Bob Ross was a prolific painter who created and starred in the popular PBS television show The Joy of Painting, where he taught viewers how to create landscapes using the wet-on-wet technique. While he was well-known as an optimistic, soft-spoken artist - the Mr. Rogers of painting, really - there is quite a bit of amazing Bob Ross information out there that the public may not know. For example, what did he do before he started painting? How many "happy trees" did he actually paint? And exactly how did he feel about his infamous perm?
Although Ross passed away at age 52 due to lymphoma in 1995, his fame has not diminished. His videos have millions of views on YouTube and he has over 600,000 followers on Twitch, where PBS regularly marathons episodes of The Joy of Painting. His soothing voice continues to calm people and his endless cache of inspirational quotes, like, “There are no mistakes, only happy accidents,” is more relevant than ever.
In the words of the immortal painter, “Let’s get crazy.” Check out these awesome Bob Ross facts and get ready to appreciate the legend that is Bob Ross.
He Made 3 Copies Of Each Painting
Bob Ross tirelessly churned out three copies of every painting that appeared on The Joy of Painting. He kept the first painting off-screen and used it as a reference as he worked on the copy that appeared on the show. The final painting was completed after the episode was shot. A photographer would take pictures of Ross painting this final copy, and these images would appear in Ross’s how-to books.
Three copies of each landscape equal three times as many happy trees. Imagine.
PBS Didn’t Pay Him For 'The Joy Of Painting'
Bob Ross generously filmed 31 seasons of The Joy of Painting, but PBS didn't pay the artistic genius for a single episode. Instead, Ross used the show to market his brand. He made most of his money from his company, Bob Ross Inc., selling art supplies and instructional guides.
The company also offered painting classes taught by artists trained in Ross's singular methods.
He Was Missing A Finger
Like a true hardcore carpenter, Bob Ross lost the tip of his left index finger as a teen during a woodworking accident while he was operating a saw. The missing digit was often almost impossible to spot on The Joy of Painting, however, because he always held his palette with his left hand while painting with his right.
It should also be noted that missing part of his left index finger did not affect his badass status one bit.
He Kept Animals In His Shirt Pockets
In addition to being a sleep-inducing master, Bob Ross was an avid animal lover. Fans who regularly watched The Joy of Painting squealed with joy every time Peapod the pocket squirrel made an appearance on the show. Peapod could be found chilling in Ross’s shirt pocket as he painted, and sometimes Ross would take a break from painting and bottle-feed the squirrel. Peapod wasn’t the only animal who appeared on the show - Ross had birds, several squirrels, and even a deer make appearances, although not in the actual studio.
Some of these fluffy interlopers, like Hoot the owl, came from Ross’s friends who cared for rescued animals. One of those friends was Diana Schaffer, who Ross always referred to as "the bird lady." Check out this video that shows Ross interacting with some of his furry friends.