Friday, June 17, 2011
On The Shoulders Of Giants
How long you been doin' that?
Do you know Bob Ross?
The first two I understand. They're pertinent. But the last?
When asked the third question I always respond with this "yeah, I know who he is" that is laced with a tone that says,"I can't believe you asked me that. I am a serious artist." And I am asked this question over and over and over. I have thought about putting a counter on my blog and keeping up with how many times I am asked, "do you know Bob Ross?"
But I had an incident recently that has caused me to re-think my response to the question.
I had a slow leak on an outside faucet and called a plumbing company to come and fix it. When the plumber shows up, he walked in and saw my easel and painting set up and didn't ask "where's the leak?" or "what's the problem?' Nope. The very first thing out of his mouth,"Do you know Bob Ross?"
I started to respond with my patented smug "yeah" but then I noticed here is a guy standing in my studio and we have started an artistic dialog thanks to Bob Ross. He goes on to tell me that he has a mother and cousin who paint consistently due to the Bob Ross t.v. show exposure. And that is usually how the stories go when people talk about Bob Ross. "I have a cousin..." or "I have a mother-law..." or a neighbor or a retired executive or bored housewife or, or, or... There are thousands and thousands of people out there who Bob Ross made believe they could be artists and he got them up off the couch and in front of the easel and got them started. Thousands. I have them show up for my classes and workshops. And I bet almost all the other artists I know, at some point, have had Bob Ross started students. Bob Ross exposed people to art that may never had the opportunity or resources to begin an artistic life. He got them started. And some may argue the artistic merit of his style and methods but you have to admit, he has had a huge impact on art in this country. People don't come up to me and ask,"hey, you know that John Singer Sargent guy?" I've never been asked. But how many people out there got to John Singer Sargent via Bob Ross? How many has he started on that quest and journey and constant lifelong pursuit for the betterment of their craft? I guarantee more than anybody else you can think of.
So the next time I am asked, "do you know Bob Ross?"
"You mean that artistic titan that has had such an impact on the arts? You mean that creative powerhouse with that quite soft hypnotising demeanor? The guy with the afro?"
"Oh hell yeah I know him."
Just don't ask me about Thomas Kinkade. I'm still working on that one.