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Loving & Hating Bob Ross

By February 28, 2009

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My Bob Ross blog from a couple of years is again getting love/hate comments. Gotta say this for Bob Ross, he may have died years ago but he makes people very passionate about painting! That so can't be a bad thing, even if you think his painting is bad.
"I LOVE Bob Ross for making it easy to start painting in oils. I was gutted when I found out he died before Id heard of him, but I watch him paint every day now. It is wonderful. The only bit I dread is when he says: 'let's go crazy now', but it always works! There is no reason to knock him..." -- Richard Madgin
Who was Bob Ross Anyway? (Plus the poll for voting about loving or hating his style)


March 4, 2009 at 8:17 am
(1) Beth says:

As an artist, I have mixed feelings about Bob Ross. I don’t care for his style. However, he has helped a lot of people discover their ability to paint by demystifying the process. He has inspired a lot of people who never would have picked up a paint brush to find and enjoy the creativity within themselves. That can’t be a bad thing.

March 4, 2009 at 3:30 pm
(2) tim brantley says:

I watched Bob Ross for years, and he taught me a lot about painting, and I continue to work with oils.
Though some are very critical of Bob Ross, even to the point of saying “he wasnt an artist”, I still received inspiration to paint.
Though I never fully adopted his style of painting, I did learn a lot from his techniques. And we must keep in mind, he did paintings in about 28 minutes. Try that yourself, and then tell me he wasnt an artist.
Im sure, given more time, or working at home Bob accomplished many better paintings.

March 7, 2009 at 6:04 pm
(3) Brian Snyder says:

Bob Ross and a Canadian by the name of ED Martynik, who painted in the style of Bob, where the two who got me started in painting. After a heart attack and stroke I am left with very shake hands,and found that I could copy this style, but it lacks definition and detail. I am hoping as time goes on that I will develop my own style. It is his kind of painting and enthusiasm that get people interested in the arts and take the mystery out. If they have the interest and the will, then they develop their own style and move on from the start that Bob and ED and all the others of the Bob Ross group have given them, if not they get to play at painting and enjoy themselves.

April 12, 2009 at 4:55 am
(4) Cheryl Reed says:

I despised Bob Ross because he was a fraud who tried to pretend he invented the wet on wet technique. In reality it was invented by a wonderful man named William Alexander who taught Bob to paint. Bill was an incredibly kind, passionate, talented man who wanted to share his great love of painting with amateurs to encourage them to follow their dreams. Bob even stole his phrases like “happy trees” but when Bill said it, it rang with love for nature and the wonder of creating it on canvas. Bill was vibrant, alive, so full of passion you were caught up by it, too. Bob was a wimpy, pale,colorless, tasteless fraud and it’s time someone spoke the truth about him. I loved Bill, along with millions of others who miss him, too.

April 12, 2009 at 5:04 am
(5) Josh says:

Neither William Alexander nor Bob Ross invented or discovered wet-on-wet oil painting. It’s a technique as old as old painting itself, predating both of them by centuries.

April 15, 2009 at 6:05 pm
(6) Starrpoint says:

Neither Alexander or Ross said they invented it. They simply helped people discover painting.

Accept them for what they were, and forgive them for what they were not.

They were both commercial artists who managed to make a living through their art, and it was art. It brought a lot of joy and enrichment to countless lives. That they made money at it,

Well, so did Rubens and a host of other painters through the centuries whose names we don’t know.

Yes, they marketed their own brands, but no one was forced to buy it or into them. they both brought their own human uniqueness to what they were doing.

That is all they claimed to do.

April 27, 2009 at 2:10 am
(7) chris says:

O.K. Bob was very cheesy.A product of the ‘Flower Power 60′s ‘but you can’t deny his talent for creating a scene in minutes. I wouldn’t particularly want them on my wall, but obviously loads of people did! What’s wrong with that? He certainly had an eye for landscape balance and an ability to paint well,using the wet on wet method. So leave old Bob alone and accept him for what he was and did!

