Thursday, June 28, 2012

Influences #15 Bob Ross

A lot of people don’t know that outside of writing books, poetry, music and songs, I enjoy picking up the brush and doing a little painting. The man who inspired me to do that was Mr. Bob Ross. Ever since the early 1990’s, Bob Ross, and his television show on my local public broadcasting television station (PBS) I have been intrigued with painting.

While most of what I have done thus far centers around abstract paintings, I can still envision the day when I start doing Bob Ross style of paintings. While many have called his style “the fast food world of painting” his soft voice and gentle nature is hard to resist. And since I own some of his CD’s and video’s, I will always be prepared to start painting again.

I put the brush down to focus more on my songs and books, but if I live to be 80 years old, I’m pretty sure I will pick it back up again. It’s still something inside of me that I wish to let out at some point and time. It’s also another way to express ones self artistically and anyone who knows me, knows that I cherish artistic expression.


Robert Norman “Bob“ Ross was born October 29, 1942 and passed away July 4, 1995. He was an American painter, art instructor, and television host. He is best known as the creator and host of “The Joy Of Painting“, a television program that ran on PBS in the United States.

Ross was born in Daytona Beach, Florida and attended school until the ninth grade. Raised in Orlando, Florida, Ross enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at age 18 and was living in Florida early in his military career when the Air Force transferred him to Eielson AFB in Alaska, where he first saw the snow and mountains that later became recurring themes in his artwork; he developed his quick-painting technique in order to be able to create art for sale in brief daily work breaks. Having held military positions that required him to be, in his own words, "mean" and "tough," "the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work," Ross decided that if he ever moved on from the military, "it wasn't going to be that way any more," "vowing never to scream again". Ross discovered after beginning his sideline in painting that he was soon able to earn more from selling his work than from his Air Force position. After leaving the Air Force, he studied with Bill Alexander before becoming famous worldwide with his own television program, “The Joy Of Painting.”


Ross had a son, Steven, from his first marriage to Lynda Brown. Steven occasionally appeared on “The Joy Of Painting” and is a Bob Ross - certified instructor. Ross and Lynda's marriage ended in divorce in 1981. Ross married again, this time to Jane. Jane died of cancer in 1993, and Ross himself suffered from lymphoma in his later years. In early 1994, Ross cancelled “The Joy Of Painting” to continue battling the disease, with his final show airing on May 17, 1994. On July 4, 1995, Ross died at home and is survived by his ex-wife Lynda, his son Steve, a half-brother, and a full brother. He is buried at Woodlawn Memorial Park in Gotha, Florida. Ross had a brother Jim, whom he mentioned in passing on his show.

Ross was the host of the public television series “The Joy Of Painting“. The show ran from January 11, 1983 to May 17, 1994 and still appears in reruns in many broadcast areas and countries and is a popular youtube presence, including the PBS oriented “Create“. During each half-hour segment, Ross would instruct viewers in the art of oil painting using a quick-study technique that kept colors to a minimum and broke paintings down into simple steps that virtually anyone could follow. Art critic Mira Schor compared him to another PBS television host, noting that the softness of Ross's voice and the slow pace of his speech was similar to Fred Rogers.


Ross later founded his own successful line of art supplies and how-to books, and also offered painting classes taught by instructors trained in the "Bob Ross method," building a $15 million business. In a 1990 interview, Ross mentioned that all his programs were donated free of charge to PBS stations and that his earnings came instead from sales of his 20 books and 100 videotapes (the total to that date), as well as profits from some 150 Bob Ross-ATE teachers and a line of art materials sold through a national supplier. Ross also mentioned on the show "Towering Glacier" (#2341) that he donated all the paintings made on the show to PBS stations around the country to "help them out."

Ross also filmed wildlife footage, squirrels in particular, usually from his own garden. Small animals often appeared on his show, even during some of his trickier works, as he would often take in injured or abandoned squirrels and other assorted wildlife and look after them.

Ross utilized the wet-on-wet oil painting technique, in which the painter continues adding paint on top of still wet paint rather than waiting a lengthy amount of time to allow each layer of paint to dry. Combining this method with the use of two-inch and other types of brushes as well as painting knives allowed Ross to paint trees, water, clouds and mountains in a matter of seconds. Each painting would start with simple strokes that appeared to be nothing more than colored smudges. As he added more and more strokes, the blotches transformed into intricate landscapes. Ross dedicated the first episode of the second season of "The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross" to William Alexander, explaining that "years ago, Bill taught me this fantastic wet-on-wet technique, and I feel as though he gave me a precious gift, and I'd like to share that gift with you, the viewer".


