Welcome to this very special inaugural edition of my podcast. On this – the initial edition of the podcast, I want to share with you the background regarding the genesis of my project to become a better artist.
Today’s primary topic, however, is about taking A Walk Through The Woods, with Bob Ross.
Did you know that only 5% of the people who watched Bob Ross on The Joy of Painting between 1983 and 1994 actually bothered to pick up a paint brush? I find that amazing given the amount of impact that Bob Ross has had on popular culture and the art community..
The creative arts, whatever special place it holds for you, helps provide us with perspective in life. It helps us to understand each other, and to understand the impact that we can have as individuals on other people.
It’s been said before that people will soon forget what you say to them in life – but they will never forget how you make them feel. I want to help you feel good about life, to appreciate the little things in life, and to help you find beauty where you least expect it.
Bottom line – I believe that art helps make the world a better place.
That’s my goal. I hope you share it.
All told, there are 403 episodes of The Joy of Painting, of which 381 were hosted by Bob Ross.
I have decided to adopt Bob Ross as my primary mentor in learning how to paint.
I’m going to start with season 1, episode 1 and work my way through every episode, each week tackling a new episode and create a painting.
Here is my disclaimer.
I am not an artist.
In fact, I’m still only learning how to draw.
I’m going to cull snippets of wisdom from each episode and weave them into this podcast as touch points of learning and discussion.
After the podcast is published, within a day or two, I’m going to upload a companion video of me trying to put the philosophical and art techniques learned from this podcast into action by creating a painting. The video itself will be more of an emotional journey – as I’m a student.
On the video, I’m going to time lapse my painting using music from the collection found at https://epidemicsound.com.
I want to try to evoke the emotion of the moment of creation.
I hope that my effort will share a creative spark with you.
My Creative Spark?
It’s somewhat ironic to me that death has a way of bringing into focus what’s important in life.
But it really does.
Bob Ross died on July 4, 1995 at the age of 52 from Lymphoma. It’s the same disease that took the life of my mother. At the time of Bob’s death, he was already a force in popular culture – but his death merely amplified his message about life. His signature brand, the unnatural perm that became an Afro, originally intended as a way to save money, became a blessing and a curse for Bob Ross. His company adopted it as part of his signature logo – and he was forbidden to change it. .
The Bob Ross company logo to this day brands every product of the company with his signature hair and his smiling portrait.
A couple of weeks ago, on Black Friday after Thanksgiving here in the United States – my wife and I went to Hobby Lobby. Traci wanted to purchase Christmas stocking stuffers and I wanted to check out the 50% off sale on art supplies. As I was looking at some items in the art department, a little girl of about 10 or 11 entered the isle with her mother. The little girl had her cell phone in her hand and she was watching a bob ross video. She was telling her mother the colors that she needed to buy because she wanted to create what Bob was doing. It struck me that even 20 years after his death, Bob Ross was inspiring a young girl to pick up a paint brush and experience the joy of painting. The seed had been planted for this project.
Not long thereafter, I saw a post from Joanna Gaines on Instagram. Joanna and her Husband Chip of HGTV’s FIxer Upper live in Waco, which is about 100 miles from us here in the Texas Hill Country. Joanna’s daughter told her mom that she wanted to paint with the guy with the fuzzy hair. Joanna then shared a short video clip of her daughter at the table painting with a Bob Ross episode playing on a laptop in the middle of the table. The seed had sprouted.
I want to learn how to paint, the problem being – I suck at painting and I have had a very bad case of perfectionism over the last few months, a feeling of why should I share my art – as I can’t teach anything.
BUT…. what if I could learn how to paint using ONLY the videos of Bob Ross’ show the Joy of Painting on YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime? I have Bob Ross Liquid White, Bob Ross Liquid Clear — lots of oil paints, brushes, canvases… and…. The flower blooms.
So – this is my story. My journey to be a better artist.
And the story starts right now.
Season 1, Episode 1
Clip 1 Mission Statement
The first episode of the Joy of Painting introduces us to Bob Ross. This episode is eerily produced with a very low budget and production value, as the background noise is full of sounds of construction.
