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The Joy of Bob Ross

Today would have been Bob Ross’s 70th birthday and it seems only fitting to give the man who gave us “happy little trees” a few moments of remembrance today. Ross was born in Orlando, Florida on October 29th, 1942 and spent his youth there with his brother Jim. At the age of 19 Ross joined the Air Force and was transferred to Alaska, where he encountered the mountains and forests that would later be the hallmark of his painting career. While still in the Air Force, Ross developed his ability to paint intricate scenes quickly so that he could recreate the beauty around him in the limited time available to him each day. As his career as a painter took off, Ross decided to leave the military to dedicate himself full time to his artistic pursuits.

Bob Ross debuted his art series ‘The Joy of Painting’ in 1983 on PBS. For a half hour, Ross would demonstrate his wet-on-wet oil painting technique for the audience at home, using a limited palette and a simple step-by-step process. Often compared to fellow PBS star Mr. Rogers, Ross’s soft and gentle way of speaking as well as his inspirational messages turned an entire generation onto landscape painting.

Ross enjoyed a very successful career until passing away in 1995. His television show ran until May of 1994, when his failing health forced him to retire. Up until that time, Ross created his own line of art supplies and painting instruction books. He also trained 150 teachers in the “Bob Ross Method” who went on to teach painting classes.

Ross had a soft spot for small animals and spent much of his free time filming the wildlife that visited his garden. He was known to take in injured animals who would often times end up feature in his “Joy of Painting” works. All of the painting he created for his television series were donated to PBS stations around the country.

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