Patti Ingram wasn't always an artist. There was a time in her life when she went through two or three different jobs a year. She'd had 25 vocations by the time she was 30 years old.

All that changed in 1992 when her husband, Dennis Driscoll, bought her a Bob Ross painting kit. She completed one painting and, a month later, did another one. Soon she was painting almost every day.

Ingram, a Raymond, Wash., resident, entered her first show during the 1995 Grayland, Wash., Cranberry festival. She sold three of her paintings, and with the sales, her love of painting skyrocketed.

"If I hadn't sold those three I wouldn't be where I am today," Ingram said. In 1995, she signed up to become a certified Bob Ross painting instructor and traveled to Portland for three weeks of training. She said that she thought that she would be the most inexperienced one at the training, because she was self-taught and had only been painting for three years. But she was thrilled to find she was one of the best students there.

"I was very thrilled to be asked back," she said. (After the first week of the workshop, students had to be invited to return.) "But what really thrilled me was that I went there and I could paint."

Ingram graduated from the workshop in December 1995 and began teaching soon after. She found that her painting classes were popular, and at one point was teaching at 15 locations with an average class size of 14. People, aged nine through 90 years, from all over Washington and Oregon come to the classes, mostly because they say Ingram is a compassionate teacher who can help any person leave the class with a painting to be proud of.

"That's one thing everyone raves about," her husband, Driscoll, said. "What a good teacher she is."

The PBS affiliate in Tacoma, Wash., also considers her a good teacher and has approached Ingram about starting her own 13-show TV program, much like the one that made Bob Ross famous. The videos are being watched by a test market, but Ingram should know by the end of the month whether they are going to be aired or not.

In addition to the Bob Ross style of painting that Ingram teaches, she teaches a form of art called "spacescapes," which is a mixture of surrealism and abstract art. She has produced and released two videos on the art form and has met with international success. Ingram's work is featured in five galleries, including a gallery in the United Kingdom.

Ingram's success hasn't changed her outlook on painting, nor her plans. She still intends to hold the workshops and keep on painting.

"I wouldn't do anything else again - this is just too good," Ingram said. "Never before in my life did I dream that I would be an artist."

- Lacey Hoyer


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