The King of Sooth

By -

I’ve mentioned my fondness for the late painting teacher Bob Ross in the past, but it’s time to devote a post to him. The irony is that I can barely draw a stick figure. I have no interest in creating art, but I’ve always found watching artists at work to be supremely comforting. As guilty pleasures go, it’s probably fairly harmless.

But whenever I am interested in someone, even slightly, I like to learn a few things about them. Here are some surprising Bob Ross facts that I found interesting:

+ He was a military bad-ass: Remember Gunnery Sergeant Hartman at the opening of Full Metal Jacket? That was pretty much Bob Ross’ job. He spent twenty years in the U.S. Air Force. In an interview, he said, “”I was the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work. The job requires you to be a mean, tough person. And I was fed up with it.” So, being fed up with it, he became the World’s Nicest Guy.

+ The white-guy afro? It was to save money: As a young adult, he tried to cut back expenses wherever he could, and he decided to get his hair permed to reduce expense on haircuts. He didn’t like his new hair, but after he became famous, he realized it was a trademark look, so he kept it. It’s hard to imagine Bob with straight hair.

+ His inspiration came from his doppelganger: While working as a bartender (yep, a bartender) up in Alaska, Ross watched the painting lessons of William Alexander on television, and that’s where he latched on the idea of learning to paint and, later, teaching others to paint. Patton Oswalt has a brilliant routine on the contrast between these two men:

+ Ross’ work has been subject to statistical analysis: Check this out.……


+ He was a prolific fellow: In his professional life, Ross created over 30,000 paintings (I’ve only done half that many blog posts!) He gave virtually all of them away to PBS stations and charities.

+ He was as sweet as he seemed: By all accounts, Bob was as nice and gentle a person as he appeared to be on his show. He was known for rescuing injured animals and nursing them back to health; he was a loving father; and he was consistently humble and grateful. In short, Bob was a very easy guy to like.

I’ll end with this funny epic battle……’s to Bob!