Seven episodes later I finally peel myself away from my arm chair. I am excited. Bob Ross has inspired me to paint! And its not like a passing whim, I really want to paint. I was so close to running to the store to buy what I needed to start that day. My wife bought me some brushes and paint and it was not long before I jumped right into it.
Bob Ross helped to wake something creative up inside me. If you have any urge to paint and think you can’t, or its too hard or expensive. Just go watch a few of Bob’s shows and see how you feel. Even if you don’t get the urge to paint like I did, I bet at the very least you will get a greater appreciation for how magnificent a painter Bob Ross was.
Thank you Bob! Rest in peace.
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