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.
No One Really Knows How Much His Paintings Are Worth
Bob Ross was one of the most prolific painters of his generation. Since he created three paintings for each episode of The Joy of Painting, he ended up with thousands of works over the course of his life. Some estimates place the number at 30,000. One painting was expected to fetch between $600 and $1,000 at auction, but it didn't sell. Another painting, “Northern Lights” (shown above), was put up for auction in 2009 with a starting bid of $6,000. Sadly, that one didn't sell, either.
Since there are no public records of Bob Ross painting sales, it's impossible to estimate how much they might be worth.
He Received Up To 200 Fan Letters A Day
Bob Ross was practically drowning in fan letters. His popularity and Ambien-like effect on viewers caused them to send him up to 200 letters every day. Sometimes, when a regular letter writer stopped writing in, Ross would call the fan to see if they were okay. During the winter holidays, he would send paintings to fans whose stories touched him.
Basically, he not only nailed the wet-on-wet technique, but he was one awesome, caring dude on top of it all.
He Painted An Ungodly Amount Of Happy Trees
Bob Ross painted enough happy trees to repopulate several stripped forests. In fact, about 91% of Ross’s paintings included at least one happy tree. This statistical analysis of Ross’s work on The Joy of Painting breaks down what he painted and how often. Trees are at the top of the list, naturally, followed by clouds, mountains, grass, and lakes.
Viewers might have noticed that Ross’s paintings rarely made references to the presence of people, with very few exceptions, like a well-lit cabin or a smoking chimney. Apparently, this was a conscious decision on Ross’s part. He preferred nature to be at the forefront of his work.
He Donated Most Of His Paintings
So what happened to all the masterpieces Bob Ross painstakingly created? Ross said the following about the works that appeared on The Joy of Painting: “Most of these paintings are donated to PBS stations across the country. They auction them off, and they make a happy buck with ‘em."