Imagine you’re in a painting studio. You take a deep breath and smell the sweet smell of the oil paints and the crisp air within the painting studio. You look around and see many paintings on the walls, each one telling a different story.
But your attention quickly turns back to the canvas in front of you, which seems to be calling out for your attention. You dip your paintbrush into a palette of different colors and then put it on the canvas. You feel happy and excited when you see the brush moving so easily on the canvas. You create a beautiful picture of a world you want to see, and it makes you feel calm and happy.
You continue to work, feeling the warmth of the paint beneath your brush, and the gentle strokes of color as you add dimension and texture to your creation. As you paint, you feel a sense of peace and contentment that comes from being fully immersed in the creative process.
You continue to work, feeling the warmth of the paint beneath your brush and you see how the colors mix together, creating something new and unique. You love how it feels to make something special with your hands.
When you’re done painting, you step back and admire your work. You feel so proud of what you made and can’t wait to share it with others. You know that it will make people happy and inspire them to look at the world in a different way.
This is what it’s like to be like Bob Ross, a painter who made people happy by showing them how to paint and see the world in a new way.
Bob Ross was born on October 29, 1942, in Daytona Beach, Florida. He grew up in a town called Orlando, where he spent a lot of time exploring the beautiful landscapes around him.
His dad was a carpenter named Jack, and his mom, Ollie, was a waitress. As a child, Bob loved to take care of injured animals which sometimes made his parents unhappy because they never knew what kind of animal they would find in the house! They might see a hurt alligator in their bathtub or an armadillo running around Bob’s room.
Later, Bob didn’t finish high school. Instead, he left after 9th grade to work as a carpenter with his dad. One day, Bob had a terrible accident that injured his left index finger. He lost the tip of it! Even though he was hurt, Bob didn’t let that stop him. It was an injury he later hid from TV viewers most of the time with his paint palette.
When Bob turned 18, he joined the Air Force which he soon didn’t enjoy. He said that he had to be “mean” sometimes, and that made him unhappy. When he was in the Air Force, he was known for being tough on his fellow airmen, and they even gave him the nickname “Bust ’em up Bobby.”
Although he had a tough exterior, Bob Ross also had a softer side. He discovered his love for painting while attending an art class in Alaska during his time in the Air Force. Many of his painting instructors at the time were more interested in abstract art, but Bob was fascinated by nature and the beauty of the world around him. He found that painting allowed him to capture that beauty and share it with others.
After attending many art classes that focused on abstract painting, Ross found his passion for painting returned through a television show he found called The “Magic of Oil Painting”. The show was hosted by artist Bill Alexander Bill introduced Ross to an old painting technique known as “alla prima” which means “first attempt” in Italian. Ross was fascinated by “alla prima” because it allowed Alexander to finish a painting in just 30 minutes. Alla prima is also known as “wet-on-wet” painting, which means that wet layers of paint are added to paper to create an image. Bob loved this new technique and decided to master it himself.
Bob Ross started earning money by painting Alaskan mountainsides on the inside of gold pans, after observing Alexander’s Wet on Wet technique. He soon became well-known among the local Alaskan people for his artistic abilities and often taught children and the elderly how to paint, too. Eventually, Ross began making more money from selling paintings and offering art lessons than from his day job in the military. After serving in the Air Force for twenty years, Ross left the military and said that he would never yell or raise his voice again, he was known from then on to have a very soft and calming presence.
In the 1980s after leaving the Air Force, Ross had a burning desire to truly master the art of wet-on-wet painting. He found his favorite artist Bill Alexander in Florida. There, Alexander was a part-time art teacher and happily shared all his knowledge with Ross.
Next, Bob Ross got a job as a traveling tutor for the Alexander Magic Art Supplies Company. He had a soothing, gentle voice, and an encouraging teaching style, and said things like “happy accidents” instead of the word “mistakes” to make people feel happier and more positive about painting and being ok with messing up.
Have you ever made a mistake? Well, in painting it is very easy to make mistakes and Bob was excellent at helping people understand that even when we make mistakes we can turn those mistakes into something good! This idea that he used in his painting lessons caught the attention of a woman named Annette Kowalski. Annette was fascinated by Ross and thought they might find a way to sell the experience of painting with him. She saw potential in Ross’s teaching style and decided to work with him to build a successful business.
After a meeting with Annette Kowalski and her husband, Ross became convinced that he should leave the Alexander Magic Art Supplies Company and start his own teaching business. Kowalski was so confident in their potential for success that she spent all of her life savings on the business. Ross and his wife spent most of their money too! Unfortunately, their high hopes were met with a harsh reality: the business lost $20,000 in its first year open.
Low on money, Bob Ross decided to take a bold step and change his look. Gone were the days of the strict military haircut, and in its place emerged a new and unexpected style: the classic afro that would come to define him. Ross said that he decided to perm his hair and make it curly because then he could save money and he wouldn’t need to pay for haircuts every week. Little did he know that this bold decision to perm his hair would change his appearance forever. Ross’s afro was so different than what his hair used to look like that many of his friends only recognized him by his missing finger that he lost while working as a teenager.
It is not totally clear how Bob became a famous painter on TV. There are two stories about how he was able to get onto the PBS channel. One story says that Bob and his former teacher Bill Alexander filmed a commercial for his art classes, which happened to impress someone important. Another version suggests that his partner, Kowalski, took a video of one of Bob Ross’ 30-minute lessons and sent it to the TV station. It is possible that both stories are true. Either way, it is obvious that Bob Ross was so good that he couldn’t be ignored. Before long he was a famous TV star in a new show called “The Joy of Painting”!
While filming “The Joy of Painting,” Bob made it feel like he was talking to his audience one-on-one. Almost like a personal teaching lesson.
Bob Ross put a lot of thought into every detail of his show. He took great care in selecting his clothes, wearing timeless jeans and casual shirts that wouldn’t look old in the future. He also sanded down his painting palette lightly to keep it from reflecting the studio lights, a trick he figured out over time by switching to a clear painting palette for the first few episodes.
Bob never received payment for his appearances on the show, nor did he sell any of the paintings he created on air. The show served as a platform to promote his teaching business which grew to include Bob Ross paint brushes, paint, and other supplies, soon making him a millionaire!
Even though being on TV made Bob Ross very successful he remained humble and generous with his artwork. He gave away most of the paintings he created on the show, as well as thousands of others he made throughout his life. Some were donated to charitable causes to be auctioned off, while others were gifted to friends and acquaintances.
Bob Ross taught us that mistakes are not failures, they are just happy accidents. When you make a mistake, don’t give up. Instead, use your creativity and turn it into something beautiful. Just like Bob Ross, you can use your talents to make the world a brighter and more joyful place