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11 Happy Little Facts About 'The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross'

By Jodi Smith | Mindhole Blowers | September 8, 2016 |

By Jodi Smith | Mindhole Blowers | September 8, 2016 |

Everyone knows about the happy little clouds, the happy little trees, and the world that you build for yourself when you paint the Bob Ross way. There are no mistakes. Only happy accidents. But what else was happening on The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross?

1. Ross always had 3 copies of every painting we saw on the show. One would be off camera for reference. One was being painted during filming. A third would be painted after the show taping, with an assistant taking photos for the how-to books Ross made. This was all done in his basement and he could shoot a season of his show in 2 or 3 days.

2. Ross did not take a salary for his television show. He made money from his company that sold Bob Ross art supplies and books. Many of his paintings were donated to PBS, so they could sell them to raise money, or to other charities.

3. Speaking of Ross’ business, Bob Ross, Inc. continues to make around $15 million a year.

4. Ross served in the Air Force. He retired after 20 years with the rank of Master Sergeant. It is rumored that Ross was so soft-spoken because he vowed to never yell again after his military career.


5. Ross painted an estimated 30,000 paintings in his life.

6. The technique Ross uses is called “wet on wet”. It is also known as “alla prima” or “direct painting”. The technique has been around since the 16th century and was used by artists like Rembrandt and Monet.

7. Ross’ iconic ‘fro was originally a frugal decision. A permed ‘fro would require less haircuts, thus saving money. Alas, Ross grew tired of the ‘fro but had to keep it for his fans. After he began to be treated for cancer, Ross even wore ‘fro wigs to keep up his popular appearance.


8. Ross was a smart businessman, even appearing in MTV promos to boost the popularity of his show and art supplies.

9. Ross was an animal lover and would often speak on the show about the animals he had saved. He even had hopes of creating a show for children to show them all the different types of wildlife in the world.

10. Ross’ paintings were inspired by the lush mountainous landscape of Alaska, where he was stationed during his military time.

11. Ross passed away in 1995 at the age of 52 from lymphoma. The 11 seasons of The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross continue to be popular. You can stream 26 episodes on Netflix under Bob Ross: Beauty Is Everywhere.

Jodi Smith is a Senior Reporter, Film & Television at Pajiba. You can email her or follow her on Twitter.