To Top

Would you Believe It? Bob Ross was a Drill Sergeant for 20 Years!

Ross was born in Florida in October 1942. Ross was a sensitive child and cared for a number of injured and vulnerable animals like snakes, alligators, and squirrels, nursing back to health. Ross dropped out of school in 9th grade to train with his father, as a carpenter. At 18, Ross enlisted in the United States Air Force, stationed in Alaska. He was a medical records technician before becoming a Master Sergeant.


Ross served the USAF for 20 years and developed his love for painting. Inspired by beautiful landscapes in Alaska, Bob joined painting classes, finding peace and solace when putting a brush to his canvas.  Ross lost part of his index finger, but that didn’t affect his ability to create art. After leaving the Air Force, he attended various art schools and was tutored by Bill Alexander to perfect the wet-on-wet technique which allowed the artist to create paintings swiftly by applying one layer on top of another.

Bob Ross was a Beloved Artist and TV Star

Creator: Acey Harper | Credit: The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images | Copyright: Acey Harper

Bob Ross with his impressive perm hairstyle, is loved by pop culture fans around the world for his ‘happy little trees’. Ross sold his signature paintings as a Master Sergeant in the Air Force. Eventually, with serious money as a painter, he retired from service and focussed on his budding painting career. Developing the rapid wet -on-wet technique while painting on his lunch breaks, Ross became very successful. A former student, Annette Kowalski convinced him to launch Bob Ross Inc.  with his wife and Kowalski. In 1983, Ross got his own show on PBS called ‘The Joy of Painting’. The show was shot in Muncie, Indiana, but Ross had a worldwide audience of fans who appreciated his laid-back and simple style. Ross made the paintings look fun and simple and the series ran for over 300 episodes ending in May 1994, due to his ill-health.  Ross never earned anything from ‘The Joy of Painting’ series. The series was a hit, but Ross did the show for free. Bob Ross Inc., used the PBS show platform to sell art supplies, conduct workshops, sell paintings, and instructional videos.

Creator: Acey Harper | Credit: The LIFE Images | Collection via Getty Images | Copyright: Acey Harper

Ross wasn’t interested in the finished painting. His passion was teaching people, sharing his gift, and helping others find inner peace that art brings. Ross developed over 30000 paintings which is thrice the number created by prolific painter Picasso. Ross created paintings of landscapes while urging audiences to join him and sketch “happy little clouds and happy little trees.” Though few joined him, many loved his inspiring messages, his calm voice, chill demeanour and gentle humour. Ross would make painting look easy by playing down skills involved, claiming it was easy.  He would then take out a brush and say it was time to get crazy.

Bob Ross passes away

Ross produced thousands of paintings, being one of the most prolific artists. Bob Ross Inc. has many paintings in storage, but prefers not to list them for sale, and even those sell for over $10k. Ross died in 1995, of lymphoma at the height of his fame. He was only 52 at the time, but has an impressive net worth of approximately $10 million. Fans love Ross’s paintings for his legacy of peace and positivity.

More in Top Bank Accounts

You must be logged in to post a comment Login