Monday, June 18, 2012

Adventures with Bob Ross

If you've ever seen this man's shows on public television, you know that he makes painting look incredibly easy.  In 30 minutes, without any time lapse photography, he goes from a blank canvas to an incredibly life-like picture at the end.  Throughout the show, you hear this calm, soothing voice talking about happy trees, almighty clouds, and how everyone can be a painter and learn to paint what is in their heart.

He's pretty much a joy to watch, whether you're interested in painting or not.

Hubby surprised me a couple days ago with a bunch of Bob Ross' videos to watch, and after about 3-4 episodes, I had to try it.  It looked so simple.  A few brush strokes here, a few flicks with the painting knife there, and voila!  A beautiful print!

So after dropping hubby off at work this morning, I zipped on down to Michael's, one of our local arts and crafts stores.  After browsing everything else in the store for probably an hour (I'm like a cat in these places - have to sniff out everything that looks interesting before getting to what I came for in the first place!), I finally found the paint section and then found the Bob Ross section.  I picked up one of his instructional books and found the list of supplies I needed and started piling them into the basket.  When I got up to the cash register, my total was over $400!  *GULP*

So much for my time as Chief Bargain Hunter.  It was nice knowing all of you.

Out in the car trying not to have a panic attack over what I just spent, I decided to head over to Hobby Lobby, our other arts and crafts store in town.  In there, I checked the ad and saw that all "Artists Sets" were on sale for 30% off.  So I headed down to the paint section (avoided browsing anything else - panic brings incredible focus sometimes!) to see what their prices were for Bob Ross' stuff.

Lo and behold, there were Bob Ross STARTER KITS for a mere $59.99.  That's a heckuva lot better than $400!  So I picked up the box, headed up to the cash register, and with the 30% discount it was a grand total of just under $45 with tax.

Fortunately, at home I already had an easel, some canvases, and a painting area due to a previous interest in oil painting that netted one cathartic abstract piece of "art."  So the only items I needed to supplement were paint thinner and Bob Ross' brush cleaning system.  His brush cleaning is my favorite part.  (Shown here, around 0:55 timing.)

So I got everything set up, pulled out the written instructions, and cursed myself for being too cheap to buy the "Master's Set" that came with a DVD.  Instead I was stuck with pictures and written directions that were really confusing at times. 

Minus the bad glare in my photograph, this is what it was supposed to look like upon completion:

My first attempt failed so badly I had to start over.  I know that Bob Ross says there are no mistakes, only "Happy Accidents," but I was REEEALLLLLYYYY not happy with the accident at first. 

After starting again, things went much better with the sky this time.  I got the yellow in the right place, the pink came along nicely, and the purple stayed high enough that it didn't get streaked over the yellow on the blending step.

Then I tried those damn mountains.  And cursed a blue streak with how horrible they came out.  Then cursed even more at how horrible my blue trees in the background looked.  And by the time I had gotten most of the canvas covered, I was NOT a fan of Bob Ross.  I was SO MAD AT HIM for making painting look so easy when it was REALLY REALLY HARD!

So I QQ'ed a while with hubby over his lunch and he laughed at my blue hand

(which was much bluer by the time I was done) and encouraged me enough that I kept going.  When I finally got it to the point that I wasn't ready to throw the brush across the room, it looked like this:

Barely a step above paint by number quality.  But here's where I really have to hand it to Bob Ross.  He's right.  Damned if he wasn't right about those happy accidents.  Because as much as I hated my "scripted" picture above, when I went back to my "failed" canvas from attempt #1, I was able to change the painting into this:

My failed mountain became a beautiful iceberg in the middle of the ocean.  I actually like this "failed" picture more than the "successful" one!  Happy accidents indeed.

A great part of my journey in walking away from my job was to search for greater happiness in life.  As frustrating and difficult as these lessons may be to learn, I think Bob Ross' painting techniques may be teaching more than just how to create pictures on canvas.  If I can learn how to view mistakes and failures as "happy accidents" instead of the depths of despair, I'll be light years beyond anywhere I've ever been in life.

So thank you, Bob Ross, for challenging every facet of my life in this adventure - from financial to self control (in not throwing my brush across the room in frustration!) to life-changing perspective changes.  I look forward to learning the Joy of Painting!

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