I felt like taking a break from the usual here and wanted to chat today about my personal inspiration for painting, and in general, the amazing Bob Ross. I’m also hoping to introduce him to a new generation of people who have no idea who the man is.
Growing up in the 80’s
As anyone my age or older can attest to, there wasn’t a lot to watch on TV all those years ago in the 80’s. I mean, it was far better than the choices prior to the 80’s, but you didn’t have 600 channels to pick from either.
As most kids in the 80’s, I spent a great deal of time watching PBS. Of course, PBS had Sesame Street, still does in fact, but they also had The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. Actually, they do still air that show today despite the fact it’s been over 20 years since the last episode.
The Joy of Painting began in 1983 and it ran until 1994. I didn’t watch the show religiously, but if I caught it while it was on then I was glued to the screen watching Bob Ross create these amazing scenic paintings in under 30 minutes.
The funny thing is that I had no desire to learn to paint back then. I enjoyed drawing, but painting wasn’t something that really spoke to me.
Yet, watching Bob Ross paint was simply awe inspiring and I watched.
What Bob Ross Taught Me
Bob had a lot of little catch phrases during his career on PBS. Hey would talk about the “happy little trees” and the “happy little clouds”, but he also had many more things he’d say that were very profound.
The secret to doing anything is believing that you can do it. Anything that you believe you can do strong enough, you can do. Anything. As long as you believe.Bob Ross
We don’t make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.Bob Ross
I think there’s an artist hidden at the bottom of every single one of us.Bob Ross
It’s so important to do something every day that will make you happy.Bob Ross
There’s no shortage of them either.
The value of hearing that as a child growing up can’t be underestimated. I’ll be honest, I didn’t grow up in a very supportive home. Compliments were something you heard once every few years if you were lucky. So, to hear this man be so positive, so reinforcing, was just magical to me.
As a kid, it was never about the art when I watched Bob. It was a man with a blank canvas who could turn it into something special just by believing he could.
Rediscovering The Joy of Painting
A year ago, maybe two now, I was over at my friend Kamui’s place. Somehow we got talking about Bob Ross and we pulled up a video from The Joy of Painting on YouTube and watched it.
Other than me and Kamui, his wife was there as well as his two daughters. His daughters at the time were roughly ages 12 and 8 (correct me if I’m wrong Kamui).
As Bob got painting and creating awesome art with a few brush strokes, Kamui’s daughters were astounded. In a few minutes they were mesmerized, which is something Bob does to everyone. His calm demeanor, soothing voice, and visible enjoyment from painting is hypnotizing.
It was so awesome to see a new generation discover something so great from our childhood.
It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that Bob Ross Co. had put every season of The Joy of Painting on YouTube. In the years since doing that, as they did it years before I realized, Bob has taken on a whole new audience of viewers discovering him for the first time.
So, I have since begun watching every episode, of which there’s around 300, and reimercing myself once again.
The difference now, other than my age, is that I’m also painting miniatures. Sure, it’s not the wet-on-wet canvas painting that Bob Ross helped make famous, but it’s painting and it’s art.
Watching these episodes again with fresh eyes has been great. The things I pick up on now in watching him are different. Bob is an amazing teacher. He has this carefree way of teaching you about what he’s doing without you even realizing it most of the time.
As Bob paints he will explain what he’s doing, why he’s doing it, and any theories or concepts behind it if applicable. The little things I’ve picked up regarding light, perception, color theory, and so many more have become invaluable pieces of information lost on me in my childhood.
Always the Teacher
Bob Ross isn’t seen by many as an amazing painter. He didn’t create the kind of paintings that art collectors cared about. He wasn’t doing anything revolutionary either.
What he was though was so much more than what his art wasn’t. Bob was the best teacher I have ever seen. His goal with his show wasn’t to make you an artist, or show off his work, but instead to help you find joy and comfort by painting. To escape for a little bit and create your own world.
That is the legacy that Bob Ross has left behind. The world didn’t lose an inspiring artist when he passed away. What we lost was a cherished man who found joy in teaching everyone that you can do anything you want.
Discover Bob for Yourself
As I said, every episode of The Joy of Painting is on YouTube. Definitely check that out if you’ve never seen him, and also do if you have because, like me, there’s always something new to learn.
