Over the last few years, Bob Ross and his show “The Joy of Painting” has emerged as a sensation on YouTube and Netflix as a creative outlet or just a way to relax. The crazy thing is—this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Bob Ross’ television show.
In fact, “The Joy of Painting” first aired over 30 years ago in 1983. The series, which ran for 11 years and 31 seasons, centered around Ross or a guest hosting painting a complete image within the 30-minute episodes.
These episodes acted as the equivalent of a cooking show in the sense that Ross had the colors needed for each painting scroll across the screen. Ross then would create the painting in a step-by-step process.
In the few episodes I’ve watched, Ross made the painting look easy, and a part of the reason why is because they are. According to a column on NPR, Ross would create three paintings for every episode. The first would be a reference painting for filming, the second was painted during filming and the third was more detailed for his instructional books.
I’m not the only one that thinks that Ross’ painting style is easy: some libraries like Ann Arbor District Library are hosting paint-along activities. During these paint-alongs, the library plays an episode of “The Joy of Painting” in which the participants can learn from Ross’ show.
Josie Parker, director of Ann Arbor District Library, stated in an interview for CBC how they expected only 16 people to show up. Yet, the first event attracted 90 people and recent sessions of painting with Bob Ross have attracted upwards of 150 people.
According to the piece on CBC, some libraries have hired Bob Ross certified instructors; yet, Parker has found that using “The Joy of Painting” helps to create a sense of community over a perfect painting.
And with how relaxing and calming Ross is during his show, it’s not surprising that Parker feels this way.
Yet, as college students, we wouldn’t necessarily need an organization like I.D. Weeks library or Student Activities to organize a “Painting with Bob Ross” night. Even though it’d take a bit of planning, it’d be easy to organize a painting with Bob Ross night with a few friends for a creative and relaxing outlet.
The Times reported how Ross acknowledged receiving letters from viewers who have stated they slept better while watching the show. Michael Acton Smith, the founder of Calm, wanted to bring the joy of sleeping to people for this very reason.
With how calming Ross is, watching him—or even just listening—could be beneficial throughout the semester. I often find myself watching Ross’ show not necessarily to learn to paint. Rather I watch it to take a step back from a crazy day or week and to relax a bit.
As the semester progresses, take some time to acquaint yourself with Bob Ross.