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The Bob Ross Method of Painting: Love or Hate It?

By January 30, 2007

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Bob Ross Painting Method First things first: if you've never heard of Bob Ross, here's a taster of his style for a Raccoon and Bright Autumn Trees. Now to the opinion of Empty Easel blog, which says there are three things wrong with the Bob Ross method of painting, starting with the fact that students' paintings generally look the same. This is fine when you first start out, but how do you develop from there to paint something that's not a Bob Ross clone? Read Helpful or Harmful for a strong opinion about the Bob Ross Method of Painting.

Whether you love or hate Bob Ross's style of painting, there's no denying that more than a decade after his death his videos and books are still introducing lots of people to the pleasures of painting. And that's no bad thing, even if it's not a style of painting I'd hang in my lounge (but then I wouldn't easily hang much of Picasso's work either).

Poll: What Do You Think of the Bob Ross Painting Method?
1. Love it and still use it
2. Urgh, hate it
3. Can't get past the hairdo
4. What's the problem with it?
5. I'm still on paint by numbers
6. Used it and moved on
7. You've just converted me
8. Something else -- please post a comment to explain
(View the results of this poll so far...)

See Also:
Do Celebrity Artist Techniques Work or are They a Trick?
The Endless Anxiety of Watching Bob Ross Paint (From the Drawn! Blog)

Photo: © Flood (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved)


January 30, 2007 at 3:02 am
(1) Gerald Dextraze says:

I must say I find his paintings quite interesting… I love to use wet on wet sometimes as it takes so little pigment to colour the canvas… and with the magiwhite colours blend like nothing else can do… that is where stops my liking for wet on wet because is takes eternity to cure and I am not sure if the painting cures properly at all. What is the worst part of Bob Ross is the fact it so easily cloned or copied by someone not knowing anything about painting… they just follow the video and they get a decent painting… but Bob Ross is not the only one teaching painting without teaching drawing.

In Trois-Rivieres where I live there are actually 200 persons in painting courses when there are 10 in drawing course… No student wants to make the effort to start on the right foot and since teaching is usually done by professors not knowing about drawing; this is not going to improve art soon. Most people just want to play with colours as most have been told in their young age they had no talent… it is unfortunate but this is why. I am stubborn because I teach drawing before I teach painting, most of the techniques comes from drawing… I will never ever teach painting to a person who doesn’t know the rules of drawing, I would feel I am there for money only and not really to teach art.

January 30, 2007 at 3:55 am
(2) Bernard Victor says:

How right you are. It gives people the wrong impression of their talent. However if they enjoy it perhaps it is a good thing and eventually they might go further.

January 30, 2007 at 9:25 am
(3) David Raison says:

Anything that gets you painting is good. I’ve never seen a Bob Ross programme or, until now, one of his pictures, but I wouldn’t write him off because of promoting a certain approach.
I’ve been drawing and trying to paint in watercolour for most of my life and it was only after watching Rolf on Art that oils came into my life. I have been fortunate in having a brilliant teacher, Shuhua Jin at the Epsom Centre, who encouraged and helped me to develop my own style, providing guidance on how best to achieve the effects I desired.
The bottom line is: no snobbery!

January 31, 2007 at 11:29 am
(4) Donna Underwood says:

Just yesterday I caught a Bob Ross TV program. The technical way he uses his brushes do give him the desired results. This type of painting isn’t for me. Techniques are all well and good but I for one would rather invent a technique when I need it.His painting is far too structured to suit me,however, he produced the desired results in a 1/2hr program which paid him money.
I would rather play with my paints and set myself free and see what the muse brings me…..often he does show up when I am willing to let go of control.
Bob Ross has control and he knows how the painting is going to end..how boring for him..but the general public probably found him magical.

February 3, 2007 at 3:30 am
(5) Thon de Thonine says:

I TiVo every episode of Bob Ross. I experimented with his “wet on wet” technique in a painting that I did for my Mom’s birthday.

His technique isn’t bad, but I don’t think he’s teaching ART as much as he is technique. Although art involves technique, they aren’t the same thing.

February 3, 2007 at 5:23 pm
(6) Thelma Blake says:

Has anyone ever heard of WILLIAM ALEXANDER? Bob Ross is a cheap knock-off and a fake copying someone else’s idea and selling it for his own!!!

February 3, 2007 at 7:25 pm
(7) karen says:

The blogger’s article which commented that nothing Bob Ross ever painted was real, is the heart of the matter. How can anyone get any feeling into something that’s imaginary? I believe significant art should have feeling.

September 18, 2007 at 12:25 pm
(8) Tim says:

I think all of you who posted negative comments really miss the point. Art is about expression. Expressing yourself. What is wrong with learning a technique to produce beautiful art. I’m a glass artist that produces carved art on glass using design’s. The art is in the technique to produce the effect you desire. If you think this is not art you are missing the point. Bob Ross gives people the technique to express themselves in ways they may never have been able to in the past. I for one applaud him and his work.

December 11, 2008 at 5:19 am
(9) DragonSong says:

Bob ross is an insperation to me and my family. its christmas soon and whats a better present to give to someone you love than a decent painting all done by your self. sure drying time is long and sometimes you make mistakes but in the end its all worth it and you end up with your very own personal art gallery. bob ross is my hero and i will always remember him as sombody who really cares for the world. Rest in peace my friend. god bless you.

January 3, 2009 at 9:32 pm
(10) LInda says:

I was blessed with a wonderful gift of drawing people as a very young child. I came from a family of many artists and musicians. At age 12 I drew my Grandfather’s likeness on a paper napkin and it was his pure imagine. My Grandmother was amazed and my Mother was proud. I won the school art contest when I was in the 8th grade for creating a portrait of President Kennedy in chalk pastels. So when I see anyone drawing or painting for personal pleasure and satisfaction, no matter what technique or method they use, I am convinced Art of any kind is good art. Bob Ross was a very talented man and I loved watching him do his magic in 30 minutes. He gave many people pleasure with his show. Maybe he was not like me or you but I can only say the art world has suffered a great loss without him. He inspired many people to pursue painting that would have never done so without watching him.

January 6, 2009 at 7:36 pm
(11) erik says:

I agree with Tim..i dont think ANYONE is qualified to say what art is, or what art isnt so long as it comes from someone elses imagination…even if someone wants to copy Bob Ross’s work piece by piece, so be it..if they feel satisfactory in what they accomplished, thats all that matters..not to mention, you can’t teach art..art is in the imagination (i think we all agree on that), you can only teach technique…once inspired to paint,..then people will form their own techniques…

January 7, 2009 at 7:48 am
(12) Josh says:

Call it art doesn’t make it worthwhile art. And you most certainly can teach art; the imagination is a muscle that you can learn to flex, to increase the range of motions you make with it, what you see, how you push a concept. Sitting around expecting to pull it out of the ether is unrealistic.

January 22, 2009 at 7:49 pm
(13) Jordan says:

I love to paint using the Bob Ross method.
I think many of you “Artists” out there a full of yourself and have no real skill so you create nonsense like art such as a loogies smeared on a napkin while you collect a government unemployment check, and bitch about how bad life it. Get a life and quit dissing Bob.

February 26, 2009 at 10:57 am
(14) Dean S says:

You so called artists miss the point. First of all I have seen many of Ross’s real art paintings which are out of this world. However, in talking to him one time. He told me that most people who love art cannot paint, so he worked on a technique that he could teach almost everyone how to paint. He marketed it and has taught hundreds if not thousands to paint! from his technique many have moved on after gaining the confidence and progressed into other techniques. I have found the people who bitch the most are jealous of someone who is successful! I am one of his students who couldn’t draw a crooked line. but after a couple of years painting using and learning his techniques, I now can look at something and put it onto canvas or think of something and put it on canvas. talk is cheap for those that think they know everything. DO THEY? yea right!

February 27, 2009 at 6:57 pm
(15) Richard Madgin says:

I LOVE Bob Ross for making it easy to start painting in oils.
I was gutted when I found out he died before I’d heard of him, but I watch him paint every day now. It is wonderful. The only bit I dread is when he says: “lets go crazy now”, but it always works!
There is no reason to knock him and loved the previous comment about some people’s ideas of art e.g. a dirty nappy or something, but its a strange world because some people pay millions for crap (like an unmade bed? Dah?)

April 11, 2009 at 11:37 pm
(16) Grace says:

Uh, well, just kind of to throw this out there at Thelma Blake, Bob Ross did credit William Alexander in one of his episodes, if anyone cared to know.
“And before I go far into the show, I’d like to take a few minutes and make a dedication. I would like to dedicate this show to my beloved friend and teacher, whom we’ve all watched and loved for many years on public television, Bill Alexander. And years ago Bill taught me this fantastic technique, and I feel as though he gave me a precious gift. I’d like to share that gift with you”
And then, as for the subject at hand, I’m not an artist, I don’t have an education in drawing or painting, but that doesn’t make me an artistic simpleton. Art is about pleasure, and it’s not fair to judge it on ‘quality’ because I don’t think that’s the point.
Bob Ross preached teaching plants and the land as your friends, to keep secrets, to get crazy, and how to “make simple, effective little paintings”.
That’s his message, not how to paint the next Van Gogh. We can all learn something from him.