November 2, 2009 at 2:47 pm
(8) Robert Floyd says:

I have been someone who always felt I had talent, but was never able to bring it out so others could see it. I was a lousy self taght guitar player. I could never get over the hump, so to speak, and be concidered anything but a ordinary musician. I watched Bob Ross on TV for years. I always said I could do that, but never tried. I finally decided that I needed some peace in my life. I looked up a Bob Ross instructor and began to paint. My first painting I ever did was completed in two and a half hours. The instructor did not put her brush to my painting. I did it all myself. I found that I did have a talent for painting, especially the Bob Ross method. The person I gave it to was asked if she would concider selling the painting when she went to purchase a frame at the frame shop. I now have every book, dvd, and tool that Bob Ross offers. I start my journey into the painting world November 3, 2009. I will go through all three weeks of the landscape school and I will become a Bob Ross advocate to all I know as well as an instructor. I thank Bob for encouraging me to try, even after his death. Personally, I am not some fly by night shister. I have made a good living all of my life and raised my children to be good adults. I was a combat Marine in Vietnam, so I am definately not a wimp. I find that Bob has given me the ability to find peace in my life for the first time. I truely believe that art, in any form, can do exactly what Bob says it can. I can create the world that I want everytime I paint.

November 4, 2009 at 5:00 pm
(9) Lily P. says:

I don’t think there is any reason for anyone to hate Bob Ross, and those of you that feel so passionate about despising him probably need to take an anger management class. I’m really bothered by people that trash artists and are all “holier than thou” because they don’t appreciate that kind of art. I think Pollock sucked, his stuff looks like a 5 year old did it to me, but it doesn’t me he wasn’t an artist, and it doesn’t mean there weren’t so many people that were moved by his work. The definition of art isn’t “something I like”, according to my dictionary it’s “the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.” Even my cruddy paintings fall in that catagory. Bob Ross may have simplified techniques that when left complicated result in different final products, but simple isn’t bad. I think his art is very soothing and pleasant to look at.

And as for him stealing from William Alexander, I don’t think you can steal painting techniques, considering they aren’t copyrighted nor do they belong to anyone. It’s like saying that your guitar instructor stole his teaching methods from you dad. Bob Ross didn’t make any grandiose claims about discovering wet on wet, he, like his teacher, just wanted to bring painting to the world for everyone to enjoy. Not liking his art is one thing, but hating a man like that is ludicrous.

November 8, 2009 at 7:47 pm
(10) kmgstudio says:

I have yet to find a painter from whom I can’t learn something.

For me, that’s ’nuff said.

November 17, 2009 at 1:05 pm
(11) appleus says:

I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art but from Alexander and then Ross I learned techniques I never learned in college. I also feel inspired as many other viewers obviously do too, when I watch Joy of Painting. I also like to watch Jerry Yarnell who has a different slower technique.

March 19, 2010 at 12:44 am
(12) LenHend says:

It is so good for me to be able to comment on this subject – In 1979 I started wrighting scripts for my tutorial videos, It took a lot of work. In the early 80s my six lessons on the one vhs tape Speedpainting with Len Hend were distributed world wide by myself and by tne Australian Artist magazine.- A few years later I came across a Bob Ross tape and there was a lot of my work word for word Bob had used on his tape, even the happy trees thing I found to be derived from my video lesson. But I can’t complain I’m happy with my life and still selling those same 6 lessons they were refilmed several times and are being re-filmed again now to suit the new 9×16 screens. http://www.speedpainting.net Would love to here from anyone who has anything to say about my coments

October 9, 2010 at 5:31 pm
(13) Bob Ross says:

Bob Ross is King! I love his relaxing voice. I could listen to him all day.

