I'm really a tree and mountain type person.
July 12, 2019 7:52 PM   Subscribe

Where are all the Bob Ross paintings? Why can't you buy one? What happened to them? An 11 minute video from the NY Times.
posted by moonmilk (33 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
 
They're in my heart silly. All our hearts.

Miss you Bob. Thanks for helping to make rural Alabama TV with two channels, three if the wind was right, nice for this kid growing up in the early 90s.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:06 PM on July 12 [17 favorites]


That was as lovely as Bob surely deserved or would've wanted. Yadda yadda before he was cool etc but my gosh did I love Bob Ross in grade school and high school. I was actually pretty upset when he passed away. Up with the happy little clouds now I guess.
posted by chasles at 8:19 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]


Fabulous. How wonderful and rare to have lived in such a way to have people lovingly preserve your legacy and impact like that.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:21 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


This is a wonderful little documentary.

If you want to have a Bob Ross painting to hang in your home, you have to make your own. That’s what his work was about!
posted by chrchr at 8:37 PM on July 12 [26 favorites]


My 6 year old son sometimes gets too antsy near bedtime, with this weird unconscious desire to CRANK IT UP -physically, and mentally- as some sort of last ditch effort to fight the impending drop-off to sleep. When this happens, I queue up some Joy of Painting, and we both just chill out on the couch. Most times it just eases him into the transition to bedtime energy. Sometimes, Bob's soothing voice knocks him right out. And occasionally, I'll wake up next to him 2 hours and 6 paintings later to carry him up to bed.

My son's landscapes are getting pretty good, but we're not doing oil-paint wet technique just yet. Soon.
posted by onehalfjunco at 8:39 PM on July 12 [24 favorites]


I'd like to take a crack at answering one of the questions in the video -- why in the last few years has there been a kind of renaissance of Bob Ross popularity?

I think it's similar to what appears to be a major rise in Mr. Rogers' popularity, and Jim Henson's as well -- the wave of irony is ebbing, and sincerity is making a comeback in the mainstream.

Bob didn't paint ironically. He didn't paint with incredible technical skill or daring subject matter or provocative composition technique. He painted nice pretty landscapes, and encouraged the simple joy of creation for his audience.

That's not by ANY means saying that what he did wasn't "art." As a matter of fact, I think at some level, his authenticity and his sincerity was a compelling artistic statement against the trends of much art in the modern era.

For lack of a better way to put it, and at the risk of having what I say be not pertinent to a tribute to Bob, his show was kind of a 30-minute middle finger at the cooler-than-thou wings of mainstream art culture.
posted by tclark at 8:43 PM on July 12 [69 favorites]


He didn't paint with incredible technical skill

I would argue that what he does in real time (25 mins) is a pretty extreme skill. It's a very weird kind of speed painting. There is a reason most speed painters paint BIG and really graphic and really wild colors it's easier to produce things that look like art on a large gross motor scale. I've done a lot of speed painting and graffiti and the choice of scale, color and contrast hides SO much. But this is medium/small scale with lifelike colors and light and realistic scenes that our brains are great at scrutinizing.

I can paint. I've made my living as an artist before, and I can make a pretty convincing Bob Ross watching an episode and pausing and taking about 2-5 hours. For a laugh a few years back I tried to keep up in real time with all the same paints and tools.. it was... it was not great but it was certainly funny.
posted by French Fry at 8:56 PM on July 12 [80 favorites]


And then remember he painted three identical paintings for every show!
posted by Burhanistan at 8:58 PM on July 12


I'd like to take a crack at answering one of the questions in the video -- why in the last few years has there been a kind of renaissance of Bob Ross popularity?

A lot of ASMR fans like his stuff. In addition to authenticity he has a caring vibe and of course was a very chill dude. And in my opinion ASMR has become popular in part because it is filling a void in an increasingly socially isolated and overall more difficult world to live in. It's about feeling that sense of being taken care of as much as getting the "head tinglies."
posted by MillMan at 9:04 PM on July 12 [12 favorites]


They're streaming just about all the time on twitch if you want to watch them. He's bad at cabins.
posted by fleacircus at 9:05 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]


His soothing baritone voice is (a) key to his popularity, as we all know.

We don't think we can paint like he does. Maybe some people aspire to his style. I wouldn't know.
posted by kozad at 9:07 PM on July 12


He's bad at cabins.

Yea, well...
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:12 PM on July 12


His voice helps his sincere positivity conquer the natural reactions of creepy and cringe, but it's really the sincere positivity IMHO.

Yea, well...

I mentioned it by way of preparing anyone who might watch the twitch channel, because it's sort of a meme in chat about cabins; there's even a !cabin command.