April 25, 2009 at 8:35 pm
(17) Jake Myers says:

There is nothing more annoying than bitter artists that think they know it all because they attended a school and wasted a bunch of money. Sorry, this guy can put something together in 30 minutes (from images his head) which looks better and is worth more than anything that any of you will ever do combined. One of his goals was to show people how easy it is in the limited time that he had. He encouraged a lot of people to paint.

Is it better to be angry because you have no audience and never accomplish anything? Get a grip people. Until you are widely recognized also, I wouldn’t try to criticize ANYONE… let alone bob ross.

May 6, 2009 at 12:37 pm
(18) t mcallister says:

Wow, cannot believe there are actually people in the world of art that criticize other artists techniques or styles.

Have we not learned anything?

Those of you that criticize Bob Ross for his deeds in life are not artists…you’re posers with jealousy problems.

May 17, 2009 at 1:57 pm
(19) John Prath says:

I wonder how many of those free thinking artists who have negative things to say about Bob are producing the type of art that my dog could produce with paint on his feet and then walking around a canvas. That is the type of art that requires absolutely no talent and is popular today for God knows what reason. Bob Ross was a great asset to the art world by getting people interested in painting who otherwise would never have, and in the process created many beautiful paintings. Wish you were still here with us Bob, we miss you.

May 22, 2009 at 11:16 pm
(20) Jason Walcott says:

I think Bob Ross is great! As someone who DID attend art school, Bob Ross helped me get comfortable with painting before I took “real” art classes. As someone with a passion for art and painting who just isn’t as good at it as I wish I was, Bob Ross’s methods helped me create something I was happy with—without feeling like I’d just wasted a canvas and $20 worth of paint. I went on to a career in typeface design and graphic art, but I still come back now and then to Bob’s world when I need to relax and just have fun. No one has to slavishly copy Bob’s paintings. Once you learn the technique you can use it to go out and paint real landscapes that you see.

May 24, 2009 at 9:02 pm
(21) Lise King says:

Bob Ross is a good stepping stone, for beginners to learn a wet on wet technique that can be applied as they develop they’re unique skill as they move on…
On the other hand, if they choose to just master Bob Ross, at least they are happy and content with there lives. My hat is off to them. In the end all that matters, is the joy we get from being able to artistically be creative.

June 16, 2009 at 6:40 pm
(22) Adam says:

Many people take issue with his paintings simply BECAUSE anyone can accomplish this technique. People who spend money on university art courses and stare in awe at a Jackson Pollock ‘painting’ are really just trying to raise themselves above their peers. They want to feel that they ‘deeply understand’ something that us common folk cannot grasp with our simple minds… that art is some elusive thing that only they can comprehend. But when they see someone saying ‘come on folks, anyone can paint like this’, it infringes on their God-complex, threatens their seat up on that pedestal, and they feel that they must firmly stomp the idea out by making us feel like we are worthless.

Thank you Bob

June 22, 2009 at 10:40 pm
(23) Greg says:

To all of you snobby artist:

The masters that you study today had critics that said the same things about them. Art is a pleasure in life that should be enjoyed. I’ve watched plenty of Joy of Paintings, and have often heard Bob Ross tell his audience to not copy, learn from other artist, and never be satisfied. He will always be known for taking something that is difficult and making it easy for anyone to learn and enjoy without spending a lot of money.

To all of you who learned the wet on wet technique:

Do not be discouraged about what these so called artists said. They are discouraged because their art is not getting the reviews that they think they should get. They are too proud to learn from anyone else. They are the ones that are using the cookie cutter methods while you are learning to be free to use your imagination. Bob Ross reminds me of another artist who said “Be like water making its way through cracks”. This speaks of the freedom you have to create and reinvent the techniques you have learned.

June 29, 2009 at 10:13 pm
(24) Brian says:

Ok, I completely understand why people generally discredit bob’s stuff as gimmicky. It is. But like the others said, that’s not the point. Painting with his method is like composing guitar music with 6 or 7 chords. You can make some stuff up that’s pretty impressive, but it all sounds very similar. If you compare it to Jimmy Hendrix, it doesn’t hold a candle. However, Bob’s not trying to teach the next Hendrix, he’s just handing out cheap guitars with instructions for 6 or 7 chords and saying “go nuts”.
Those who are artistically talented may move on to bigger and better things, but those without talent can find a creative outlet, juvenile as the outcomes may be.
He’s not Picasso, he’s a kindergarten teacher handing out finger paints, and he does it because it makes all of the kids happy, not because one or two can do it well.

July 20, 2009 at 5:26 pm
(25) Mary says:

Questioning if what Bob Ross did is “good” is the equivalent of questioning if Kitten are cute. Bob Ross offers millions of people joy, not just through what he painted but by his amazingly sweet, honest, and happy attitude while he was painting. Anyone who wants to speak negatively about a man who did nothing but talk about happy trees, squirrels, and promote the use of everyones imagination should go reflect on what battles they choose to fight in life!

July 22, 2009 at 2:17 pm
(26) Molly Nixon says:

The world is a lesser place today without the presence of this kind and talented man. He is the reason I paint today and my paintings have been likened to his (my early ones anyway) and to me that is the ultimate compliment! Anyone who has anything negative to say about Bob Ross needs to get a life!

July 23, 2009 at 1:38 am
(27) Dennis Marshall says:

Perhaps the Bob Ross approach can lead to an artist becoming “stuck” on tecchnique -yet watching his programs I can see that he was above all else an honest man. I think that he wanted people to be to able to express themselves and enjoy being with nature. I ask-what is wrong with that? There are some other very good art instruction programs on Create TV such as Your Brush With Nature & Passport and Palette but the Bob Ross art instruction programs while at a basic level serve an important need. I was truly saddened to read that he died -way too soon . Everytime I watch one of his programs I cannot help thinking of how much joy he took in painting and teaching. I like the fact that he worked right out of his head drawing on his visual memory . I have to laugh -sometimes he would get top a certain point and I would think to myself-leave it alone Bob! Then he “plops” in one of his brown barns or houses! If you watch enough episodes he will at times try to do something different-such as using a contact paper stencil or ablack toned canvas. Although I have not tried his technique I wonder if some artists do get caught up in the Bob Ross style. He has mentioned though that each canvas though comes with an artistic license and that gives you the right to do what you want to-its your world.
Rest in peace , Bob Ross -you were one of the good guys.

August 16, 2009 at 2:46 pm
(28) buzz says:

Bob ross always knew what he was painting. He had a finished painting beside him. He played it off like he was making the painting up as he went along. Phony bastard!!!

August 16, 2009 at 3:28 pm
(29) buzz says:

Another thing about Bob Ross, the phony. He learned the wet-on-wet technique from William “Bill The Happy Painter” Alexander but always took credit for inventing the technique. You could always hear him making statements like “This is the easiest method “I” ever came up with for doing this or that” Hogwash!!! I was watching Bill Alexander demonstrating this technique (since 1974) years before Mr Ross ever entered the scene and tried to pass it off as HIS method. He even went so far as to have Bill Alexander products (paints, brushes, etc.) produced with the BOB ROSS name. I am surprised Mr Alexander did not sue him long ago.

It is true he helped a lot of people get started and I give him credit for that…But it was William Alexander who invented this wet-on-wet technique. Below is some copy from Mr Alexander’s bio.
Bill Alexander’s techniques are proven successful, helping millions to discover the “Magic of Oil Painting.” Over the years, Bill Alexander painstakingly developed the paints, tools, and techniques needed to create optimum painting success. He discovered that thick, firm oil paints give the best results. Thin paints smear, making his wet-on-wet technique impossible. Along with his paints, Bill developed Magic White medium, the oil based undercoating which makes color control simple.He also developed painting tools never seen before; a 2 ½” brush and a large palette knife.

As you can see, the facts speak for themself. One should never take credit for something that does not belong to them.


August 17, 2009 at 2:12 am
(30) Josh says:

Neither Alexander nor Ross invented or discovered wet on wet painting, or using wide brushes, or palette knives. These techniques and tools are as old as oil paint. It’s all mirrors and marketing.

September 7, 2009 at 1:38 pm
(31) john says:

I have watched many of Bob’s shows and can remember him saying at different times that he used to paint in the so called “traditional” style or method. You know the way that so many think is “superior”. However, he felt that the wet-on-wet technique he was teaching was far less stressful, and simpler to learn and use. I believe that not only was Bob trying to show an easy way to paint and feel good about it, but also maybe trying to take some of the “stuffyness” out of the whole being an artist thing.

