I think you have to be of a certain age to have grown up with a knowledge of Bob Ross and his white guy afro on PBS. There is just something about his soothing voice and quiet ways. . .if you were flipping through channels and came across him painting his “Happy Clouds” you just had to stop for a while and watch. It’s magical watching a world come to life on his canvas, and he just makes it look so easy.
This summer I noticed one of his series pop up on Netflix as a new addition, and I just had to put it on to show my kids. Thirteen year old Buddy was amazed. “He just makes it look so easy. There is nothing there and then he just dabs with his brush and suddenly there is a tree. . . it’s like magic.” and “He makes you feel like it’s simple and you could paint it too.”
I’ve found watching the episodes (both on Netflix and YouTube) to be the perfect sort of “background” tv when I’m doing chores like ironing, mending, sorting paperwork or stringing beans. It’s pleasant and pretty, but it’s ok if you don’t look at it the whole time.
Watching the show again with Buddy and Princess made me curious about the origins. According to Wikipedia, Bob Ross was a Master Sergeant in the Airforce and although originally from Florida, he spent most of his military career in Alaska.
Having held military positions that required him to be, in his own words, “tough” and “mean”, “the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work”, Ross decided that if he ever left the military, he would never scream again.
Apparently while in Alaska he worked part time as a bartender and learned to paint from a TV show called he Magic of Oil Painting, hosted by German painter Bill Alexander. He started painting and wound up making more money selling them than he did in the military! After his service he moved back to Florida and started the TV show, on which he not only taught the wet on wet painting technique but also frequently featured segments on the little injured squirrels and other wild life that he would nurse back to health.
And about that Afro. . . apparently it was a perm job he had done to save money on haircuts! It became such an iconic feature of his brand that he had to keep it. Bob Ross passed away in 1995 from lymphoma, but his shows still run in many countries and languages to this day. That’s quite a legacy.
So enjoy this episode of Bob Ross painting for today’s TV Thursday!
Wondering what TV Thursday is all about, and how to best watch YouTube Videos on your computer or TV? Check out my post “TV Thursday & Tips“.