October 16, 2010 at 6:53 am
(14) Paul says:

Ross did show 1000′s a way to paint, statements about ‘you can only use this method by using my paints’ is bull, and that annoyed me. He was an artist, but never a great one. His work would never stand up against the greats. It is very chocolate boxy and frankly naff. BUT I have no doubt that out there somewhere he started off an outstanding artist

November 4, 2010 at 4:41 pm
(15) Mister says:

Cheryl needs some therapy & even more so an education. At least get your facts straight before spewing hate for someone you don’t know, then proclaiming it as truth that needs to be told. Here’s a quote from Bobs Tv2 Episode 1:

“Before I go far into the show, I’d like to take a few minutes to make a dedication. I would like to dedicate this show to my beloved friend & teacher, whom we’ve all watched & 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.”

I’ve seen nearly every episode of Bobs & several of Bills & never heard either of them make any grand claims that they invented the technique or that their way was the only way or that they were some modern day Picasso. Their shows were never meant to be anything more than a 30 MIN introduction to a simpler technique that is accessible to virtually anyone, while also marketing their products & services… which last I checked, was not a crime. If you don’t like it don’t watch it or buy it.

Maybe you should try being a fraction as kind, & generous as either Bill or Bob.

February 13, 2011 at 11:13 pm
(16) Judy Ross says:

I am watching Bill Alexander on u-tube because an artist at a show my husband and I attended today says he learned a lot about OIL painting from watching Bill.

I just came into posession of some Helen Van Wyk (public TV) videos a lady donated to our senior center. Helen taught a wet-on-wet technique also, so it’s not new to anybody. Nobody says it is. Bob Ross just said, “It’s so much easier to blend the paint when the canves is wet.”

Having painted on dry canvas with oils (I take various classes) Bob Ross is right, it is easier and even if you don’t paint a “Bob Ross” painting, when painting wet-on-wet you can achieve some beautiful blending you can’t on a dry canvas.

Even Jerry Yarnell who teaches acrylic and oil techniques puts a “liquid clear” over the acrylic painting before adding oils and he also talks about “happy accidents”, so does Helen. They all have had something to contribute.

Bob Ross (absolutely no relation) just took what he learned from Bill Alexander and made it more “procedural”… and then said, “I’ll teach you the techniques…” but then he expected the students to be the artist. Bob Ross certified instructors are the same. I’ll show you the “Ross Technique” and you paint the picture. It’s a hoot to take a “Joy of Painting Class” and see how different the pictures all turn out.

Go look at Helen Van Wyk… “Welcome to my Studio” and you’ll see that Bob Ross just took what was still a little complex and distilled it down to a painting in 28 minutes.

Gotta love a guy who got so many people interested in Art.. and painting… and gotta love Jerry Yarnell who keeps us also entertained and painting…

That’s my 2 cents worth.

March 7, 2011 at 12:51 am
(17) painter says:

Bob ross was a good Artist, he do mentioned in his joy of painting vol-2 -that he is gratfull to William Alexander for teaching him,
Bob was an artist and was grat person and not greedy, he gifted his tv show to television.
rest in peace Bob ross, I learned a lot from you.

May 7, 2011 at 2:24 am
(18) Kyle says:

Bob Ross will always be one of my greatest heroes. I always wanted to learn how to paint, and then Bob told me that I could do it, and that he KNEW I could do it, and by golly I did. He showed me, as well as tons of others, how to not be afraid of oil painting. He taught in super simple ways, and he really cared about his work and those he was teaching. While I’ve moved on from Ross styles, I can honestly say that he changed my views and life in art. Anyone can hate Ross, but Bob could probably paint circles around most of the idiots who actually do.

I get so sick of hearing people say that “Ross stole the technique from Alexander” and “Bob Ross wasn’t an artist”, etc. It really just shows the overall lack of information those people have, and their quickness to be critical about something they have no idea about. They’re idiots. On the second episode of his series, Ross dedicates the show to “his teacher and great friend, William Alexander”. Ross didn’t steal anything…because Alexander didn’t invent wet on wet. Bob just took what he had been taught, and used his own style to make another art show, which happened to be way more successful. And if you honestly want to say that Bob wasn’t a real artist, then you’re completely stupid. People who take six months to paint a pear are the only real artists?

