Bob Ross (born October 29, 1942 as Robert Norman Ross) was a famous American painter and art instructor. He was born in Daytona Beach, Florida and grew up in Orlando. In the early 90s, he was diagnosed with lymphoma, forcing him to retire from his iconic role as host for the American television series The Joy of Painting in 1994. He would die a year later and be buried in the Woodlawn Memorial Park in Florida.
Throughout his lifetime, Ross became an accomplished military sergeant, a world-famous television host, and an iconic artist known for his oil paintings and soft-spoken demeanor. He is most widely known and remembered for his “no mistakes in art” ideology, which served as a strong foundation for many amateur artists just finding themselves. Ross is an inspiration to the artists of the world, and his respect for nature has served as a reminder of humanity’s impact on the natural world.
Master Sergeant in Alaska
Ross served for 20 years in the United States Air Force, between the years of 1961 and 1981. He originally began his service as a medical records technician. Over the years, Ross would rise and attain the rank of Master Sergeant. His duties as a military officer left Ross sour because such positions meant that he was required to scream. He hoped that if he ever had the chance to leave the military, his next role would find him in a place where he would never have to scream again.
After becoming a Master Sergeant, Ross was sent to an Alaskan Air Force base. It was during his service at the Eielson base that he saw the snow and mountains that would become reoccurring themes in his future role as an oil paint artist.
While working and living in Alaska, Ross would discover a television series called The Magic World of Oil Painting, hosted by Bill Alexander, a German oil painter. Ross would study with Bill Alexander and learn a deeper appreciation and respect for oil paintings, as well as the techniques deployed in creating them. He would use this knowledge to expand upon his own skill as an amateur oil painter, his quick-painting technique, which he would later become famous for across the world. Coupled along with his dissatisfaction with his temperament and demeanor whilst in the military, Ross eagerly accepted the chance to break free of his military position and move into a much happier role as an oil painter.
The Joy of Painting
Boss Ross is most famous for his appearance as the host for the American instructional art series, The Joy of Painting. Ross hosted the series for a total of 31 seasons, featuring 403 30-minute long episodes that primarily focused on teaching audience members of all ages and skill levels the basics of oil painting, while creating a different canvas painting every episode.
Throughout the course of his time as the host, Ross would instruct audience members on oil painting through the use of a quick-study technique that would later become known as the Bob Ross Wet-on-Wet Technique. His style of painting varied from the traditional methodology of oil painting, which would require lengthy amounts of time for various layers of paint to dry before applying a new layer. His method applies wet paint atop still-wet paint in order to create a smooth transition of colors without stark contrasts, allowing Ross to create a complete canvas project in a 30-minute timeframe.
Bob Ross’ Legacy
For many, Ross served as an inspirational reminder that mistakes happen, and they happen all the time. The best thing anyone can do about it, though, is to incorporate that error, to make use of that sign of humanity into the overall art and make it become part of the artwork.
Most audience members attributed Ross’ huge level of success—nationally and internationally—to his soft-spoken demeanor and his tangible appreciation for the art he was creating. He was passionate about his love of art, and never allowed a “mistake” to interfere. In fact, it was his ideology that there were no mistakes in art, there were only opportunities to create something fundamentally unique.
Ross’ consistent effort to create works of brilliant art inspired thousands to take up brush and paint and follow along beside him. The fact that Ross was determined to only use a limited number of supplies, all of which were easy to attain and relatively affordable, only further bolstered his following’s adoration for him, and method of creating art. His soft-spoken nature was easy to follow, and offered the non-artistically inclined members of his audience to follow along and enjoy the captivating experience of creating visually exuberant masterpieces through the simple use of oil paints and a canvas. Netflix is currently streaming certain Bob Ross episodes, so if you have an internet connection from any Comcast XFINITY Internet offers, you can watch those reruns now!