More than 300 of the public television celebrity's signature landscape paintings have been collected into a coffee table book.
Even decades after his death, landscape painter and super-chill art teacher Bob Ross remains one of public television’s biggest celebrities. In celebration of the 35th anniversary of his TV debut, Universe Publishing is putting out a full-fledged monograph honoring the man who “managed to take over the art world with his army of happy little trees,” as Paul Ruditis writes in his introduction to , the new coffee table book out October 10.
Below are a few of the masterpieces it features, starring just as many happy little trees and clouds as you’d expect.
The congenial, tranquil TV host was popular enough during the 31-season run of The Joy of Painting to be invited onto morning shows like Live with Regis and Kathie Lee (though he was reportedly too publicity-shy to talk about himself on Oprah). And yet Ross's fame has skyrocketed to greater heights since his death from lymphoma in 1995. More than 20 years later, his work is meme-ified, parodied, and beloved by legions of modern fans—who occasionally even dress up like him for bar crawls. And yes, we consider ourselves among his biggest fans.
The new art book highlights more than 300 of the 30,000 paintings Ross completed in his lifetime. It contains instructions for recreating some of his signature nature scenes, interspersed with some of the inspirational wisdom that made him such a popular fixture on TV.
Ross's characteristic style was the result of an oil-painting technique called wet-on-wet. This efficient style of blending pigments together on the canvas before they dry—which dates back to the 15th century—is quicker than other oil-painting techniques, making his prolific output possible. He tended to use just 12 colors in his work: Titanium White, Dark Sienna, Van Dyke Brown, Phthalo Green, Sap Green, Prussian Blue, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Indian Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, and Bright Red, combining them to create the full spectrum of natural hues he wanted.
When prepping to paint, Ross covered his stretched canvas in a thin coat of Liquid White, making the canvas wet so that the the oil paints could blend. That is, unless he was doing a night scene, in which case he started with a layer of Black Gesso paint, letting it dry before starting in on the image.
The painter never sketched out his ideas before he touched his brush to the canvas—he just went where his imagination took him. “This is not something you should labor over or worry about,” he told his viewers. “Enjoy it. If painting does nothing else, it should make you happy.”
Improvisation was a theme of his lessons, and Ross—who would have turned 75 on October 29—didn’t believe that mistakes existed in art. “Anything we don’t like, we’ll turn it into a happy little tree or something,” he said.
If you're truly too anxious to put paint to canvas, though, you can always get started with The Bob Ross Coloring Book, which features some of the same artwork. Bob Ross: The Joy of Painting is available for pre-order for $30 on Amazon.
All images © Bob Ross, Inc. from Bob Ross: The Joy of Painting, Universe Publishing, 2017.