I Took a Bob Ross Painting Lesson—Here's How It Turned Out

Since I’m extremely bored here in quarantine, I decided to do something I have always wanted to do. I absolutely love Bob Ross and his paintings so much. Whenever I have a bad day or just can’t fall asleep, I watch his episodes on Netflix and they immediately make me feel calm. I can’t get enough of his little sayings, like “happy little trees” or “we don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” His positivity and pure joy when painting radiate through the screen and it makes me feel so warm and content. So, even though I have absolutely no artistic talent or art experience at all, I decided to try to follow along with one of his episodes and create one of his happy little paintings.

Paint and blank canvas on table

To begin, I had to find art supplies. Luckily, my sister is an artist, so she had plenty of blank canvases and paint lying around. However, I had to use watercolors instead of oil paint (which Bob Ross usually uses). Using watercolor definitely made it a little bit harder to copy exactly what he was doing, but it worked nonetheless. It also may be easier for first-time painters like me to use watercolors because you can use them inside, they are easier to clean up, and they are not as toxic as oil paint.

There are tons of Bob Ross episodes on Netflix, so pick whichever one you want! I chose to follow his Collection 1 episode called “Winter Paradise.” Most of his episodes feature cold winter scenes, but I chose this episode because it is more of a warmer winter scene. Below is a picture of the painting I planned on creating. Also, make sure you have all of the colors he uses before you begin! I ran into some trouble since I did not have some of his colors.

The first step of the painting was the sky, which Bob painted a light pink and blue. I tried my best to copy this by adding a lot of water to the pink and blue pigments to create lighter colors for the sky. He blended in these two colors in his painting, but since I was using watercolors, it was a little difficult to achieve the blend he did. So, I used water to blend the two colors as best as I could. 

Next, Bob painted some white fluffy clouds into the sky. I did not have white watercolor paint, so I used darker hues of blue and pink to accentuate the lighter parts of the sky to create the illusion of a cloud. Then, Bob made the mountains. He used a palette knife to drag his oil paint across the canvas to create a mountain with dimension; I actually did have a palette knife, so I tried my best to drag the watercolor paint across the canvas to create some mountains as well. Bob also dragged white paint on top of the mountains to create the illusion of snow, which was somewhat impossible for me to do since I did not have any white paint. However, I did use darker shades of my paint in order to highlight certain parts of the mountains.

Then, it was time for the happy little trees. After creating a dark color with brown, purple, and black paints, I used a thinner brush to stencil in a thin trunk for the trees. Then, I created a more purple color and used a thicker brush to sweep in some branches and twigs. Since I did not have a fan brush like Bob Ross, I tried to use my thick brush to make larger indentations for the branches, and I think it turned out alright. After I made my trees, I used water to try to spread out the bottom of the trees into a reflection. And after some final touches, I was done!

a painting and paint on a table

Even though I used a different kind of paint and brush than Bob Ross uses, I think my painting still turned out great (especially for someone who has absolutely no experience in painting). It just goes to show that no matter what supplies you have and no matter how much experience you have in painting, Bob Ross can still help you be a true painter!

I will most definitely try this again, as I had so much fun trying something new, and it was such a great quarantine activity! If there’s one thing I know about Bob Ross it’s this: he will always make you feel better, no matter what.


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