Now, bear with the terrible TV quality we endured back in the 80’s, the iconic perm of Bob Ross, and enjoy the show for what it is.
Also, if you’ve never seen Bob, give it about 5 minutes. His paintings all start off very basic, but he quickly adds a level of detail to his work with incredible speed. Often you’re left wondering how he created what he did in a matter of seconds.
I could go on and on about the amazing man that is Bob Ross but I’ll call that good for now ;)
Bob Ross also epitomizes what I’m trying to do here at Creative Twilight as well. I’m not the best painter out there, but my goal with this blog has always been to teach and inspire.
I spend more hours than you care to know working on the various tutorials I do here just because teaching is something I get great enjoyment from. I don’t want you to see my miniatures and feel intimidated. I want you to be inspired and seek to learn, to improve, and to enjoy the hobby that is miniature painting.
I can’t tell you how much enjoyment I get from reading comments where people feel inspired from something I did, or that they learned something new and are excited to try it out.
That’s all I’m trying to do here and I have Bob Ross to thank for that.
If you enjoyed this, then definitely check out my guest article on Tangible Day where I talk about what Bob Ross taught me about miniature painting.
On a related note, Andrew did a guest article for me about how painting is life changing. It’s a good followup to this article.
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lol, he’s my spirit animal.
Spirit animal, haha!
Lovely article and a nice insight into you and what you create. We never had Bob Ross over this side of the world but is amazing to see how he pulls things together.
I was curious if he made it overseas or not. I didn’t think he had, but of course now everyone can see him on YouTube.
I’m always amazed when he does something bold, and looks like he’s going to ruin the painting, and then it all comes together into something awesome.
Blimey! That’s a blast from the past.
I still come out with the odd Bob Rossism…. “We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents” or “We’ll give him a little friend” amongst others :D
I didn’t know that they were on YouTube, so thanks for pointing that out.
The other half of that sentence being, “because everyone needs a friend.” ;)
That’s one of the things you gotta love about the man, he would just say these little things that were pretty profound when you thought about them.
If you check it out on YouTube then read the comments too. I have watched countless hours of stuff on YouTube. Everything from silly cat videos to political news, and every single video always has at least one asshole (usually way more than that). However, every single person who watches Bob Ross has nothing but praise for the man. I have not seen a single asshole on any of his videos yet. It’s damn amazing.
Very nice post! I do not think that here thus artist has been streamed on tv and, if so, I’ve never seen him: the only way I knew him was only memes or quotes and citations in Family Guy and so on. Glad to have read something more serious, also declined on your experience, something that Wiki cannot give.
Said by one that makes imperfection the rule of his painting!
Yeah, he’s been a part of pop-culture for a very long time. I think there’s a lot of people, like you, who only know of him that way, who never saw his show or know anything about him. I also don’t think he aired on TV where you live either.
Anyway, it’s cool to show people what the person behind the memes was like and what he meant to a lot of us who grew up with him.
I thought I’d seen Bobble-head Ross on your painting table before! Bob Ross and Mr. Rogers on PBS were pretty much all you needed to grow up right back then. Ross really was a great guy. Like you say, not about the technical aspect of his painting, but just because he was so full of heart and so good at sharing that.
Also, a vaguely remembered bit from a while ago on tumblr: Someone had a dream about Bob Ross, Mob Boss. “If Vinnie doesn’t get his payments caught up pronto, he’s gonna have to have a happy little accident.” ;)
I watched Mr. Rogers, but even as a kid I found those puppets creepy as hell. Loved everything but those things.
Mob boss Bob Ross sounds awesome.
I’ve never had a problem with puppets. I can understand how that would make it a less attractive show, tho.
It was a few of the human ones that were just strange. I’m cool with puppets as a rule, but Lady Elaine was just creepy.
Ha! IDK why, but she never bothered me.
Jesus. It still bothers me now just looking at it…
Such beautiful words to describe a wonderful person! Bob has always inspired me as well since I was a child, much in the same way as you. Not only as an art teacher, but as a kind hearted person encouraging people to be their best.
Lovely article, thanks for writing it!
Thank you very much. Just trying to bring this awesome man to the attention of a new generation. We were fortunate enough to grow up with him.