Bob Ross

By Haley Malone

His Life

Robert Norman Ross was born in Daytona, Florida, on October 29, 1942. He was raised and went to school in Orlando. He dropped out of school in the 9th grade to later enlist in the Air Force at the age of 17. He was transferred to Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. It was there that he began his painting career by taking painting lessons at an Anchorage, Alaska United Service Organizations club. From then on he was, as he said, "hooked" on painting.


After returning from the Air Force, he continued expanding upon his art skills by attending carious art schools. While doing this, he learned the technique of "wet-on-wet" painting. He learned this from William Alexander, who later became his bitter rival. In the early 1980s, he was given his own PBS show, named The Joys of Painting.


His show went on successfully for many years until they stopped it on May 17, 1994 so Bob could look towards his health instead. He was suffering from lymphoma. He died on July 4, 1995 at the age of 52. He had three sons to help carry on his legacy.

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His Painting

His painting style was known as "wet-on-wet" oil painting technique. He painted with oils, and instead of waiting for the paint to dry, he'd just continue to layer on top of it. This allowed him to be able to finish many of his paintings in under and hour.


He used odorless paint thinner in cleaning his brushes and generally tried to keep the tools he used and the colors of paint he blended limited. He didn't really want to force his viewers into buying expensive painting tools.


He used one and two inch brushes, along with painting knives. This allowed him to paint many different things from trees, to clouds, to water, to mountains, all in a few minutes. He would start with what looked like just smudges of color and was able to turn it into some type of intricate landscape.


Many of his paintings that he did were influenced by the time he spent in Alaska. He painted many mountain, snow, cabin, and lake scenes. He used many phrases while he painted, like his most popular: "Those happy little trees." He used a palette that was lightly sanded to keep from reflecting the lighting in the studio.

His Television Show

He was the host of the public television show called The Joy of Painting. The program ran from January 11, 1983 to May 17, 1994. Even though they are no longer creating new episodes of the show, it is still very popular. It has reruns in many different places and countries and is very popular to watch online.


Each episode of the show would be half an hour long and Ross would give instructions on how to complete an oil painting in that shot period. He used a limited range of tools and paint colors in order to let his viewers easily follow along. He broke each of his paintings down into several simple steps. He had a very easy and laid back manner while painting in his show that many of his viewers enjoyed. He had a very soft voice and slow way of speaking that made his instructions easy to follow.


He also filmed some footage of wildlife, which eventually appeared in some of his work. On the show, they normally appeared in some of his trickier paintings. He would take in injured or abandoned wildlife and make sure they were cared for until healthy again.


He eventually founded his own line of art supplies and books telling how to paint. He offered painting classes and eventually built a business worth about $15 million. He donated many of his paintings in order to help the PBS station and many other shows continue showing.

Sources

Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.


Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.


"Bob Ross Biography." - The Joy of Painting. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.