Why Bob Ross gave me gray hairs: A spiral into stressful finger painting

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Recently, SUPERB held a Bob Ross painting night. Thinking it would be a peaceful night of painting with friends, I eagerly waited in line for 50 minutes. Little did I know that following a simple video of a scene from nature would turn into stressfully and futilely trying to mix the right colors in order to try and get something that looked similar.

It started off pretty great. My friend and I had just eaten a filling meal of dumplings, and we were ready to get some painting action. Coming right before the event started, we were met with a line that went around the block. Nonetheless, we were resolved — we would be painting tonight. We waited in line, catching up on each other’s lives.

After we finally got in, we were met with someone who handed us a canvas and told us to sit wherever we wanted. Each table had plates of poster paints and extra plates where you could mix more colors. As soon as the video started, however, we ran into problems.

First of all, Bob Ross made money off of his videos because he was a really talented artist who only took half an hour to paint pieces you’d pay significant amounts of money for. Comparing myself to him, I already felt like I’d set myself up for failure. I started painting anyways, making the background he described. I looked up at the video after finishing five minutes later, happy to have made it fairly similar to his painting.

To my horror, however, Bob Ross was apparently some sort of supersonic speedy painter, having finished the sky and the base for the mountains in the time it took me to paint half of the canvas a dark brown. Shocked at being so behind, I started blitzing through the rest of the base, trying to make it similar to his.

Needless to say, I didn’t succeed. By the time I’d finished the sky and the base of the mountains, the video was over. Going by memory, I continued to use the poster colors and brushes, getting frustrated by the blobs I’d formed. Ultimately, I gave up, using my fingers to try and get the right textures to make my painting seem semi-legitimate. My final result: pseudo-mountains that had an odd tinge of yellow, making it look like a once-beautiful site of nature that now had pollution written all over it.

While I had a pretty stressful time at the event, and the amount of fun I was having exponentially declined as the painting went on, I did learn something about myself. I am a perfectionist, and I take forever to do things. I’d probably take five hours to make a Bob Ross painting that really shouldn’t take more than half an hour, but that’s just how I roll. And that’s OK.

Contact Chandini Dialani at [email protected].