Besides what is the difference between a sculpture artist carving with a chisel or an electric cutting tool or a chainsaw in that form of art? No one makes a big deal about that! Why? Because it doesn’t matter! The end result is important. Not how the art was created. (No doubt some have drawn attention to the method as a marketing ploy, but that’s marketing, not the art itself.) It seems like some folks, “artists” if you will, who believe that one technique is better than another, have a small minded approach to being an artist. To me this sounds like a matter of an over blown self esteem issue.

Doesn’t it come down to what you are trying to accomplish with your art? If you are trying to sell it, then the only thing that matters is if the potential buyer loves it. Who cares if the painting was made with one 4 inch brush in two colors. If it sells, you’ve accomplished your objective. On the other hand if you are trying to impress big headed critics, then you will have to be boxed in by their small and limited view of art. And who cares what they think, there not going to buy you art, people who like it will.

The whole idea that there is even any debate at all about superior technique in any area of art seems very silly to say the least. One of the joys of life is VARIETY. And art is one way to showcase it!

Bob Ross the artist and the technique he taught was as legitimate as any so called “traditional” artist.

What would be wrong with perfecting the wet-on-wet technique any way. Some have done this with stunning results.

October 18, 2009 at 8:59 am
(32) John Phoenix says:

This article is a rebuttal to Dan’s article called Is Bob Ross Helpful or Harmful to Artists? Look at the Bob Ross Method of Painting. Found here: http://emptyeasel.com/2007/01/29/helpful-or-harmful-the-bob-ross-method-of-painting/

I am an Artist. For years I had admired paintings thinking I could never do what painters do. I thought it was too had to learn and took years of intense study if one did not have a natural affinity for the art. After watching Bob Ross’s The Joy of Painting for years, I decided to give it a try. Thus my love of painting was born. Dan’s article seems shallow to me because if he had actually studied the Bob Ross Method he would never have said such negative things about the method. Dan would know his assumptions are false. Dan claims that Bobs method produces ‘cookie cutter’ paintings that all look the same and cannot be improved on. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Dan admonished people to ‘learn to draw’ first to learn to paint but this is what Bob’s method does. It teaches one to draw with paint. And it’s not just Bob. Bob didn’t invent the method outright himself. The method is really traditionally called Alla Prima. Alla prima is a style of painting where, instead of building colors up with layers or glazing over an underpainting, the painting is completed while the paint is still wet. Strictly defined, an alla prima painting would be started and finished in one painting session, but the term is also more loosely applied to any painting done in a direct, expressive style, with minimal preparation. The wet on wet method of painting or alla prima, has been around for centuries and was used by some of the most popular celebrated classical painters of history. Wet on wet painting goes right back to the origins of oil painting, and was used by several of the best Early Netherlandish painters in parts of their pictures, such as Jan van Eyck in the Arnolfini portrait, and Rogier van der Weyden.

Since the mid-1800s the use of commercially produced pigments in portable tubes has facilitated rapid and on-the-spot painting. Impressionists like Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh, realists like John Singer Sargent, Robert Henri and George Bellows, and the Abstract Expressionist Willem de Kooning have each in different ways exploited the potential for fluid energy in the application of oil paints using the wet on wet method. The technique was used in the Portrait of Jan Six in 1654, by Rembrandt van Rijn and Rowing Home in 1890 by Winslow Homer among many others.

Bob Ross and his mentor Bill Alexander borrowed from these great painters methods to produce a modern method of painting that would endear curiosity seekers to the art and prove to them that yes they too can paint. So you see this is not really “Bob’s way of painting” but a classical style of painting that has been around for centuries. This is a great starting point for would be painters and people like me who cannot draw a lick. It is a great confidence builder. Once the method is learned the artist is free to learn other methods to compliment his paintings. The artist can now see possibilities he could never have seen before because he has proven to himself that he can paint too.

Dan claims that these Bob Ross painters can only paint from imagination. While it is true you can paint from imagination, most of the wet on wet painters I know do not. They paint from photographs just as many ‘traditional painters’ do. The idea is not always to make a picture perfect copy of the photograph but to paint the scene with the eye and expression of the artist.

Dan claims Bob’s trees don’t look like actual trees. I can’t tell you how many galleries I’ve been in and seen traditional paintings where the trees didn’t look like real trees.
On the other hand one can use the Bob Ross method to paint or mimic the tree to such a close approximation that no one would know he didn’t paint the tree free style. This does take practice.

Lastly Dan claims there is not room to grow as an artist with Bob’s method. I’m sure Dan would like to tell that to Vincent van Gogh or Claude Monet who used the wet on wet or alla prima method. There is always room to grow, to improve technique or to combine techniques to produce something new and fresh. The only limiting factor is you. How far are you willing to take your painting skills, to take what you’ve learned and boldly go forth into new exciting directions that perhaps Bob Ross never even thought of?

Artist of other oil painting schools can benefit from learning this method as well because there are many scenes that only a wet on wet method can produce to enhance a painting.

If you can draw and wish to learn to paint in the manner considered the “traditional way” that is fabulous and there is nothing wrong with it. Likewise there is nothing wrong with wet on wet or alla prima painting as it is as just a viable method to lean to paint as any other, sometimes even more.

November 22, 2009 at 5:06 pm
(33) Chad says:

Bernard Victor:

I know your comment is old, but I really need to respond. Talent is nothing but practice. There may be a very small few that are born with talent. Everyone else requires practice. You mean to imply that people might not have talent by saying that they get the wrong idea about their talent. That’s wrong.

January 1, 2010 at 10:17 am
(34) Kaylor says:

The Bob Ross technique is a GREAT place for people with no self confidence, to TRY painting. You have to start somewhere! Practice is only going to make you better, and bring out any art talent you have. If his methods give you a feel for painting, and it’s something you enjoy, you should move on to find a style that really suits your talents. It’s also a great technique for people that don’t have the greatest eyesight for finer detailed painting. Or people who just want to paint for fun. You can always add buildings, barns and animals, more trees, less trees, move the trees to his painting to MAKE THEM YOUR OWN. Learn to USE your imagination!!!

January 16, 2010 at 9:29 pm
(35) christophermunz says:

Bob rocks! As everyone sees things differently, there are as many ways to paint. Like pieces of the masterpiece, take a little piece of Bob Ross. I bet he’s still painting trees, clouds, and sunsets with God (literally). He followed HIS passion, you don’t have to be a clone.

January 17, 2010 at 2:09 pm
(36) Molly Nixon says:

Hey Buzz!…follow my advice and get a life. Sour grapes like yours will only shorten the one you’re living! Your jealous recriminations toward Bob Ross are pathetically obvious.

February 26, 2010 at 4:46 am
(37) Roberto says:

For me Bob Ross is God.

R.I.P. Bob, Italy loves you.

March 26, 2010 at 12:40 pm
(38) Mark Whale says:

How easy it is to put someone down when they are no longer here to defend themselves. I have only recently discovered Bob Ross and his television shows and sad to discover he is no longer with us (Rest Peacefully Bob).

Art comes in different forms, styles, colours and mediums. The end result in any art creation is to bring joy and pleasure to the viewer. If his style has encouraged hundred or thousands to pick up a canvas and create a image of our world in whatever colour or form then he should be applauded.

Lets be kind to a very kind man. Lets hope his paintings will continue to give pleasure to those who view them. Let all tree’s be happy and happy clouds continue in those skys we create.

R.I.P Bob Ross from a new fan in the UK. God Bless you sir.

March 26, 2010 at 1:19 pm
(39) Marion BE says:

>If his style has encouraged hundred or thousands to pick up a canvas and create a image of our world in whatever colour or form then he should be applauded.>

Indeed! Anyone who gets people enjoying and creating art should be applauded, no matter whether you like their style or not.

March 29, 2010 at 12:50 am
(40) Len Hend says:

THE BOB ROSS METHOD ? I believe I was the originator of the wet-on-wet painting techniques being taught on the Bob Ross videos. I might be wrong.
I have videos showing myself demonstrating those exact same painting and teaching techniques. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jpy49RgkM6s
The teaching videos date back to the early 80s.
I know I was not the first to paint wet-on-wet.
I know teaching on video is common sense.
But the techniques I developed over thousands of paintings were my techniques.
They did not just happen they were developed by me over a period of years through trial and error.
The script for the my teachings were carefully composed.
I must say I do not know a lot about Bob Ross.
I do not like the phrase ‘THE BOB ROSS METHOD” to me it is the Len Hend method re-composed – the same method almost word for word.
This method of painting is not for everybody – similar to dancing each to there own – but this method of learning is of great benefit to those who wish to paint without going through the endless dribble offered by most other teaching methods.
Most Bob Ross students do not move on, they are quite happy where they are and Bob Ross is not around to guide them on. Those simple painting techniques can be expanded if the student wishes to learn colour mixing, tones, arrangement, perspective and presentation.
Many traditional painters have found some speed-painting techniques useful.
So often I hear somebody say “I spent six years at art school and learnt more from the first ten minutes of your video”.

