With his soothing voice and famous catchphrases, Robert Norman “Bob” Ross inspired many Americans to pick up a paintbrush and put it to canvas.
The famed oil painter brought “Happy Little Trees” and “Mystic Mountains” to our television screens for many years with his show “The Joy of Painting”, which aired from 1983 until 1994 on PBS. What many people may not know about Ross is that prior to being an instructional painter, he was a military man.
In fact, Mr. Ross served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years, 1961-1981, where he would achieve the rank of Master Sergeant. Ross held main leadership positions, which included serving as a first sergeant.
Ross said in a 1990 interview with the Orlando Sentinel that he had jobs in the Air Force that required him to be “tough and mean;” however, it did not fit his personality and he vowed to change when he left the service.
“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 said. ”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 anymore.”
While some aspects of military life could be rough and not appealing to him, it did play a part in his success following his post-military career.
Unfortunately, the world lost Bob Ross way too soon in 1995 after a long battle with lymphoma. He was only 52 years old.
Along with his paintings, Bob Ross left us so many incredible life lessons that we can all learn from. Here are 6 of those lessons:
1. Inspiration can come from anywhere
It was his time while stationed in Alaska that inspired much of his work. Many of his paintings feature mountains covered in snow as well as open landscapes. While he may have not always liked the military lifestyle, he found peace living in the “Last Frontier.”
Along with his time in Alaska, the rapid speed in which he painted was also inspired by his military background. Ross leveraged his work pace in his military career to translate it to his painting technique. Aspects in your everyday life can serve as moments of inspiration.
2. Do not set limitations
Bob Ross was never one to set rules when he was painting. He would typically tell his viewers “paint what you want,” or “do what you feel.” Many art teachers may follow the traditional rules of painting but Bob Ross likes to throw out the rule book.
3. Staying calm
Bob Ross was one cool individual. He never seemed to get stressed out or frustrated when he was painting. His tone was always so relaxing, and he always seemed to put life into perspective when his was painting. Ross remained calm on a consistent basis, which had a direct link to his performance. This cool demeanor allowed him to complete thousands of paintings throughout his career making him not only a great painter but a successful TV personality and businessman.
4. Follow your passion
Following his military career, Bob Ross could have easily taken the conservative route working a regular job. Instead he took a risk by following his passion for painting, and he devoted his life to it. In the process of following his dreams, he helped others discover a love for the arts. It is an accomplished that only a few of us dare to do because many of us have a fear of failure.
5. Stay positive
Having a great attitude in life is not always easy. Let’s face it life is hectic. However, Bob Ross always seem to have an optimistic viewpoint. Even when he made a mistake, he would say “there are no mistakes, just happy accidents”
6. Believe in yourself
At the 2:29 mark of this clip Bob Ross gives us his best advice saying the following “The secret to doing anything is believing that you can do it. Anything that you believe you can do strong enough, you can do. Anything. As long as you believe.” If you ever start to doubt yourself just remember these words.
Bob Ross’ influence and legacy is enduring to this day. Luckily for us, Netflix announced this past June that it is now streaming his other show “Beauty is Everywhere” on its service giving a whole new generation of people the chance to discover his great work, positive vibes and of course his glorious afro.