Friday Memoirs – Is Bob Ross still relevant?

One of the subjects that I come across frequently in art blogs and forums is the validity of Bob Ross and his work. And opinions seem to be divided into two camps. It’s the proverbial “you either love him or you hate him.” When reading the opinions of others about Bob you don’t see too many that are ambivalent towards him.

I have been a Bob Ross fan for as far back as I can remember. Even before I seriously considered picking up a brush I would watch his shows on PBS, just because I enjoyed watching him create his art. I picked up some of his videos off eBay a few years ago and have a full compliment of his brushes and paints.

Bob Ross got me to actually pick up my brushes and start painting. Before him, I was just a pencil and charcoal artist and not a very good one at that. But, I have gotten a lot more serious about my art since then and I think it all goes back to Bob.

I think a lot of people who begin painting because of Bob get stuck in a rut of doing things exactly the way he taught them and I don’t think that was his intention at all. I’m sure if he were alive today he would tell each of his students to start with his methods and then progress from there. But, if a student was quite happy doing “Bob Ross” paintings and didn’t want to move on past that point, Bob would be okay with that, too. As he used to say, “it’s your world so paint it however you want.”

Bob Ross is still leading people to pick up their brushes and paint their own worlds and that makes him relevant. His shows are still on television, even all these years after his death. Snooty artists and collectors still call his art the work of a “hack” and look down their noses at anyone that expresses a like for Bob’s work.

How many people have been led to pick up a brush by Da Vinci or Michelangelo? Dare I say it? Not as many as Bob. Yes, millions have been inspired by the works of these two great masters, but how many actually decided to become artists because of them. I would venture to guess that a very small percentage became artists after viewing their works.

Most would look at the works of the masters and feel inspired, but very few would be moved to become artists. A lot of people would watch Bob Ross and see just how easy it is to create very good artworks and would try their hands at it. Some would find it easy and some would never achieve any success, but most, I would assume, would find pleasure in doing what they can.  And that is all Bob would have asked for.

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About D Glenn Casey

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