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Series: The Joy Of Painting
Let's build some happy little trees.

"I'd like to wish you happy painting, and God bless, my friends."

The Joy of Painting was a half-hour art instruction show that ran from 1983 to 1994. Hosted by Bob Ross, noted for his legendarily cheery manner and soft, friendly voice, the show aimed to teach people painting techniques in the amount of time given. Ross worked in oil paints and taught a method called "wet-on-wet painting", where the canvas would be coated with wet white paint and other colors would be laid over it, allowing for a variety of blending techniques. The show was very minimalist, using only a black background and two camera positions. Due to his time spent being stationed in Alaska in the Air Force, all of Ross' paintings were of nature, mostly forests or mountain valleys.


This show provides examples of:

  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Sometimes Bob Ross allowed other artists onto the show. Including Audrey Goldwin, Joyce Hortner, and once his own son. Even more irregular was one guest artist drew a person rather than a landscape.
  • Auto-Tune: Used now.
  • Catch Phrase: To name a few...
    • "From all of us here, I want to wish you happy painting and God bless, my friends."
    • He's also known for his "happy little trees", while only said on the occasion stuck with viewers.
    • About once a season, at least, he'll explain how he told his son to get in tune with his painting ability. "Just pretend you are a whisper floating across a mountain."
    • He would often remind the viewers of a central rule to his technique: "A thin paint will stick to a thick paint."
    • "There..."
  • Chroma Key: Intros to the show (usually not on the repackaged 'Best of the Joy of Painting') has 'The Little Painter Guy' (Bob) painting a scene with a giant brush (broom) in front of a chroma key.
  • Creator Thumbprint:
    • Ross' favorite part of painting was washing the brush, which involved knocking it against various things.
    • Ross also admitted that most of his landscapes were influenced by his time spent in Alaska.
    • Drawing trees together since "everybody needs a friend".
    • Many paintings have some sort of water in them, using several layers of paint to form the waves and colour layers.
    • And nearly literally, when he signed his paintings (naturally)
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: According to his own description of his Air Force service, he was one. His actual rank, in case you were wondering, was Master Sergeant.
  • Drink Order: While he was never seen drinking it on the show, Bob seems to have had a fondness for iced tea.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Surprisingly Bob looks older with the very first season than how he looked at the end of the show. His large glasses and fuller beard made him look older than he was. The first season, at least, had music playing during the show and would sometimes have cut edits. A pretty big difference from the real time and music-less version most people remember.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Ross was a really nice guy. This can't be stressed enough. He left his position in the Air Force because he didn't want to become "mean". He sometimes brought small animals on the show, as he usually took in injured ones he found.
  • Funny Afro: Ross had quite the hairstyle.
  • The Joy of X: A deliberate choice of titles; Ross made a point to emphasize having fun with painting.
  • Makes Sense In Context: "Make love to the canvas..."
  • Mr. Imagination: Subverted. Ross' loosely-controlled imagination spawned such lovely paintings
  • Nice Guy: Ross' whole shtick. More than one person has drawn a comparison between him and fellow PBS star Fred Rogers.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word:
    • A "cabinectomy" is a word meaning to use a paint knife to cut off the bottom of a painted cabin, giving the image of the cabin having a foundation in the ground.
    • "My son, Steve says, 'Just smoosh it in there'. Nobody knows what it means, but they seem to understand."
  • Perpetual Smiler: Both on and off camera, Bob was always said to be a very amiable person.
  • The Pollyanna: It's his world, he'll make it happy. His suggestion for wanting negative stuff is "watch the news".
  • The Power of Creation: Though he had Alaska as an inspiration, Bob did not paint from life, but rather created his own landscapes. He expounded on the fact that there are no limits to what you can make, and "[the painting] is your world," creating the impression he was generating whole realities with his brush.
  • Scenery Porn: His paintings. All. Of. Them.
  • Spiritual Successor: To The Magic of Oil Painting, another PBS painting instructional show hosted by Bob Ross' mentor, Bill Alexander.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Iced tea, which he regularly encouraged viewers to have prepared alongside their art supplies. He attributed his love of iced tea to his upbringing in the South.
  • The Treachery of Images: Subverted. Ross was well aware about how his paintings were of his own creation, but reveled in the creative freedom this allowed both him and and the people who watched his show.
  • Throw It In: Invoked:
  • True Art Is Angsty: Invoked only to be defied by Ross, who said, "We want happy paintings. Happy paintings. If you want sad things, watch the news." The show is called "The Joy of Painting," after all; what did you expect?
  • Voice Clip Song: "Happy Little Clouds." Commissioned by PBS themselves, from the guy who does Symphony Of Science.


Aaand we'll finish off our trope page with... a happy little joke. And that'll just be our little secret. :)


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