Ross noted that the landscapes he painted - typically mountains, lakes, snow, and log cabin scenes - were strongly influenced by his years living in Alaska, where he was stationed for the majority of his Air Force career. He repeatedly stated on the show his belief that everyone had inherent artistic talent and could become an accomplished artist given time, practice, and encouragement, and to this end was often fond of saying, "We don't have mistakes here, we just have happy accidents." Ross was well known for other catchphrases he used while painting as he crafted "happy little trees". In most episodes of “The Joy Of Painting“, he noted that one of his favorite parts of painting was cleaning the brush, specifically his method of drying off a brush, which he had dipped in odorless thinner, by striking it against the thinner can and easel. He would smile and often laugh aloud as he "beat the devil out of it." He also used a palette which had been lightly sanded down which was necessary to avoid catching the reflections of strong studio lighting. At the end of each episode, Ross was known for saying, "so from all of us here, I'd like to wish you happy painting, and God bless my friend."



When asked about his laid-back approach to painting and eternally calm and contented demeanor, he once commented: "I got a letter from somebody here a while back, and they said, 'Bob, everything in your world seems to be happy.' That's for sure. That's why I paint. It's because I can create the kind of world that I want, and I can make this world as happy as I want it. Shoot, if you want bad stuff, watch the news."

Bob Ross was a student of William Alexander, who hosted the public television series “The Magic World Of Oil Painting” from the early 1970s until 1982. On his show, Alexander highlighted his mastery of the alla prima or wet-on-wet style of oil painting in order to promote his paint supply business, Alexander Art and his painting classes. Ross later became a Bill Alexander instructor. His series, “The Joy Of Painting“, was picked up by many of the PBS stations that carried “The Magic World Of Oil Painting”.



At the beginning of “The Joy Of Painting’s” second season in 1984, Ross dedicated the show to Alexander and Alexander filmed a promo for his former student: "I hand off my mighty brush to a mighty man, and that is Bob Ross." In 1987 someone from Alexander Art told Ross that they could not keep up with the demand generated by the “Joy Of Painting” and suggested that Ross start his own line of art supplies. As Bob Ross Incorporated grew into a $15 million a year business, Alexander told the New York Times that he felt "betrayed" by his one-time student: "He betrayed me. I invented 'wet on wet.' I trained him and he is copying me -- what bothers me is not just that he betrayed me, but that he thinks he can do it better."


Bob Ross become a pop culture icon, at the point he's often mentioned or parodied not only in continental United States, but also in several different countries where his show aired. In some countries, the show premiered after his death, so many new fans didn't realized they were watching reruns of the show.

Bob Ross and “The Joy of Painting” are shown on Mark and Jez's television during several episodes of the British sitcom “Peep Show” in which they refer to him as "god".


In "Derbez en Cuando", a Mexican comedy show by Eugene Derbez, was parodied as "Bob Atroz" (which literally translates as Atrocity Bob), who instead of naturalist paintings, created political cartoons using the same technique and the catch phrase "happy little politicians". The parody was so popular, that at some point become a recurrent character of the show, mostly at the same time Bob Ross popularity in Mexico reached its peak.

Bob Ross was parodied in the Comedy Central program Tosh.0 in an episode where Tosh dressed up as Ross while conducting an interview with an artist from the web.


In 2006 a character loosely based on Ross was featured in the popular comic based cartoon The Boondocks. In the episode an art teacher, Ross, takes Riley under his wing to help him improve his graffiti.

Family Guy included a parody of Ross in the beginning of an episode.
An Easter egg on homestarrunner.com features Marzipan dressed up as and painting like Ross.


He was also parodied by Benny Hill in a short gag, where his character is surrounded by wildlife and some animals end up attacking him. On a similar gag, parodied Ross is painting, then when he turns back to the camera a lady comes into scene and distracted Ross paints her buttocks in error, then she slaps him in the face.

During the Powerpuff Girls episode "Roughing It Up", Professor Utonium pays homage to Ross while he and the girls are painting in the woods, even using Ross's "happy little trees" catchphrase.

In season 2, episode 3 of Dilbert, "S02E03 - Art", a character sharing many traits of Ross named "Rusty Shanks" is shown demonstrating bizarre takes on abstract art, including painting using ones own head as the brush. The character is quickly hushed off-stage by men in black suits apparently sent as enforcers to collect outstanding debts from Rusty.

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Source: Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Ross

This work is released under CC 3.0 BY-SA - http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

4 comments:

  1. I recognized him immediately, from his PBS show. I hate to admit it, but some Sundays I had a cup of coffee in one hand, sat on the couch, and thought--so that's how that's done.

    Painting, that is.

    Nice post.

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  2. I like to watch his video's in bed to help fight my insomnia. His light voice always puts me to sleep. LOL That and the sounds of the brushes.

    He is on my top ten list of people I wish I would have met.

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    1. Lol!.Me too.It's better than therapy.If i'm having a bad day, I go to my dvr recording and just push play.and just relax.Wish i fould have met him as well.

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    2. Haha I didn't think I was the only one. Thanks for the comment!

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