Bob Ross has done thousands of landscape paintings over his lifetime. He is best known for his works done on the PBS program The Joy of Painting that ran for a decade spawning about thirty seasons. Ross based his work on places he has been to, if not aspects of them. Some of these include the forests of Oregon, mountains of Alaska and beaches of Florida. (Witte p.4) Ross created these works from his mind, meaning not based on pictures or being in particular places. The Joy of Painting, Ross mainly uses oil paint on stretched canvas. In some episodes of the show, he paints directly onto wood or even metal. (bobross.com)
Bob Ross began painting while living in Alaska while working as a drill sergeant for the United States Air Force. He began painting Alaskan landscapes on kitchenware from thrift stores and sold these creations to tourists as a supplementary income. Ross eventually quit his air force job in search of a career where he “didn’t have to yell at people”. (Witte p.2) At this point, he had earned enough to paint and teach the art full time from home, but one day received an invitation to be on his own instructional show. This was the birth of his iconic not-for-profit show. Ross only received the profits from the painting supplies sold by the franchise bearing his name. He is recognized as popularising a style of painting breathtaking landscapes in just over twenty minutes. Ross was a pioneer in oil painting techniques using a product called ‘liquid white’. This would be placed on the canvas before color as to blend the oil paint on the canvas in a wet on wet style instead of wet paint on a dry canvas. (bobross.com)
This quick style leads to his popularity and eventually international fame. Bob Ross inspired painters and non-painters alike because his show was not only about art, it was also about life. His calm and soothing voice coupled with wit and wisdom not only gave instruction but also life advice. He was as much as a TV artist as an in-home therapist. Part of this nature was from his experiences as a drill sergeant in the air force, in his words he “never wanted to yell again.” (Witte p.3)
Witte, Michelle. HAPPY LITTLE ACCIDENTS. May 2017. Hatchette Book Group, 1290 Avenue of the Americas.