Well, it’s finally Day 365 and I’ve been anticipating and slightly dreading this day all year! I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel when this project was finally complete. I’m ecstatic, tired, shocked, humbled and proud…just to name a few emotions! I still have to plan an art show, organize my pieces…repaint the Lisa Frank tribute since that’s the sole painting I gave away before completing the project. Now please join me in honoring Bob Ross today!
Robert Norman “Bob” Ross (October 29, 1942 – July 4, 1995) was an American painter, art instructor, and television host. He was best known as the creator and host of The Joy of Painting, a television program that aired on PBS in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Bob Ross was born on October 29, 1942 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Ross was raised in Orlando, Florida. Ross had a half brother Jim, whom he mentioned in passing on his show.
While working as a carpenter with his father, Ross lost his left index
finger. It did not affect the way he held his palette while painting.
Ross enlisted in the United States Air Force at age 17. The Air Force transferred him to Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, where he first saw the snow and mountains that later became recurring themes in his artwork. He developed his quick-painting technique 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, he would never scream again.
During Ross’ stay in Alaska, he worked as a bartender part-time, when he discovered a TV show that was called The Magic World of Oil Painting, hosted by a German painter, named Bill Alexander.
After studying with Bill Alexander, Ross discovered that he was soon able to earn more from selling his work than from his Air Force position. Ross then retired from the Air Force after 20 years of service with the rank of Master Sergeant and became famous worldwide hosting The Joy of Painting, with the help of Annette & Walter Kowalski.
Before the show was launched, Bob would try to promote the painting technique but with little interest. He also had to find a way to cut back on spending, so he decided to have his hair permed, just so he could save money on haircuts. The perm hairstyle was not comfortable for Bob, but ultimately became an iconic feature of the painter.
Ross used 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. From the beginning, the
program kept the selection of tools and colors simple so that viewers wouldn’t have to make large investments in expensive equipment.
Ross frequently recommended odorless paint thinner (aka odorless mineral spirits) for brush cleaning. Combining the painting method with the use of one- and two-inch 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 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]”. He estimated having painted between 25,000 and 30,000 paintings in his life.
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 make mistakes; we just have happy accidents.”
Ross was well known for other catch phrases he used while painting as he crafted the ever-so-popular saying: “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 that 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 best 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 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.”
Ross had two sons, Bob and Steven, with his first wife, Lynda Brown. Steven occasionally appeared on The Joy of Painting and became a Bob Ross–certified instructor. The last episode of Season 1 was a question-and-answer forum in which Steven read a series of general “how-to” questions sent in by viewers during the season, and Bob answered them one at a time, technique by technique, until he had completed an entire painting. Ross and Lynda’s marriage ended in divorce in 1981.
Ross and his second wife, Jane, had one son, Morgan, who is also an accomplished painter. In 1993, Jane died from cancer, and Ross would not remarry.
Ross was diagnosed with lymphoma in the early 1990s, forcing his retirement; The Joy of Painting’s final episode aired on May 17, 1994. He died at the age of 52 on July 4, 1995. His remains are interred at Woodlawn Memorial Park in Gotha, Florida.
Biography is from wikipedia.
I decided to honor Bob Ross for the last piece and I also decided to finally do an oil piece. I decided that aspect because I wanted to actually paint along with an episode of his TV show and wanted to have the proper materials. Alas, I didn’t get “firm” enough oil paints and didn’t prep (as well) or wait for the paint to get a little dryer before jumping right in. I was just a little too excited so it didn’t turn out exactly the way I wanted (not as soft looking), BUT also I do like the piece because it came out a little better than I expected and I have to give my self a little slack for working with oils for the first time in years! Bob Ross definitely eliminated my anxiety while I painted. He definitely knows how to put joy in painting!
I will be posting another blog with more of my thoughts about this project and what it has meant to me. I’ll also continue using this blog for featuring my future paintings and artwork! I do hope you’ll continue to visit and say hello! Thank you all for your support, encouragement and kind words throughout this insane challenge. It’s been wonderful, stressful, challenging and they’re were definitely days where painting a piece was the last thing I felt like doing, but I persevered and learned so much about motivation and sheer will! Now off to walk the dogs, finally listen to that Serial podcast, eat a sandwich and possibly fall into some sort of hibernation state. HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL!