By Doug Geyer


Watching an afroed artist work magic with a blank canvas over the course of thirty minutes was how six-year-old Andrea Bacca spent many a Saturday morning. Now you don’t see it, now you do. She marveled at how Bob Ross was able to bring to life landscapes full of happy trees, misty mountains, and shimmering lakes. His joy of painting would eventually become her own. Though she was frustrated for many years because she couldn’t replicate his results, his soothing advice must have taken root like so many of his trees.

“I started painting as a hobby when I was little. I didn’t know I had any talent. I believe talent is just a pursued interest. Anybody can do what I do.” (Bob Ross)

Not only is Andrea pursuing her love for art at the AAC due in part to Ross’ influence, she recently fulfilled a dream by becoming certified to teach others his technique.

“In order to be a CRI (Certified Ross Instructor), you have to take an intensive course in the Bob Ross Painting method. The only facility that allows you to receive this course is in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Every day for three weeks from 9-5, you learn about the materials, methods, and techniques as well as how to teach his method to others. After each week you receive a certificate of completion but it’s only after completion of all the weeks that you’re certified to teach. My first Community Education workshop will be in March and my second in April.”

Another oft-quoted Ross philosophy has informed Andrea’s perspective as she has taken on other projects during her time at the AAC: “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

At the heart of this liberating sentiment is that art, like life, isn’t this perfect and effortless endeavor where every brush stroke or decision looks good at first glance. But if we look at our art and ourselves with some grace, “mistakes” (things we’d like to fix) become opportunities to try something else. To go in a different direction.

Since the autumn of 2015, Andrea has been working with a faculty team to design a piece for the Academy’s Donor Wall. Lists of numbers and names are not exactly what most artists yearn to work with. But Andrea has thrown herself into this design challenge with an attitude which reflects the AAC’s commitment to equip artists to be problem solvers.

Through the numerous iterations, new categories of giving, and the normal ebb and flow of seeing something all the way through to completion, Andrea has learned a lot about her own process and working with real-life clients. Even when the client happens to be the very school you attend.

“When I first got the Donor Wall project, my first thought was how do we make this look more like a pattern and not simply a list? Because if it’s going to be hanging in the school it needs to be aesthetically pleasing but it also needs communicate information.”

Andrea describes herself a visual linguist who is adept at using various artistic methods and medium to communicate. Her time at the AAC has empowered her to explore languages both familiar and foreign, adding new vocabulary and immersing herself to hone her inflection and tone. So whether she’s articulating the generous donations of many of the AAC’s most ardent supporters or teaching curious community members how to bring their own landscapes to life, she’ll be doing it with passion and perseverance.

One happy accident at a time.