Whether you enjoy painting yourself, take visits to the local art museum every now and again, or just appreciate the fine art inside your home, chances are that you have heard of Bob Ross. His show The Joy of Painting is an internationally-known television series featuring his soothing voice and his permed afro. It ran from 1983 until 1994, and exposed the entire world to his easy-to-learn “wet-on-wet” painting technique that enabled him to create great art in around a half-hour.
Today Bob Ross is one of the best-recognized artists in the world. His paintings are relatively simple, but more than being an incredible artist, he was an amazing teacher, and succeeded in sharing his love of painting with the entire world, and his influence has continued over 20 years after his death in 1994.
While his soft voice and big afro have found him on the receiving end of a lot of jokes and bad Halloween costumes, it was these same traits that helped propel Ross to stardom. But Bob Ross wasn’t born a painter, and didn’t discover oil painting until the early 1960’s when he was already in his early twenties.
Bob Ross’ History
Bob Ross was born in Daytona Beach, Florida in 1942. Before he was a painter, he actually served in the United States Air Force as a medical records technician. He was eventually stationed in Alaska, where he was impacted by the landscape snow-capped mountains that eventually came to be featured in many of his paintings.
Learning to Paint
Ross discovered painting while watching a TV show called The Magic of Oil Painting by a German painter named Bill Alexander. When he learned that he would make more money selling his paintings than he was making in the military, he retired and started to paint full-time. The style of painting he chose allowed him to create paintings in half an hour that most people would be proud to have hanging in their living room.
Ross did not invent the painting style he chose. He learned it from Bill Alexander, and it was also used by historic painters like Claude Monet. This wet-on-wet technique entails painting a canvas and then applying fresh, wet paint right on top without allowing the previous layer of paint to try, which would take much more time.
Exposing the World to Painting
Whether someone is a Bob Ross fan or not, they can’t deny the influence he has had on the world. He has been the rare sort of artist who bridges the gap between the those who are heavily involved in their craft and the rest of the world. He was able to do this because of his relaxing voice and personality and by being a patient teacher that invited the public into the world he loved: the world of painting.
Ross’s Love of Nature
In one episode, Ross fills time by showing the users a home video of three baby squirrels he had been nursing at his home. Ross mixes talking about the “little rascals” with the instruction he is giving about how to paint the perfect wave. Perhaps it was Ross’s love of nature that led him to spend so much time painting landscapes and nature scenes. Ross lived in Alaska for around 12 years, which was probably a big reason for him having such a high affinity for nature scenes.
An Early Passing
Unfortunately, Ross’s life was cut relatively short. He passed away at age 52 from lymphoma in July of 1995. His iconic afro and soothing voice made him an international star, but his greatest impact was showing the world that painting is something that everyone could do. Even if they aren’t professionals, they can enjoy practicing from the comfort of their living room and realize that creativity lies inside all of us as long as we have someone to teach us and are willing to practice.
Bob Ross Today
Today, people can watch The Joy of Painting on YouTube or on Netflix if they have a subscription to the popular video streaming service. Watching an episode of The Joy of Painting will help if you are trying to work on your painting technique or just want something relaxing to watch at home, The Joy of Painting might just make your day.
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