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Bob Ross would’ve loved this happy painting

February 22, 2015

“Even if you’ve never painted before, this one you can do”.

My binner friend the Green Guy was right about the latest painting someone left beside a dumpster in the Fairview neighbourhood.

It was an oil painting with many classic “Bob Ross” touches: a joyfully naive depiction of an orange teddy-bearish tiger, set against a smeary blue backdrop, with the tiger’s spots “smooshed-in” here and there and a big ol’ happy tree growing out of the tiger’s head, just because.

I wasn’t surprised that the Green Guy took such a fancy to the painting — he has a real soft spot for stray cats.

He only allowed me to post a photo of the painting on the condition that I mentioned the late great Bob Ross.

“You know me, I gotta put in a big tree”

In case you’re too young or not familiar with the greats of 20th century painting, I mean the Bob Ross, the frizzy-haired, soft-spoken, perennial PBS oil painting instructor who, for nearly 11 years between 1983 and 1994, taught the world The Joy of Painting, every week in 30-minute installments — with every one of those half hours resulting in a finished painting!

In Mr. Ross’s world — which I always believed at least bordered on Mister RogersNeighborhood — painting was always the right thing to do and there was never a wrong way to do it:

“We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents”, he explained.

Over 11 years, Bob Ross taught the same fundamental lesson 403 times: that painting could be all pleasure and no pressure so long as you painted only to please yourself.

His teaching style was to bathe his audience in folksy, gentle encouragement and chit-chat. He seemed to ramble away to the camera like he was confiding in his closest friend:

“Oooh, if you have never been to Alaska, go there while it is still wild. My favorite uncle asked me if I wanted to go there, Uncle Sam. He said if you don’t go, you’re going to jail. That is how Uncle Sam asks you”.

The results were amusing, a bit odd and often gently mocked by his artistic “betters” but they were also indelible and much-loved.

Bob Ross wasn’t (and never tried to be) a great artist but he worked hard (and succeeded) at being one of the really great art teachers of the 20th century.

And along the way he painted well over 650 happy little trees! Click the image to enlarge it.

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