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The Joy of Photography—What Bob Ross can teach a photographer

When Robert Norman Ross died in 1995, the headline of his New York Times obituary read, “Bob Ross, 52, Dies; Was A Painter On TV.” It was tucked at the very bottom of the page, and it was the only one in the section without a photo. ~ By Tim Brinkhof | Checked By Adam Farley Published June 22, 2021

Maybe it was the silky smooth, calming voice that stirred the creative hearts of his devoted audience. Bob Made it look so easy, just a happy cloud or that last-minute bold tree to press the twenty-seven minutes he had to finish his colorful landscapes. It is his message, “we are all blessed with creativity, and everyone can paint”. A colorblind viewer wrote Bob and challenged his assertion that all can paint—Bob painted a winter mountain landscape using only: black, white, and a few shades of gray. The man of happy painting had plenty of heartache in his life; I suggest you watch the Bob Ross documentary currently on Netflix.

Bobs’ works could likely fall into the “cliche” of creativity; most critics laughed at his oversaturated assembly line landscapes. Bob Ross did not paint for the critic; Bob painted to stir the imagination and painter in everyone he met. People love color and a grand vista; we travel the universe in search of a stunning view. An artist paints a scene from a photograph, or “Plein Air,” outdoors immersed in the moment and scene—Bob Ross painted from his imagination and memories of moments passed.

What does the “Joy of Painting” have to do with photography? Painting and photography are the artist’s interpretation of a moment, a memory. We perceive painting and photography as entirely independent practices, but artists commonly overlap both mediums combining them, or dabbling in both:

Pow Wow Regailia

Living Dancing Art

Though it is not uncommon for an artist to dabble in both brushwork and camerawork separately, some creatives even combine the crafts within the same piece. In this collection of paintings merged with photographs, we explore the many ways that modern and contemporary artists have mastered this form of mixed media. 

The selected works predominantly span surreal portraiture and whimsical landscapes. Some, like Homage by Gregory Scott and Watercolor Photos by Elena Efremova, involve photographing camouflaged paintings. Others, including Valeria Trasatti’s FOX series and Castrophia by Chad Wys, feature photographs that have been directly painted. Most, however, are digitally altered composites. No matter the method, each artist proves that painting and photography are a perfect match. ~ My Modern Met article by Kelly Richman-Abdou on March 23, 2017

I like the concept of blurring the lines of painting and photography. I commonly alter my photographs using digital manipulation, light painting, or intentional camera movement—I have yet to apply acrylic paint to a printed image. Still, I look forward to making a hybrid painted photo.

What does the “Joy of Painting” have to do with photography? Color, texture, perspective, emotion, and the power of light. What separates these media? Photographs cannot be captured from a memory, but a picture can preserve it. If you want to improve your photography, study the painters, examine what draws you into their art, then incorporate those creative concepts into your pictures. God made humankind in His image; God made all of us creative. Above everything be joyous in practicing the art of photography; try new ideas and concepts. Be bold and if you like the results, that is a win! It is not about what the critic likes!!

The Bison comparison from the camera, and digitally manipulated

Bison Bull

From the Camera

Ferdinand the bull Bison

Ferdinand Stylized

BBQ homemade

Balta BBQ From Camera

Balta BBQ Creative