Bob Ross, what can I say? Everyone has a story about spending part of their childhood watching "that guy with the calm voice and the big hair" on PBS. In fact, the other day I overheard someone say, "You know that dude that painted on tv in the 70s!" and I tried my best to not put on my nerd glasses and say well actually...it was the 80s. But I digress...
Bob Ross, America's Favorite Television Painter, creator of Happy Little Trees and Almighty Mountains, one of my childhood heroes, passed away in 1995 when I was 13 years old. I remember reading the news in TV Guide and feeling heartbroken about the loss of an artistic mentor. Like most people, I never painted along with Mr. Ross, but instead just watched him construct beautiful landscapes with just a few scrapes of a palette knife and a couple swishes of a fan brush. Every episode would blow my mind and I was left wondering, How did he do that?
Fun Fact: In high school, I scrawled There are no mistakes, just happy accidents. on my bookbag.
Here we are, over 20 years later, and I still consider him a huge influence in my life. My Bob Ross obsession was rekindled after discovering that all of the Joy of Painting was made available online through Hulu and YouTube. The first randomly selected episode brought me to tears when Bob said, "When you purchase your first tube of paint, you are issued an Artistic License that you can do anything you want with". This is exactly the thing I want to instill in the people who decide to come to my studio to paint. There's no right or wrong, it just is. The good is in the painting, the creating, the sharing. That's the art, right there.
As with any obsession, I had to get any and all information on the painter I love. I read through his Wikipedia page and discovered he was buried in Gotha, Florida. When I looked up that town I found out that it's right next to Orlando...and we were planning on going to Disney for Spring Break. Perfect timing!
FindaGrave.com was a helpful resource and listed his exact placement in the huge Woodlawn Cemetery. His gravestone can be found in Section O. Just park right next to this sign, near the statues of the holy family praying, and you'll be in the right place.
I took a few steps from my car and spotted the collection of paintbrushes. In other photos I've seen online, people have left coins, paint pots, and even a statue of a little squirrel.
I stuck my own little offering into the vase.
A small painting on wood. Sprayed with several coats of sealer to hopefully withstand the weather.
Another artist left a painting and a letter. I imagine it said something close to what everyone else would like to say to Bob Ross: Thank you for sharing your gift.