Bob Ross was the host of 'The Joy of Painting.'
Google pays homage to American painter Bob Ross whose 70th birthday is celebrated.

Bob Ross: How did he get so mellow?

Bob Ross, whose 70th birthday is celebrated Monday with a Google Doodle, said that one experience made him vow never to raise his voice again.

Painter Bob Ross, whose 70th birthday is celebrated with a doodle on Google's home page, was famous for his soothing voice.

“We don't have mistakes here,” the host of the long-running PBS program, “The Joy of Painting,” would often say as he completed a landscape painting using oils. “We just have happy accidents.” When adding items, Ross often referred to them as “happy”: the artist would dab in a “happy little cloud” or a “happy little tree.”

“His style is as soothing as warm milk and cookies,” Orlando Sentinel writer Linda Shrieves wrote.

What made the painter so softspoken? Ross said that he promised himself he would keep his voice down after his time in the military. The artist joined the Air Force when he was 19 and was sent to Alaska, the place where he saw daily the geographic features like mountains and snow that would feature heavily in his “Joy of Painting” artwork. (Ross was originally from Florida and then went to high school in Pennsylvania.) The artist started painting landscapes on tins used for gold-panning on his lunch breaks and sold them to gift shops to make extra cash while in the military.

But it was his job as first sergeant that made Ross promise himself to never scream again when he left the Air Force.

“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,”' he told the Orlando Sentinel. “The job requires you to be a mean, tough person. And I was fed up with it. I promised myself that if I ever got away from it, it wasn't going to be that way any more.”

Ross started his public-access TV show in 1983, on which the artist was able to create a painting quickly by using the wet-on-wet oil technique. Wet-on-wet oil painting lets an artist add wet paint on top of a layer that is still wet and thus complete the artwork more quickly rather than requiring the painter to wait for one layer to dry.

Though the TV series ended in 1994, a year before Ross passed away, clips and full episodes of his shows on YouTube have individually racked up millions of hits, with one video titled “Bob Ross: Painting Mountains” boasting more than 4 million views.

“'I don't intimidate anyone,” Ross said in an interview with the Sentinel of his show. “Instead, I try to get people to believe in themselves. I tell people, 'You can do this.' And they write back and say, 'You were right. I can do this. And now I believe I can do anything.’”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Bob Ross: How did he get so mellow?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today