I recently purchased the pin combination of Bob Ross and his Happy Little Tree. Bob was known for his program on PBS, The Joy of Painting. When asked about his relaxed and calm approach, he said, “I got a letter from somebody here a while back, and they said, ‘Bob, everything in your world seems to be happy.’ That’s for sure. That’s why I paint. It’s because I can create the kind of world that I want, and I can make this world as happy as I want it. Shoot, if you want bad stuff, watch the news.”
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of his painting style, or even his paintings, but I love his attitude, his actual joy of painting. In his world, he would always add happy little trees. Even just typing it, I smile. Maybe he isn’t a “master” at painting, but he seems to be one at living. Some art won’t hang in museums, but it will rest well in your heart.
When I opened the package of the pins, the first name that popped into my head was Don Opsahl. I hadn’t thought of his name for a long time. I tried to remember it years ago, but nothing came, and I forgot about him. He, Mr. Opsahl, was my first grade school art teacher at Washington Elementary. His world smelled thick of color and it was like walking into a cartoon. I’m not certain of what he taught me. I don’t even recall knowing if he painted himself. But what he did was introduce me to was a world of belonging. He opened the door to a space that I so easily slid into. He welcomed me home. Some of the best gifts are unwrapped, day after day, year after year.
I now live in the land of Cezanne. I have walked through his studio. I have driven past the house of Picasso. I have visited museums throughout the world with the finest artists. I have wept in front of a Matisse in Paris. Today, with the same reverence, I give thanks for Bob and Don.
The world is filled with people trying to create a better world. Let them rest well in your heart.