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Bob Ross and the Joy of Painting

Published: 10/29/2012

Born Oct. 29, 1942, Bob Ross, host of PBS's "The Joy of Painting," would have turned 70 today. When he died July 4, 1995, he left a legacy of a quiet but deeply-felt love for his art.

He may not have been as world famous as Picasso or as acclaimed as Van Gogh, but Bob Ross had something other artists didn't.

He had happy little trees.

Bob Ross (AP Photo / Copyright Bob Ross Inc., The Joy of Painting)

"The Joy of Painting," still seen in repeats, aired on PBS from 1983 to 1994 with its bushy-haired, mellow-voiced host. (AP Photo / Copyright Bob Ross Inc. ® The Joy of Painting)

Starting in 1983 and continuing until just a year before his 1995 death from lymphoma, Ross brought us The Joy of Painting. As the host of TV's best-loved painting instruction show, he shared the "wet-on-wet" painting technique he used, layering oil paint on top of older layers that hadn't yet dried to quickly create a scene – generally, for Ross, a landscape. And he exuded calm, almost mesmerizing his viewers as he described his methods.

Even all these years after Ross's death, his show is still a cult favorite. And it gained new legs with this year's "remix" by Melodysheep and PBS Digital Studios, in which they used autotune to turn Ross's instruction into a seriously catchy song.

Ross's gentle demeanor was irresistible. He was proud of it, too – as he once commented, "I got a letter from somebody here a while back, and they said, 'Bob, everything in your world seems to be happy.' That's for sure. That's why I paint. It's because I can create the kind of world that I want, and I can make this world as happy as I want it. Shoot, if you want bad stuff, watch the news."

Shoot, Bob, we would rather watch you paint.

Written by Linnea Crowther

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