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The Joy of Painting

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The Joy of Painting
Created byBob Ross
StarringBob Ross
Nicholas Hankins
Opening themeInterlude by Larry Owens
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons32
No. of episodes410 (list of episodes)
Running time30 minutes
Production companiesWNVC
(season 1)
(seasons 2–31)
(season 32)
Original release
NetworkPBS Member Stations
ReleaseJanuary 11, 1983 (1983-01-11) –
May 17, 1994 (1994-05-17)
The Magic of Oil Painting

The Joy of Painting is an American half-hour instructional television show created and hosted by painter Bob Ross which ran from January 11, 1983, to May 17, 1994. In most episodes, Ross taught techniques for landscape oil painting, completing a painting in each session. Occasionally, episodes featured a guest artist who would demonstrate a different painting technique. The program followed the same format as its predecessor from 1974 to 1982, The Magic of Oil Painting, hosted by Ross's mentor Bill Alexander. In 2024, new episodes featuring paintings Ross had completed before his death and hosted by Nicholas Hankins were released.


The show was aired and produced by non-commercial, public television stations. The first season aired in early 1983 and was produced by WNVC in Falls Church, Virginia. Starting in the second season in late 1983, the show was produced by WIPB in Muncie, Indiana, until its end in 1994, and later by Blue Ridge Public Television in Roanoke, Virginia. The show is currently being distributed by American Public Television. Reruns began syndication at PBS stations in the United States in 1992, under the moniker The Best of The Joy of Painting, featuring a collection of Bob Ross's favorite paintings from past seasons. By the early 1990s, nearly 300 episodes of The Joy of Painting were on the air in the United States on PBS and in Canada on CBC Television. The Joy of Painting would later begin broadcasting in different places around the world, such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, the United Kingdom, Latin America, Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Turkey, Iran, South Korea, Australia, and Japan.

In 2022, Joan Kowalski, an executive at Ross' holding company and daughter of business partners Walt and Annette Kowalski, and WDSC-TV commissioned a pilot based on a painting that was unfinished for a 32nd season that was planned when Ross died before production began. Bob Ross Art Worship and Gallery instructor Nicholas Hankins hosted the pilot, which was well-received that a full 13-episode run was filmed in March and June 2023.[1] Originally intended to be filmed as The Best of the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross, WDSC and Bob Ross, Inc. used the eight paintings from the unfinished season and five new paintings to finish the season. The new series is distributed with PBS and American Public Television under the title The Joy of Painting with Nicholas Hankins: Bob Ross's Unfinished Season.[2]


At the beginning of each episode, the canvas was blank. Most episodes would begin with either a blank white canvas, or less often, a canvas pre-painted with black gesso; this blank canvas would be coated with a thin coat of liquid white paint (for a white canvas; Ross used Bill Alexander's proprietary Magic White in earlier seasons before going to a generic name later on) or a dark color (for black). If a painting was expected to take longer than the half-hour time slot, the earliest steps would be prepared before the episode started as Ross gave a cursory explanation of his canvas preparation. For shorter paintings, Ross would fill time by showing off animals such as his pet squirrel Peapod or videos of him at a nature preserve, or footage of Ross at a public event. Within the first few minutes of each show, the blank canvas has turned into a landscape, seascape and winter scenery, using the wet-on-wet technique, in which the painter adds still-wet paint, rather than waiting for each layer of paint to dry. Combining this method with the use of two-inch and other types of brushes, as well as painting knives, allowed him to paint trees, water, clouds, mountains, seascapes and winter scenery in a matter of seconds. The paintings featured colors that Ross had on the show, such as titanium white, phthalo green, phthalo blue, Prussian blue, midnight black, dark sienna, van dyke brown, burnt umber (discontinued in later seasons), alizarin crimson, sap green, cadmium yellow, yellow ochre, Indian yellow and bright red (permanent red in earlier seasons).

Each painting started with criss-cross strokes, that appeared to be nothing more than the smudges of color. As more criss-cross were added, the blotches transformed into intricate paintings.[3] While painting, he instructed viewers regarding the techniques that he was using, he told stories about the "happy little clouds", and "happy little trees", that he was creating. He would often attach human emotions to the objects he was painting; after painting a tree trunk, for example, Ross would usually add another nearby "because it needs a friend". He would occasionally present home video footage of himself with a baby deer, a raccoon and another small animal. Each program was shot in real time with two cameras: a medium shot of Ross and his canvas, and a close-up shot of the canvas or palette. At the end of each episode, Ross was known for saying something akin to, "...so, from all of us here, I'd like to wish you happy painting, and God bless, my friend...". Then, the show's theme song ("Interlude", a stock selection from Network Music, from season 2 onward) played, as the credits rolled over a shot of the finished and successful painting.