October 25, 2010 at 9:45 am
(41) Anne says:

How can anyone compare Bob Ross to Monet? That is nuts. Bob Ross was gimmicky. He said, “talent is a pursued interest”.
Not true. If that were all it is, we’d all be Michaelangelos or Monets. Artistic talent is inborn, you either have it, or you don’t. You can teach anyone to paint, but you can’t give them talent. As to his method. He simply capitalized on the “wet in wet” method, which has been around, long before he came along.

November 1, 2010 at 11:36 am
(42) John says:

Now I will put my 2 cents worth in. As a Bob Ross Instructor I have taught hundreds of people Bob Ross’s technque. The look on their faces when they finish a painting in 3 to 4 hours is priceless. Yes newer student I help, but as they return again and again they start to “see” things and paint them in their paintings. I don’t make a living by teaching or even selling my work (I pretty much break even) I just love to teach this technque and see peoples joy and hear them say I never would have thought I could do this. It opens doors for them to explore their creativty. Even though he makes it look easy on tv, it can be a bit challenging when you try it for the first time.

Bob clearly was the talent, but his business partner Annette Kowalski was the brains on marketing The Bob Ross company. All you need to do is see his image and eveyone knows who he is. Can’t say that about the majority of artists out there.

November 15, 2010 at 10:27 am
(43) Cecile Larocque says:

I love Bob Ross paintings and it helped me and l am so proud
of him for showing us how to paint with wet on wet l had never tried this before, thanks Bob and rest in peace even when l read all the comments about those who do not liked
his way of paintings too. Love it.

November 18, 2010 at 2:13 pm
(44) Jennifer says:

I’ve read all of the comments left here. I’m not going to analyze Bob Ross’ painting techniques, he was a talented man who could put paint to a blank canvas, and create very pleasing paintings. A painting that caused you to use your imagination, view a different prespective, and delight in what your eyes saw. The results of his efforts were/are beautiful.
I began drawing at an early age, then progressed into painting in the early years of high school. Painting is enjoyable, relaxing, and fun to me. The paintings I sold, paid for the majority of my college expenses. Had I known of Bob Ross back then, I would’ve probably sold even more paintings. I love his work. Being as successful as he was, I think I’m in the majority with that comment.
To those who criticise him…I ask…can you do any better? Can you produce a beautiful landscape/seascape in 30 mins.??
There are no PERFECT people in this world, only those who THINK they are.
As Bob would say, God bless, my friends…

January 10, 2011 at 1:13 pm
(45) Will Gleisbeerg says:

Unfortunately, for that particular author anyway, not one single word is a correct statement.
Of course his students paint like Bob. Who else?
Where to go for help? Tons of places.
Imagination is a problem? What about abstract?
He used no model and didn’t sketch. That invalidates him or his works? You think Picasso had a model when he painted his off-centered noses?
Bob painted the same way all his life? He consistently said that he wasn’t good with water colors and couldn’t paint people, he painted what brought him ‘joy’.
“how YOU see the world, not how Bob Ross imagined it.” So Bob saw the world differently than you or I?
I can continue but there’s not enough room.
Point is, this person has no idea what he is talking about. Bob was world class, and Bob would tell his audience, he got you started in the joy of painting. You want to continue to grow? That is entirely up to you. Don’t blame Bob if you don’t have the smarts to figure that our for yourself.

January 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm
(46) Ray Ellerton says:

Wiht all due respect to Bob Ross and his method of painting, I have to say that most his work is unnatural and resembles those painting in velvet sold roadside.
I have watched him many times to see if he will deviate from those fake looking, jagged mountains always placed in the center, the peaks all similar to previous ones.
I also notice that his bushes, trees and grasses are the same as always, the colours of the skies he paints, are not in the natural world.
He does bring easy, fast, amateurish painting methods to the public and I guess makes lots of money selling classes Nationwide, art supplies and books/videos.
Anyone who can throw a painting together in 30 minutes, using house painters brushes, is not something I want to learn.
When you see the wonderful, inexpensive painting they sell at those Hotel Open Houses, one realises how much better they are and painted mostly by amateurs.
I would waste my money on the awful, fake and unnatural Bob Ross paintings.

I know he is a kind, gentle and caring man who loves animals and family, but his painting method is childish at best.
That’s my opinion and I’m not ‘dissing’ him, just telling it my way!

February 13, 2011 at 12:28 pm
(47) Roxanne says:

As someone who has been learning, and re-enjoying, the art of painting through Bob Ross, I find many of the comments here sad and unenlightened.

March 7, 2011 at 6:36 pm
(48) tatooandy says:

Bob Ross to me was from a very early age and still is now I’m getting on in years a true hero and gave to us ‘the joy of painting’ to coin a phrase. His paintings may not be to everyones taste but you have to admit love em or hate em he/they have a huge worldwide following. I tried this technique of painting and found it to be truly amazing how expressive one can be given the tools to try. paintings in this style may be as some put it ‘amateur’ or ‘child like’ but beauty is in the eye of the beholder so in my humble opinion Bob was and still is THE MAN. all you doubters out there take off your blinkers, lose the hate and give it a try you might be surprised. given a bit of practice and a touch of imagination you too could enjoy ‘the joy of painting’ in what has become known as the ‘Bob Ross Method’… Bob You were and still are amazing, thanks to you and like minded people we can all enjoy beautiful landscapes with minimal effort. RIP Bob Ross and god bless my friends.

April 5, 2011 at 5:03 pm
(49) R Brad says:

The show is “The joy of Painting” not”The Teaching of Critically Accepted and Technically Correct Way of Painting”His paintings usually make me want go to a place just like where he painted.I suspect Bob would not be concerned in the least with his critics.He was just sharing a gift.If you don’t like it don’t watch it.

April 6, 2011 at 8:11 pm
(50) Tina Jones says:

I love that his instruction gets people to start painting, get past the fear of putting paint on a canvas and discover they can make images. I think his techniques were sufficiently narrow not to scare people. I did some of it myself, and I retain a few techniques mixed with many others I’ve learned along the way.
The only problem I have with it is what I feel is the unnecessary cost and promotion of his particular materials. The brushes are outragious in price to me, and the work can be done with quality brushes from other brands. I feel the company misleads people into thinking the brush is what’s going to make the painting work. Practice does it. The brushes of theirs that I have used are fine, but I found them to shed more hairs than many other brands. This can be a deterrant for beginners along with high prices.

May 5, 2011 at 5:48 pm
(51) bigmamma says:

I have watched many different painters on PBS the last few months and Bob Ross just mesmerized me with his style of painting. I also read some comments from another website and I must say I was upset at what some people had to say. Every artist has their own style and no one should put down any for the way they paint. I love to watch Bob put together a painting in 30 minutes. I just found out that he died and I must say I was shocked. I know now that I have been watching re-runs but I will watch every one that is shown. I purchased a Bob Ross painting kit at Hobby Lobby and am attempting to try it myself, so whether you agree with his style or not I love to watch him and wish I only found him sooner and could have met him. He is an inspiration to many and his legacy lives on.

May 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm
(52) Tom says:

Personally, I like Bob Ross’ tecniques and feel that they are excellent for beginners. Also, I believe that his tecniques are effective at showing color theory. For example, when ever he paints a tree he is sure to add highlights and he seems to understand the idea of neutalizing colors. However, I believe that Bob Ross does a horrible job at explaining color theory to his students and viewers. Also, in response to those saying that Bob Ross isn’t a real artist because his paintings all look generic and reproduced, I disagree, and while I think his paintings are all similar, I think this only reveals that Bob Ross’ emotional range is severely limited.

May 19, 2011 at 7:05 pm
(53) Greg says:

E. A. Hernandez:

Alexander did not invent wet-on-wet, it’s been around for ages. Perhaps he feels he invented some particular style of it, but to claim “I invented wet-on-wet” makes him sound like an ####### and I doubt the voracity of his claims.

May 26, 2011 at 7:52 am
(54) Art MacElwee says:

Bob Ross always came across as a good guy who genuinely cared about people. He called his program “The Joy of Painting” because he wanted people to be able to paint a picture. Sheesh. Is it any wonder, after reading the put downs here that people think “artists” are pretentious, phony snobs? Just relax and have fun.

June 21, 2011 at 7:08 pm
(55) Bear says:

Nothing like jealous losers to make me laugh

June 30, 2011 at 6:19 am
(56) CleanFun says:

“Facts are stubborn things…” ~John Adams

Bob Ross is world renown, as an artist. His “Joy of Painting” series lasted 31 seasons. His commercial empire is a behemoth and has raked in untold millions. To boot, all of the fame, money & recognition was achieved while he was still alive.

So where does all the hate come from? It stems from those very facts. So many have spent years studying & struggling. They fancy themselves as elite artists. Yet, to this day, no one really cares to look at their work and nor do they take them very serious as an artist. Their work is just… there. Another 1 in 10 million paintings that doesn’t inspire or interest. Chalk it up to jealousy.

