The Bob Ross Virtual Art Gallery: A New Site Presents 403 Paintings from The Joy of Painting Series

“We don’t make mis­takes. We have hap­py acci­dents,” the late Bob Ross soothed fans paint­ing along at home, while brush­ing an alarm­ing amount of black onto one of his sig­na­ture nature scenes.

His mel­low on-cam­era demeanor and flow­ing, wet-on-wet oil paint­ing style were per­fect­ly cal­i­brat­ed to help tight­ly-wound view­ers relax into a right-brained groove.

The cre­ators of the Bob Ross Vir­tu­al Art Gallery take a more left brained approach.

Hav­ing col­lect­ed data on Ross’ ever­green series, The Joy of Paint­ing, they ana­lyzed it for fre­quen­cy of col­or use over the show’s 403 episodes, as well as the num­ber of col­ors applied to each can­vas.

For those keep­ing score, after black and white, alizarin crim­son was the col­or Ross favored most, and 1/4 of the paint­ings made on air boast 12 col­ors.

The data could be slight­ly skewed by the con­tri­bu­tions of occa­sion­al guest artists such as Ross’ for­mer instruc­tor, John Thamm, who once coun­seled Ross to “paint bush­es and trees and leave por­trait paint­ing to some­one else.” Thamm availed him­self of a sin­gle col­or — Van Dyke Brown — to demon­strate the wipe out tech­nique. His con­tri­bu­tion is one of the few human like­ness­es that got paint­ed over the show’s 11-year pub­lic tele­vi­sion run.

The Bob Ross Vir­tu­al Art Gallery has sev­er­al options for view­ing the data.

Mouse over a grid of grey rec­tan­gles to see the 403 art­works pre­sent­ed in chrono­log­i­cal order, along with titles and episode num­bers.

(This has all the mak­ings of a thump­ing good mem­o­ry game, à la Con­cen­tra­tion… flip all the rec­tan­gles, study them, then see if you can nav­i­gate back to all the cab­ins or mead­ows.)

A bar graph, sim­i­lar­ly com­posed of rec­tan­gles, reveals the col­ors that went into each paint­ing.

Anoth­er chart ana­lyzes Ross’ use of col­or over time, as he moved away from Burnt Umber and eased up on Pftha­lo Green.


Indi­an Red was accord­ed but a sin­gle use, in sea­son 22’s first episode, “Autumn Images.” (“Let’s sparkle this up. We’re gonna have fall col­ors. Let’s get crazy.”)

For art lovers crav­ing a more tra­di­tion­al gallery expe­ri­ence, site cre­ator Con­nor Roth­schild has installed a vir­tu­al bench fac­ing a frame capa­ble of dis­play­ing all the paint­ings in ran­dom or chrono­log­i­cal order, with dig­i­tal swatch­es rep­re­sent­ing the paints that went into them and YouTube links to the episodes that pro­duced them.

And for those who’d rather gaze at data sci­ence, the code is avail­able on GitHub.

Explore the Bob Ross Vir­tu­al Art Gallery here. Scroll down to take advan­tage of all the options.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Watch Every Episode of Bob Ross’ The Joy Of Paint­ing Free Online: 403 Episodes Span­ning 31 Sea­sons

The Joy of Paint­ing with Bob Ross & Banksy: Watch Banksy Paint a Mur­al on the Jail That Once Housed Oscar Wilde

Expe­ri­ence the Bob Ross Expe­ri­ence: A New Muse­um Open in the TV Painter’s For­mer Stu­dio Home

Bob Ross’ Christ­mas Spe­cial: Cel­e­brate, Relax, Nod Off

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain: The Peri­od­i­cal Cica­da, a free vir­tu­al vari­ety show hon­or­ing the 17-Year Cicadas of Brood X. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

by | Permalink | Comments (3) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (3)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Rick Grant says:

    Every paint­ing in the list is attrib­uted to Bob but there were many episodes where his son paint­ed plus the arti­cle itself lists a paint­ing by his men­tor that also seems absent.

  • Claudia Frid says:

    What a won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ty. I used to watch Ross all the time. He was amaz­ing. I do love to paint and I was encour­aged to watch him. Thank you

  • Brian Woods says:

    has been retired due to a cease and desist from Bob Ross, Inc. 😢

    I just tried to view this today.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.