From 1983 to 1994, just a year before his death, American painter and art instructor Bob Ross enthralled audiences with his show “The Joy of Painting” on PBS, where he demonstrated speed-painting of fantastic landscapes within a half-hour using the “alla prima” or “wet-on-wet” oil paint technique. From a TV idol he would transition to being an internet icon when episodes of his show began streaming online, immortalizing his many catchphrases like “Happy little trees,” “beating the brush,” and uncommon paint shades like “cadmium yellow.” But the hundreds of paintings Ross did for his show never saw public exhibit beyond their TV appearances; until now.
As Forbes tells it, around two dozen individual landscape paintings by Bob Ross are being put up in display in a solo art exhibit for the late artist in the Franklin Park Arts Center at Purcellville, Virginia. The event, “Happy Accidents: An Exhibit of Original Bob Ross Paintings” is being organized by the art center and Bob Ross Inc., the company marketing art supplies and instructional books used and written by Ross himself, with the painting featured being among hundreds of such works done by him in and out of his PBS show, many kept in storage at nearby Herndon.
Fans of Ross, both from his TV and internet meme phases, will be pleased to know that the exhibit, which opened September 10, is free of charge and is held not far from Washington, DC for accessibility. It is a prime opportunity to get an in-depth and lengthy view of the paintings of the painter, who once remarked that he never intended to publicly exhibit his works, seeing as many of them were already getting plenty of exposure on media (via TV replays, then video streaming) as he painted them.
While Bob Ross was already a household name thanks to the syndication of “The Joy of Painting,” more current generations knew of him thanks to his internet meme status, which nominally began in 2015 after the Twitch live-stream service posted episodes of the show back-to-back in a marathon that lasted nine days. YouTube also hosts “The Joy of Painting” in its library, with each episode featuring at least one painting done by Ross, whose wet-on-wet method enabled him to “correct” missteps in brushstrokes on the canvas by repurposing them as something else, leading to his famous expression that “There are no mistakes; just happy accidents.”
It is not a bad legacy for a former Air Force sergeant who resigned because he did not like to raise his voice, and found a higher calling in painting, particularly simply beautiful landscapes. The exhibit runs until October 15.
Image courtesy of Washington Post