Did you hear the low production value of the studio, full of construction noises in the background. And the overdriven microphone with Bob’s voice being clipped. But, even with that said, Bob’s philosophy and approach to art is evident. There is an artist in every one of us. All of our lives, we’ve been told things – and those are false beliefs because anyone can paint.
Clip 2 Tools of the Trade
In this clip, Bob talks about the hardware he uses to create beautiful pictures. His brushes are natural bristle brushes, and an “almighty” palette knife.
Bob doesn’t tell us why we should use natural bristle brushes and not nylon bristle brushes. A quick search on The Google tells us that natural bristle brushes are preferred by artists working with oil paint because they don’t leave streaks. The surface of a natural bristle brush is very smooth, whereas the surface left by a nylon bristle can be subtle undesired texture. Having a smooth surface is very important for wet-on-wet painting.
Clip 3 Color Palette
Here, we learn that we’re going to use a limited palette of 8 Colors are used to create Bob’s paintings.
We also learn that we’re not going to use traditional methods of tracing patterns or using an underpainting.
Clip 4 It’s Magic
Bob uses the term “magic white” in this clip. This is the term used by mentor Bill Alexander. He also speaks of an “Almighty Easel” to compliment the almighty palette knife.
Here, we hear the importance of a very thing and even coat of the initial white undercoat of “magic white”
Clip 5 Let’s Beat the Brush
Bob instantly gives his brush it’s own personality – “let’s wash him out”. He also explains in this clip the purpose of beating the brush after he uses Gamsol – an odorless paint thinner.
Clip 6 Bob Ross’s Teacher was Bill Alexander
The wet-on-wet technique of painting used by Bob Ross was taught to him by Bill Alexander. Bob Ross retired as a MasterSgt after 20 years in the US Air Force. Bob returned to Florida where he entered the military and he studied under Bill Alexander. After a few years, he left and began to teach painting himself before he started his career as the host of The Joy of Painting on PBS. Personally, I’m looking forward to organically listening to these episode and hearing when Bob switches to using his own branded terms. When does Bob switch to using liquid white instead of magic white, and when does he start to create happy trees instead of almighty trees. We’ll get there no doubt.
Clip 7 There Are No Secrets
This clip is a reaffirmation of Bob’s philosophy of art.
Anybody can paint with a dream in your heart and a little practice. For me, there are two things necessary to be an artist. The first is imagination. Bob calls this a dream in your heart. The second necessary thing is skill. The skill of an artist – whether a musician, a baker, or painter- is achieved through practice. What skills exactly is he talking about? For a painter, we’re talking about the skill of using a brush, becoming adept at using brush strokes to fool the human eye, the skill of mixing paint, and the experience gained to help you understanding the properties of paint and how you can manipulate the paint to suggest reality.
Clip 8 You Can Do Anything Your Heart Desires
Bob used take walks in the woods and talk to trees, squirrels, and rabbits. Okay. But – the deeper learning from this clip is that Bob hits upon a universal truth about life. Beauty is everywhere, you only have to look for it to see it. For many years I’ve stated that my role as a photographer was to find beauty where none was thought to exist, to seek perspective in life that is ignored by others. Bob’s philosphy of art is that anybody can paint, and that by painting nature – you’ll learn to love nature and see nature in a new way. I agree with Bob.
Clip 9 Funny Moments
Listen very carefully to this clip. Bob is adding water lines to his painting, and as he does so you can hear a production staff member say “yes . . . “ in the background under her breath.
So, this is to all crew and production staff who are in the background in studio — your job is to capture the truth, not comment on it. I just had to point out this little event – because it helps you understand why there are construction sounds in the background of this first episode.
Clip 10 Are You Ready to Paint with Us?
Bob closes out the first episode of the Joy of Painting with a call to action – He asks you to come next week with your brush ready and a dream in your heart and paint with us and you too can experience the Joy of Painting by building fantastic pictures. I really like the philosophy that Bob builds upon – that the creative spirit comes from each of us individually and is expressed through art upon a canvas. So – as you listen to this clip – I am letting Bob close out Season 1 Episode 1 of this Podcast, I hope that you’ll watch the companion video for this podcast on my youtube channel @ jeffreywspencer. I hope that you’ll join me next week for my next episode – and please subscribe both to my youtube channel and my itunes podcst, when it becomes available. Until next week – adios…. Take it away Bob.