A small, crimson-colored barn with a lean-to south of Havre, Montana.
I have many thoughts of growing up as a kid in southern Wisconsin. One of the many is of the colorful farm buildings that fill the rich, fertile valleys, like this red barn I found in Montana. Yet another has much less to do with Wisconsin, but it is nonetheless indelible. I had memories of both as I took, and later edited, this photograph.
In my earlier years I enjoyed TV. We lived on a farm many miles from the big city, so television signals were often weak. Also, this was long before the days of cable and satellite television; especially on a small dairy farm. I like to tell people we had 3-1/2 stations...the half being the CBS affiliate out of Madison, which was about as fickle as the weather in The Dairy State.
Perhaps the strongest signal came from the PBS station in Madison. With that we watched lots of PBS shows. Sesame Street, Electric Company, and a show called "The Joy of Painting" with its host and painter Bob Ross. No, I didn't have a desire to learn how to paint. That is, after all, why we photographers photograph... we can't draw. No, Bob Ross was like a more mature version of Mr. Rogers. His hypnotic voice and the rhythmic sounds of his tools dancing on the canvas was enough to cause anyone with an attention deficit to stop, sit, watch, and fall into a trance. This was affectionately called a "Bob Ross coma." And if you suffered from insomnia, it was the perfect cure.
As I edited this particular photograph I began channeling Bob Ross. The scene, after all, was SO Bob Ross. The happy little barn with a lean-to, the old wooden fence, the sloping hills, and of course the happy little trees, were all staples in a Bob Ross painting. About the only thing it missed was some of his signature colors: cadmium yellow, phthalo blue, titanium white, and my favorite, van dyke brown. Then again, the barn did have some alizarin crimson.
And as much as I enjoyed my Bob Ross coma, I gathered more from watching the show than just a 20 minute nap. And perhaps in some way his "teachings" have impacted the way I create an image. But perhaps his most important lessons are secretly contained within the sanguine tao of Bob Ross.
"Now we have to start making some big decisions in our world."
"Maybe in our world, here lives another tree."
"Trees are just like people. Some of them are tall, some short, some heavy, some thin."
"We don't make mistakes, we just have happy accidents."
"Shoot, just go for it."
"Sometimes you learn more from mistakes than you do from trying so hard."
Sadly Bob Ross died of lymphoma in 1995 at the young age of 52.
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