[Kelly’s Newspaper Column]
I didn’t know much about Bob Ross during his heyday. Perhaps he was revered for his quick painting technique and gentle style of teaching then or maybe he was mocked. Now he is a pop culture icon and legend.
We love Bob Ross at our house, for many reasons. Bob was an artist, a teacher, and a modern-day philosopher. His Joy of Painting videos are lovely, amazing, and they put me to sleep. His voice is calming and soothing. His loving energy radiates and I adore him.
Bob died on July 4, 1995 at the age of 52. I would guess sales today, more than twenty years after his death, have surpassed his or his family’s wildest dreams, even though he had created a $15 million empire. Not all of the current merchandise is probably approved by his heirs, but you can get Bob Ross Chia Pets, a new board game called the Art of Chill, and Halloween costumes, in addition to art supplies and teaching books.
He is famous for his afro, soft-spoken voice, and “happy little trees.” He is the Mister Rogers for adults and is an internet sensation popular across all age groups. His mantra of “there are no mistakes, just happy accidents” has resonated with many. He proclaims the canvas is your world and in painting, “you have unlimited power. You have the ability to move mountains. You can bend rivers.”
As Bob paints (watch his videos on You Tube), he chats and instructs and empowers. “The secret to doing anything is believing that you can do it. Anything that you believe you can do strong enough, you can do. Anything. As long as you believe.”
“Talent is a pursued interest. Anything that you’re willing to practice, you can do.” He made more how-to videos/television shows than any other artist to date. All the paintings created in his 30-minute segments were donated to PBS.
Bob Ross was a nature lover and animal lover. He created a squirrel sanctuary at his home in Florida and sometimes had animals on his art show. His peaceful demeanor must have soothed the animals too. Bob is quoted to have said, “I guess I’m a little weird. I like to talk to trees and animals. That’s okay though; I have more fun than most people.”
His show was called The Joy of Painting and his joy absolutely comes through. I have no desire to paint mountains with happy little clouds and happy little trees, but I love listening to him talk and teach. He was a life coach before there was such a thing.
He loved painting, proclaiming that it will bring a lot of good thoughts to your heart. I do my own kind of art and wholeheartedly agree. Bob also said, “It’s so important to do something every day that will make you happy.”
As for teaching art, and life, he was spot on. If you are ever feeling stressed, tune in to a Bob video and take in his message: You can do anything here, the only prerequisite is that it makes you happy.
Thanks, Bob. Paint on.