October 29, 2012

"Give it a little touch, a little push/Make love to the canvas."



"There are no limits here... this is your world... you're the Creator..."

It's the 70th birthday of the late Bob Ross... which I noticed because Google has a doodle about it.

48 comments:

sane_voter said...

Disagree with your tag that this is "bad art". And that show is mesmerizing with his soft voice and seeing the painting come to life in real time.

Scott M said...

"We're just going to put a happy little bush, right down here in the corner. And that will just be our little secret...and if you tell ANYONE that bush is there...I will come to your house and CUT you!"

Seth McFarlane.

Nonapod said...

Yeah Scott M, normally I find most family guy gags pretty lame, but that one was pretty funny.

chickelit said...

Do people worry that Ross died a virgin like Andy Warhol?

bgates said...

Do people worry that Ross died a virgin like Andy Warhol?

That might concern his son Steve.

pm317 said...

bad art -- agree. My husband would watch it long time ago when it came on PBS. I always found him boring and his art uninteresting. In those days I thought he was some hyped up mediocre PBS material as usual. I didn't know he was famous until I saw google doodle yesterday.

Ann Althouse said...

"Disagree with your tag that this is "bad art". And that show is mesmerizing with his soft voice and seeing the painting come to life in real time."

The painting itself is bad, hence the tag. It's great TV though and a great performance of something related to art and television (and psychology). Ross doesn't purport to be making a great painting. He's promoting intrinsic pleasures in believing in yourself and being free to express yourself. That's all great and to the extent that the art is defined as the performance, it is great.

The painting however is bad.

Scott M said...

I've always thought watching him, for painters, would be akin to me watching Yankee Workshop. To me, as someone with a big interest in woodworking, Yankee is endlessly fascinating, although I would agree that show is a be more...kinetic, I suppose, than watching the back of an older Juan Epstein painting landscapes.

Quayle said...

He was the master of a style of painting that looked really good on a low-def TV.

He had no peer in the genre.

Scott said...

Charming!

Tim said...

Few things creep me out.

This dude, whom I'd see while channel surfing, always did.

I could never figure out who would watch him, or why.

Original Mike said...

When I lectured on imaging topics, I sometimes would say, "Imagine we have an image (draws square on board). And over here, we have a happy little pixel...". None of my graduate students would get it.

chickelit said...

On the topic of time lapsed art, here is cool video I ran across showing the painting of a tribute to The Who's song "5:15." It won some kind of contest.

Would Althouse call this bad art/good entertainment: link?

john said...

Easy definition: anyone who can paint better than me is not a bad painter. He was good at trees, and because of him I became a little better at drawing them (conifers only).

Or family likes to do a Grandma Moses type jigsaw puzzle at Christmas. I would buy a Bob Ross puzzle.

Saint Croix said...

Art is subliminated sexuality, no doubt about it.

Interesting to compare the creation of art to the creation of a baby.

Amartel said...

Drop a happy little tree in there.

Bob Ross, soothing presence and art teacher to the amateurs.

AprilApple said...

I adore Bob Ross. He was a gentle soul with a calm voice. Whenever I am sick in bed - I turn to PBS so I can listen to his soothing voice sooth away my misery.

mojavehicular said...

The painting was bad, yes, but Bob was by most accounts a good guy. He deserves better than the indignities of Auto-Tune.

His appeal lay in the narcotic effect of his soothing voice, combined with the transformation of a blank canvas (even if the painting itself was subpar). And he rocked that Afro.

Methadras said...

Bob Ross was one of those really nice guys on tv, but I bet after the cameras stopped rolling all hell would break loose with that guy. You can't be that saccharine nice and not balance that with a raving asshole on the back end.

When I was a kid I watched his show and loved it. Thought it was awesome how he could paint like that so quickly and maintain such a positive veneer. Now that the teletubbies are on, I watch them whenever I can for relaxation.

Geoff Matthews said...

When I was a kid, I enjoyed watching the show. I think I liked it because of he wasn't pretentious.

Scott M said...

Art is subliminated sexuality, no doubt about it.

"She said, 'why do you play the spoons?'
I said, 'I play the spoons to sublimate my sexuality.'
She said, 'Why don't you let me sublimate your sexuality?'
So I'm thinking, great! Here's a girl who also plays the spoons."

Woody Allen

TMink said...

Agreed about the quality of the art, but I would occasionaly watch his show because it was so pleasant.

I also enjoyed the other guy with the Germanic accent who did the show, especially when he would get going.

Trey

Dust Bunny Queen said...

He's promoting intrinsic pleasures in believing in yourself and being free to express yourself.

The quality of the painting itself is beside the point. He was showing people some techniques and giving them tools upon which they could build their own styles. Once you get the basics down, for example how to shade and make it look like a tree, then people can get more creative. They, then can make more bad art or create something interesting.

