Paint-Along With Bob Ross

November 9, 2018

As a toddler, I used to wake up early in the morning and hop down the stairs to the living room, searching for the remote in the orange morning glow pouring in from the windows. Once I found it, I did the only thing I knew: I turned it on.

The art channel was on and I was mesmerized by the artists who created paintings so quickly. My favorite was the tall, lanky man with a big brown afro and a kind smile spread across his face. His name was Bob Ross.

I loved the beautiful landscapes he painted and his calm voice that made the show better compared to the rest of the art shows. Bob Ross is the first artist who influenced me to do art from finger paintings to acrylics, so when I heard about a painting event here in Ann Arbor, I knew I couldn’t miss it.

On Nov. 1, 2018, the Ann Arbor Downtown Library held a “Paint-Along with Bob Ross” event from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. The first floor was packed with people: adults, teenagers and children.  

With no more space left on the first floor, the rest of us went up to the top floor, where more tables were set out anticipating the overflow of people; rows of canvases, paint brushes, and paint pallets were laid out neatly for us to use. The screen had the face of an all-too-familiar artist, Bob Ross on his TV show, “The Joy of Painting,” and to be honest, it was one joyful night.  

After everyone was settled down, the video began to play and the crowd of people swiftly painted along to his rapid instructions. He started with a blue sky and a blue pond, and slowly worked in some clouds, mountains, trees, and reflections. As the familiar phrases of Bob Ross, such as “Wash the brush, just beat the devil out of it” and “There are no mistakes, only happy accidents” played in the background, the painters couldn’t hold in their laughs.

The quick video didn’t allow enough time for people to finish their masterpieces, so there was a ten-minute intermission followed by a second viewing of the video. As I painted, I noticed how quickly the time went by and how my mind was clear of everything but my painting in front of me.

What my painting ended up looking like in the end.

In the end, everyone’s canvas looked unique, with some following Bob Ross’ instructions to the tee and others going in a completely different direction.

Top Row: Created by kids. Bottom Row: Created by adults.

After his death in 1995, this event was a great way to honor him and keep his work alive. If events like these interest you, check out the Ann Arbor District Library website for similar events or be on the lookout for the next Bob Ross Paint-Along which happens every two months or so.

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