Perhaps you’ve seen local media reports about a recent “flash mob” painting exercise at Madison Middle School. Featuring approximately 50 Pre-AP Art students donning wigs and the attire of late painter and television host Bob Ross, the story appeared on the front page of the Abilene Reporter-News and local television news programs.
But who would have predicted the brainstorm of art teacher Brady Sloane would be seen in every corner of the U.S. and beyond the shores?
Now, it’s made it to national TV. A week after the project and on Valentine’s Day, NBC featured photos and video of the project on “The Today Show,” whose hosts discussed Bob Ross and the middle school art teacher from Texas.
In today’s vernacular, it’s gone viral.
The folks at ARN first shared the story and pictures with the Associated Press. The next thing you know, it’s appearing in the New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and multitudes of other national publications, television stations, radio shows and online news feeds. National Public Radio produced a short piece. It’s been translated into Chinese for readers in Hong Kong and German for people in that country. Enter a few keywords into a Google search and you can spend a chunk of time going through page after page of links to media outlets that have shared the story.
“The response to our Bob Ross flash mob has been incredible,” Sloane said. “The students really enjoyed it. They enjoyed the challenge, are happy with the product and loved getting to dress up. I couldn’t be more proud of how focused they were and how hard they worked. They are dedicated in the art room, and I am so glad that I could share their awesome abilities and drive to the world.”
The “Flash Bob…Ross” was Mrs. Sloane’s creative way of rewarding her advanced art students for their hard work with a fun and enriching educational assignment. The one-day painting workshop on Feb. 7 had sessions throughout the day and culminated with a finished piece of art by every student.
Together on the auditorium stage, the students watched an episode of “The Joy of Painting” on a projected screen and painted along with the program in the style of the artist. All of this was done while dressed like the host, complete with wigs to match the distinctive hairstyle of the American painter whose instructional program aired on PBS from 1983-1994.
The students practiced landscape painting techniques with sponge and detail brushes while standing at an easels (converted music stands) in an “alla prima” style. With time for drying and glazing between sessions, their creations were finished by the end of the school day.