Leonardo di Alphageek

Alphageek Painting
Originally uploaded by AlphaHokie
For those of you looking for some Alphageek words of wisdom about my 25th High School Reunion can move right on to this post. There will be no words of wisdom about the occasion, other than to thank the retired lawman for his hospitality. A good time was had by all.

Instead, we have exciting news about the Alphageek learning yet another skill. Yes, the Alphageek: Engineer, musician (retired), brewer, and Iron Chef has added anther attempt at a skill to his bag of tricks: painter. I know what your are thinking, he painted his house. I scoff at your ignorance. I have vinyl siding, so I am not painting the house anytime soon.

When we were vacationing (well I was vacationing, Mrs. Alphageek had to work!) at The homestead, I was enjoying a bourbon and watching televison while we were getting ready for dinner. The television went by PBS, and Bob Ross was doing what he
does, creating an oil painting in about 30 minutes. You know who I am talking about, the guy with the big afro. His concept has always fascinated me. After all, 30 minutes seems okay for a pizza, but not to create a painting. I watched the show, and was enthralled. Bob Ross is someone who practices his craft without shame. Perhaps he is even somewhat aware that other people think he is a little out there. All in all, I would say that this trait makes Mr. Ross a closet geek. He someone I can relate to.

As I watched him explain how to paint, a new perspective was opened for me. I realized that he utilizes a few simple techniques to create his paintings, almost algorithms. Admitedly, he is very practiced and exceptionally skilled, but I became inspired to try to paint for myself. I would say that Mr. Ross providing inspiration to others is more artist than geek. I remain pretty certain that anything I could do would not inspire anyone to do anything other than change the channel. After all, it is very well established that Alphageek's Thoughts gets about five readers a posting. I spelled five out becuase 5 looks very small. I am pretty sure this web site is not inspiring anyone to do anything other than move on to another site on the internet.

After I announced my decision to Mrs. Alphageek, she looked around to see just how much bourbon was consumed. She was quite surprised to find only one hotel mini-bottle in the room. She even looked outside. She reluctantly said, well, if this is what you want to do, her voice dropping off to a near whisper.

After a week or two, we decided to head out to one of the local craft stores. We grabbed a coupon from a newspaper or mailer and headed out. I have discovered that one should never pay full price at any of these kinds of stores. Go online, find a coupon and print the coupon out. You can hit print as many times as you need. At the store, get other folks to buy stuff for you, or make Mrs. Alphageek go with you. It may not seem like much, but these 40% off coupons can go a long way. Once we arrived at the store, we headed over to the paint section. Bob's smiling face beamed from the shelf on his own line of oil painting products.

It was at this point that I realized there was another aspect of oil painting that I was going to find appealing: gadgets. There are all kinds of little and interesting doodads that you can buy when you take up painting. You think just brushes and paint? No, there is so much more. You can get things such as brush cleaning systems, knives, canvases, easels and books that Bob has published. Bob's books are targeted to folks like me. That would be folks doing this for the first time, and probably can't do any more than copy Bob. We decided to purchase a Bob Ross Master Paint set. It supposedly had everthing one needs in it, but the Alphageek did not really believe the kit was complete.

After coming home, I took a look at the included dvd. The dvd starts, and there is Bob's smiling face and comforting voice, assuring me that anyone can do this. I decide to play along, and watch. As I am watching, I start to "get it". Bob is using a few simple techniques to paint this great picture in 30 minutes or less. I decide to have another bourbon and watch the dvd again. After watching, I realize I am going to need a few more items. The first is a brush cleaning system. Bob can do his painting quickly, because he can clean up quickly. The second thing is the palette.

I went back to the art store, coupon in hand, to purchase Bob's palette. I walked around and could not find Bob's palette over in his section. I was crushed! I tried to look at some of the other palettes, but the only ones that have that nice classic shape, you know the shape that let's you play the part of a painter, were wooden. Bob said not to use a wooden palette because it would dry out the paint. Fortunatly, my Alphageek skills came to the rescue. I whipped out the blackberry and searched online. I found several stores to order from online. I headed home and placed my order.

The week went buy, and I stopped and made a few more 40% off purchases here and there. Saturday arrived and my palette finally arrived in the mail. I finally had all the materials needed to paint, so I put everything off until Sunday.

Sunday arrived, and I got all of the materials out, and put them in our television room. After all, I was going to need to see the dvd of Bob with his gentle encouragement, if I was going to pull this off. After all, I had to keep telling myself this was a simple application of algorithms. Painting is really not rocket science.

I got everything out, and started to watch the dvd. Bob has all of the colors that you need scroll across the bottom. OH NO, I don't have all of the colors! How could Bob do this to me? I bought the kit and placed my faith in Bob! Fortunatly, my Wahoo friend came to my aid and purchsed all of the remaining colors for me, and brought them to my house. My Rain Man like rant subsided, and I began to paint. My Wahoo friend even left one of her fine children with me, to start and stop the dvd for me while I painted. Well, not paint so much as try to copy what Bob was doing on the screen.

Rather than give you a brush by brush account of the painting, I have attached a copy of the results. I will say that I am rather pleased. My goal going into this was simple: you have to be able to tell what the painting is. I think this painting meets this goal. Sure, it has some problems. I am really not sure what is going on in the lower right hand corner, and I probably should pick a different angle for the clouds and the mountains to avoid the ski slope look, but overall I think the painting came out really well. The trees there on the left side actually look like trees.

I have been asked several times if I am going to try painting again. I think the answer is yes. I will have to either buy some Bob Ross books, or get some of his dvds. I am pretty certain I am not quite ready to create my own works of art, but I would like to practice some more.