Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Critical Switch: The Joy of Bob Ross

On Bob Ross

Hi, glad you could join me. Today I thought I'd share a happy little page of some thoughts on the benefits of watching Bob Ross before bed each night, for the growing creative.


Bob Ross' gentle voice and tame Floridian accent, along with the comfortable patterns of his speech, (his catchphrases in particular, parental in their practical wisdom and comfort) and the simple, procedural instructions he vocalizes make him the perfect thing to listen to while getting ready to sleep. Sometimes I even turn on an episode of The Joy of Painting and turn the phone over such that the video doesn't glow in my eyes, and simply listen to Ross speak. This is a man of a particular expertise, with decades of experience in his craft. If we are lucky, someday we might be able to instruct in our craft with similar ease and comfort.


Bob Ross shows that anyone can paint, including you, and all you have to do is do it. And he does it by demonstrating his techniques, each day, from a blank canvas (covered in magic white.) This is incredibly important as a rhetorical technique: the first step to doing something is of course to start, regardless of whatever happy accidents we may make along the way towards creating a finished product.


The purpose of The Joy of Painting is extremely simple. Using a limited color palette and a limited set of painting tools, Bob Ross instructs beginner painters in some of the basic techniques of wet-on-wet landscape painting. When we watch The Joy of Painting we are witnessing the practice of craft, in the most literal sense. By the time Bob Ross began hosting The Joy of Painting, he was already a master of the techniques he presents, but each time he performs them for us, he keeps his skills practiced and refined. Ross was lucky that any number of people paid him to practice his craft, many of us are not so lucky, but we should strive to work like Ross and refine our basic technique, constantly, and consistently, such that we get better at what we do, and stay good at it.


Ross reminds us that, when painting, we have control over the world we wish to paint. For Ross, this meant an opportunity to create images of idyllic landscapes, separate from the petty toils of living, and the corruption of society, a world that is happy. As writers, musicians, visual artists, what have we, we often choose other purposes than to make our audience our ourselves happy. But the important part is that we choose, consciously, what that purpose is, and we know intimately what we wish to attain with our work.

In Conclusion

To watch Bob Ross is to immerse one's self in the basics of craft, and as such, serves to refresh our willingness to practice our craft, our want to improve in our craft, and our passion for our craft. He sends us to rest with dignity, and respect for ourselves and our work. 

From all of us here at Critical Switch in Olympia, WA, all one of us, Play is Labor, I'm Austin C. Howe. God bless.

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