“his paintings aren’t realistic. You can’t identify the types of trees.” How little to no imagination can a so-called artist have? If I want picture quality art, I’ll snap a photo off with my HD camera or just surf through google maps and download 1 of a billion landscape photos in high definition.

Ross had imagination. Much more than any of the naysayers. The proof is in the pudding; His accumulated wealth & renown. He had the imagination to paint, to market it, to go out and get it. And he achieved all this while “giving away” all of his paintings.

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a painter who achieved more.

July 8, 2011 at 6:25 am
(57) Rev. Hernandez says:

Yes, well, I happen to have loved Bob greatly myself. He painted fantastically. No one within our living memory “invented” wet-on-wet painting which is also known as “a la prima”.

Bill Alexander DID invent specific a la prima techniques, Bob Ross studied under him and stole the techniques, the catch-phrases and the materials Alexander created. Everyone needs to get over it – it is proved as a fact. It need not take away anyone’s joy from Bob, just a reminder that we are all human.

Someone here said a person sounds like a jack-@ss when claiming they invented something. Well I have not-so-new-news for you: Bob always tried to say HE invented the things he stole from Bill Alexander. Alexander was a great old master who brought his techniques directly from Germany and the Western European post-modernist landscape painters.

Bob adopted this great technique and so can anyone. Bob is still firmly in my heart, though I get heartburn sometimes from having him there next to Bill Alexander.

One thing folks: Alexander never said a word until something snapped. I do not know what happened, but Alexander always said he’d have been fine with Bob if Bob had not made so many false claims on TV over the years. I agree with that. Bob did not invent Magic White, Magic or Black Gesso, or any of the other accessories – Alexander specifically invented but never patented those.

“The proof of the pudding is in its taste.”

July 12, 2011 at 11:54 pm
(58) ron says:

Donna Underwood’s snide comment (no. 4) shows she has no familiarity with Bob Ross. Bob Ross was not paid money to produce the tv show for PBS – he donated the shows and the art created on them to raise money for public television.

The first few comments from the disgruntled artists show how petty and uninformed they are. They are jealous that Bob is famous while they slave away producing so called “art” that nobody cares about.

August 23, 2011 at 10:16 am
(59) Flora says:

I have been painting since I was a child. It is NOT easy. Neither would I want to crank out a painting like Bob Ross did in 30 minutes. Time has nothing to do with art. I don’t time myself when I paint. However long it takes, it takes. Art is a constant, ongoing learning process.

Bob Ross learned this technique from William Alexander. In fact, he capitalized on his techniques and made them gimmicky. They had a running feud for years. They ended up enemies. So much for “happy little trees”.

September 4, 2011 at 11:05 pm
(60) John Phoenix says:

It sounds to me like Bill Alexander was bitter and possibly jealous. Bob’s tv show and product were a hit and Bill’s was not. many people say Bob didn’t give Bill any credit but he did. ” Ross dedicated the first episode of the second season of “The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross” to Alexander, explaining that “years ago, Bill taught me this fantastic [wet-on-wet] technique, and I feel as though he gave me a precious gift, and I’d like to share that gift with you [the viewer]“.” If Bill had things, techniques or catch phrases he did not want one of his students to use commercially he should have protected them legally. Since he did not, he had no right to complain that Bob betrayed him. As I show above, Bob did not say he invented the method and never gave credit to Bill. The method is only sold as the Bob Ross Method. What would you have Bob as a business man to do.. sell it as the Bill Alexander Method? That would be silly. Bob had the ability to get people interested in painting en mass where Bill failed. Perhaps this is what Bill was bitter about. To me they are both great painters who only owe what they know to the work that was done before them. i never heard Bill say who taught him to paint wet on wet so who should he have given credit to? We do know wet on wet was around, being studied and improve on long before Bill was born so he could not have invented most of it.. perhaps he did improve on a few things but so did Bob.

September 26, 2011 at 7:20 am
(61) Adam says:

Ive read through most of this dravel and id like to say this:

Those of you who cannot by eye and in one minute distinguish the quality between a Bob Ross and a Bill Alexander painting must be close to blind. The feud aside, concerning the two painters reveals a fact that is overlooked and probably mostly because most of you are not artists, even by hobby standards.

Bill alexanders paintings are far more rich and developed than Bob Ross’s paintings and the second I laid my eye on Bill Alexanders more fruitful canvases, watching Bob Ross is dull and lame in comparison. Bob Ross may be an inspiration, that aside he carries all the watermarks of an knock-off and a fraud who indeed betrayed his former art teacher.

Ive always wondered what kind of paints Bob used, what formulated them and how I could blend my own or buy them from another makes only to discover that Alexander Arts paints are far more rich, far better and more powerful than Bob Ross paints. Bobs paints are dull, cheap and lack any pigment load necessary to create a good result and his technique is amateur at best compared to Alexanders technique.

To clarify: I am an aspiring oil artist myself and to many peoples horror: I buy artists grade paints, I pre-gesso my canvases three times to accomodate the oil load, I spent hundreds of dollars on paints and equipment and I still dont paint Bob Ross style.

September 26, 2011 at 7:22 am
(62) Adam says:


I have no interest in creating a bland landscape and I was inspired and have stolen a lot of Bobs techniques from his show. In fact he was the one who taught me the basic brush strokes and still I experiment using Artists grade paints (You use cheap crap labeled Bob Ross loaded with fillers), I use both small and large brushes but most times I use the two inch brush Bob used and still my paintings have their own unique look and feel. I as well As Bob have no wish for exhibits for self gratification or to raise myself above anyone. My oil paintings stem from my own inspiration as did Bobs and Alexanders and still they dont carry any resemblance.

Point made: I am just like Bob was, I am just like Alexander was but still I keep experimenting, still I blend techs and paints myself, still I use liquin and still I can create wonderful mountains without using a knife and “making all sorts of things happen”. I am far better than the lame “students” of Bob, not because my paintings are far better looking, but because I spent more than 15 dollars on a single tube of paint and I dont waste paint by coming into a studio with three or four times the paint on my palette than I am going to use.

September 26, 2011 at 7:23 am
(63) Adam says:


The worst thing an artist can do is WASTE paint and Bob wasted countless tubes into thin air, and you may ask “why is that” as most serious artists would. Answer: Its cheap crap paint that pisses all over Gamblin, Vasari, MIR, Winsor and Newton etc that produce oil paints that perform far better as long as one take the time necessary to LEARN HOW TO USE THEM.

If you use Bob Ross “full of filler and glace medium” paint you will NEVER be able to learn to use a Sennelier Extra fine paint, free of loaders and using Safflower oil (which is one of the hardest oils to use. Linseed is for amateurs.
Gamblin uses walnut, Vasari blends a bit of all, Winsor uses Lineed and Poppy oil (Poppy being a difficult oil) etc.

Those of you who learn to paint with cheap paint full of fillers will never learn to use mediums and oils properly which takes time and a LOT OF PRACTICE. It is close to pointless to produce a single BOB ROSS if one aspires to actually learn oil painting which takes time, practice and most of all proper brushes, drawing and paint composition, the latter not necessary to create “Pollock Art” or Abstract stuff but for a realistic landscape these tecniques are a must have.

September 26, 2011 at 7:24 am
(64) Adam says:

From now on I am only watching Bill Alexander and I can easily say this: If people only could see the difference in color strenght, paint load and pigment quality between Bob Ross and Bill Alexander and the results produced, it would have been better for all if Bill got those 30 seasons as painters would not suffer from spending hundreds of dollars on cheap crap instead of spending it on quality paints formulated by a master and knowledgeble person who actually knew paint and how to use it.

When comparing Bill Alexander to Bob Ross, the smug grin on Bobs face can only come from the fact that he outcompeted the person who taught him (and the student obviously never finished, given the quality of Bobs results) the technique, then creating a cheap substitute for his paints, mediums, brushes and building a multi million dollar Empire claiming to help people paint, when his master and teacher obviously knows how to paint better, uses better materials and dont try to fool his audience by bringing got damn critters and his smug offpring into the shows trying to make our hearts and wallets bleed.

I am still interested in finding Bobs Formula for paints but I bet theyre far worse than the #### I bought from W&N (The Georgian series) or worse: Its the same #### and W&N made better ####.

October 13, 2011 at 12:42 am
(65) E. A. HERNANDEZ says:

Adam, what you say is mostly spot-on and very observant.

Now on to some answers:

1. Ross as well as Alexander “wasted” paint because they had to have much more than they needed at the start of each show. Just don’t waste the paint like that, you’re not on television!

2. Ross did not, to my knowledge, formulate JACK. Alexander did, and the best you can do is purchase fine paints in his preferred colors or order Bill Alexander paints. I think his formulae are either secret or lost. Did you know how he invented Magic White? He started off with primer! Once he got the formula straight in his mind, he had his paint supplier mix it for him.

