For most of you, it’s hard to imagine a time before Youtube tutorials where mastering a skill was literally only minutes away. But long long ago (1983 to be exact), there was a man with an afro and a paint brush that wanted nothing more than for you to grab some paint and “follow your heart.” That almighty man is Bob Ross, and the first episode of his show, The Joy of Painting, is finally available for streaming on line.
You’ve likely seen parodies of Bob Ross on everything from Family Guy to MadTV, but unless you spent time watching mid-day reruns on PBS, it’s possible you missed out on this stud. For 10 years, Ross hosted 30-minute shows that would instruct viewers in quick study oil painting techniques using only eight colors. And when I say quick, I mean it – Ross was able to film each 13-episode season in less than 2 days. Recently it was announced that Ross basically taught the show for free, as he donated every cent he made back to the publicly funded network.
“Anybody can paint. All you need is a dream in your heart and a little practice.”
While Ross certainly had some painting chops (particularly in the foliage department), he became somewhat of a TV icon for his appearance and on-air presence, much like Mr. Rogers. Ross is known for his groovy curled locks, which Wikipedia hilariously mentions that he adopted in order to save money on hair cuts. His unbuttoned denim shirts perfectly matched his soothing, encouraging tone of voice. He also had a penchant for saying things that would convince anyone that he was either recovering from a nervous break down or on hallucinogens – both scenarios that are entirely likely.
All jokes aside, Ross was an incredible kind-hearted human. In addition to donating his salary, he also left over 30,000 paintings to PBS and various charities upon his death in 1995.
Why are we writing about this? Because Ross is a mystical creature. Because his tutorials are hypnotizing. Because his chest hair is magnificent. Because he would make a great Halloween costume. The list goes on and on…