(Because he was bad at cabins.)
posted by fleacircus at 9:21 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


a major rise in Mr. Rogers' popularity, and Jim Henson's as well

Disney let the Muppets languish for so long (and with them Henson's presence/memory in our pop culture) that they still haven't recovered. And after that ABC show it's going to be an uphill slog.

But I think Mr Rogers has remained popular all along but we're at the place now where children who were raised with Fred in their lives also have raised children who had Fred in their lives, and it's possible to talk about him now on a level which hadn't been before. He's still on at least one of the PBS stations around here. So generation 3....

A bittersweet adult memory of Mister Rogers is that Fred was a guest on the Diane Rehm Show in 2002 about a year before he died of stomach cancer. It was his last interview [episode page with audio and transcript]. Here's the bit that sticks with me from having heard that show live on the air:
ROGERS
And he would play the fiddle, and I would play the piano, but just the other night I was feeling a little blue, and I went to the piano, and I could literally laugh and cry through the tips of my fingers.

REHM
Why were you feeling blue?

ROGERS
Oh, I think it was just because I had a stomach ache. But I'm so used to good health, you know, that I like to be able to be strong and be able to do whatever the assignment is. And there are times when we realize hey, you know, we don't have to be perfect. And that's such a relief.
posted by hippybear at 9:24 PM on July 12 [44 favorites]


And in my opinion ASMR has become popular in part because it is filling a void in an increasingly socially isolated and overall more difficult world to live in. It's about feeling that sense of being taken care of as much as getting the "head tinglies."

Was thinking about this last night while listening to an ASMR pretend-doctor saying "Really, me just listening to you right now is the most important thing I could be doing. Your concerns are my concerns. They really are," and I realized how painfully badly I wanted to hear even the palest facsimile of that sentiment from a real doctor. Almost cried.
posted by taquito sunrise at 10:03 PM on July 12 [33 favorites]


The PP-ACA has therapist visits rolled in under the co-pay system, although finding an in-network doctor accepting patients can be a challenge. But it's worth a try if you have insurance either through work or through an exchange. I was seeing a therapist about a thing, but some visits I couldn't get into talking about that and just having someone to talk to about any fucking thing for an hour felt good on those visits.
posted by hippybear at 10:12 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


As a matter of fact, I think at some level, his authenticity and his sincerity was a compelling artistic statement against the trends of much art in the modern era.


Beautiful.
posted by darkstar at 11:09 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Since the conversation has turned to Bob Ross again, let me remind you that someone made a music video of clips from his show!

I give you: Happy Little Clouds.
posted by Quackles at 11:29 PM on July 12 [8 favorites]


In college, my fraternity brothers and I would get stoned as a bejesus and watch Bob Ross paint. We were amazed and transfixed. The voice was so soothing.

I still do not understand why he painted 3 of each picture. I get the one before the show to sort of prepare and the show one is obvious, but why the one after the show?

I also think they should have sold or lent a painting to the guy who spent all that time tracking them down. He got to hold them, but let him take one home for a month or two.
posted by AugustWest at 1:08 AM on July 13


I also think they should have sold or lent a painting to the guy...

Nah...after he gets it home Indiana Jones appears with the rainstorm and the whip and the rolling sea and he's like IT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM
posted by polecat at 1:45 AM on July 13 [6 favorites]


Disney let the Muppets languish for so long (and with them Henson's presence/memory in our pop culture) that they still haven't recovered. And after that ABC show it's going to be an uphill slog.

Yeah, its too bad. My 5 year old loves the muppets--we introduced the Muppet show after she got really obsessed with this DVD celebrating Grover that had a bunch of old school Sesame Street clips. Watching muppets with her has been downright magical. It's the perfect family show, which is something pretty rare these days.

A few of her other friends are aware of the muppets from the Disney Muppet Babies reboot, but that's it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:53 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


I casually tried to find a Bob Ross painting for my sister's 30th birthday...9 years ago. She was obsessed with Bob Ross as a kid and it would have been the perfect gift, especially from me, who is ordinarily a horrible gift-giver. I thought "this is the best idea ever!" Knowing nothing about the art world, I thought it would be, like,

1. Go to Bobross.com
2. Click on "buy a painting"
3. Painting is surprisingly affordable, so I put in my credit card number
4. Painting is delivered in a big box with the silhouette of Bob Ross' head on it
5. Sister receives painting, is thrilled. Wow! Gray Duck is the best sister ever!!

I didn't go to the same lengths as the guy in the video, but needless to say my sister does not have a Bob Ross original hanging in her living room. Maybe, for her 40th birthday, I'll buy some paints and canvases and we can paint our own Bob Rosses. That seems to be the best, most organic passing down of the Bob Ross tradition, anyway.
posted by Gray Duck at 6:58 AM on July 13 [11 favorites]


As a matter of fact, I think at some level, his authenticity and his sincerity was a compelling artistic statement against the trends of much art in the modern era.

