Lessons from Bob Ross

This weekend, a crowd of Hope students flooded the old Kletz to try their hands at painting- Bob Ross style. People who have never watched Bob Ross may wonder why so many college-aged students would be interested in watching an older man with an afro and a deeper than average love for squirrels teach painting techniques. Whether you are an artist or not, there is something enjoyable about watching a person who gets so much satisfaction out of the simple (or sometimes not so simple) activity of painting.

Bob Ross’ show, “The Joy of Painting,” teaches its audience how to paint using Bob Ross’ tried and true methods. However, “The Joy of Painting” is about more than just art, just as Bob Ross as a person is about more than just painting. In his show, Ross brings a sense of peace amongst chaos and makes problems seem less problematic. He not only teaches his audience how to paint, but he teaches life lessons through his words, his tone of voice, and even his overall attitude towards life. So beyond just painting, Bob Ross teaches us how to stop and smell the roses, not cry over spilled milk, and dance to the beat of our own drums.

After watching “The Joy of Painting,” there is no denying that Bob Ross likes to take his sweet time. Throughout the show, Ross often takes breaks to introduce friends, feed squirrels or swish around his brushes in a bucket of cleaning solution. He teaches the art of enjoyment. Each stroke he takes brings a sense of joy, and it never seems to bother Ross when there is a distraction. Viewers of the show can take this as a lesson to stop and smell the roses. In today’s society, people are constantly rushing. Taking life slow can be hard to do in a busy lifestyle, but the results are worth it, since it increases enjoyment of everyday life and everyday activities.

Another lesson to be learned from Bob Ross is not to cry over spilt milk. While painting, Ross often refers to anything that happens outside of his original plan as a “happy little accident.” In doing so, he teaches viewers to let go of the pressure of perfection. Getting caught up in mistakes can turn something as relaxing as painting into a stressful activity, and that is something Bob teaches us to avoid. This lesson goes beyond just painting. Letting small problems bother you can take the fun right out of work, school and relaxation.

Lastly, Bob Ross teaches viewers to foster creativity. Even though episodes of “The Joy of Painting” are tutorials on specific paintings, Ross always encourages viewers to venture off the beaten path and add their own touch to each painting. He talks about adding a tree here and there or adding variation of color according to the viewer’s vision for the piece. As Ross says, “See how you can move things around? You have unlimited power on this canvas — can literally, literally move mountains.” This speaks to the power of creativity and the beauty that is found when someone follows their imagination, whether that is in the context of painting or not.

Although some may consider Bob Ross to be outdated, his show still brings joy to countless viewers today, and his lessons speak volumes to all who take the time to listen. With a little help from Bob Ross, we can all add a little more joy, peace and creativity to our lives.

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