Thursday, October 26, 2006

Painting on 'Ludes

I was happy to discover that my local PBS station is running something called "The Best of Joy of Painting." It's been ages since I encountered the soporific tones of artist Bob Ross, using housepainting brushes to magically conjur trees and fields and mountains from thin air.

He was working on a mountain waterfall, so I didn't see him paint any "happy little trees," but he there was a trippy moment when he told us to "begin thinking about all the mist that would happen down here" at the bottom of the waterfall. "It would hit and splash and churn and carry on. Probably make a lot of noise, too," he said, coincidentally drumming the canvas with the brush, just "a little bit of titanium white on the corner."

It was all so fascinating, the dark studio and the hypnotic voice and the stupid, coarse paintbrushes - and even palette knives - laying on smudges of paint that suddenly turned into such realistic images. I remember sitting on the wall-to-wall carpet in my grandmother's living room and watching this weirdo paint, wondering vaguely what my grandmother (an amateur oil painter herself) thought of him, and why all painters didn't work this way since his technique was so effective.

This particular episode broke up the painting with some strange video footage of two squirrels Bob said he'd raised and released. He said they were brothers, but for some reason they kept mounting each other.

And by accident, I also discovered a great new trick for watching the show: with TiVo you can watch it backwards. All the trees disappear!

1 comment:

Cathy said...

oh wow.... i totally remember this dude. him and his happy trees. I always wondered if any people really tried to learn to paint from watching his show, or if they just watched it (like my parents and I) because he was so damn weird.