"We don't make mistakes; we just have happy accidents."
|Bob Ross's The Joy of Painting, aired 1983 –1994|
|Bob Ross, "Alaskan Waterfall"|
original oil on canvas, 18" x 24" 
A native Floridian, Bob Ross was born in Daytona in 1942 and grew up working as a carpenter with his father. At the early age of 17, he enlisted in the United States Air Force where he was eventually transferred to Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. It is often thought that the intricate seasonal landscapes he saw while stationed there largely influenced the subject matter and themes of his later works . While working as a bartender during his station in Alaska, he discovered Bill Alexander, a German painter who hosted a show called The Magic World of Oil Painting. Retiring from the Air Force after twenty years with the rank of Master Sergeant, he went on to attend various art schools, ultimately learning the “wet-on-wet” oil technique he is famous for from Alexander, whom he eventually became rivals with. It was only a matter of time that his talent and technique earned him his own instructional program, The Joy of Painting, on CBS in 1983, running for a very successful thirty-one seasons .
I feel that the most astounding aspect of Ross’s technique is (what I perceive as) the unresolved paradox of creating both 1.) realistic subject matter 2.) in under thirty minutes, all with 3.) very broad, seemingly careless strokes. The wet-on-wet technique he used, quite literally, involves applying wet paint to layers of previously-applied wet paint . Given the opaque nature of oil colors, it would seem that such rapid, active mixing of colors on colors would require far more precision than Ross would portray. Nevertheless, every broad stroke smudge would soon transform into an imaginary landscape (literally) before my eyes.
|Bob Ross, "Northern Lights," original oil on canvas, 18" x 24"|
|Bob Ross, "Mountain Retreat," original oil on canvas, 20" x 24"|
|Bob Ross, "South View of the Mountain," original oil on canvas, 20" x 22"|
"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."
|Bob Ross, "Bubbling Stream," original oil on canvas, 20" x 22"|
|Bob Ross, "Bubbling Stream," original oil on canvas, 20" x 24"|