Captain Bob

-By Dan dos Santos

If any of you have seen me give a lecture, you've probably heard me mention a man named Robert Cottle, better known as 'Captain Bob'.

Bob Cottle was the host of a 50's puppet show called 'Ruff & Ready', which later spawned a spin-off show called "The Nature World of Capt. Bob". The show, which focused on how to draw things in nature, went off the air in the mid 60's. It was later re-aired in CT and MA until the 80's. Growing up in Connecticut, I was able to catch these amazing episodes every Saturday morning at 5:30 am. Since VCRs were not that common yet, I was diligent about never missing an episode, even if it meant skipping family vacations. I was obsessed.

Capt. Bob was my first introduction to instructional drawing. I always attempted to copy various drawings and cartoons that I liked, but I had never met anyone who could show me HOW to do it. His show really opened my eyes, and taught so well some of the fundamentals of basic drawing, such as starting with big shapes, and drawing lightly so you can later refine things. These are things we may take for granted now, but coming from an unartistic family, this was mind-blowing to me as a 6 year old! Still to date, I can think of very few influences who have had a greater impact on my artistic life than this man.

I have searched for years trying to find videos of this show, to no avail... until now! Apparently someone uploaded a single episode to Youtube a few months back, and man am I grateful! I recall watching this very episode as a child, and it is honestly every bit as wondrous as I remember it... if not better. Please watch the clips below, I promise you won't be disappointed. This man had an amazing ability to engage his audience and describe his methods. I am -very- passionate about teaching, and I can only hope to one day obtain a fraction of this man's charisma and brilliance.

When you watch the video, take note of the things he is doing for the audience's sake, such as sitting several feet to the left of his easel so you can see what he's doing. That must be uncomfortable, and make it really difficult to draw accurate proportions. Yet he makes it look effortless. He is also drawing completely from memory on live television... not something I would care to attempt.

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