Pretty Little Trees – For The Love of Bob Ross

When I die, and presumably my soul moves to a higher existence, I will have a list of things to do.

  1. Play with my long-lost dog.
  2. Eat an unlimited amount of bacon.
  3. Take painting classes with Bob Ross.

I don’t know exactly how old I was when I first saw Bob Ross on the only fuzzy UHF channel we could get, probably junior high-aged. Young enough to still look for cartoons on PBS, but old enough to appreciate the nudity and crude humor of Benny Hill, also on PBS.  What I do know is  that I have always had the same reaction to Bob Ross’ “Joy of Painting” – complete mesmerization.

I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD as a kid, but only because it wasn’t a thing yet. I was simply labeled as “pain in the ass.” I didn’t listen to or focus on….hey look – it’s a bird…anything for more than a few seconds and then I was… you think horses dream of people, like I dream of horses?….  But when the wind blew just right and the clouds parted enough for our television antennae to capture the glory of Bob Ross, I was glued to the set, enraptured by his melodic voice and magical transformation of paint into nature.

I had all but forgotten my love of Bob Ross and his hypnotic dose of happy little trees until last night, when I came across The Joy of Painting on our public television station (now quite clear of snow and squiggly lines, thank you cable company.) There he was in all his 1980’s glory. Because he died in 1995, he will forever remain unchanged. His beautiful perm will always be fresh.

I was transported and transfixed once again.  My husband, who had never before seen a Bob Ross Joy of Painting episode, looked up briefly from his paper, but didn’t seem to fall under the spell of the magical Mr. Ross.  I, however, could not take my eyes off of the television.  As he covered the canvas in blue, I was thrilled with anticipation as to what it might become.  Quickly, methodically, he led me on a journey.

“Oh my God.  He just turned it into a lake!  Did you see that?!”

Gregg glanced, but was unimpressed.

Open mouthed, I sat watching as Bob used the edge, then the side, of a fan brush to create one happy little tree after another.  And then…then I thought for a moment that he had made a mistake.  He slathered on sienna brown paint at the bottom of the painting.  He’s surely ruined it. But no. A quick flash of the brush, and there were rocks.

“Shut up, Bob Ross!,” I shouted.  “You just made rocks come out of that lake!”

And then two small waterfalls.  I shit you not. Waterfalls.  With white paint. In two strokes. Waterfalls.

“WATERFALLS, Gregg! Are you seeing this?!”

Again, he peered over the paper at the television, and then at me, like I had lost my mind.  And I had lost my mind.  For a far too short 20 minutes, I sat on the edge of my seat, anxiously waiting to see what vision went from his glorious mind onto the canvas.

I swear to you, never before and never since has television been so utterly mind-blowing.  Today’s shows are filled with whiny, self-obsessed characters and/or violence and sex that render our imaginations worthless. But for a brief moment in the 1980’s, from a public television station in Muncie, Indiana, there was a man with a perfect fro, a man who spoke softly, a man who made beautiful things appear right before our eyes.  Despite the world changing around him, Bob Ross painted in peace.  And despite the war and hatred and sickness around us now, Bob Ross still paints, posthumously and digitally, in peace.

Photo source:”Bob at Easel” by Bob Ross Incorporated. Licensed under Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of Bob Ross via Wikipedia –

Video Source: YouTube

3 thoughts on “Pretty Little Trees – For The Love of Bob Ross

  1. This man drove me crazy but my Dad loved him! He could watch for hours and used his painting techniques often. Makes me smile now because he reminds me of Dad:).

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