I love Bob Ross.
As a kid I would watch his public broadcasting show, “The joy of painting.”
His appeal was not just that he taught you how to paint, but rather, his constantly positive and wise words.
This man is my spirit animal and I still find myself enamored with the show. Thank God for youtube, because you can now view any episode from his 20+ seasons of the show.
It’s more than just his peaceful demeanor and quirky phrases like, “happy trees.” He also drops legitimate gems of wisdom that teach you how to live and make art.
Timeless Wisdom For Artists
So let’s examine some of his greatest hits.
Talent is a pursued interest. Anything that you’re willing to practice, you can do.
This quote on talent is my all time favorite. I’ve found it to be true as an artist myself, and as the administrator of an educational program.
Talent is simply the way we describe our abilities at the things we most passionately pursue. No one is born a great illustrator, animator, film-maker. The people we see as the most talented, probably also have the most passion for that craft, and spend the most time pursuing it.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. That’s where some of the best ideas in the world come from.
This is another concept we try and encourage in our program. Sure, we could tell students what to make and have them follow along, but that would eliminate the need for experimentation, which is where an artist can really grow.
Play. Have fun. If it’s not fun, you’re doing the wrong thing.
I will personally attest to this quote as being true. The projects that I enjoyed the most, seemed to turn out the best. There will come a time for every professional artist when the work is not fun. Client demand, tight deadlines and shallow subjects can drain the joy out of the process.
But in those moments, Bob’s words matter even more. No matter the project, find a way to have fun with it, and better results are sure to follow.
The hardest thing about painting is not how to paint, but what to paint.
Ask any student in MoGraph Mentor, and they will back this quote up. The hardest thing about the projects we assign students is, “What to make?” This question of, “Why make this at all,” leads to work that the artist feels most connected to. What to make, is always harder than how to make it.
Art is a fantastic gift. People would rather have something you visualized in your mind, than something you just purchased.
You have to love Bob’s generous spirit and heart for people. I would encourage all artists to remember this truth.