Thousands of Twitch users are being transfixed by a decades-old series about painting as Twitch celebrates the launch of its dedicated Creative section.
Over the past several days, video game streaming service Twitch has been celebrating the launch of its new creative channel — and the site has called in a bona fide legend to do so. Starting last Wednesday, a channel has been streaming every single episode of The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.
For the uninitiated, The Joy of Painting is considered to be a cult classic of public television in the United States. Ross paints a landscape in each half-hour episode, informing viewers how to achieve the techniques that he uses as time goes along.
For many, Ross is the biggest draw of the show — his sunny outlook and uncanny ability to produce mountains and trees from nothing is an oddly engrossing combination. Since the stream started last week, the channel has consistently garnered around fifty thousand viewers at any given time; a respectable number, but far from Twitch’s most popular streams.
Twitch has long been an unofficial platform for artists to give others a look inside their creative process. Content creators for games like Dota 2 and more traditional painters and illustrators are the sort of broadcasters that Twitch is looking to foster with its new Creative program.
However, the effort still seems somewhat at odds with the typical Twitch audience. Regular visitors to the site are more accustomed to the chat box etiquette of a major gaming tournament — which is typically a no holds barred discussion. Seeing similar conversation play out next to low tempo Bob Ross footage seems much less fitting.
Of course, the open nature of Twitch chat has allowed some users to lower the tone from time to time. A few days ago, The Verge reported a particularly nasty torrent of abuse from a certain subset when Ross invited a female friend to take to the canvas in an early episode of the series.
For the most part, things have been much friendlier. While there is no shortage of off-colour comments about the fact that Ross died some two decades ago, it’s clear that the majority have a great affection for the man. Any time the host decides to thank his viewers, he’s always met with a huge response.
There is something undoubtedly surreal about watching The Joy of Painting in this way — particularly with the accompanying chaos of thousands of Twitch users. The marathon is currently just over halfway through the series’ 403 episode run, with festivities set to come to a close before the end of the week.