It is like dress making, knitting, sewing, quilting, sculpture. You have to know the basics, the structure before you can create a couture masterpiece or an intricate mixed media art quilt.

If he started out with something elaborate and difficult, beginners would just be discouraged and quit.

Penny said...

Noticed the Google image on my way to bed last night so I just HAD to Google "Bob Ross" before I hit the hay.

Mental Floss had a cool post about him that I really enjoyed.

5 Happy Little Things You Didn't Know About Bob Ross

1. He was a military man.

2. He worked for free.

3. He didn't sell his paintings.

4. He had a Dr. Doolittle streak.

5. He didn't love the 'fro.

The above are major headings at Mental Floss, but the explanations were interesting.

Alan said...

6. Everything else. Never heard of him.

RIP.

Saint Croix said...

LOL, Scott

Tim said...

chickelit said...

"On the topic of time lapsed art, here is cool video I ran across showing the painting of a tribute to The Who's song "5:15." It won some kind of contest.

Would Althouse call this bad art/good entertainment: link?"


Why should I care?

Lol.

Great song.

Interesting homage to the band.

It works, I think. My $0.02

ricpic said...

The best thing about Ross is that he reduced beginners' anxiety about details. The trick was a big brush stippling the canvas almost indiscriminately to suggest clouds or trees or snow on a mountain. That was step 2 after the initial step of applying the same big brush smoothly to lay in large flat areas of pale blue (sky) or green/brown (earth). So in 2 steps you had a fairly convincing painting.

Scott M said...

@ricpic

My earliest memories of Ross were from the very primitive versions of Armed Forces tv we had over in Germany. A LOT of PBS-type programming during the day and only one channel.

I remember my mother had it on now and then and I remember noticing how easy he made it seem.

bagoh20 said...
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bagoh20 said...

"The painting however is bad."

It was never intended to get the approval of critics, therefore it cannot be bad. It was good for the artist. It was good for his audience. It was good for his students. And all this goodness and pleasure was measured in many hours of immersion in bliss. How important is a critic's opinion derived in a few seconds of attention compared to all that? That's a wisp of wind, with a bad scent that passes - a fart at a carnival.

bagoh20 said...

Although many people could probably do his art, I could not even get close. I could however easily duplicate many works considered great art. I could, for instance, do my own Piss Christ, and I would do it better with the help of asparagus, which would be my added touch of genius.

chickelit said...

@bagoh20: Urine artist too!

Pete Townshend's epiphany while driving a car and hearing "I Can't Explain" for the first time on the radio: I have a sponsor...I have a patron...this is art!

Chip Ahoy said...

My dad had this on the teevee at his house and he mentioned something about Ross being in the Air Force, A4, I think, and I said that surprised me because I had always taken him for an afro-having hippy burnout case. Dad doubled over laughing at my mischaracterization and I honestly have no idea why he thinks that is so funny.

Richard said...

Bob Ross was a wonderful human being! R.I.P.

Nena's 99 Luftballons Song said...

He's a good guy. Enjoy watching his painting on canvas on tv and commentary is entertaining.

Broomhandle said...

Shallow of me, but I could never get past the 'fro. I can't take any white man seriously that rocks that hair style.

virgil xenophon said...

My Dad, who when retired painted in both oils & water-color--and some charchoal/charcoal and also pen& ink line drawings--and sold--and came from a family with several artists, always watched him on PBS, mainly as therapy--loved his delivery--his easy flowing patois: "just fire it in there" lol. RIP Bob.

Muns said...

Bob Ross was a conservative mormon.

Rustling Leaves said...

I loved watching his show when I was a kid.

Rustling Leaves said...

For some reason thinking of Bob Ross also makes me nostalgic for Mr. Rodgers.

Lyle said...

When I was little I was sat in front of the TV and had to watch this guy. I didn't really like him, but didn't hate him either.

He's cool now though.

I can't paint as well as him, so his painting is well painted from my perspective. Of course I wouldn't think he's creating a masterpiece.

There's really no need to say his art is "bad". He's Bob Ross people.



sylvia_ez said...
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sylvia_ez said...
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Jamie said...

I recently attended a week-long retreat , my third, for icon-painting. I cannot paint, but with the help of the lovely instructor and a lot of prayer, I've mad 3 icons now that are, no lie, genuinely beautiful objects. My thoughts with relation to Ross are twofold: first, it is possible to teach a non-artist to create a workmanmlike likeness (which, of course, 19th century drawing masters knew well - I think of Ross as part of that tradition). And second, Ross must have been a really EXPENSIVE painter - all his techniques seem to involve using the thick body of the paint to achieve an effect.

madAsHell said...

I'm not sure how you wake up in the morning, and think that's a good haircut.

Oh, yeah....and get rid of the beard too. Beards are for fat guys trying to disguise their double, or triple chin.

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mizzlina said...
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