This week on Ponytail Culture Club, I’d like to introduce you to someone who has the power to persuade the most unlikely folk to pick up a paintbrush and give landscape painting a try. Bob Ross, who was born in Florida in 1942, spent his early days helping his father who was a carpenter by trade, and then did time in the US Airforce which later took him to Alaska where he developed his skills as a painter.
I only recently discovered Bob thanks to his epic television series ‘The Joy of Painting’ that ran over an incredible 403 episodes over 31 seasons from 1983 to 1994. He’s somewhat of an icon for many Americans who lived through the 80s and 90s thanks to the success of the show. The first episode I ever watched took me aback, not only by the wonderful choice of intro music, but what really stamped a smile on my dial was Rob’s beautiful voice and choice of language on the show. He spends a joyful 30 minutes persuading you that painting is the best thing ever, because he truly believes it. It’s special to watch someone doing the thing they love, whether it’s in the flesh, or on television but I believe that his show inspired a generation to discover the thing they love… Just by his example.
There should be a ‘Bob Ross painting encyclopedia’ for every jolly term he uses for his craft on the show. He repeats a rainbow of vocabulary like ‘happy little clouds’, ‘beat the devil out of your brush’, or ‘pull up the easy chair’, and this language is more captivating than what’s really going onto his canvas. My all-time favorite Bob Ross line was when he talked about living in Alaska,
“God was having a good day when he made Alaska.”
I admire anyone who can reach such a broad audience and encourage even the least creatively inclined to pick up a brush and give painting a go. Anyone who shows passion like that is a hero in my books.