Creative commentary plus crafty composition

Laid Back Therapy

There is a program still running on some PBS TV stations in the U.S., despite having no new shows since about twenty years ago, given the untimely passing away of its host.

Available to many of us in Canada, it was one of those arts related instructional ventures, like often seen on local daytime television.  The set was stark. Usually only the host, wearing a white or light coloured dress shirt, was featured on camera.  The props comprised an easel board, palette with paints, paint brush, and some accessible off-camera supplies such as a rinsing bucket, paper towels, spare paint brushes, and paint knife.  The host was friendly and soft spoken.

If you’ve ever seen the show, you’ve probably guessed I’m describing THE JOY OF PAINTING, with Bob Ross.

Although not the inventor of the ‘wet-on-wet’ painting technique (apparently ascribed to Bill Alexander, host of a less popular TV version), it was Bob Ross who really broke the ground of making this technique popular.

His brand of the technique lives on not only in reruns but also in his ongoing website offerings and the Bob Ross instruction schools, which also exist in Canada.

I still find watching one of the old shows a form of relaxation therapy.

His homespun, inviting style is filled with positive messages: “I knew you could do it” and “Let’s have some fun” being prominent examples.  His classic is, “We don’t make mistakes, we have happy accidents.” There’s the little byplay, sometimes with a cameraman, when cleaning brushes. His almost hypnotic repetition of simple painting motions, the gradual taking shape of the outdoors scene while illustrating the prime rule that “A thick paint will stick to a thin paint”, all blend with his soothing speaking voice.  How could your mind and muscles not feel less stressed after a half hour exposure?

Great art has taken many shapes – in the case of Bob Ross, this has been enhanced by his user friendly delivery, teaching a form of expression which otherwise seems intimidating to try.  Such a patient yet dynamic approach is seen too seldom on the airwaves.

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