A Bob Ross Positive

It really is easy not to like things. Or rather, I should say, it’s really easy to express a negative opinion about things. Especially art. Especially your own art. Art is easy to dismiss. Art is easy to criticize. It’s easy to find the faults in a piece of art. Everyone with a mouth can criticize a movie, a book, a painting, a wood carving, a sculpture, a poem, a song, a cartoon, or a sand castle.

Bob Ross enjoyed calling mistakes “happy accidents.” Why? Probably to just keep moving. You don’t get very far as an artist if you get hung up on the mistakes. The faults will happen. But if you swing it more to your own corner, then you continue with the art. If you slow down even a little bit, the slowing can turn into stopping. Then what are you doing? Not art.

A perspective of “good mistakes” or “happy accidents” will get you so much farther than a perspective of “disastrous mistakes” or “dreadful, deadly accidents.”

You’ve probably experienced someone who couldn’t get over a certain situation—someone who saw a mistake as something worse than it really was—and you probably wondered how they could see it that way. You may have tried to help them get over it, tried to convince them that the problem wasn’t so bad. They turned it around, didn’t they? They told you the problem was the most serious problem ever. They told you it was devastating. They convinced themselves it was the end of art, it was the end of the world, and they tried to convince you of the same. You probably thought, “This person is hopeless. They claim the light that illuminates the path is too bright and blinding.”

How could you help someone out of such a mental state? How can you overcome such a self-defeating attitude? Isn’t it obvious? The cure is to show the poor downer dude (or dudette?) some Bob Ross. Bring peace to the world through instructional painting videos. Bring optimism to the lost with beautiful landscapes and “happy accidents.” That’s not the only way, of course, but it’s in the Top 10 of ways to cure a self-degrading funk. So right about now, you’re probably wondering what the other nine ways are. I could be funny and tease you: “Tune in next week…” but I won’t. Here’s the list:

Top 10 Ways of Developing a Positive Creative Mental State

  1. Watch videos of Bob Ross. Pick up the habit of seeing accidents as a positive.
  2. Build a sand castle. Sometimes the most temporary art forms teach us how to be less serious, less stressed, less negative.
  3. Start making mistakes in your art on purpose, then fix them.
  4. Consider a child showing you some macaroni glued together. They tell you it’s their favorite and they made it for you. What is it? Does it really matter what it is? Would you ever tell that child their creation was ugly? If not, then why do it to yourself?
  5. Meditation. Sit still and contemplate things that are beyond your art. After a few moments of separation, then go back to your art. Rarely does meditation ever make people turn toward the negative.
  6. Rorschach test. Rorschach test upside down. Did your answers change?
  7. Go for a hike. What do you see in nature? Do you see perfection?
  8. Carve a bear in a tree stump with a chainsaw. Too difficult? Maybe the chainsaw artist thinks your particular brand of art is too difficult? Did you ever think of that?
  9. List the worst, the good, and the great about your art. Throw away the “worst” list. Post the “great” list on your fridge.
  10. Talk to other artists, especially those who do different art than you. Find out what they do and do not enjoy about it. Chances are you’ll find things in common.

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at xenosthesia.com or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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