Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bob Ross - Natural Child Sedative

Five-year-old Jackson caught a few moments of "The Joy of Painting" yesterday with oil-paint guru Bob Ross and he could not be deterred from the show until every "happy little tree" was highlighted with Ross' ubiquitous titanium white. Like a gentle, spiritual magician, Ross hypnotized us with his fan brushes and palette knives, painting happy little clouds, a reflective lake, and snow-covered mountains.

"That looks like Mt. Hood!" noted Jackson, and Bob Ross instantly gained another convert. The man who nursed injured squirrels, inspired the art-impaired worldwide, and claimed that painters are "the happiest people on Earth" is a fine role model. Especially intriguing was his method of "beating the devil" out of his big paint brush by slapping it against his easel a few dozen times repeatedly so it made a whappa whappa whappa sound. Jackson loves that and so does Bob Ross because he always smiles euphorically whenever the brush needs cleaning.

I told Jackson that Bob Ross practiced for years to be able to finish a painting in 26 minutes. I hope that sunk in. I can draw and paint somewhat and there's NO WAY I could ever complete a landscape in that amount of time. Maybe a landscape of some sand dunes, minus color. Plus, I like to paint from real life, or at least a decent photograph. It perturbs me that Ross pulled his paintings out of his head--that's a little bit fantastical (and creepy?). That's not to say I don't enjoy his special talent at speed painting. It's almost like stop-motion animation, watching him accomplish so much with just a few oil paints and three brushes.

He reminds me of the matte painters I worked with many years ago in the film industry. They knew their lights and darks and they knew how to fool the eye into seeing reality; when it was really a lot of tricky brush strokes that made that Gotham City in Batman Returns. But even they used reference photos. Bob Ross was kind of magical. He died in 1995 from lymphoma but his show lives on and as he might say, "That's a happy little accident."

video source: Ron Barba

1 comment:

Tuckers said...

Ok that does it, I'm gonna be Bob Ross for Halloween this year!