written by Emma Chiao
My dad was a skilled painter from a young age, and the walls of our house prove that fact. My first encounter with the art form was when I was in second grade, and my dad attempted to teach me how to paint. We took our time in the backyard, breathing in the fresh air and letting our inspiration ow onto the paper. A er a few hours, the results were complete. While his masterpiece reflected techniques and strokes that created a lifelike cherry blossom tree, my dreary page was a blob of pink: my attempt at a self-portrait in which I had bled the colors of my skin and lips together. After that initial failure, I decided that painting was not the right path for me. However, when I was presented once again with the opportunity to refine my long-forgotten painting skills with the help of “ The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross” video series, I gladly accepted.
The first step was to gather my materials. I managed to dig up my dad’s old palette and paintbrushes, but I was lacking a canvas and a full color spectrum of acrylic paints. To make up for those, I decided to use paper and blend the paints myself. I set up my paper on an easel on my outdoor patio and chose the Bob Ross video with the most views, “Island in the Wilderness.” However, almost immediately, I ran into obstacles and made mistakes. My first error was mixing the acrylic paint with water; this blunder created a watercolor effect, something I wasn’t looking for. Although Bob Ross gave clear instructions and tips, I had to pause the video for minutes at a time to catch up with him. It seemed that my materials and lack of previous experience were hindering my progress. For example, while Bob Ross had three shades of blue at the ready, I struggled to mix my colors. While he easily switched between several brushes, I hurriedly rinsed off the same few brushes. As the video continued on, however, it became easier and easier to follow Bob Ross’s instructions while also catering to my own skill level.
After two hours, I finished my painting in an extra 1.5 hours in comparison to the 25-minute video. Despite my struggles, the end result wasn’t completely horrible. Instead of a beautiful, realistic oil painting, I had painted more of an impressionistic scene.
While I may not have gotten the knack of painting nature scenes with vivid details, I am grateful for the enjoyable journey. Rather than feeling upset over my failed painting, I had the chance to learn in a calming way on a sunny afternoon. My only regret was not having all the required tools to make my painting easier and more successful. In the future, I will definitely paint to one of his videos again. Finally, I would like to thank Bob Ross for his undeniable mastery and the ability he has to help anyone paint at least a coherent image.