Dec 28, 2022

Teen Scene

By Lori Draz and Logan Rettino

Each month our young authors write, in their own voice, stories that will educate and inform fellow students and parents. If you are a teen who would like to write your story, contact The Journal. We’ll help you polish it up, so don’t worry, let’s just get to sharing.

This month’s author is Rumson’s Logan Rettino, a 16-year-old sophomore at Rumson Fair Haven Regional High School. There are many concerns about things like YouTube. Watching video after video can be distracting, mind-numbing and time-wasting, but there’s a lot of good stuff on YouTube too. Not only are some people getting educations, many find peace, comfort, and some even find a path in life. Though she’s only 16, Logan is well on her way to a career in art. She is quite talented, but it was her YouTube mentor that taught her to enjoy her work and find balance, peace, pride and accomplishment in being an artist. Here is Logan’s story.

At a young age, I developed a bit of an interest in art. In second grade, I remember asking my mom to record a video of me drawing a puppy so I could upload it to YouTube. I had hopes that my artistic talent would go viral, but it wasn’t a big shocker when this didn’t happen. In third grade, I wanted to join my friends in the Art Enrichment Program. After not being accepted, I began to feel my small artistic passion fade away. 

By fourth grade, I would come home from school, sit on my computer and watch YouTube every day. Sports weren’t my thing, so I didn’t really have any extracurriculars. Over time, my lazy routine grew increasingly uninteresting, and I pondered over what I could do with all my free time. Then I remembered that small artistic passion I had a couple years back. One day, just as I was about to logout of YouTube, I saw a Bob Ross painting tutorial in my recommended videos. It’s as if it were destined to happen. Right away, I felt intrigued. I grabbed a canvas, found some paints lying around and followed along. It definitely wasn’t as easy as I thought. My first few Bob Ross paintings were a bit rough. At times, my OCD got the best of me, and I grew very frustrated when something didn’t look right, but I would listen to Bob Ross’s soothing, encouraging words. They captivated me and created a sense of happiness and stress-relief in painting. In his videos, he would say, “There are no mistakes, just happy accidents.” This, I believe, is what motivated me to get better. 

Throughout fifth and sixth grade, I was painting incessantly. I took many art classes and bought higher-quality paints and brushes so I could become the best I could be. With Bob Ross’ influence, I was focusing mainly on landscapes. My confidence grew, and I was even being recognized as an artist in my middle school. However, I have always been a bit of a perfectionist, with art and with school. I felt my OCD was still present. While this wore on me at times, I felt I was starting to overcome it because painting gave me a feeling of relief. When I sat down to work on a new landscape or building, I felt all worries leave my mind. They were replaced with a sense of creativity and satisfaction. Ross’ message stayed with me, and it felt incredible to know that with every brush stroke, I was creating my own world on a canvas. I can’t tell you what a huge impact this had on my mentality. Creating my own worlds as I worked on my art gave me a sense of belonging and ownership. There’s truly nothing better than this feeling. 

Sadly, though, this feeling seemed short-lived. By seventh grade, my parents started publicizing my artwork on Facebook and Instagram. Soon after, I started receiving commissions. At first, I was ecstatic. It made me feel recognized, important and gave me a sense of purpose. Most of those clients were adults who commissioned college buildings as presents for their children. It was something different for me, but I was excited to start something new. It didn’t take long for my OCD to set back in. As I worked on a commission, I didn’t feel stress relief; I felt more pressure. People’s expectations weighed on me, and painting began to feel like a chore. Every detail had to be perfect, and every painting had to be done on time and if it wasn’t, I felt like I failed – like I didn’t deserve to be referred to as an artist.

Throughout eighth grade, my skills were improving with each commission, but those doubts and negative feelings began wearing on my mindset. I knew I needed to change; I needed my younger self back. Because I was focusing all my energy into commissions, I hadn’t watched Bob Ross videos in a long time – so this is exactly what I did. It was a reawakening. Ross’s words and every carefree brush stroke took away my stress and put me in a state of calmness. This was something I hadn’t felt with art in awhile. I felt his positive vibe regarding painting and life overall, and I began to feel a rush of excitement for art again. This mindset transformation wasn’t immediate. I definitely had my ups and downs, but with time, I was able to recognize what the purpose of painting was again and what it meant to me. 

I am now a sophomore in high school. I still watch Bob Ross videos. While I do have my OCD moments, my love for painting remains ever-present. With Ross’ help, I’ve discovered the true meaning of art, which is that it stabilizes my mind, boosts my creativity and, most importantly, makes me happy. Creating my own world through paints on a canvas is truly magical, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. I have even found great joy creating commissioned pieces. Through these experiences, I have learned the importance of finding what makes you feel good and pursuing it. Even if this means struggling at times, it will ultimately make you happy. This, I believe, is the most important thing in life. Life is precious. Spend it doing what you love.