What about Bob? -Teen Programming

You may have noticed the retro uptrends lately. 80’s band tees and cartoons, scrunchies, vinyl records, fanny packs, and even the Walkman is releasing an updated version for it’s 40th anniversary. The past is alive and well in pop culture and teens are living for the nostalgia…..even if though they weren’t around for the orininals. One case in point is Bob Ross. He is everywhere. There are Bob Ross puzzles, Bob Ross tee shirts, Bob Ross board games, Bob Ross Halloween costumes, and of course Bob Ross library programs. 

I have successfully run Happy Little Painters, a Bob Ross inspired teen painting programin two unique ways with registration filling up in a matter of days. (I prefer to run programs that do not require registration, however when there are specific material needs I have to know how many kiddos I’ll have coming in.) 

My first Happy Little Painters program took place over the summer out on the front lawn. Each participant received a canvas panel, a paint palette, their choice of tempera paints to use (I always use tempera paints for teens because someone always winds up painting themselves, their friends, their clothes, or their friend’s clothes), a brush, and a cup of water and were let loose to sit on the disposable tablecloths I laid out in the various shady places of our lawn. 

There were no rules on what they should paint, but were encouraged to paint what was around them or use it as inspiration. We have many happy little things that can be seen from the front lawn: trees, flowers, clouds, CVS…. and a lot of happy things were created. At the end of the program each teen was able to take home their work and also got a pin for participating.

The second time I ran Happy Little Painters, we were indoors. I started the program watching the intro and 5 minutes of an episode of The Joy of Painting  to show how quickly speed painting actually goes. I then kept a still of the end picture frozen on the screen and allowed everyone  to create at their own pace trying out their own techniques in recreating the picture. 

Most followed the plan and created a scene reminiscent to the original, however there were a few teens that wanted to create original pieces of art. (While not following the idea of the program teens painting to the beat of their own drum were still actively participating and I am not one to dissuade art, expression, or participation simply because it wasn’t the “assignment”) At the end of the program each teen, once again, got to keep their art and also received a certificate for participation.

Since running these programs I have learned that the Bob Ross company is very litigious about the use of the name Bob Ross and the phrase “happy little trees”, so I foresee a title change going forward with additional programs of this vein for me. However, Bob Ross was not mentioned in any marketing for the program. I was vaguely dressed like a certain bearded, afro-ed, painter of yesteryear and spoke in a more peaceful, dulcet tone than my own voice, but I find painting brings out the more meditative side to me anyway… and really, who doesn’t rock a permed wig to work occasionally?

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