I'm Paintin' a Pretty Little Bob Ross
I didn't like him at first. With his huge frizzy 'fro and gentle way of talking, I instantly felt myself tuning him out in fear of the retribution I knew would come from most of my contemporaries at school. "You watch Bob Ross? Ahahahahahahaha!" It would be like the day I told my first grade friend I still watched Sesame Street. That's possibly how the rest of my life at school was ruined. Never trust a soul with any important, personal information. Six year olds can make your life hell.
But Bob, he grew on me. It was the summer of my upcoming Junior Year, and I had taken on a job of babysitting the three boys who lived down the next block behind our house out in the country. Chris, Dan, and Robby. I don't know how good of a babysitter I was, but they survived, and not only that, we had fun. We listened to Christmas records, played ball, Super Mario Brothers 3, and every afternoon I'd make chocolate chip cookies. Then down to the basement we'd go for Bob Ross time. We had a good reason. It put little Robby to sleep. Five minutes in and that soft, hypnotic voice would have Robby laying in my arms, breathing soft. If BR didn't do the trick, I'd let Chris and Dan wrestle Robby till he was too tired to stay awake.
At some point while using Bob Ross to put a toddler to sleep, I found myself becoming interested. I never liked modern things. Society was always telling me what to wear, what to listen to, how to talk, dance, walk, think! I hated it. Bob was weird, but he was real. He knew what world he lived in and that having huge hair and pale skin was not cool. He knew that calling a tree "pretty" would most likely be considered sissy talk, but he didn't care. He was authentic and did what he wanted to do. He captured nature and praised the beauty of our world. He encouraged his viewers to see the glory in every little detail and become passionate not just about painting, but about life. He rocked. Sure, he probably had Cat Stevens and Steely Dan on his turntable at home, but that, in itself, is cool. If you're gonna rock, rock it right. I was always sneaking Karen Carpenter into school on my little walkman. At lunch I'd blast away, letting her pure, sensitive voice take me away from the painful days of Spring Hill High.
Now, I didn't start growing out a 'fro, or buy corduroy slacks or anything, but at the end of the summer when Connie paid me for the whole summer of watching her boys, I went out and bought a Bob Ross paint set. This is when things get sour. No one can paint like that man. Don't even try. He was a master at oil, especially when it comes to time, because oil is not something a person can rush. He had a certain system that was very hard to duplicate. Lord how I tried. But that's where respect comes from. I respect anyone that can paint with such skill, though others may classify his paintings as velvet Elvis type art. I see it like this ; he had a vision, every day he stuck to that vision, and he was a master. An artist always needs something to strive towards, and he has that mentor-like quality.
Laugh if you will, but I still look back with joy when I think of that summer watching Bob paint mountains and cabins and happy pine trees. Things are so perfect and digital these days. I'm happy to think about the organic phthalo blue days of my youth where a person could still mix their world into what they wanted it to be, naturally. It was another lesson where life showed me an alternative to what I had been molded into. It said, "Come over here and think different, feel different, be free." Pretty corny, I know, but how can you argue with nature? A person must let go of society and think for themselves. Be a freak, grow your hair, paint a mountain. It's cool, I won't tell your friends.