Bob Ross is without a doubt one of the most well-known artists of the 21st Century because he’s instantly recognizable thanks to his iconic “fro” that set him apart from other artists in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
His television show “The Joy Of Painting” ran for 11 years on PBS and was shown in the United States, Europe and Canada.
His “secret power” wasn’t his afro, it was his ability to show people how easy painting really is and he encouraged millions of people around the world to pick up a paint brush and start painting even if they thought they had no talent for art.
His show also provided me with inspiration in the early 1990’s when I was getting started with art and trying to figure out my own style as an artist. Even though I was a young artist in my late teens, I tuned in and looked forward to watching PBS and learn more about oil painting by watching a guy who was obviously very good at it.
About His Painting Technique
Ross’s painting technique is known as “wet on wet”. With this method of painting the artist continues applying one layer of paint onto another instead of setting the canvas aside to dry.
Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most well-known artists who used the wet on wet technique. If you study his canvases its easy to see the layers of paint on them that he used to create his iconic works.
I personally have used the wet on wet method on many paintings over the years, it requires patience because if you don’t know when to walk away from a wet on wet painting it’s possible to mess it up and destroy some aspect of the painting that was actually really good.
Ross painted three versions of almost every painting featured on his show. The first was painted prior to taping, and sat on an easel, off-camera, during filming, where Ross used it as a reference to create the second copy—the one viewers actually watched him paint. After filming the episode, Ross painted a third, more detailed version for inclusion in his instructional books.
Bob Ross The Master Marketer
If you ask any artist about Bob Ross they will express some degree of disdain for his works because most artists think that his style of art looks too easy or more like something that their grandma’s would paint but the reality is that Ross was a master marketer and managed to build a multi-million dollar business empire that still continues to produce revenue after his death.
Ross managed to build a great business model that included books, art supplies and a variety of other products after having a 20 year career in the Air Force as a Master Sergeant.
Any artist (myself included) who wants longevity in the art world would be smart to study Bob Ross and learn from his successes as an artist because artists today have to also be marketers and branch out into other areas like Ross did if they want long term success.
Sadly, Bob Ross died in 1994 at the age of 52 but he lives on virtually since you can find episodes of his television show online (see below) including his books and other related products.
What are your thoughts on Bob Ross? Leave me a comment below!