Bob Ross said on many of his Joy Of Painting television shows that when you buy your first tube of paint, it comes with an artist’s license that gives you the freedom to do anything you want on a canvas. Putting the brush to canvas for the first time requires you to take on a second license — a license to suck.
I’ve blogged about Bob Ross before. I’ve become absolutely fascinated by him, so much so that I’m one stroke away from jumping waist-deep into the world of painting. I’ve got the brushes. I have the paints. I’m stocked up on canvases. I’ve put myself into the position where all that separates me from having a completed painting is squeezing out the paints and going to town with my fan brushes, palette knives and all the carefully-selected accoutrements.
The last thing I had to accumulate is the will to try — and the knowledge that my first paintings will royally blow.
But with any great endeavor, you don’t know how good you’ll be until you give it the ol’ college try. I’ve felt that way about blogging and creating content, but then I get such a positive buzz from the feedback I get. I was very tentative about my photography in the beginning, but I kept at it. I went on to have my own art show, sell a few pieces here and there and get some of my work published. I’ve also had my share of ventures that never went anywhere, and some that have failed miserably. The good balances out the bad, so why shouldn’t I give painting a go and see where that journey leads?
I’ve watched countless hours of Ross painting on TV, and I’ve fantasized about how relaxing and satisfying it would be to try it for myself. However, like most creative types, the nagging voice remains. “You’ll never be that good at it.” “You know you can’t draw to save your life!” You can’t let those voices dissuade you. Like anything, it takes practice and the desire to learn and improve.
As I’ve psyched myself up for this new chapter in my creative life, I’ve seen a lot of dissenting voices who claim Bob Ross isn’t real painting, but rather a lazy person’s way of trying to paint. Well, hey… sounds like it’s right up my street! I’m not only a creative person, but one with an incredibly-short attention span. I like the idea of knocking out a painting in an hour or two rather than slaving over days of layered painting.
They’ll say Bob Ross inspired a nation of derivative, unimaginative copycats, who are satisfied doing the same thing over and over again. Well, I don’t think you can do 31 seasons and over 400 episodes of painting without doing a lot of the same thing. In the end, it’s what’s in your imagination and what makes you happy, and I like that amount of raw, unbridled creativity. I’ll only paint things that I like, that make me happy and perhaps… just the ones I feel I’m good at.
You never know what you’ll be good at or what will make you happy until you give yourself a license to suck at things. It’s easy to tell yourself it’s not worth making the investment into something like oil painting because you’ll never be good enough to attract attention. You’ve got to be willing to sit with a closet full of canvases that no one will ever buy. Maybe you’ll enjoy it, maybe you won’t and you’ll go on to find something totally different.
It just takes that one nudge over the cliff.