Bob Ross ECHO: A Happy Accident

Every year, students at Western Reserve Academy are faced with the challenge of choosing their ECHO classes for the following year. From learning about women in business with Ms. Thews to cooking using chemistry with Mr. BB, the options seem endless. However, for many students, a new class caught their attention.

“I really wanted the opportunity to spend nights painting,” said Maxine Dougherty ’19 about Dr. Robinson’s new Loving Landscape ECHO.

Rather than a use traditional class setup, the class offers students the chance to paint with the renowned Bob Ross through watching his decade-long instructional painting series, The Joy of Painting. Each class focuses on a certain landscape that Bob Ross had mastered, looking at other painters who painted similar motifs though in different styles. Thus far, the class has explored mountain and ocean landscapes, looking into the styles of Cezanne, Bierstadt, and other painters.

While enlightening, the course has other useful qualities.

“I wanted to join the Bob Ross ECHO because it let me unwind on Friday nights after a long week. I just get to listen to his melodic voice and paint in a space without judgments,” commented Laina Wilson ’19. True enough, if one sat in on this ECHO only words of support and encouragement would be heard., even for those who may go off the beaten path with their paintings. For instance, Judy Yin ’19 and Spenser Valentine ’19 both used the time to paint scenes using similar colors but in a more abstract manner.

The ECHO explores many out-of-the-box colors, such as Titanium White, Phthalo Green, Phthalo Blue, Prussian Blue, Midnight Black, Dark Sienna, Van Dyke Brown, Alizarin Crimson, Sap Green, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Indian Yellow, and Bright Red to create beautiful paintings.

“His voice is so soothing. It’s like listening to butter, whilst witnessing the happiest of trees being painted before my eyes. Who wouldn’t want to spend their Friday night watching that magic unfold?” wonders Jack Sovich ’19.

As the colors run across the screen, the students slowly begin to twiddle their paint brushes in anticipation; will he pick up the one-inch or two-inch brush and what color will we start out with? At the first stroke, every person focuses on Bob and his strokes.

However, I believe the reason why so many students gravitate towards him has little to do with what they are painting but rather “how it beats the devil out of stress,” in the words of Julia King ’19. This combination of melodic undertones and smooth strokes creates an atmosphere in which one would be troubled to search for any mistakes or stress, finding only happy accidents.

– Leila Darwiche ’19

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