The man. The myth. The legend. Bob Ross.
About one month ago, the Residential College RAs put on an event that allowed students to take a break from studying to “paint with Bob Ross.” The event was called “The Joy of Painting: a wholesome night of painting” in reference to Ross’s television show. Students followed along with an episode of The Joy of Painting, which entitled following – or at least attempting to follow – Bob Ross in painting a scenery with mountains, trees, and “happy clouds.” Before delving into that process, it’s nice to gain insight on Bob Ross himself.
Though his death was in 1995, Bob Ross is an internet celebrity, continuing to grow in popularity. Before becoming the supportive painter we all know and love, he had an extensive career as a member of the Air Force. After attending an art class, he developed a taste for painting that would eventually evolve into a $15 million business. His company, Bob Ross Inc., marketed painting classes and sold his line of art supplies and how-to books. Additionally, his television show, The Joy of Painting, was successful in having thirty-one seasons. Reruns continue to air, and the show is available on Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. You can also check out clips on Youtube.
Youtube was used at the event to televise one of Ross’s tutorials. A smooth jazz intro played while paint was being poured, preparing us for the magic ahead. The sight of Bob Ross’s iconic hairdo (which was originally a cost-cutting measure) immediately generated excitement. As time went on, however, there were groans of frustration and frequent pausing of the video. Bob Ross made painting seem easy, and the unexpected difficulty resulted in moments of exasperation among students. Yet, Ross’s soft voice and continuous words of encouragement provided a soothing presence. Any frustration felt was mixed with amazement at how quickly and simply Ross turned a blank canvas into something new. Every brushstroke had a purpose and tremendously changed the overall look. Even though recreating his work was more difficult than anticipated, everyone appreciated the event and the fun break it provided.
What was truly amazing was how unique every individual’s painting turned out to be, despite being based off the same tutorial. The finished paintings varied in colors, shapes, and more. Whether or not students considered themselves artists, it was fun to compare works and be proud of the art that was created. My friend group found the event so memorable, we temporarily hung our paintings in the lounge we often hang out in (with support from the RC).
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