3. I’m SO glad someone else besides me can see the difference between an Alexander and a Ross. If you watch, as I do, Ross back when he first started, he was even worse! Alexander was an old master from way back. The poster here who said Alexander was “jealous” is being stupid. Alexander was not “jealous”! He was HURT! He was also betrayed by a lousy copycat who had once been his student.

October 17, 2011 at 4:22 am
(66) Marti says:

To the above:

A lousy copycat that dedicated the second season the show to him, saying explicitly that William Alexander taught him that technique.

November 17, 2011 at 7:07 pm
(67) E. A. HERNANDEZ says:

Your sentence only makes half sense, Marti. Ross was a cynical-minded copycat, but he did so much to further it all anyway. As I’ve tried to say, I do not approve of most of what Ross did, but I loved him anyway and I think he did a great deal to further the joy of painting.

December 24, 2011 at 12:49 am
(68) Rob says:

Well wet on wet has been around since the late 8th century, it is a time tested technique for oil painting. That said, I’m am so surprised by all of the “art” snob’s leaving condescending comments. As an artist, I am disappointed…

Art is purely about self expression. Some call Bob Ross’s style not art or a disgrace to art when they copy an exact scene in still lifes or landscapes, that makes sense…

Realistic or photo realistic paintings don’t do a great job of expressing emotion compared to an imagined piece.

Art lies within imagination, it is its essence and anyone who says otherwise is an art elitist and not a true artist. It’s all about creating not copying or borrowing.

But alas, there are always “groups” and “clics” of people in whatever one may do because the ego finds power in numbers and the support of others. Do what you want whenever you want and ignore me and everyone who has posted here please. You will be doing yourself a great service.

Continue creating your world.

Much love.

February 1, 2012 at 5:02 am
(69) david says:

well I am rubbish at art I have spent all my life wishing I could paint then I saw bob on TV and tried it but I only had water paints but the result was quite good so I am going to go and get some oils and give it a proper go
i think he is great and now maybe I can do good enuff paintings to go on the wall


February 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm
(70) Chris says:

Wow… really… Wasn’t other famous artist from the renaissance and turn of the century mocked and discredited. How about anyone who has ever painted before and was criticized?

Here is how we can clarify for those who feel that Bob Ross is this and that. Point blank the man was able to get people out of a chair for 30 minutes and do something they might not otherwise do. That’s called inspiration friends.

He developed a technique that took him well over twenty years to develop which he himself admitted to receiving help from time to time. His technique was a blend from others around him and he encouraged others to do the same. Who cares if your paintings look like Bob Ross’s at least you can say I did it. I painted this or that. Now, If after a while you decided to evolve your painting techniques Bob would not have been displeased. He would have been the joyfullest person in the world. The man found a way to bring something to people and make it look easy. Yeah he created a business.. boo hoo the man also served his damn country.. No boo hoo’s now. The man retired with a few measly bucks and found a way to turn a hobby into a pay check while still giving back. Those shows in PBS were given by Bob Ross Inc. with the option to purchase. His money came from teaching and selling paint. Just like any other business.

If anything Bob Ross taught this. Paint like I do but don’t be afraid to expand your horizon and It’s never to late to become a millionaire that’s down to earth wearing blue carpenter jeans and having dirty fingers

February 15, 2012 at 6:46 am
(71) REV. E. A. HERNANDEZ says:

The points stated by Chris (above) are insightful and all true. May I say: I never had quarrels with that or the facts of Bob’s life.

The problem and the fact is, Bob Ross took a great deal from Bill Alexander and basically ran off with it- no wonder the man was a success. It was this point, and only this, which made Alexander and others feel that bit of animosity toward Ross.

I will add Ross’ repeated claims that he created or invented things he clearly took from Bill. So you see why so many people simply want the record straight. Ross’ general integrity and service to his country are NOT in question.

It’s his stealing from Bill Alexander, and an on-the-air thank-you is hardly the correct acknowledgement for Ross to make.

February 19, 2012 at 11:04 pm
(72) Roger says:

Rev. Hernandez

Why do you feel it necessary to stick your oar in and waggle it about after every comment that broadly supports Bob Ross. So, he studied under Alexander. What was he supposed to do after studying and learning this technique. Go home and never use it. What a stupid suggestion, almost like learning to drive and then walking everywhere. If I had paid for these skills to be inbued in me, then I am damn sure I would use them. It’s, mostly, how we all learn, although I realise that there are people who are blessed with an inquiring mind.

I would not sit around waiting for someone to ‘pop his clogs’ before using these skills. To say that he ‘stole’ Alexanders’ methods is just petty jealousy. If he ‘stole’ them, that implies taken away, never to be returned. Alexander had the time and the money to seriouly baulk Ross’ early efforts and to out-compete him if he wanted to, but, as they say, sometimes the servant becomes the master. I have only recently caught up again with Bob Ross on the T.V. and whilst I cannot say that I am an ‘adoring’ fan , I like him and the techniques he shows us. It will inspire me to put oil to canvas. Just a quick word about art and ‘Artists’ and egos. Here, in England, we have a man who chainsaws dead livestock in half then puts them in formaldehyde in a see through tank and then displays them. He is revered as a new wave ‘dangerous’ artist. Someone else filled a house, about to be demolished, with concrete, then, when dry knocked off the outer shell to leave the inner concrete. This was news on the T.V.

If this is art then ?

February 26, 2012 at 6:20 am
(73) Ben says:

I agree with the above comment 100% Bob gave credit to Alexander for teaching him the techniques. What more did Alexander want? It’s the same thing as going to college, learning your skill set and then somebody coming up to you on your job and calling you a phony because your putting the skills you learned to use. Education is not cheap, it cost me 50k for a two year IT degree. I am sure as heck going to put the skill set I learned to use without thinking twice. And if I do it well I MAY even give credit to the instructors that taught me ;) That’s more then I bet 95% of the people complaining about Bob (who did just that) have done. So please, not another word about “He stole the skills Alexander taught him when he STUDIED under him!”.

April 2, 2012 at 7:12 am
(74) Chad says:

Ben, you are somewhat missing the point.

Bob didn’t just take Bill’s techniques. Bill taught his techniques on television and he expected other people to use those techniques. What he didn’t expect was for people to steal his entire routine. Bob copied every one of Bill’s tools, his paints and business plan. Bob then went on to claim that he invented all of this.

I’m sure you can see the difference between using the painting techniques and ripping off the products invented by another person.

May 9, 2012 at 1:04 am
(75) Jtrue says:

There is so much garbage flying around in here it is hard to find the truth. Bob Ross didn’t steal anything. I have never heard in any of his shows Bob claiming to invent anything.
He openly credited bill for teaching him the technique.
Bob was a certified bill Alexander instructor.
In fact it was at a bill Alexander class where he met his buisness partners and was offered the opportunity to start his own career. He did not steal bills buisness plan there were alot of people out there doing the same thing,
Teaching painting classes.bill felt betrayed because bob went out on his own and created something bill could only dream about. Bill did not have the personality to grab an audience. Watching bill was boring and you could only understand half of what he said.
Bob was captivating and witty. Bob made it very clear that he wasn’t an artist he wasn’t trying to be an artist. He did it because he enjoyed it. His point was anyone could make a painting not everyone was an artist just have fun and enjoy it. He was a very simple man, and very charitable.he hated his hair it wasn’t naturally like that he had a perm so he could save money in
The eY days by not getting haircuts and it became his trademark.
Bob out performed bill at the buisness level.
As for wether or not his paintings are art. Yes they are I would classify them as folk art or rural.
He wasn’t and did not want to be Picasso he was a simple man that made simple paintings because he enjoyed it!
Nuff said!

June 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm
(76) Pauluk says:

Having left school many years ago with just a small amount of talent in art, I can not thank Mr Ross enough for teaching me the “Joy of Painting”.

It has given me the confidence to have a go and see what can be acheived with just a little inspiration. My friends and family enjoy my work and there is no better feeling than being able to give my work away, which puts a smile on other people’s faces.

Painting should be a fun activity, enjoyed by all.

July 30, 2012 at 12:33 pm
(77) Trixie says:

Don’t get me started on Bob Ross. How could anyone take him seriously?
I once was watching one of his shows and the camera panned back a little too far, and there was a duplicate painting of the one he was teaching leaning against the wall. So much for him and his gimmicky methods of painting.

July 31, 2012 at 8:28 am
(78) Josie says:

@Trixie I don’t understand your ire that he wasn’t painting a single original. It’s like a chef doing the “here’s one I prepared earlier”, a repeatable recipe for making a painting.

July 31, 2012 at 10:09 am
(79) Trixie says:

@Josie. How else do you think he could do a whole painting in half an hour? He had his techniques down pat. Many artists do the same painting several times. The backgrounds were done ahead of time, so all he had to do is paint in each object. He used huge brushes, which go fast. He used a limited number of colors. He also used a palette knife, which also makes it a lot faster. His techniques and work are fine for what they are. If people like his work, fine, but they are not for everyone. To each his own. I’m just telling what I saw. That’s all.

