Bob Ross wasn’t just a skilled artist—he was unrivaled in his ability to spout verbal poetry faster than it took to paint one of those happy little clouds. Here are some of his best bits of wisdom (from The Joy of Painting unless otherwise noted).
1. On politics
"That's a crooked tree. We'll send him to Washington."
2. On yellow snow
“The only thing worse than yellow snow is green snow."
3. On violence
"I like to beat the brush."
4. On power
“In painting, you have unlimited power. You have the ability to move mountains. You can bend rivers. But when I get home, the only thing I have power over is the garbage.”
5. On the value of extremes
“You need the dark in order to show the light.”
6. On beauty
“Look around. Look at what we have. Beauty is everywhere—you only have to look to see it.”
7. On communing with nature
“Just go out and talk to a tree. Make friends with it.”
8. On befriending nature
“There's nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend.”
9. On why you really seriously should make friends with a tree
“Trees cover up a multitude of sins.”
10. On challenging the haters
“They say everything looks better with odd numbers of things. But sometimes I put even numbers—just to upset the critics."
11. On challenging yourself
“How do you make a round circle with a square knife? That’s your challenge for the day.”
12. On parental advice
“I remember when my Dad told me as a kid, ‘If you want to catch a rabbit, stand behind a tree and make a noise like a carrot. Then when the rabbit comes by you grab him.’ Works pretty good until you try to figure out what kind of noise a carrot makes…”
13. On the joys of painting
"We tell people sometimes: we're like drug dealers, come into town and get everybody absolutely addicted to painting. It doesn't take much to get you addicted."
14. On the power of belief
“The secret to doing anything is believing that you can do it. Anything that you believe you can do strong enough, you can do. Anything. As long as you believe.”
15. On laziness
“Water's like me. It's laaazy ... Boy, it always looks for the easiest way to do things”
16. On Uncle Sam
“Oooh, if you have never been to Alaska, go there while it is still wild. My favorite uncle asked me if I wanted to go there, Uncle Sam. He said if you don't go, you're going to jail. That is how Uncle Sam asks you.”
17. On the da Vinci within all of us
“I really believe that if you practice enough you could paint the 'Mona Lisa' with a two-inch brush.”
18. On abstract art
“If I paint something, I don't want to have to explain what it is.”
—From an interview with The New York Times
19. On the temperament of the artist
“We artists are a different breed of people. We're a happy bunch.”
20. On making mistakes
“We don't make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.”