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Monday, October 29, 2012

BOB ROSS - A Cranky re-run

 The Google page reminds me that today is the 70 birthday of Bob Ross, so I am re-runing my post from last year honoring this American painting icon. His TV show made me not just accept people who were a bit “different”, but also taught me to appreciate and embrace their uniqueness. 
Bob Ross was nothing if not unique! 




Do you remember Bob Ross?  Bob Ross was that painter dude on PBS. It’s OK; you can admit you watched him.  It turns out there were many closet Bob Ross fans.  Bob was boring, boring, boring.  And yet when he was on, you could not change the channel.  His quiet demeanor and slow delivery was hypnotic.

Bob Ross finished a painting on every show in under an hour.  His style was deliberate, slow and calm.  The result was quick and amazing.  I guess his paintings were not museum quality works of art, but his TV style was classic.  He taught his technique as he painted.  Every step of the way it looked as if he would take a nice painting and ruin it, but every change was an eye opening improvement.

Not happy with a beautiful stream, Bob had to add some trees. 

“I think I’ll add some trees here, you can too if you want.  It’s your world; you can put them where ever you want.  There that’s nice.  Over here perhaps some bushes.  I think a little grass would be growing around the bushes, and right by the stream I think I see some happy little cat tails.”  As easy as Bob stated what he saw, it was on the canvas. 

Bob used a different brush for each of his special effects; instant leaves, snow on tree limbs, dead branches and more.  He didn’t just mix any colors; it would be “titanium white”, or “cadmium red”, “burnt siena,” “yellow ochre”, and “midnight black”.

The move that impressed me the most was the reflection on the water trick.  Bob had his lake and his trees on the bank, now he needed the trees to reflect on the water.  Grabbing a dry fan brush, Bob drew the brush quickly over the trees down across the water and created a perfect reflection in seconds.  “No FUCKING WAY,” I would respond to this move no matter how many times I witnessed his technique.  If this was not enough, Bob would then step back and look at his world on the canvas and say, “I think there is a little breeze today.”  He then cleaned and dried his fan brush and stroked sideways with a slight wiggle across the water and the perfect reflection was now a slightly distorted reflection representing the ripples on the water that a slight breeze would cause.

Bob Ross was not a master painter.  I don’t believe his works sell for large sums of money.  Maybe that’s because he could create a beautiful landscape in less than an hour.  There must be thousands of Bob Ross originals in circulation.

I think the man was a genius!  He would capture my attention for an hour, even though I had no real interest in painting.  I thought I was the only one who appreciated Bob Ross.  I never mentioned to any one that I watched his show.  I never knew there were other Bob Ross fans.

Bob Ross died in 1995 from lymphoma.  He was only 52 years old.  When I learned of his passing, I mentioned to several people that I missed this strange artist.  He had a fluffy afro hairdo, a full beard, and he sounded like Mr. Rodgers as he painted.  “Oh yeah, you mean Bob Ross.”  Was the inevitable reply.  “He was great, I watched him all the time.”  Apparently there were millions of Bob Ross fans.  I am no longer ashamed to admit I could not change the channel when he was doing his thing.

I miss you Bob.  I think I’ll put a tree over here, it’s my world I can put it where ever I want.  Maybe, just maybe there is a little stream running happily through the trees!  I never saw these things before, thanks Bob, for pointing them out.  


  1. I watched him--he was fascinating!

  2. As a professional artist I find little of value in Bob Ross' work. This is not art; it's craft at best. Having said this, I was a secret Bob Ross fan. His program was soothing and gentle, a calm place in my hectic life. I loved the serenity that he projected and his positive message was an inspiration. He wasn't about turning anyone into a great artist; he was abut making them feel good, and that's not such a bad legacy.

  3. I enjoyed the soothing nature of his show, but I enjoyed his mentor more. I can't recall his name at the moment. Alexander, perhaps?

    And, not to start an argument with a fellow commenter, but what exactly is the definition of art?