Bob Ross

One of the most exciting echoes presented this fall, Painting with Bob Ross, is lead by the incredibly hilarious and talented art teacher, Mr. Mudd. He has recently joined Western Reserve Academy from Akron Ohio and is as excited as the students to be in such a relaxing, yet fulfilling class.

The primary focus of the class is to create realistic natural landscapes with acrylic paints, a task far more difficult than it seems. The class takes place in the Knights Fine Arts Center with twenty students who know anything from a minimal to significant amount about art. Students watch Bob Ross’s tutorials on the free streaming website, Youtube, in which Bob Ross always wears the same blue button-down. For the first few classes, students brought in their best efforts to design a duplicate of Bob Ross’s paintings and quite honestly, no one could do it. However, the final outcome of the abstract mountains and valleys improved to become far more realistic every class while students have become extremely cautious to not overdo it with the white clouds. By the third class, Mr. Mudd was open to students exploring painting with acrylics. “For me,” Mr. Mudd says, “it’s far more valuable for a student to find happiness in painting what he or she likes, something new, rather than create a replica.” Although Mr. Mudd understands the significance of Bob Ross’s techniques, he gives students the liberty to explore their own interpretations of painting on the canvas. This way, students do not carry the stress of creating a copy but instead have a passion of creating something personal, creative, or just something cute. Ideally after every class, students produce beautiful, some questioning, pieces of artwork. Before, the students feared they could not portray Bob Ross’s work truthfully, but have learned that they cannot make mistakes, only happy accidents.

Fortunately, the class is able to listen to music while painting which allows the creativity to come from within. Thus the dark, profound paintings of mountain ranges and northern lights are inspired by somber music from The Beatles and John Legend. While the flamboyant, bright trees and rivers are created with the help of upbeat music from Taylor Swift. Furthermore, the different tones of music encapsulates the tone of the final artwork.

Mr. Mudd, a professional ceramist, was inspired to take the acrylic paints and create Bob Ross inspired paintings onto his pottery work. Landscapes of flower meadows, night skies, and large mountain ranges can be found in his various clay bowls, flower pots and more. (Not for sale). Students were very intrigued by this idea, and are hoping to do something similar in the future.

Certainly the class has changed significantly since last year since there is now greater freedom for self expression with the proper instruction from Mr. Mudd and Bob Ross. It is a therapeutic, much needed activity for the long weeks at WRA. So thank you Bob Ross, I’m going to go paint a happy tree now.

Hannah Ma ’22

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