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Monday, February 24, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

Putting it on canvas like Bob did

A cult favourite who’s become an internet sensation decades later, Bob Ross’ ideas live on at regional libraries

Response was strong to the first-ever Bob Ross Paint Night at the Elmira branch library on January 11, leaving organizers pleased with the turnout.

A certified Bob Ross instructor helped to guide participants in creating a landscape work that they could take home, with all paints and canvasses provided. Due to a small space, organizers could fit just 10 participants, but spots were taken quickly.

“It turned out that promotion was unnecessary; we had completely full registration,” said Ellen Bleaney, adult program coordinator at the Region of Waterloo Library. “We had all 10 spots fill up… unfortunately we had two people cancel at the last minute, and we weren’t able to get the next people on the waitlist. But there was a lot of interest in it, and the turnout was still pretty darn good.”

The event was named after Bob Ross, an American painter, art instructor, and television host. He created an instructional television program called The Joy of Painting that aired on PBS from 1983 to 1994. Ross posthumously became an Internet celebrity in the 21st century, garnering fans on YouTube, Twitch, and many other websites for his talent and unique instructional style.

Today, those interested can become a certified Bob Ross instructor, where they can learn to paint, teach, and promote themselves in the spirit of the Joy of Painting. To become fully certified, instructors take three courses: CRI (Landscape), CRFI (Florals), and CRWI (Wildlife). Bleaney said that this theme was part of the event’s popularity.

“Some people were just excited about Bob Ross because he’s kind of trending right now,” said Bleaney. “Some people talking said they were really excited to have a girls afternoon out with their adult friends, some people were really excited to do something creative, and some people were just grateful for the chance to do something without the kids.”

The program was targeted at adults, as the library generally focuses art-based events towards kids. There has not been such a program aimed at adults for some time.

“In the past there have been watercolour sessions for seniors, but this was a different kind of event because we wanted to target a different audience – maybe draw in some folks that we haven’t seen at the library before or just provide some different opportunities for people. We were trying to experiment a little bit, and it was a great response, I thought,” said Kim Krueger-Kischak, supervisor of programs and outreach.

Attendees spent several hours painting an orange and lilac landscape scene using oil paints. When it was all said and done, participants got to take their work home. Some opted to leave their work at the library, as the day’s rainy weather made it difficult to safely bring their art back.

“We’ll definitely do things like this. We might not do this exact event again, but I definitely want to explore more art and creativity programs targeted at adults,” said Bleaney.

There are several other Bob Ross Paint Night events taking place across Waterloo Region, with one scheduled for Ayr library today (January 23), and another at the New Hamburg library on February 7. Both run from 6-9 p.m.

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