Sunsets and sororities: Gamma Rho Lambda hosts a night of Bob Ross painting tutorials

The Gamma Rho Lambda sorority hosted a Bob Ross painting event with hopes of providing University of Iowa students with a place to express their creativity.


Raquele Decker for The Daily Iow

Members and guests paint at the Bob Ross painting event on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. The event took place at the Women’s Resource and Action Center and was hosted by the Gamma Rho Lambda sorority.

Jenna Post, Arts Reporter

In recent years, artist Bob Ross, best known for his nature-themed painting tutorials, has had a massive spike in popularity amongst young adults after his PBS series became available on Netflix and YouTube.

Ross’ videos have accumulated millions of views and have reached nearly every corner of the internet, as well as the Gamma Rho Lambda sorority at The University of Iowa.

The members of the sorority hosted a Bob Ross painting night at the Women’s Resource and Action Center on Wednesday night. Attendees were provided paint, a canvas, and a Bob Ross video to follow along with. One of Ross’ sunset tutorials was chosen, which is one of his more popular landscapes.

The event was held in a small room with a big TV, but that wasn’t a problem for attendees. One of the event’s goals was to create a social and friendly atmosphere.

The sorority’s president, Hannah Mitchell, said another goal was to provide a fun and relaxing atmosphere for attendees to express their creativity.

It’s been a fun creative outlet,” Mitchell said. “Even though Bob Ross is before most students’ time… I’ve never heard anyone who doesn’t know who he is.”

Grace Sonnen, who attended for the opportunity to have fun with painting, said she likes Ross because of his optimism and carefree attitude.

I think it’s needed because everyone’s stressed with college and life in general and it’s just nice to have something like this,” Sonnen said.

Ross is beloved by many for his calming presence and positive demeanor. Some fans even say that there’s an ASMR quality to his videos that helps them relax. Although Ross died in 1995, his legacy lives on through those who love his work, and love Ross himself.

A love for Ross’ personality was something that many of those in attendance had in common. Katherine Roleck, who is in charge of public relations and recruitment organization for Gamma Rho Lambda, said Ross exemplifies many of the values of the sorority.

Part of what we like to do as a sorority is do some self-care and have a good time,” Roleck said. “Bob Ross is so calming and kind, it matches with our vibe really well.”

Gamma Rho Lambda was originally founded as the first national multicultural lesbian sorority, but is now inclusive of all sexual identities, as well as transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals.

Roleck said that like the sorority, Ross cultivates a laid back environment where all are welcome to enjoy themselves.

In the words of Bob Ross, ‘there are no mistakes, only happy accidents’,” Roleck said. “Part of having fun with art is accepting happy accidents. If you mess up something really bad, it’s fun to laugh about it with your friends.”

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