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Happy trees live on at the S.L. library's 'Bob Ross Paint-Along'

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Public Library is offering patrons a chance to find their inner artists by being inspired — and instructed — by one of the art world's most beloved figures: PBS's "Joy of Painting" host Bob Ross.

"It's kind of funny when we've watched Bob Ross so many times on TV, it looks like it's just so easy," said Andrew Shaw, Salt Lake City Public Library communications manager. "But, you know, when you're actually painting with him, it's incredible how highly skilled he is and how hard it is to try to replicate what he's doing on screen."

At the "Bob Ross Paint-Along," the several library branches will play the same "Joy of Painting" episode on select Saturdays through February and March, instructing students how to paint a monochromatic mountain scene, Shaw said.

"He does it all just with white, brown and blue to form various shades of gray," Shaw said.

Prior to his death in 1995, American artist Ross gained national attention on his popular PBS show "Joy of Painting" as the creator of his "happy trees and happy little clouds."

Those who attend the Salt Lake Library's classes will have access to free paint, paint brushes and a small canvas, Shaw said. He said there are about 20 people per class.

Shaw said the librarians who lead the classes try to help the painters understand Ross's instruction and stay caught up throughout the class. Adult Services librarian Jen Scott is one of those librarians who leads the Ross painting classes.

"This is one of my favorite programs to do at the library," Scott said. "It can be just a really fun environment."

Shaw said that while most of the classes, which originally started in 2017, are filling up, individuals can still get on a waitlist. And those who haven't been able to get in can expect more classes in the future.

"I think we'll continue to do them because they are so popular," Shaw said. "We want to make sure everybody has a chance to take part."

Shaw said he thinks there are several reasons why the classes have been so popular.

"You know, I think it really hits on a couple of different things," Shaw said. "Bob Ross is so nostalgic and … he's such a loveable character, and people remember watching him when they were kids on TV. And so it's fun to reconnect with Bob, and he's just such a gentle spirit that he's just engaging that way."

Shaw said he thinks people are also interested in creativity, being active and the community aspect of these events.

"It's a fun, relaxing, creative community-focused event," he said. "Really the whole point is just to have a really good time and try to play along."

If you go …

What: "Bob Ross Paint-Along"

When: Feb. 3, Feb. 17, Feb. 24 and March 31, 2 p.m.

Where: Various Salt Lake City library branches

How much: Free