"Pottery Cove Garden" 9x12 - contact Michael
Sometimes two names crop up in workshops: Bob Ross and Thomas Kinkade. I think both of these fellows, one deceased and the other very much alive, deserve praise. Many "serious" painters may disagree with me, mostly because Bob Ross created a way of painting that shortcuts and, in the minds of these serious painters, seems to devalue the hard work they had to do to get where they are today; and because Thomas Kinkade figured out that romantic stone cottages with candlelit windows would sell far, far better than more authentic landscapes.
But I praise Ross and Kinkade because they help people work toward their dreams.
Bob Ross made it possible for many to paint who weren't able to get a proper art education or to find the time or money to take expensive painting workshops . He designed a whole system, from brushes to paints to easels, and had a TV series, all of which enables a rank beginner to express herself in a realistic way. To be sure, many of his landscapes were imaginary and contrived, but any beginner who could learn his approach was on the road to becoming a fulfilled painter. Many of these students, and today they are legion, no doubt aspire to be future Monets, and thanks to Bob Ross, they are able to work toward a satisfying means of expression. Those who do get out in the world of art soon realize that Bob Ross is not an end but a means, and these will continue to grow as painters.
Thomas Kinkade, whom people are surprised to hear is an excellent plein air painter, presents in his studio work warm, inviting images that anyone with an inkling to pick up a brush would want to emulate. Kinkade wasn't around when I was growing up and aspiring to be a painter, but other artists who sold similar images to the mass market were. I remember a print, big as a couch, that hung in my parents' living room. It showed a bucolic scene complete with an old covered bridge, stencilled with an advertisement for Red Man Tobacco, and two barefoot kids fishing. (My parents still have the print today.) I loved that image, and I painted my share of dilapidated rural structures because of it. If Kinkade had been around, I'm sure I would have painted stone cottages. What drew me wasn't the painting itself - after all, I was looking at a flat print with no visible "mark making" from a brush - but the sentimental image.
It would be good for students who start with Bob Ross and Thomas Kinkade to continue to read about art, to view it constantly, and to look widely at the world of representational painting. They should thank Bob and Tom for opening the door; but then walk on through to the next garden.