Happy trees? | Teen Ink

Happy trees?

January 6, 2010
By WillowLightfoot BRONZE, Nevada, Iowa
WillowLightfoot BRONZE, Nevada, Iowa
3 articles 10 photos 38 comments

Way back when, as a wee child, I discovered the joys of Bob Ross as I was aimlessly flipping through our 7 TV channels. I stared at his brush as he created happy little trees and happy little clouds and thought, “That is SO COOL. I want to be a painter!!!” I rushed off in search of art supplies, full of childish glee and excitement. I plopped back down in front of the TV with a set of mostly used watercolor paints, a brush, a glass of water, and some white paper I borrowed from the printer. I watched closely as he mixed whites and greens and blues and all sorts of colors to create a forest-ey scene. I noted all the different colors arrayed on his paint pallet. I looked down at my paint set and wondered where on earth my white paint was. Those stupid manufacturers forgot the white!! How was I supposed to paint happy clouds without WHITE??

Ok, I thought, so we’ll ignore the happy clouds. I can make a perfectly nice sky without them. Ol’ Bobby dipped his brush in the green, then in the brown, and started swishing away at his cheery little trees. I dipped my brush in the water, got it all full of green, added some water to the residual chunks of dried brown watercolor paint, dipped my green brush into it, and started to paint.

The product, after 20 minutes of hard, increasingly frustrating work, was most certainly NOT a ‘happy little accident’. It was a big, unhappy mess. The sky was dripping down into the dead, angry looking trees, making the ground an unsettling shade of muck. The bark of the trees and the leaves melded together to form a wet, blobby…blob of forest. I didn’t even care that I didn’t have clouds anymore. I stared at it in dismay, upset because I knew now that I would never, ever be a painter. Ever. I ripped up the soggy paper and threw it in the trash, vowing to never mention it to anyone ever again.

For the next many years, my main experiences with paint were nothing more nerve-wracking than putting a lot of different colors together on a piece of paper, smushing it, and calling the product art. Then, in high school, freshman year I dared to take a ceramics class. While I wasn’t the best in the class, it was always satisfying to dig my fingers into the clay and to work on the wheel. At the beginning of sophomore year, the art teacher approached me and asked me if I was planning on taking any more art classes. “Uh…no,” I answered nervously. He told me we had to re-arrange my schedule so I could get the Drawing and Painting class fit into it. As he spoke, I felt a sense of impending doom. But I agreed.

And I learned something very important in that class. It’s a lot easier to paint in the style of acrylics if one is using acrylic paint. Who knew?

I have to extend a heartfelt thank you to Mr. Beauchene. If not for him, I probably wouldn’t have dared to pick up a paint brush again. While I still definitely do not paint happy trees or clouds, I learned that it’s ok to mess up on things, and it’s possible to learn from them. Painting has become an outlet in my life, and always makes me step back and truly marvel over how gorgeous the world around us is, this phantasmagorical wonder that we take for granted every day. The more I strive to paint exactly what I see, the more I realize just how amazing it is such beauty even exists. There are the clear reflections in a single water droplet, the vivid colors in the sunset. And sometimes, just sometimes, there are happy trees.

The author's comments:
Well, this I wrote for my college application. It was supposed to be a "brief personal statement" about a memory or persons who have affected me in some way. This was truly a traumatizing memory. I'd completely forgotten about it until I saw a Bob Ross bumper sticker on Facebook, actually. But yep. This was me as a small child. Enjoy.

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