In case, you are wondering, I’m an artist who has been painting most of my life, and am familiar with different techniques and mediums.

August 10, 2012 at 4:00 pm
(80) Kell says:

Seriously… so much jealousy in here. It’s ridiculous. I doubt there is one truly successful artist that made a comment against Bob Ross in this entire thread.

Bob Ross was more than an artist, he was a world class entertainer, and his personality and demeanor to capture the hearts of millions of people across the world and inspire them to paint.

Neither did Bill Alexander invent wet on wet, nor did he invent “Magic White” which was formulated and invented by a chemist as was noted in Bill Alexander’s show. Alexander was Bob Ross’ instructor. Andrea del Verrocchio was Leonardo da Vinci’s mentor yet nobody in here would dispute da Vinci’s talent or credentials, would they? Ross stole nothing from Alexander. Absolutely nothing. You cannot steal talent or imagination. You cannot steal a technique which was openly taught to you. I’m not going to debate personal preference between Alexander and Ross as so many “artists” are doing in here as if it were fact… I will certainly say that Ross was much more entertaining to watch, and much easier to relate to as Alexander is downright kooky.

To the “artists” that struggle to create their works… perhaps it’s more about you than it is about the technique? If you’re not blessed with natural talent, it’s going to be a lot harder.

Bob Ross had true talent. He broke the rules with shading and smudging, but he had a natural ability to make it work. Rules are for artists without talent. When you can’t bend them or break them, it’s just proof you’ve taken your abilities as far as you can.

August 18, 2012 at 11:53 am
(81) Len Hend says:

Continued from (March 29, 2010 at 12:50 am)
I was performing painting demonstrations in shopping centers and festivals and producing videos showing how to paint wet on wet long before Bob Ross was seen on TV.
My painting style demonstrated on my old VHS videos was exactly the same as that used by Bob Ross.
Hundreds of thousands of people saw me working and my videos were distributed worldwide.
Lately I found some old newspaper cuttings about my adventures, plus, my 1979 passport and there was something I had forgotten all about. The newspaper cuttings and the passport photos show I had an afro haircut.
I see no reason to believe that Bob Ross learnt everything he knew from William Alaxander and I firmly believe he could have learned much from me as his work looks more like mine than William’s.

August 30, 2012 at 1:38 am
(82) Summer says:

I must say, all those talking about how his paintings don’t “look real” and all that are the types of people I can’t stand to be around. Do they look real, no, but neither do most Monet or Van Gogh pieces. I mean, just look at “Madame Monet and Her Son” by Monet; it has the same look as you would get from the modern wet-on-wet method.

The only people who like pretentious snobs are other pretentious snobs… It’s sad.

I think it is good to learn every type of technique and style you can. That way you have so much you can pull from when you are working on your own art. That knowledge base includes speed painting techniques like what Bob Ross taught. Art students/teacher need to get over themselves (this coming FROM and art student).

November 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm
(83) Anne says:

You can call people snobs, but most of us are trying to do the best we can
as artists. Art is not easy. It’s an ongoing, lifetime of work. If people like Bob Ross, fine, it they don’t that’s fine too. It’s not for everyone. To each his or her own. We are all entitled to our opinions. Art is highly subjective.

November 17, 2012 at 12:18 am
(84) osiro says:

Bob Ross definately has his place in the history of art. A painting done by Bob Ross will sell for an impressive dollar these days. Bob Ross may not be able to claim ownership of the wet on wet method, however he did usher this method into the public eye and was successful for it. He made a name for himself with his combination teaching and painting style. The name and notoriety Bob Ross achieved elevated the value of his paintings. Hence, there are alot of Bob Ross “style” paintings out there. Some of these paintings are very good paintings indeed, BUT..they were not painted by Bob Ross. That is the main difference here. Bob Ross seized an opportunity. In the art world, there will always be fans as well as haters. Marcel Duchamp, Gaugin, Dali, Warhol to name a few experienced it when they dared and seized their own opportunities. Most artists who can weather the ups and downs of this lifestyle will experience fans and haters. Art is indeed subjective. One has to keep in mind here that copying an original is not the same as the original. This is the only downfall that I see in devoting oneself wholeheartedly to the Bob Ross method of painting. Painting “like” Bob is ok for starters…however….you are not Bob!!

December 5, 2012 at 8:57 am
(85) Anne says:

People will pay anything for what they consider art. That does not mean it’s good. It only means that someone paid money for it. There are countless excellent artists who produce beautiful work who never sell anything, yet look at the junk people buy. I wouldn’t want to paint like Bob Ross. He only taught one method, and not his own at that. I would hope people would go beyond that. There are many ways to paint. HIs was only one.

January 6, 2013 at 5:54 pm
(86) Bob says:

Finally the heart of the matter. Art is only what others think of it. An artist with an ego cannot truly see their work, for they feel it must be appreciated for all their time and effort. There is no true definition or training one can undergo to become an artist. Only to align oneself with the popular beliefs of the era, or fly boldly in opposition. If you yourself cannot enjoy, or overly criticize your own expressions of art, how can you expect others to have a difference in opinion? Though there will inevitability be differences, what is your reasonable expectation as an artist? And for the people who think spending lots of money on your passion makes you talented I.e. expensive paints, brushes and canvases: talent only equaled money in biblical times. If you can produce exemplary work with average material, that only lends credit to the artist, not his tools and supplies.

January 8, 2013 at 4:15 pm
(87) Darius says:

1) WILLIAM ALEXANDER passed on his title as the master of wet on wet too Bob Ross in Season 2.

2) Bob Ross trained in traditional painting, and art. He knew how to sketch, and before he used wet on wet, he would sketch out every painting for weeks. The technique we developed to get people to start painting. He says this in Season 1, and he also admits that he learned this from the great WILLIAM ALEXANDER.

You people are morons…

January 10, 2013 at 3:30 pm
(88) mark says:

Well if you are a true fan and actually watch some of Bob Ross’ videos, you will see that he does credit William Alexander for teaching him this method. So b4 you call him a cheap knock off, do your homework. This is a great method for beginners to learn oils, however when painting traditionally, it just takes WAY to long to do a painting. Ive made more $$$ with Ross’ technique paintings that took me only 1 hour to paint, than with traditional ones which took me weeks to paint. He also says you will make a “happy buck” with these paintings and its true. I love this style to bang out some quick money makers, and make me happy.

January 30, 2013 at 9:30 am
(89) Trixie says:

@Mark. It’s too bad art has to be reduced to some fast method of making money. I wouldn’t want any beginner to learn to paint that method. How ever long a painting takes, it takes.

February 28, 2013 at 6:57 pm
(90) claude says:

All of you, Wow..just Wow.

May 4, 2013 at 9:01 am
(91) Rev. Hernandez says:

Ben and Roger are both deliberately missing the point. Ross stole from Alexander–stole credit, invention claims and soon Ross just started acting like he created the whole technique, even though he often said he adopted and learned the technique. Then he never said, except ONCE, who was his teacher.

So Chad’s response is absolutely right.

Just because you go on a teaching crusade and land on TV doesn’t mean you can steal invention ideas and the credit for yourself as Ross did. He should have thanked Alexander on EVERY episode he ever filmed, it is that simple. That was the cause of the feud between the two artistes.

And by the way, if you saw Bob Ross in his first two seasons, it’s no wonder people preferred Bill Alexander. Aside from being a decades-long master, Alexander could always paint better than Ross. In his first two seasons, Ross was painting like a 10-year-old kid.

Now Jtrue comes in here saying Ross never claimed to invent anything. I say keep it to yourself if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Bob Ross always took credit for inventing Magic White, Magic Black which they later ditched, also took credit for inventing Magic Clear and the gesso. Alexander invented all those ideas and the techniques to use with them.

I caught Ross on several shows claiming he invented the use of contact paper–but in the first season I think it was, Ross clearly told viewers that some guy who contacted the TV station sent in the idea. So there you go–Ross always proved for himself that he stole the ideas of others.

May 4, 2013 at 9:05 am
(92) Rev. Hernandez says:

Darius, I think we know who’s whom on this blog–you have no right to call people here “morons”.

Ssaying which, WHEN did you see Ross “sketch” out a painting before he started painting? He never did that. Also, exactly when did Alexander say he was “passing” anything on to Ross? Alexander only said Ross had been his pupil–then he said Ross stole all his ideas.

What really burned up Alexander was that Ross always claimed he could paint better than Alexander. I do not know where that accusation originated, but Alexander said it several times. Maybe Alexander in the end was suffering from dementia, I do not know.

As to the rest, well, I can only repeat that you have no right to come here and call people “morons” when they know more than you!

May 18, 2013 at 12:49 am
(93) TrixieIsClueless says:

I’m only going to respond to one person…Trixie. Care to back up any of your claims or are you just trolling? Face it…Bob Ross had talent. Why are so butthurt about it?

