I have always loved art. When I was younger, I used to love to draw and color pictures in coloring books. In school, I loved the different art projects we used to do. At home, my grandma, before her arthritis got bad, used to make refrigerator magnets out of felt, stick-on magnets, and pipe cleaners, creating butterflies or bunches of grapes, many of them still decorating family refrigerators.
In the mid-1980s, there was a man on TV named Bob Ross who would paint a beautiful painting in about 30 minutes every Saturday morning. I remember watching The Joy of Painting every chance I could and watching in amazement as a bare canvas was transformed into a beautiful landscape.
I wanted to paint like Bob Ross, thinking it would be a fun career. However, there were some issues. At the time, we did not use oil paints in our art classes at school, and since this was before the internet, I did not have any way of finding out where I could go to learn how to paint using Mr. Ross' methods.
As a result, my thoughts of taking up landscape painting faded as planning for college began to take shape. Once in college, I was not able to watch The Joy of Painting on a regular basis.
In July 1995, I was working on campus for the summer between my junior and senior years when I heard that Bob Ross had passed away. I had not watched his show in some time, and I was deeply saddened to hear that I would not be seeing him paint again.
During the fall semester of my senior year in college, I took a two-dimensional art class. Our instructor was quite impressed with my work, telling me that I had obviously watched and learned a lot from Bob Ross. During the spring semester, I took a three-dimensional art class, creating some ceramics that I still have.
Rediscovering Bob Ross
Over the several years after college, my life went into a bit of a rollercoaster ride, going through grad school, different jobs, and a few moves.
By 2004, I was on my third job after grad school. I had been there for about three years doing PC tech support when I began thinking about possibly going into business for myself selling custom-built PCs. I mentioned the idea to another coworker, and he was interested in joining me in my business venture.
Over the next year and a half, we were making good progress in the planning and preparation of starting our business. However, in late 2005, things began taking a downward turn. My business partner began having personal issues to deal with and began taking time away from working on the business. In early 2006, he began dropping out of contact completely, only contacting me about once a month when he wanted to get the business going because he needed some extra money for car repairs or something. Then, when it came time to get together to work on the business again, he would break off contact and seem to disappear.
After several months (and several talks with some close friends), it became apparent that I needed to part ways with my business partner. After all, if he was doing this before the business started, he would be doing it after the business started. That Labor Day weekend, I made the difficult decision to e-mail him and tell him that he was no longer part of the company. I never heard from him again.
Soon afterwards, my plans for the custom-PC business faded as I was focusing on my new job that I had started in April 2006.
By early 2008, I had been at my fourth job after grad school for about two years. One night while going through the channel guide on my DVR, I saw that episodes of The Joy of Painting were being reaired as Best of The Joy of Painting on Create TV and my local PBS station. I immediately programmed the show into my DVR. Watching the show again was like meeting up with a good friend who I had not seen in years.
After watching a few episodes, the thoughts of taking up landscape painting stirred up again. However, my first cat Chessie, who I had adopted in April 2007, was dealing with hypotrophic obstructive cardiomyopia, a heart condition that normally occurs only in older cats. With his many trips to the vet and MedVet for his echocardiograms and medicines, there was no way that I could afford to get what I needed to begin painting. As a result, thoughts of painting and selling my work were again put off.
Needing A Change
On Saturday, August 7, 2010, Chessie collapsed at the vet's office from his heart condition and had to be put to sleep. I had adopted him when he was just four months old. His heart condition was found when he was about five months old. He was a little over three and a half years old when he passed on. Needless to say, I was extremely heartbroken. Chessie had been very close to both me and Casey Jones, my second cat.
Shortly after Chessie's passing, I began putting together a memorial video for him to put up on YouTube along with all of the other videos I had made of him and Casey since they were kittens.
While making the video, I saw how happy his life had been, despite it being so short. It got me to thinking about my life and how rather than being able to enjoy it I was always slaving away at doing tech support during the day, coming home, doing dinner, and then going to bed to start it all over again the next day. My life had gotten into a rut. That was when I began going through what I can only describe as a mid-life crisis. I needed a change as I was getting burned out from always doing tech support and the frustrations of dealing with the same issues over and over at work.
I thought about the PC business from before, but there was no way that I could build PCs and provide tech support for customers by myself. Also, I did not have the space for working on PCs as well as storing parts, completed PCs, etc.
One night while drying dishes, I was watching one of the episodes of Best of The Joy of Painting when it hit me. I had always thought about taking up painting but had never seriously looked into it.
I began visiting BobRoss.com and went over the prices of the painting supplies that I would need. I also planned to have things rolling on a new career change by Labor Day 2011.
Another thing I did was to look closely at my current tech support career path as well as a career path in painting. I wanted to basically get all of the pros and cons of both together to weigh the two paths together and see which would be the better one to follow. Typically, for each pro on one career path, there was a con on the other. Needless to say, a career path in painting won.
When I first started making plans for my new career, I was initially looking into the business side of things. I realized that since I had never used oil paints before that I should look into getting art supplies first so that I could get some experience.
In January 2011, I bought a digital camera, which began saving me money that I would normally have been spending on film and processing for my 35mm camera. I cleared an area of my basement for a studio, and I then began getting painting supplies that I needed to begin painting as well as the three-hour workshop DVD that Bob Ross had made so that I could learn more about his techniques.
By April 8th, my first 6-pack of new canvases arrived, and I was ready to start painting.
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