Ted's Blog

Why Is Bob Ross Still So Popular?

bob ross
From Michael J. Mooney at The Atlantic:

If you’re somehow not familiar with the name, Bob Ross is probably America’s most famous painter. With his distinctive hair, gentle voice, and signature expressions such as “happy little trees,” he’s an enduring icon. Even 25 years after his death, he’s popular not only with viewers who remember him fondly, but also with kids who weren’t even born when his show was originally on the air.

The following quotes give the essence of the article. In these times—any times, it is a great read.

In every episode, Ross explained his art not merely as a way of layering paint, but also as a way of capturing the eternal beauty of the world and living free no matter the challenges in life. As he filled his canvas with light and color, he’d say things like “This piece of canvas is your world, and on here you can do anything that your heart desires.” When he painted a cloud, he might say, “A cloud is one of the freest things in nature,” or, “Clouds sort of float around and have a good time.” When he’d turn his painter’s knife on its edge and carve out a crisp, snow-capped mountain, he’d sometimes point to one side and say, “This is where the little mountain goat lives, right up in here. He needs a place to call home, too, just like the rest of us.”

. . .

. . . A Bob Ross level of positivity is contagious. When someone can conjure that amount of peaceful happiness, it compels other people to pay attention, to partake in the bliss. Each episode also feels complete: What starts out as a few scratches on the canvas soon turns into an elaborate, beautiful glimpse of the world. His message was prescient, too. More than a decade before most therapists were telling clients to be mindful and present, Ross was telling his viewers to appreciate their every breath.

. . .

Now more than ever, we live in a time of anxiety and uncertain futures. Our world is full of conflict. Much of our entertainment is loud, suspenseful, tense. Bob Ross, in all his gentle simplicity, is an antidote to all of that. By creating dream nature escapes on canvas, he gives us a real respite from the ills of modern society.

. . .

The more I paint the Bob Ross way, the more I see what he’s been talking about all these years. Painting like this, creating something from nothing, is pure. So is a person who embodies positivity to this extent.