Bob Ross was an American painter and television personality. Today, Ross is commonly known for his PBS show The Joy of Painting, his calming teaching demeanor, and iconic hairstyle. Though highly popular, there are plenty of misconceptions about the beloved artist and his landscape paintings.
Considered the painting teacher of the general public, Ross was not originally looking to become a painter. Ross joined the Air Force when he was eighteen and develop his painting skills while enlisted. In the early 1960's, Ross took his first painting class at a United Service Organizations (USO) club. While serving in the military he painted prolifically, often selling his Alaskan landscapes to tourists. In 1981, Ross retired from the military and pursued an art career.
Ross primarily learned painting from television instructor William Alexander and his PBS show The Magic of Painting. Through the televised class, Ross developed his characteristic oil painting technique alla prima or wet-on-wet. The technique consists of applying oil paint on wet paint rather than waiting for it to dry in between layers. This method allowed Ross to complete a composition quickly.
After the military, he sought out private lessons from Alexander and would eventually take his teacher’s place in PBS. During the late 1970's, influenced by Alexander, Ross started created canvases in the following sizes: 16 inches by 20 inches, 18 inches by 24 inches, and 24 inches by 36 inches. Later in his career, Ross created a small quantity of 36 inches by 48 inches canvases. Some of Ross’s rarer paintings were triptychs.
The Joy of Painting ran from 1983 until 1994. During the eleven-year run of the show, over four hundred episodes aired and Ross created over a thousand paintings. For each episode, he produced three paintings: one before taping as a reference, one during the show, and one after taping for instructional books. The warehouses of Bob Ross Inc. hold many of the landscape paintings created for the show.
It is a common misconception that Ross only produced paintings for his television show. Ross created more than thirty thousand artworks throughout his career, with only four percent created for television. Aside from being a prolific painter while in the military, Ross was a private instructor leading various training seminars for Bob Ross instructors. Additionally, he created various paintings for charity and public events.
Another misconception about Ross’s paintings is that Bob Ross Inc. owns all the paintings he created. Though they do own over a thousand of his works, much of his art remains privately owned. Ross often donated his works to friends and people who visited his studio. Additionally, many of the oil paintings created for The Joy of Painting went to charities and PBS stations across the country. Many of the donated work sold at fundraiser auctions and are now privately owned.
Though Ross was prolific in creating paintings, it is hard to find his landscapes for sale. The collections owned by Bob Ross Inc. and the Bob Ross Art Workshop and Gallery in Florida are not for sale. Additionally, most private owners do not want to part from the works. Today, Modern Artifact buys and sells more Bob Ross paintings than anyone else in the world.
The frequency of sold fakes is not uncommon as Ross’s art is extremely popular. It is important to keep in mind that an authentic Bob Ross painting can expect to sell at $8,000-$10,000 in the open market. Fakes and replicas typically sell at a lower market in risky private sales or online auctions. Sellers of fakes often refuse to provide a certificate or do not possess one. Genuine Bob Ross paintings come with a certificate of authenticity from Bob Ross Inc.
Modern Artifact can teach you what to look for in an authentic Bob Ross painting and walk you through the authentication process, working with the only Bob Ross authorized authenticators. Ross’s former manager, Annette Kowalski, inspects the works and authenticates possible Bob Ross paintings. Furthermore, Kowalski looks for Ross’s characteristic brushwork and specific detail in the quality of his signature.