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Of 403 episodes of Bob Ross "The Joy of Painting”, 91% contain at least one happy tree and 2% of them contain bridges. (FiveThirtyEight)


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Today I Learned that out of the 403 episodes of “The Joy of Painting” with Bob Ross, 91% of them contain at least one happy tree and 2% of them contain bridges.

900+ Reddit comments:

http://reddit.com/r/todayilearned/comments/30vrqe/til_out_of_the_403_episodes_of_the_joy_of/

 Top Reddit comments include a few favorite Bob Ross quotes:

We don't know where it goes. We don't really care.

And

Oooh, if you have never been to Alaska, go there while it is still wild. My favorite uncle asked me if I wanted to go there, Uncle Sam. He said if you don't go, you're going to jail. That is how Uncle Sam asks you.

And

See, that's the great thing about painting landscapes. There are so many possibilities. If you paint a portrait and you put someone's eye in the wrong place, chances are they'll notice it. But if you paint a tree, nobody'll come along and say 'hey, I know that tree. We went to different schools together.'

his uncle sam comment is hilarious. :)

Oh yes. He used to refer to Uncle Sam as his favorite uncle regularly.

But yeah, funny that he said Uncle Sam "asked" him. :)

Classic FiveThirtyEight statistical analysis of Bob Ross paintings:

A Statistical Analysis of the Work of Bob Ross FiveThirtyEight

Bob Ross almost never painted humans:

To learn more about Ross and his work beyond what I already knew from the data, I called Annette Kowalski, who founded Bob Ross Inc. with the painter and remains the steward of his work.4 She confirmed something I had discovered in my review of hundreds of Ross’s landscapes: His work isn’t defined by what is included in his paintings, but by what’s excluded.

“I can think of two times he painted people,” Kowalski said. “There was a man by a campfire,5 and two people walking through the woods.”6 Indeed, our data shows that Ross only painted a person — in silhouette against a tree near a campfire — one time.

When we analyze the structures he painted, it appears Ross preferred the simple to the elaborate. He painted 69 cabins, 25 fences in various states of disrepair and 17 barns. More complex man-made structures are remarkably rare in his work. Bridges appear only seven times. Boats and mills, twice each. Ross painted one dock, one lighthouse and one windmill over his 381 episodes.

There’s something about the structures Ross painted that has gone almost entirely unnoticed by fans, according to Kowalski.

“I will tell you Bob’s biggest secret. If you notice, his cabins never had chimneys on them,” she said. “That’s because chimneys represented people, and he didn’t want any sign of a person in his paintings. Check the cabins. They have no chimneys.”

cabin #8 in the collage above has a chimney!

Woah, it does. I did not notice that till you said so!

Here is one of the few Bob Ross paintings to feature a human:

A Statistical Analysis of the Work of Bob Ross FiveThirtyEight

he really knew his jam.  look at his use of light and shadow in this last one. he has limited himself to only three basic colors, yellow, orange and black, but has created this whole scene in just thirty minutes that we all understand.  plus, he was happy while he did it and shared his joy with others. that is why i love him!

The more I learn about him, the more amazing I think he is.

Not just the skill and speed but also the attitude and temperament. No wonder he's your hero!

his attitude is really my favorite part.  i have other artist heroes that i admire for other reasons (dali, kahlo and picasso, for example) and while they may be more creative and experimental, they are not light and joyful.  i love the joy of bob ross!

Do you think he was naturally happy? Or was it drugs? Or did he have a system?

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