I've mentioned before the phenomenon that has been given the embarrassingly pseudoscientific name "autonomous sensory meridian response" or "ASMR," which most people describe as a kinda tingly sensation they get from certain stimuli, but which, if indeed I get it at all, I have always experienced as a lovely languor in response to certain gentle human voices. Like seemingly everyone who is "triggered" this way, I discovered this while watching Bob Ross. I was able to watch The Joy of Painting only when I was home sick from school, and I hadn't seen it for decades when I learned that there's a whole ASMR "community" on YouTube consisting of "ASMRtists" who attempt to achieve just the right kind of crinkling or whispering or tapping noise or whatever to please their listeners. But even after all that time, to realize that the world was full of weirdos like me who get a pleasant physical reaction to certain voices, and that there are hundreds or thousands of YouTube channels dedicated to catering to those weirdos, but that it was impossible to find videos of Bob Ross because his estate had them pulled down as soon as they went up -- it was very frustrating. Other weirdos were complaining about it on YouTube as well; we all remembered staying home sick from school and watching The Joy of Painting and feeling serene as Bob's soft Floridian voice told us about phthalo blue and titanium hwhite and told us that there were no mistakes in our world. And to add insult to injury, when I mentioned this to Batty a year or two ago, he told me that The Joy of Painting was often on TV in Germany: "There must have been a happy little accident that led to his shows being licensed to the Bavarian public broadcaster." So people who didn't even understand what Bob was saying got to hear him talk about juuuuust letting the canvas take what it wanted, but I didn't!
Well, I don't know what changed, but recently Bob got his own YouTube channel chockablock with full-length episodes. Ah, the relief! The Joy of Painting is just as I remember it, and you can't say that about much you knew as a child. Bob's voice is the same, Bob's gentle enthusiasm is the same, Bob's obvious love of painting is the same. And I knew even as a child that the paintings themselves weren't anything to write home about, but the effortless way he conjured them up seemed magical to me then and still does now. And I can see now better than I did then how he exemplifies the dedication and openness to possibility of a serious artist. He said there were no mistakes, only happy accidents. That means that everything that happens on the canvas is an opportunity, and to say that and mean it takes courage -- I understand that now. Because it means you never get to throw up your hands. You never get to say whoops, I just realized this novel is unwritable, better quit wasting my time. I have said that about novels before! But I will not about this one. I know it. Bob wouldn't have given up on any of his canvases full of happy clouds, would he?
Incidentally, it's true what you may have heard about Bob Ross: he was a retired air force drill sergeant -- in his own words, "the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work." He got fed up with screaming and vowed never to do it again once he'd left the air force. I'd say he succeeded spectacularly!