The question has come a few times in ds106: What is our theme? We are using The Joy of Painting as theme this semester. What that means as a theme depends on how we decide to interpret it. We may at times take it very superficially and focus on the Bob Ross character. It would be more interesting, and more productive, to consider deeper meanings. What is the show about? On the surface level it is about a style of oil painting, and demonstrating how to do it. Some of us may not care about painting though. We could then look to how he demonstrates, with encouragement and relentless positivity. Or what he shows us, not in technique but in approach, about trying things and seeing where they take us, and accepting that it’s all going to be okay.
And he’s also telling a story at a macro level, with the character or persona he has created for himself on camera. His mannerisms, appearance, the way he speaks and the stories he tells, all work to create an engaging and welcoming personality.
We are also considering how we are all artists, in some way or another. We might use Bob as an inspiration for how we can reflect on our own artistic journeys. How we can demonstrate what we are trying to do, how we can show what we make. Creating digital media and narrating our processes and reflecting on our work is the bulk of this course.
There is no one right way to interpret the theme. We may take several perspectives, both individually and as a group. Each of us has to decide how we want to make it work, and each of us has the power to make it work for ourselves. That’s the joy of ds106.