What Bob Ross Taught Me About Art...and Life
And What You Can Learn, Too
Unless you've been living under a rock, you've no doubt seen or at least heard of Bob Ross. He was the good-natured, afro-sporting artist who would paint an entire picture in under 30 minutes in his weekly paint along tutorials.
He used to dominate PBS which was one of only 3 channels I had access to as a child. (Anyone else remember rabbit ear antenna?!)
Each week I would sit and watch in amazement as he would create the most beautiful landscapes and seascapes in the time it takes most artists to set up their workspace.
For me, it was as much therapy as it was educational.
I was just a child then and didn't have paint or brushes or canvases. I would draw in my school notebooks, but that was about the extent of my artistic endeavors.
But Bob Ross always made me believe that I could paint anything he did, and the feeling never left me. More than that though, he had this beautiful concept that there are no mistakes in art...just "happy accidents".
Happy accidents, huh? I loved the thought of it and whole-heartedly believed it throughout my entire childhood. It's easy to sustain that belief when all you work with are pencils with erasers.
Even if you make a mistake, it's easy enough to just erase it away. But I couldn't wait to grow up and buy art supplies of my own and paint like Bob Ross.
And then one day I did.
However, I found out real quick that happy accidents weren't so happy when I painted a big black tree right on top of my amazing sunset that took hours to create. Paint doesn't come off so easily, and there was no fixing it as far as I could see, so I tossed it in the trash and didn't paint again for several years.
I was young and naive and truly believed that I could paint like Bob Ross. He made it look so easy, and I had watched enough hours of his videos that I could have earned an honorary art degree!
But it kept nagging at me all that time. I'm a bit stubborn and defeat doesn't set well, so I would still watch the occasional Bob Ross video and get a resurgence of inspiration each time.
By this point in my life, I was married, had two small children and a full time job, so time to paint was a luxury that was hard to come by. However, I decided to set aside one hour each weekend to develop this hobby that had been calling me for as long as I could remember.
I was a little older and wiser this time around, so I went into it with a different attitude. I also made a silent pact with myself that I would never again throw away another creation just because it didn't turn out the way I planned. I would keep working on it until it became what I expected or something better.
And then it happened.
I discovered the true meaning of "happy accidents".
It was so simple and came flooding in like a divine download. Bob Ross had it right all along.
It's not about what it looks like initially but what you make of it, and until you give up and quit, anything can happen.
Have you ever noticed that it's not the things in life that come easily that you appreciate the most?
But the ones you have to fight for, they'll always hold a special place in your heart.
Paintings were just the tool, but the lesson reaches so much further. Most of the time when things seem to go wrong, it's simply a necessary detour to lead you to something far greater than you originally planned.
You probably would never even find it if you weren't forced to make another choice.
So in art, as in life, try to see the "happy accidents" for what they are - a little nudge in the direction of bigger, better, more inspiring things that defy explanation and surpass even your grandest expectations!
Thanks for everything, Bob.
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