Having spent his entire artistic career in front of the TV camera shooting “The Joy of Painting”, Bob Ross was one of the greatest advocates for painting in the late 20th century. Known as a painter of uniquely soothing voice, who always painted “happy” images, he was watched by millions and eventually reached the status of a living icon.
He started his career in the US Air Force, where he spent 20 years, mostly in Alaska. In 1981, he abandoned the army to pursue painting. In the early years, he was struggling. This is when his signature perm was born, as a way of cutting haircut costs, a style he wore and hated throughout his life.
Ross remained dedicated to landscape throughout his entire body of work, which counts around 30.000 paintings. His works are populated with trees, clouds, lakes and streams, and only an occasional cabin. Known as a sincere environmentalist, he often painted various small animals, bringing them often to the studio. Interestingly, very few of his works ever depicted a human figure. The technique he used is called “wet on wet” or “Alla Prima”, dating back to the Renaissance. Still, it was difficult to define Bob Ross’ style in terms of contemporary art. It was closest to Pop Art, due to his celebrity status and the concept in which it was created. Except for the early gold pans, he distributed while stationed in Alaska, he never really sold his works.
Even today, more than twenty years after his death, he remains an Internet sensation. In 2015, over 400 episodes of his famous TV show “The Joy of Painting” were added to the official Bob Ross Youtube Channel. In 2016, his other painting television series “Beauty is Everywhere” began streaming on Netflix. Furthermore, numerous series have paid homage to Bob Ross in various ways, while Google keeps posting Google Doodle and birthday tributes to the painter every year.
A calm, happy person, Bob Ross kept a democratic, open attitude, claiming that anyone can paint regardless of talent, only if they are ready to practice enough. We don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents,” he used to say. And the people loved him for it.
Born as Robert Norman Ross in Daytona Beach, Florida on October 29, 1942, the meticulous painter died of lymphoma on July 4, 1995, at the age of 52.
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