What I Learned from Bob Ross

Some things should be for everyone. That’s what I learned from Bob Ross. If you create art, you’re an artist. You don’t need specialized training. What you create doesn’t have to be for public consumption. All that matters is that you’re getting what you need from the activity. That could be relaxation time, having some fun, or expressing yourself creatively.

“Traditionally, art has been for the select few. We have been brainwashed to believe that Michelangelo had to pat you on the head at birth. Well, we show people that anybody can paint a picture that they’re proud of. It may never hang in the Smithsonian, but it will certainly be something that they’ll hang in their home and be proud of. And that’s what it’s all about.”

Bob Ross, interview with The Orlando Sentinel (July 7, 1990)

This extends to all manner of creative fields. If you write, you’re a writer. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re published. If you cook, you’re a cook. I have no desire to go to culinary school or work in a restaurant, but I enjoy preparing food. No one should be prevented from pursuing hobbies or career goal by gatekeepers.

What I Learned from Bob Ross

That said, we do need gatekeepers in some places. Anyone can start a blog, or a vlog, or a podcast and cover the news; that doesn’t make them journalists. There ought to be some accountability to ensure the public is being fed factual information. Not any cook should be selling food to the public. There are health and safety regulations for a reason. Any field where harm could be done requires standards and oversight.

But that’s not what Bob Ross was saying. He never claimed that you, too, could be a professional painter and earn a living doing it. There was no grift going on. When I say writers write, I’m not saying that everyone can be a successful author. Having a creative hobby, though, is enriching. Our lives become more well-rounded and interesting. It makes us better people.

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