A little tribute to Bob Ross on his birthday

29 Oct 2011


A Bob Ross landscape

Today would have been the 69th birthday of Bob Ross. And if you don't know who Bob was, it's high time you met him!

In the U.S., many of us grew up with The Joy of Painting on public television – a perfectly mesmerizing show in which a soft-spoken man with amazing hair would proceed to complete an entire nature painting in just under 25 minutes, telling us exactly how it did it along the way. If you've ever watched the show, you probably still get that autonomic relaxation response from the quiet tap, tap, tap of the bushes against the canvas.

A compliation of moments from The Joy of Painting, by RainbowBanana on Vimeo

Some people make fun of Bob, and lord knows I've made a "happy little tree" joke here and there myself. But the truth is, he just wanted people to try their hand at making some art. He developed a wet-in-wet painting method that allowed scores of folks who didn't think they had any talent to create works they felt proud of. He wanted art to be fun and non-intimidating.

Bob_Ross1Bob said this line in just about every episode of his show: "We don't make mistakes, we just have happy accidents." So go out there today and have a few happy accidents of your own. And then if you will, pause a moment to thank Bob for his contribution to creativity.

Happy Birthday, Bob!



Oh, I loved Bob Ross when I was a kid---I loved watching his show and I still love his philosophy (in fact, I have a drawing of a tree with the words "happy little tree." I think the happy accident philosophy is the best philosophy you can have for any creative pursuit, and really life in general. This post is great! And your right that the sound of that brush dabbing is totally relaxing!

I certainly do remember Bob! I started many nice Saturday naps with him because of that voice. I usually stayed awake until he finished the painting, but then - snooze time! I loved watching him, he made it look so easy, but I never did try my hand at oil painting - too many other irons in the fire.

I'll watch Bob Ross anytime I can find it on PBS. His painting technique always got my juices rolling. Happy Birthday, Bob! I'm sure he's joyfully making happy accidents all over the clouds. They do look a little whispey lately.
Did you ever watch William Alexander? His painting show was on before Bob's, and I was inspired to try oils way back then. I remember when Bob came on the scene, and I think he replaced William.
Anywho- thanks for remembering him.

I love this Diane! Yeah, Bob had a sort of cheesy style, but he was so committed to getting people just to try painting and most of all have fun with it. Whenever I catch him on TV, I end up watching the show all the way through. He was one groooovy dude.

Oh what wonderful memories I have of the Joy of Painting. Happy Birthday Bob Ross.

Do they still run these? I'm sure I ended up watching one in my hotel on a recent trip to the States?! Scott

I'm sure Bob Ross plays somewhere on U.S. public television at least once every day. :-) But you can get a lot of clips online these days, too.

Awww... this is so great. :-) Thank you for remembering Bob Ross, Diane. :)
I didn't listen to his show when I was young as, living in Quebec, we didn't have access to it.
But I kept hearing from him from people and friends. Since I'm an also an artist, some people would often mention Bob Ross to me and ask me if I knew his work. Eheh! It's only years later that I could watch his work online and be amazed by his talent and technique. :) I love how he made art accessible to everyone and take off the "mystery" behind it.

Love Bob Ross! He is the reason I started experimenting with painting. Thanks for a great post and the little walk down memory lane :)

Love this program, i used to watch it all the time when i was at college, I think its the same one ? thanks for bringing back some great memories xxx

It's so great to know more about Bob Ross, I have his Gesso it has a little cartoon picture of him on and I never knew what a great guy he was and his history!

I love that message. Thanks Bob + Diane :)

Hi Diane,

this is an awesome post, thank you so much.
I LOVED Bob Ross' videos and his happy little clouds -of course it was funny to watch and I always had a good laugh (and I make a lot of happy cloud and tree jokes here and there). But nevertheless, I always thought he was quite a genius. He made painting look so easy -he taught a lot of people to not be afraid of the white canvas and color (I also loved how he cleaned the brushes...). And he was a happy man, you could feel his passion and love come through in his video classes. For sure not boring!
Thanks for sharing this on his birthday,

Franziska San Pedro
The Abstract Impressionist Artress

Awww, he died young! We spent many Saturday mornings watching Bob Ross in the early years of our marriage when we couldn't afford cable. Each week he carved out something unexpected and amazing. I never did jump in to his style of painting, but he did cultivate an appreciation for the colors in nature I took for granted.

"Happy" memories, indeed.

How sweet to honor this wonderful man, Diane!

Oh good, I'm so glad you did this. I had his bday on my calendar & completely forgot!

Bob Ross! He's still paints on in syndication; I saw his ghost just the other day on TV. Happy Birthday Bob wherever you may be...

Oh my goodness, I'm SO glad I'm not the only one! when flipping through channels, I always get sucked in when I see an old Bob Ross show. :-) What a sweet man he was.

loved watching his show :) and it was great that so many people started to paint because they saw him do it

I have fond memories of watching the Joy of Painting with my brother - we would sit, completely transfixed for those 25 minutes and I never could believe what he would have created by the end! Definitely an inspiration. And I still make jokes about "happy trees!"

I remember watching Bob Ross years and years ago, and his show is still playing on PBS. I have a couple of friends who are Certified Instructors in the Bob Ross method, and their classes are always full. Here's a link to one of them. People know Bob Ross mainly for his landscapes, but he also used his method to paint exquisite florals.

I remember watching Bob Ross on KET in the mornings before school when I was a kid. Him and that Creole guy that cooked whose name I can't remember!! They were morning staples in our house like cartoons were for other kids.