May 18, 2013 at 12:58 am
(94) TrixieIsClueless says:

Oh and BTW, Bob didn’t steal ****. So much misinformation in these blog comments. Whole lotta contrarian, revisionist historians masquerading as internet message board commenters.

May 22, 2013 at 7:36 pm
(95) Billy S. says:

(Note: Yes, I know Bob Ross passed away. I refer to Bob in the present tense because he’s still with us through the magic of DVDs, YouTube, and PBS.

Happy little clouds
Never have to drift away


This is kind of a tough one for me. I’ve had limited exposure to Bob Ross, mostly from casually watching “The Joy Of Painting” episodes when they were on my local PBS station. I’ve been drawing most of my life and have sporadically experimented with painting (mostly acrylics, oils always seemed to demanding) along with many other media, plus I have serious artistic ambitions (Magritte is a big personal influence) as well as a graphic design degree. So I can’t speak as the sort of “complete beginner” that Ross catered to, but I’ll give a few semi-informed thoughts on his approach.


May 22, 2013 at 7:38 pm
(96) Billy S. says:


First of all, I want to say off the bat that I do not want in any way to denigrate Bob Ross or especially his students. I understand many people who would like to paint do so purely for enjoyment and have no “serious artistic ambitions,” ie they don’t ever plan on being another Salvador Dali, and they’re fine with that. So am I. Doing any kind of art is a wonderful activity. The pretentious snobs among us aren’t doing our field any favors by trying to alienate and exclude potential new artists. Must be that old craft guild mentality at work.

Bob Ross’s goal of getting paintbrushes in the hands of people who could barely draw stick-figure people, and teaching them the techniques to produce actual real paintings is wholly admirable. I am of the opinion that everyone has latent artistic talent that needs to be exercised, and eventually combined with imagination. The skills and techniques need to be taught first, and that’s a big stumbling block for many people. (Like me.) Mastering painting can be a daunting task. Bob Ross provided a simplified, mass-market “for dummies” approach for non-artists that’s been remarkably successful at showing them that, yes, they can draw more than stick-figures.


May 22, 2013 at 7:39 pm
(97) Billy S. says:


Mastering artis another matter. I think this is partly where Ross’s method is dangerous for the non-discerning newbie. Although I read that he advised his students to look elsewhere for inspiration and to not copy him (never heard his say that myself), the monotonous parade of generic mountain landscapes all done in 30 minutes or less couldn’t have inspired students directly to go out and actually hunt down some Van Gogh or Monet (or Picasso or Matisse or Magritte) for different approaches to using those techniques. Ross did one thing well, and his whole technique was geared to it. I imagine his typical student, eager to paint but probably not terribly curious about other styles or subject matter, quickly mastered painting Bob-style mountains and pines and left it at that. Inventing landscapes from one’s imagination isn’t the problem–it’s the lack of imagination (or fear of trying) to think of anything else to paint or another style to paint it in. I’ve said that innate talent needs to be exercised, first by teaching technique, and then by encouraging curiosity and experimentation–imagination. That part of the equation Ross never really taught–perhaps he gave his audience too much credit? He could have sneaked some “artistic ambitions” into the lessons. :-)

Speaking of lessons, my impression is that Bob Ross didn’t really give them so to speak. His shows seem more like demonstrations–briefly explaining techniques here and there as he uses them–but “Joy of Painting” episodes are pretty much as interchangeable with one another as the paintings in them. I never got any sense of building on previous knowledge, or a structured course. The method just comes out fully formed, like a big glob. It does, however, seem to be an effective way to teach this particular type of student; maybe I’m just biased because I like to know how and why a technique works, and when to use it.


May 22, 2013 at 7:53 pm
(98) Billy S. says:


The commercial aspect of Ross’s method, who “invented” it and the ruffled egos of the title’s claimants (and the personality cult aspect of making oneself a corporate trademark) always makes me feel queasy. I realize that to be successful with his target market (and yes, Bob Ross was a master of marketing and self-promotion), Bob had to simplify and “package” his method to a degree. This semi-industrial type of standardization would naturally seem sacrilegious to a fine art purist. The problem again lies in what the less discriminating student will make of the wide assortment of Bob Ross ™-branded art materials, instructional videos and books, and so on. I bet that many will insist that to employ the Bob Ross ™ method they simply must use only genuine Bob Ross ™ paints, brushes, mediums, and so on. After all, Grumbacher, Windsor & Newton, and all those other brands are too “general purpose”, and besides, they’re too expensive and “hoity toity.” Aren’t they? Last I looked, Ross paints came in a very limited palette–just what I expect if I’m only going to be painting mountains and trees. And they didn’t seem all that cheap to me; no idea about the quality of the paints themselves, I’ll leave that to the experienced oil users. But I worry that the Ross student will limit herself to that palette, by that brand…


May 22, 2013 at 7:54 pm
(99) Billy S. says:


And that I think is the crux of the problem with Bob Ross. While unquestionably a talented painter, his intentions are good, and what he does with his students–he inspires them to paint–is undeniably a good thing for the world of art. But in practice I believe he does so at the cost of his students’ individual styles or idiosyncracies. In simplifying the activity of painting into a self-contained standard system, Ross basically encourages his students (but doesn’t force them, he’s too nice a guy) to do paintingt his way…like paint-by-numbers for grownups, without the numbers. The method’s quick, painless, “everybody wins” style of painting unfortunately evades a lot of what makes art really exciting–and sometimes frustrating–to learn. But it makes a lot of people very happy. And, I should add, the Ross organization a lot of money.

But the important thing is this–if Bob Ross can get you painting, and enjoying painting, you’re already halfway to being an artist. And that’s great! Practice, experiment, absorb, and practice some more. He gave you the tools; your job now is to supply the batteries.

May 23, 2013 at 5:34 am
(100) Rev. E. A. Hernandez says:

Well said. We could all learn a little more charitable thinking from Billy S. I’ll have to go back and read whatever “Trixie” wrote.

May 23, 2013 at 5:47 am
(101) REV HERNANDEZ says:

Ah, to Trixie from the summer of 2012: of course Ross duplicated all paintings he did. Once in a while he’d vary some things, but as he often stated, he was painting the same paintings over and over in order to teach the style and techniques.

Catching him with identical paintings, well, he clearly said himself, all the time, that he was copying a previous painting he had done in order to show viewers HOW to paint. In that sense he did more and did it more thoroughly than Alexander, I’m sorry to say.

Therefore I stand by my earlier comments that Ross, after all, did a lot to further painting education. Did that help, Trixie? And the other user who uses the name “Trixie” as part of their username: please add something but at least quit trolling.

August 12, 2013 at 1:28 pm
(102) Trixie says:

It’s me Trixie again. Well, we’ve covered the subject of Bob Ross pretty carefully. Billy S. and Rev. Hernandez make a lot of sense. To answer Hernandez question, yes. To each his or her own. I have watched Bob Ross’s show many times, and it is simply one method of painting. It if works for you fine. Let’s stop bickering at each other and appreciate the fact that we can enjoy art for what it is, and for what Bob and each of us brings to it. Art is to be enjoyed, no matter who does it or how we do it.

September 7, 2013 at 1:16 pm
(103) ral says:

when you become a critic your not an artist. i do not have classical training in art but have been drawing and making art since childhood… we all have. Bob Ross helps people get back to that.. relearn to create and imagine. why do we have to step on sombodys gig. talent will take us were we go. some will only ever be able to paint landscapes. some will move on and continue exploreing different techniques. many learn to become better artists than most of you critics.

November 10, 2013 at 11:24 am
(104) Shirley says:

Reading the above comments has made me feel I have just lost a few moments of my life that I’ll never get back, all because I chose to read opinions of so many people who appear to be so stupid they couldn’t pour piss from a boot with the instructions on the heel. Of course the folks not in that category will recognize the individuals I’m talking about.

R.I.P. Bob

December 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm
(105) Rev. E.a.Hernandez says:

That sentiment about ending bickering and appreciating Bob Ross is agreed! I was coming here to post just such a message and am glad someone beat me to it.

I never fail to watch Bob–never fail to learn things from him. Frankly I am ashamed of the negative things I have written so rudely about him. Whatever his past, I still appreciate him as a person and as an artist.

Maybe I understand that other comment about pouring contents from a boot–and maybe I don’t. But I think this little blog spot could be a heck of a lot more positive.

Here’s to Bob Ross.

January 14, 2014 at 10:50 pm
(106) Kayem says:

Bob made some of us pick up a brush and touch paint to canvas, which for me would’ve been unthinkable until I incidentally discovered “Joy” a few years ago. I never would’ve been brave enough to do that.

What a bunch of arrogant cry babies! Take yourselves pretty seriously for sure. Can you really live up to the success of someone you are so easily condemning? . If it’s so easy (talent, personality, business skills) why are we not talking about you?

RIP Bob. From my heart I thank you for getting me to that canvas.

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