Bob Ross quote

“Happy Accidents” Thank you, Bob Ross!

How do you nourish your creativity? It’s an important question and too rarely asked. The transactional world has very little interest in our creativity. It’s up to us to cultivate the part of us that longs to create something new, even if that something has very little utilitarian value. I’m speaking as a writer, but the creative drive is more elemental than a focus on what someone else might consume some day. The creative drive is about exercising the Image of God within ourselves. God is first and foremost the Creator God, and we each have the drive to envision and then attempt to create what we envision — to capture it on a page, paint it on canvas, stitch it with fabric, or twist it from play dough or pipe cleaners.

Maybe, like me, you watched Bob Ross teach The Joy of Painting on PBS in the 1980s and ’90s. Maybe you discovered him after his (too early) death. Bob Ross’ method was as unassuming as his name. As he sat before a canvas, holding a palette in his left hand, a paint brush or paint knife in his right, he gave instruction in a calm voice. To him, there were no mistakes in painting, only “happy accidents.” Every smudge could be turned into a tree branch, or perhaps a bird. His soothing manner made painting seem actually possible, even for an ordinary mortal like me.

Yesterday I went to a Bob Ross exhibit. Each painting was paired with a quotation from his instruction while he painted that scene. I loved the quotes as much as the paintings! Each gem captures the lively and capricious nature of creativity, and the unexpected ways we can discover and capture it within ourselves.

What fun to wander from painting to painting and just take them in. It isn’t just that the paintings are lovely. The act of painting the paintings is lovely. I’ll share a few pictures. What are you doing to nourish your creativity these days?


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