When I need a little inspiration or an encouraging pat on the back, I turn to my creative group. We’re a crew of artists, hilarious t-shirt makers, someone who creates paintings with blow torches, and yes, writers. We set goals. We create. And sometimes, we Bob Ross.
Sure, most people would go to Painted Cabernet. But why pay a lot of money for a semi-professional final product when you can get cheap supplies from Michaels, confuse wine cups with paintbrush cups, and let the ultimate mentor, Bob Ross, guide you through your first attempt at painting? Some artists of the group set up in the corners, ready to ignore the video and produce original art. The three writers, including myself, Amy Robinson, editor of Apparition Literary Magazine, and Sarah Buchanan, author of That Book I Wrote About Me, created our paper-plate pallets and prepared ourselves for our transformations into stunning visual artists.
If you’ve never watched a Bob Ross video, the first thing to know is that it goes a lot faster than a newbie might be ready for. We also weren’t prepared for the glare on the TV from the sunshine which meant we couldn’t always see exactly what our teacher was doing. Listening comprehension was going to be vital to get through this.
Apparently, we struggle with listening comprehension. “Fill your canvas with dark circles…”
The other thing we didn’t know is that Uncle Bob is expecting you to have a full on artist’s kit with tools like scalpels and wide brushes. We improvised with plastic knives and paper towels. Didn’t I say it was a creative group?
Another surprise was the cameo of a baby squirrel in the video. I still have no idea why the video included a segment about a squirrel being swaddled and bottle-fed. I’m guessing it’s to calm down the aspiring artists because by now your painting may look NOTHING like the one in the video and you may be gulping wine and deciding whether it’s better to quit while you’re ahead.
And then we had our final products:
What Bob Ross painted:
What we painted:
As I majored in psychology and used to work in a lab where we strapped people to sensors in a tiny brick room, I feel completely qualified to psychoanalyze these pieces of art to determine what they say about their creators.
Let’s take a closer look….
Amy’s Happy Little Accident: Trippy Little Trees
At first glance, the colors imply a happy, lighthearted painter who embraces Bob Ross’s philosophy that life’s mistakes become birds…happy, soaring birds! The painting’s whimsy might lead one to believe its creator was experimenting with abstract ideas about joy and imagination and creative passion!
But when one takes into account the drastic diversion from Bob’s rosy instructions right from the very outset of the process, one sees this painting in actuality reveals hostile rebellion. “Screw you, Bob. I say what I paint!!!! Don’t you DARE try to soothe me with baby squirrels!!!” is what was likely going through this painter’s mind.
Diagnosis: This painting’s creator was deeply and personally betrayed by Bob Ross in the past and fantasizes about a Kill Bill-style revenge upon his descendants. Maybe it is best she does not own a scalpel.
Sarah’s Happy Little Accident: Angsty Little Trees
While this painter took guidance on some of the colors used, it is clear to the observer that this creator craves order and darkness, not unlike a serial killer. Where is the blue of bubbling water? Why do the trees expand through the whole canvas, as if the painter refused the natural disorder of the woods and determined that a well-structured orchard would be a better
place to hide a body way to organize trees? It is almost as though 15 minutes into the video, this creator decided this painting was complete and went off to drink wine rather than continue to be lulled by Bob’s cheery step-by-steps.
Diagnosis: This painting’s creator is either going to spend hours pathologically organizing her books by color and size or rise as a prominent dictator.
Brandi’s Happy Little Accident: Spooky Little Trees
The first reaction may be that this painting looks the closest to the original prototype. Only when one looks closer, one may notice a lack of the soft, uplifting peace of the original. Look into these woods and one sees shadows, darkness, maybe Slenderman. No, wait, seriously, can you spot that figure down by the lake? The dark shape taking form amidst the rock? It seems to look out, warning, threatening. This painting makes you believe you are seeing what you expect to see, but the longer one looks, the more one is filled with an unnerving and inexplicable fear.
Diagnosis: This painting’s creator birthed a demonic presence into life with this attempt at art. The painting must be burned immediately in holy fire and its creator should look into local options for exorcism.
Well, there you have it. Three writers walk into a living room and become artists. It was as simple as having a helpful, animal-loving, afro-ed mentor. Here’s to you and your squirrel, Bob Ross! We’ll meet again, I imagine.
And in the meantime, I will work on arranging that exorcism.
Want to learn more about the writer-artists above? Check out my interview with Sarah about her novel and look out for my upcoming interview with Amy about her role as Editor of literary magazine, Apparition Lit! For alerts, follow the blog (upper right hand corner)!
Bios for the guest “artists”:
Sarah Buchanan grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She has worked as a waitress on a dinner train, a radio DJ, a preschool teacher, a journalist, and a technical writer. She now lives in Southern California with her husband and their cats. Her first completed work was a play written when she was 9 that was performed by several classmates and the fish puppets they made in art class.
Sarah’s debut novel, That Book I Wrote About Me, is the first in a series about the fictional small North Carolina town of Lakeview Valley. She also blogs with astonishing inconsistency at SarahCookstheBooks.com
Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sarahbuchananwrites.
Amy has a chequered past leading writing workshops for Writing Pad L.A. & Write In Ventura, CA, acting as the current Editor for Apparition Literary Magazine, and as the column editor for FierceAndNerdy.com. Her poetry & spec. fiction has been in Pearl Magazine, Six Penny Review, & Flash Fiction Press. Amy can be found being weird, and mocking her cats on Twitter at @Amyqotwf.