Josiah Martin | Arts & Entertainment Editor
When the stress of midterms hits, sometimes you just need someone to calm you down and let you know that everything’s going to be OK — and, if it all possible, you need that person to be Bob Ross.
“I believe that painting can be very cathartic, so painting along to Bob’s gentle voice and flexible (albeit fast-paced) instructions seemed to be a fun concept,” said Elsa Buehler, who helped make this dream a reality for students.
On Oct. 18, Buehler and Corbin Raeford, RAs in St Martin and Des Places Halls respectively, hosted a Bob Ross Painting Party in the NiteSpot with help from the Center for Student Involvement.
Small canvases were handed out to all in attendance, as Buehler and Raeford prepared paper plates with palettes of basic-colored acrylic paints for students to share. Once everyone grabbed a small array of brushes and a cup of water, Raeford began to project an episode of The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross on a screen within view of the attendees.
As Ross painted a scenic sunset on screen in his famously calm and encouraging manner, those trying to follow along exactly to his instructions found them ironically stress-inducing. Roughly five minutes into the program, the room erupted in chattering and laughter as students frantically called out for the video to be started over. Ross had already begun the clouds and landscape of his painting while most students still continued to struggle with the soft, blended colors of the sky itself.
“For some [perfectionists], of course, painting could be a source of stress, but Bob Ross emphasizes that painters shouldn’t try to copy him exactly, but do what they want with their landscape,” Buehler said.
After the video was restarted, students calmed down substantially — the room was fairly quiet as all in attendance began to relax, painting at their own pace. The individual differences between everyone’s paintings began to shine through as the artists grew comfortable straying from Ross’s example.
“Once everyone realized that it wasn’t all about painting exactly what he did, people branched off and created their own masterpieces,” Raeford said.
“I was so happy with the participants’ final products. Each painting was a little different in terms of color, shade, pigment and artistic liberties, but each one was beautiful sunset landscape. I was very impressed by what people were able to do with wet-on-wet painting in only about one hour,” Buehler said.
In all, Raeford estimates that around 60 students came to participate.
“Both myself and Elsa were very surprised at the turnout. We knew that the people who would come would enjoy the program, but we had no idea that this many people would show up; we were very thankful for all of the people that showed up to paint with us,” Raeford said.
At the end of the program, participants gathered with their finished artwork for a group photo. Many in attendance then discussed and complemented the unique differences in each other’s work. According to Raeford, the students seemed to have truly enjoyed the event.
“This was one of the first times I have had people walk up to me and thank me for a program; and that felt amazing,” Raeford said.
Buehler added, “If there’s something I’ve learned from Bob, it’s that painting should be a happy practice that produces a happy work, and I know for a fact that he believed in every person’s ability to be a painter, if being a painter is what they desire to be. I think Bob would be really proud with the beautiful work that everyone created.”