It's not only his art that's a statement against trends of the modern era.

Before teaching and TV, Bob Ross had a 20 year career in the Air Force, including time as a drill instructor. Perhaps apocryphal, but he's often quoted as saying that once he left the Air Force, he vowed to never scream again.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:34 AM on July 13 [8 favorites]


and he's like IT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM

The thing that strikes me here is that, yeah... one day down the line, they probably will be in a museum, because Bob Ross was a culturally important artist.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 9:28 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: bad at cabins
posted by chavenet at 9:40 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


I'd like to take a crack at answering one of the questions in the video -- why in the last few years has there been a kind of renaissance of Bob Ross popularity?

I think it's similar to what appears to be a major rise in Mr. Rogers' popularity, and Jim Henson's as well -- the wave of irony is ebbing, and sincerity is making a comeback in the mainstream.

Bob didn't paint ironically. He didn't paint with incredible technical skill or daring subject matter or provocative composition technique. He painted nice pretty landscapes, and encouraged the simple joy of creation for his audience.


Yes to all that, but a ton of that could be said of Bill Alexander (who was mentioned briefly in the video): Alexander also painted in a very "Bob Ross style" of painting- he painted nice pretty landscapes, and he encouraged the simple joy of creation for his audience. Like Ross, Alexander also had a painting PBS TV show (his was called The Magic of Oil Painting and it ran from 1974 to 1982, Bob Ross's show ran from 1983 to 1994) and in fact Alexander's show is where Bob Ross learned lots of his technique.

I think Ross's voice and his suuuuuuuper laid-back attitude are a big part of what made so many people want to watch (and keep watching) his particular wet-on-wet oil-painting TV show.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:59 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]


The thing that strikes me here is that, yeah... one day down the line, they probably will be in a museum, because Bob Ross was a culturally important artist.


Well, they talk about it in the linked video.... The Bob Ross foundation is sending it all to The Smithsonian, where it will be a permanent exhibition. I'm sure they'll only actually have a hundred or so on display, along with more displays about the show and his following and impact. That's the beauty of that, because it really probably belongs in The Smithsonian as it's pretty evolved Americana all around. And the art pieces really cant be separated from the man and his show/following. So it's not like they'll just be on the wall with good lighting, it will be part of a whole display of him creating art and inspiring generations of others to at least feel it, if not try themselves.

So yeah, he's cultural capital in a museum.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:56 AM on July 13 [6 favorites]


That was really a nice little video! Ross seems to have been the genuine article and I'm glad he's getting the recognition he deserves.

I went on a similar quest around 10 years ago, choking on pop culture irony and hoping to buy a Bob Ross painting or print for a breath of fresh air. Also just kind of curious what they went for, only to find what the video's subject found: they're just not available.

A couple years after that, my grandparents passed away. My grandmother was a hobbiest painter very inspired by Ross, who she watched and imitated, and she'd given me one of her paintings. It's about as good a painting as you would imagine: rocks and streams and trees, impulsive wet oil painting, no particular focus, just kind of pretty in a sentimental way. It's not something I'd usually put on my wall but it's from Grandma so up it went.

And the more I thought of those things in light of one another the more sure I am that this is how it's supposed to go. What would a Bob Ross painting be to me? A thing I bought. It'd be a token of anti-irony that I didn't even like that much as a work on its own terms. Fun to point out to guests. Not a BAD thing at all.

But what is the painting that I have? A reminder that my grandmother loved me. A reminder that the joy of things is more in the doing of them than the product. A reminder to be unselfconscious and giving with my creativity.

I guess what I'm saying is Bob Ross didn't want me to have a Bob Ross painting. He wanted me to have my grandmother's painting. It's the way it otta be.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 12:14 PM on July 13 [40 favorites]


I was at an Iron Maiden concert a few years ago and it was a sea of black t-shirts from various Maiden tours or other metal bands. And then there was a guy with a black t-shirt with Bob Ross on it. People were losing it as he walked past.
posted by Ber at 12:23 PM on July 13 [14 favorites]


why the one after the show?

Those went into the books.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:26 PM on July 13


Millions of dollars worth of art in a lightly-secured suburban industrial park office... isn't this the setup for a story about an art heist?
posted by peeedro at 8:07 PM on July 13 [4 favorites]


peeedro: you've found your screenplay idea.
posted by hippybear at 10:20 AM on July 14


another day volunteering at the bob ross museum. everyone keeps asking me if they can buy a painting. buddy,
posted by mbrubeck at 9:45 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


« Older The ravelled sleave of care   |   The House of the Century Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments