A completely failed attempt at a Bob Ross masterpiece

The Journal’s art critics try their hand at painting—it didn’t go well

Assistant art editor Brittany’s Bob Ross masterpiece. 

Bob Ross was a firm believer in happy accidents.

While it’s a nice philosophy, attending a Queen’s Helping Haiti’s Bob Ross wine and paint night, we definitely made some mistakes. 

Aside from the complimentary glass of wine, the event was for a good cause. Queen’s Helping Haiti supports a free medical clinic in rural Haiti. After paying for painting supplies, our money goes to a worthwhile cause that allows people to access healthcare. 

Despite walking into the event knowing that we were no experts, even our belief that we were minimally competent was a wild delusion of grandeur. Coming in, we believed that we were capable of artistic feats Ross himself couldn’t accomplish. 

The evening started off well. We could both paint a blue and white background—though the clouds presented a minor challenge—but when it came time to paint a mountain, we were slapped in the face with a brush stroke of reality.  

We had an embarrassingly hard time following the directions given by our Bob Ross proxy. Besides the fact that she didn’t have a microphone, was soft spoken, and kept moving her canvas out of eyesight, we had no idea what we were supposed to be doing. 

It felt impossible that her simple instructions, like “draw a white line,” could present such an enormous challenge to two semi-capable 20-something women. 

The mountain painting began with a crooked black line in the middle of the sky. The instructor painted little ridges representing peaks, but when we attempted to copy her effortless movements, we realized just how in over our heads we truly were. 

Blaming every mistake on the wine—despite only one glass each—we trudged onward. 

Once we managed to get the mountains to look less like black holes in the middle of our winter landscape, and slightly more like rocky mounds, we moved on to something far worse. 

If you’d told us before Wednesday we would be utterly and emotionally defeated by the prospect of painting trees—we wouldn’t have believed you. However, this is exactly what happened. 

First, one of us forgot the most basic fact about trees: they tend to be green. Black paint it was then.  

To make it worse, we both missed the demonstration on how to paint a Bob Ross Tree. Apparently, like every legitimate professional, Mr. Ross knows the importance of branding. 

The Bob Ross Tree is an easy one to paint. It requires a back-and-forth horizontal brush stroke that looks easy—but isn’t. 

Instead of this simple manoeuvre, we both covered our paintings with black lines that we spent the rest of the evening turning into tree-like shapes. 

Despite the rude awakening that neither of us are destined for careers in painting, the evening was truly worthwhile. 

While we were both disappointed with our lacklustre painting skills, it was relaxing to 

say the least. The mesmerizing back and forth brushing movement was almost a sedative. A glass of wine and an evening of painting were worth having to grapple with our inabilities. 



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