Bob Ross was a television personality, not just a painter. His PBS show The Joy of Painting showed viewers how to paint between 1983 and 1994.
The show demonstrated Bob’s method of painting landscapes using a technique called ‘wet-on-wet’ with oil paints and very little equipment. It spread the message that it didn’t take years of study or a lot of fancy equipment to paint a beautiful and satisfying picture. It promoted creativity, attention to nature and confidence.
Bob’s instructional manner was friendly, encouraging and inviting. He talked softly, not just about what he was painting, but about life and the natural world. Bob motivated the viewer to take in nature, to take notice of what was around them, so that they could bring this to their canvas. He acknowledged that everybody would see the world differently, and that was all right.
Bob was not always a painter and TV personality. Born in 1942, he had a 20-year career in the military. This was where he first started painting. Stationed in Alaska, the inspiration for many paintings featured on the show, he attained the rank of Master Sergeant. He sometimes remarked on his programmes, that he had had to be tough and loud in this job. What contrast to his quietly spoken, gentle manner as a painting instructor.
Rekindling the Joy
Since Bob Ross’ death in 1995, The Joy of Painting has had something of a renaissance. Twitch regularly hold marathons of the programme.
Bob’s programmes have not been seen on British television since the mid-1990s. But he has recently made a return. The Joy of Painting has come to terrestrial television channel BBC4. BBC Radio 4 also featured a programme about Ross and his positive impact on mental health in the present day, which can be found here.