In my role as Senior Director of Sports Production and Associate Lecturer of Media at Ball State, I proudly teach a style of storytelling known as circular storytelling. It never fails you.
It’s become such a part of my style, the logo for my program (Sports Link) is a circle with an arrow strategically designed so the tip of the arrow points forward to signal the journey continues and what’s next.
In a real-life, personal example, my story with Bob Ross has come full circle and the tip of the arrow points to the journey that continues.
The best part of all of this? Bob wanted me to do it.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I met Bob Ross and we quickly developed a friendship/mentorship. We would regularly visit (and sometimes paint) when he was in Muncie to film The Joy of Painting® at WIPB-TV. You can read more about our relationship on the “about me” page.
As my journey continues, I do so as a proud Certified Bob Ross Instructor® who completed the rigorous — yet fun — training in June 2022.
The best part? I completed the training in the former WIPB-TV studios where Bob filmed the show. I could feel his spirit with me everyday, and yes, sometimes I could even hear him. Surreal, honestly.
I cherish all my memories with Bob, including the many handwritten letters, including one where Bob encouraged — frankly suggested — that I need to become a CRI®.
His business partner, Annette Kowalski and Director of Certification Training, also sent me a letter suggesting my skills are at “the level of a CRI®”.
So back then, my plan was to finish high school, pursue my degree in media at Ball State, get my Masters there, too … and then get the training to officially become a CRI®.
Bob was in the prime of his career, a global, celebrity-like status. I would sometimes sit in the studios while he filmed the show. We were “pen pals”, he was my mentor and I was the mentee.
In 1995, I had one more year of college to go. It was a couple days after July 4, 1995, when I got the phone call. Bob had died from cancer. The exact cause of death was complications from lymphoma.
He kept the diagnosis a secret from his audience and the public eye. His death came as a surprise to many fans and followers, including me.
It wasn’t easy to hear that. I didn’t know what would happen and to be honest, I didn’t paint again for quite sometime.
I eventually started painting again, when I could find the time, but it was more of a hobby and a one off here and there. Paintings were family gifts, a few were sold, some never seen.
I finished my final year at Ball State, two more years of grad school and then jumped right into a fulfilling career in sports media.
That was until 2020.
Early that year, I got a call from Jessica Jenkins at Minnetrista. There was a Bob Ross exhibit planned and she wanted to talk to me about the project — a rejuvenation started.
To help with the project, share my memorabilia and even be asked to paint “Bob’s reference paintings” for the exhibit, the spark and the passion came back. And fast.
So here we are. 30-something years later. 27 years since Bob’s untimely passing and the year he would have turned 80.
I did it Bob and I know you know. I felt your presence the whole way.