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Bob Ross’s Happy Little Trees: A One-man Painting Revival

, Bob Ross’s Happy Little Trees: A One-man Painting Revival

Bob Ross, streaming video, landscape painting, The Joy of Painting, Bob Ross, oil painting

Bob Ross’s Happy Little Trees: A One-man Painting Revival

 

Bob Ross, streaming video, landscape painting, The Joy of Painting, Bob Ross, oil painting

Bob Ross, streaming video, landscape painting, The Joy of Painting, Bob Ross, oil painting

 

When he left the Air Force after almost twenty years of service, Bob Ross embarked on an eleven-year journey producing The Joy of Painting, a simple how-to instructional series on oil painting that aired on public television from 1983 to 1994. In the Air Force, Bob Ross eventually became a master sergeant, tasked with being “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.” He found this lifestyle conflicted drastically with his core values as a person, saying that when he left the military, “I never wanted to yell again.”

 

Bob Ross, streaming video, landscape painting, The Joy of Painting, Bob Ross, oil painting

Bob Ross, streaming video, landscape painting, The Joy of Painting, Bob Ross, oil painting

 

Fortunately, Ross had begun to supplement his Air Force income by studying oil painting techniques from Bill Alexander, the host of The Magic World of Oil Painting. Bill shared techniques with Bob and Ross eventually began selling his oil paintings to other servicemen at his Alaskan post. Eventually, Ross realized that landscape painting presented a more lucrative option than continuing his military career and so quit the service (where he had often felt he had to act counter to his nature) to begin producing The Joy of Painting full-time. The show enjoyed a modest success during its first run and Bob Ross became somewhat of a cultural hero. Many viewers had no intention of picking up a paintbrush, but rather tuned in simply to see

 

Bob Ross, streaming video, landscape painting, The Joy of Painting, Bob Ross, oil painting

Bob Ross, streaming video, landscape painting, The Joy of Painting, Bob Ross, oil painting

 

In recent years, online streaming video companies like YouTube and Twitch have picked up Bob Ross’s The Joy of Painting and hosted free marathons of the show for web viewers. Twitch.tv has also considered broadcasting the series in sequence at a regular time so that viewers around the world can continue to learn landscape painting even now, some twenty years after Ross’s death. Now, as then, viewers tune in not only for Ross’s artistic expertise, but also for iconic phrases (“happy little trees” among them) and a voice that has been compared to Mr. Rogers for its soothing qualities. Ross was also famous for telling anecdotes about his past during the painting episodes, simultaneously instructing viewers regarding landscape techniques and filling them in regarding life in the military and his earlier exploits learning about painting in Alaska.

 

Bob Ross, streaming video, landscape painting, The Joy of Painting, Bob Ross, oil painting

Bob Ross, streaming video, landscape painting, The Joy of Painting, Bob Ross, oil painting

 

Bob Ross did indeed bring us a one-man painting revival, choosing art and creativity and following a lifelong passion rather than continuing his service in a career he could not ethically reconcile with himself. These streaming video companies have in turn set up a market for Bob Ross and The Joy of Painting for a new generation of painters, and it looks like Ross in the cultural lexicon for a long time yet.  

 

Bob Ross, streaming video, landscape painting, The Joy of Painting, Bob Ross, oil painting

Bob Ross, streaming video, landscape painting, The Joy of Painting, Bob Ross, oil painting

 

Bob Ross, streaming video, landscape painting, The Joy of Painting, Bob Ross, oil painting

Bob Ross, streaming video, landscape painting, The Joy of Painting, Bob Ross, oil painting

 

 

Keywords: Bob Ross, streaming video, landscape painting, The Joy of Painting, oil painting