Alexander was a great artist, and I liked parts of his style better than Ross, especially his bright colors, but Bob Ross was able to take wet on wet and bring it to the homes of people across the world and get them to join in. Bob Ross actually tried to TEACH us how to paint, step by step, while Alexander mumbled and stumbled over English and barely made sense as he painted. Alexander was a great guy, but his show sucked and he couldn’t speak English.

Ross was an artist. Alexander was an artist. Their paintings are most likely better than yours. Get over it.

August 23, 2011 at 11:20 am
(19) Flora says:

Bill Alexander taught Bob Ross and is a hundred times better than Bob Ross ever could be. In fact, Bob capitalized on his techniques and made them gimmicky. They had a running feud for years and ended up enemies. So much for “happy little trees”. I’ll take Bill over Bob any day.

By the way, Kyle, each person has their own likes and dislikes in art as well as other subjects. To each his/her own. If you like Bob Ross, fine. But those who don’t are also entitled to their opinions. That does not make them an idiot. You haven’t seen my paintings, so you can not judge them.

December 30, 2011 at 10:19 am
(20) Curious Onlooker says:

I take classes from a traditionally trained professional artist, but I love to experiment, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, but it’s all extra learning and experience.

I have used some of the Bob Ross methods, particularly for skies, but rely on ‘old school’ methods for finishing.

I don’t think Ross’ paintings would ever achieve greatness, as they’re all too similar in composition and look ‘n feel, and if you’ve seen one (ok, maybe 6) you’ve just about seen them all, and can recognize them as his.

That said, if you learn anything, from anyone, or any book, it’s a worthwhile experience.

As for him ‘stealing’ the method, on one of his first tapes he acknowledges Alexander for teaching him the technique.

I was once reading a book about the old masters, and read how one painter (can’t recall who, as I’ve read so many works) applied a thin layer of oil over his canvas before painting – I tried that and found it wonderful (again for skies), and this was long before I’d heard of Ross/Alexander/et. al., so I would say the method pre-dates any and all of the people who lay claim to it.

If you can use it, use it gratefully, and if you don’t like it/them, then simply stop – it’s a free choice to use or abandon.

January 5, 2012 at 2:45 pm
(21) Paul Bennett says:

Bob Ross was a traditional painter before he met Bill Alexander. Bill had the TV show in the 70′s and early 80′s called the Joy of Painting. He introduced Bob on one show as being a traditional artist and a good one. Bill turned the show over to Bob will all good graces. Bob actually told his story many times about having been a traditional artist, but found Bill’s method very easy for the novice to quickly assume. Thus, he continued in the Bill Alexander tradition and made thousands of hopefuls half decent artists. Not Gugenheim exhibits by any means, but decent paintings for the home and for the feeling of accomplishment

March 7, 2012 at 1:27 pm
(22) Valerie says:

===I loved loved LOVED Bob Ross….and I wept when he died! Rest well friend!!==

July 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm
(23) Rick Williams says:

Cheryl Reed doesn’t have all the facts.
Bob Ross studied under William Alxzander and Alexzander helped Bob Ross start his own show. And Ross NEVER claimed he invented the “Wet On Wet” technique.
All of what I’m writing can be found on the PBS documentry on Bob Ross (which William Alexzander appears in as well)
Bob Ross show you that you can paint too.
Love that dude, he is missed,

February 26, 2013 at 3:13 pm
(24) Chad says:

It looks like Rick Williams doesn’t have all the facts. Bob did in fact rip off his whole act directly from Bill Alexander, and later wouldn’t even acknowledge Bill in interviews.

The Bob Ross company as well has done what they could to cover it up. His sweet little documentary doesn’t give all the facts.

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