Bob Ross Hair, Happiness and Other Secrets of the Famous Painter

Bob Ross was poor and couldn’t afford haircuts so he permed his own hair a few times a year into a big care-free afro. That hair became his trademark.

● He spent 20 years in the military with much time in Alaska. When he retired as a Master Sergeant, he swore he would never raise his voice or yell ever again.

● He learned how to paint mountains and landscapes while being surrounded by them in Alaska.

● He painted on his lunch hour and sold his paintings on the side. People asked him to teach them his method. Some critics called him the Mr. Rogers of the art instruction world. He learned the wet-on-wet technique from a William Alexander, and he says that skill was the most valuable gift he ever received.

● He named his television show after how he feels when he paints, The Joy of Painting.

While Bob made it seem that the paintings he did during the tapings of his PBS show were done very spontaneously and full of ‘happy little accidents’ this was in fact not the case. In reality, Bob painted the same picture three times:

  1. The first copy always hid off-screen, and Bob referred to it while the cameras rolled.
  2. So while Bob talked about how that big tree that looks like it is going to ruin the painting came to him just this second, truth is that it was always going to be there.
  3. He painted a third copy when filming finished. This time, an assistant would stand behind him and snap photos of each brushstroke. These pictures went into the Bob Ross “How to” books.

The paintings shown in these books are more detailed than the ones done on the show.

He discovered he had lymphoma in his later years. He died at home in 1995 in Florida at the age of 52.

He said one of his secrets for remaining happy was to not watch the news and create his own happiness.

He never made mistakes, he made “happy accidents”. At the end of each episode, Ross was known for saying, “so from all of us here, I’d like to wish you happy painting, and God bless, my friend.”


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  1. i am an artist myself, i am more of a finite artist, every hair on the head type. i watch Bob when ever he just comes on and have learned lots of his technics to speed up painting. i never pursued art for a living cause i never had the passion but did art in other ways, now i am a wood turner, i make mugs, chalices, whisky cups and shot cups made from Texas mesquite and sell them at Ren Faires. i think soon i will take up painting again. Bob is such a lovely and talented human… GODSPEED

    Liked by 3 people

    • I just loved Bob Ross and was just as impressed by his kind, gentle, godly nature as I was by his laidback painting style. Gone way too soon and I still miss him.

      Liked by 2 people

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