Self-taught McCreary County artist James Hood said the demands of a busy construction career and raising a family led him to put aside his passion for art for roughly 25 years.
That all changed when he caught a TV program hosted by famous painter Bob Ross.
Hood was so captivated by Ross’ quick-study painting technique—characterized by the use of painting knives and oversized paint brushes—that he immediately signed up for one of his oil-painting classes.
“When I got my hands on the paints, I was hooked,” Hood said. “Then, I started recording and watching his show, ‘The Joy of Painting,’ on PBS. From there, I started seeing some real results.”
Hood, a Bob Ross-certified instructor, will be exhibiting a selection of his oil paintings at the next visual arts exhibit on display in the front lobby of The Center for Rural Development in Somerset. The exhibit, a tribute to his late mentor entitled “The Spirit of Bob Ross,” is presented by Lake Cumberland Performing Arts in partnership with The Center.
“The Center is excited to showcase one of the area’s most talented artists,” Dianna Winstead, associate director of arts, culture, and events, said. “James Hood has a true passion for painting in oils and it shows in his work as an artist.”
The exhibit, which features some of Hood’s landscape paintings, will open on Jan. 31 and continue through March 2. A “Meet-the-Artist” reception will be held on Thursday, Feb. 3, from 6 p.m.-7 p.m. in the front lobby of The Center to introduce Hood’s art exhibit and give the public a chance to learn more about his work at a free pre-show event held prior to the Center Stage performance of the Broadway musical, “The Music Man.”
At the reception, Hood will give a demonstration of the wet-on-wet oil painting technique introduced by Ross and taught across the nation today by Bob Ross-certified instructors.
By following this technique—in which the painter continues adding paint on top of still-wet paint rather than waiting for each layer of paint to dry—he will complete an oil painting of a waterfall in only 30 minutes.
Ross, who died in 1995, was known for his quick-study method that kept colors to a minimum and broke paintings down in a simple step-by-step process.
“Bob’s philosophy was that anyone could paint,” Hood said. “I think Bob touched the art world more than any other painter.”
Hood continues to keep Ross’ legacy alive by teaching the Bob Ross method to promising artists everywhere. He taught classes in Dayton, Ohio, before he moved to Pine Knot in McCreary County in 2009.
During his 20-year career as an artist, Hood said he has created more than 20,000 pieces of art—many of which have been sold, given away to family members and friends, or donated to charity.
“I’ve had people tell me they have seen my paintings all across the United States and that makes me happy,” he said. “Over the years, I have been exposed to so many wonderful people and that has really changed my life.”
The public is invited to view Hood’s exhibit, “The Spirit of Bob Ross,” from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday or during extended evening and weekend hours when The Center’s lobby is open for special events.
There is no charge to attend the exhibit and all of Hood’s paintings on display are available for sale.
For more information about the art exhibit or the oil painting demonstration at the “Meet the Artist” reception, contact The Center for Rural Development at 606-677-6000 or visit the Web site at centertech.com.
The Center is located at 2292 South U.S. 27 (at Traffic Light 15) in Somerset.