When I stumbled upon several “Joy of Painting” episodes on Netflix a few weeks ago, my first thought was, “Perfect, something to help me fall asleep.”
Those 1980s and 1990s PBS instructional shows featuring Bob Ross — the guy with the poofy perm hairstyle and tranquil speaking tone — would be “boring enough,” I figured, that I’d doze off within a few minutes.
And I was right.
Before long I was sound asleep, having barely kept my eyes open through the introductory scenes. Not only did the “Joy of Painting” episodes help me rest, but those deep sleeps ranked among the best I’ve had in a long time.
However, little by little, I wanted to see what Ross was painting. There are plenty of other movies, TV shows and random programs to watch on Netflix, yet I gravitated to the late artist’s “Joy of Painting” for some reason.
Although Ross broadcast to millions of PBS viewers during his heyday, I was too busy being a typical teenager back then to devote half an hour of my precious time watching someone paint. Especially on PBS, when there were more “enlightening” stations like ESPN.
But recently, the more I watched Ross paint during my periods of free time, the more intrigued I became.
Not many people can whip together a pretty decent piece of art in less than half an hour. And his hypnotic voice proved both entertaining and relaxing. One minute he’s dancing his paintbrush on the canvas painting what he affectionately terms “happy little trees,” and the next minute he’s telling viewers, “Let’s get crazy,” as he paints a cloud. Crazy, indeed.
I’d never heard of the colors applied to Ross’ palette, but now it’s doubtful I’ll ever forget Titanium White, Phthalo Blue, Yellow Ochre and Van Dyke Brown.
Ross’ paintings also captivate me because of his artistic approach, which I feel aligns with my mentality when shooting photos for The Country Today.
We both strive for finished products featuring scenic outdoor images that embrace simplicity. They’re pleasant to look at with subtle yet distinctive colors. And some of his pieces incorporate barn-like structures, matching my interests as well.
Ross and I aren’t entirely alike, of course. Our hairstyles are opposite ends of the spectrum (one has a large perm, the other a shaved head), I don’t wear my shirts half unbuttoned down my chest and I’ve never raised pet squirrels.
But I truly appreciate the visions he conveyed on canvas, because I’m looking for many of those same images when I’m scouring the Wisconsin countryside for photos.