Ross created three versions of each painting. The first, done prior to taping, sat on an easel off-camera and was used as a template to create a second, which the viewers actually watched him paint, after taping he painted a more detailed third one for inclusion in his instructional books.[4] All three were then donated to various PBS stations, the Smithsonian Institution, or kept by Bob Ross, Inc.[5][6]

The show featured many guest appearances from other painters, who painted in Ross's stead, such as Dana Jester,[7][8] Ross's son Steve,[9] John Thamm, Audrey Golden, Joyce Ortner, Ben Stahl, Dorothy Dent, his business partner Annette Kowalski (who specialized in floral painting) and Diane Andre.[10]


Season Episodes Originally aired
Season premiere Season finale
1 13 January 11, 1983 (1983-01-11) March 29, 1983 (1983-03-29)
2 13 August 31, 1983 (1983-08-31) November 23, 1983 (1983-11-23)
3 13 January 4, 1984 (1984-01-04) March 29, 1984 (1984-03-29)
4 13 September 5, 1984 (1984-09-05) November 28, 1984 (1984-11-28)
5 13 January 2, 1985 (1985-01-02) March 27, 1985 (1985-03-27)
6 13 May 1, 1985 (1985-05-01) July 23, 1985 (1985-07-23)
7 13 October 2, 1985 (1985-10-02) December 27, 1985 (1985-12-27)
8 13 January 2, 1986 (1986-01-02) March 27, 1986 (1986-03-27)
9 13 April 30, 1986 (1986-04-30) July 23, 1986 (1986-07-23)
10 13 September 3, 1986 (1986-09-03) November 26, 1986 (1986-11-26)
11 13 December 31, 1986 (1986-12-31) March 25, 1987 (1987-03-25)
12 13 April 29, 1987 (1987-04-29) July 22, 1987 (1987-07-22)
13 13 September 2, 1987 (1987-09-02) November 25, 1987 (1987-11-25)
14 13 December 30, 1987 (1987-12-30) March 23, 1988 (1988-03-23)
15 13 April 27, 1988 (1988-04-27) July 20, 1988 (1988-07-20)
16 13 August 17, 1988 (1988-08-17) November 9, 1988 (1988-11-09)
17 13 January 4, 1989 (1989-01-04) March 29, 1989 (1989-03-29)
18 13 July 5, 1989 (1989-07-05) September 27, 1989 (1989-09-27)
19 13 January 3, 1990 (1990-01-03) March 28, 1990 (1990-03-28)
20 13 April 4, 1990 (1990-04-04) June 27, 1990 (1990-06-27)
21 13 September 5, 1990 (1990-09-05) November 28, 1990 (1990-11-28)
22 13 January 1, 1991 (1991-01-01) March 26, 1991 (1991-03-26)
23 13 September 3, 1991 (1991-09-03) November 26, 1991 (1991-11-26)
24 13 January 7, 1992 (1992-01-07) March 31, 1992 (1992-03-31)
25 13 August 25, 1992 (1992-08-25) November 17, 1992 (1992-11-17)
26 13 December 1, 1992 (1992-12-01) February 23, 1993 (1993-02-23)
27 13 March 2, 1993 (1993-03-02) May 20, 1993 (1993-05-20)
28 13 May 25, 1993 (1993-05-25) August 17, 1993 (1993-08-17)
29 13 August 24, 1993 (1993-08-24) November 16, 1993 (1993-11-16)
30 13 November 23, 1993 (1993-11-23) February 15, 1994 (1994-02-15)
31 13 February 22, 1994 (1994-02-22) May 17, 1994 (1994-05-17)
32 13 May 3, 2024 (2024-05-03) July 26, 2024 (2024-07-26)


In 1994, Ross appeared on Bill Nye the Science Guy, where he did a self-parody segment entitled "The Artistic Eye with Bob Ross”.

As part of its launch of Twitch Creative, Twitch streamed every episode over a nine-day period starting on October 29, 2015 – what would have been Ross's 73rd birthday.[11][12][13] Twitch reported that 5.6 million viewers, and due to its popularity, created a weekly rebroadcast of all 31 seasons of The Joy of Painting to air on Twitch each Monday from November 2015 onward, and will have a marathon of episodes each October 29. A portion of the advertising revenue has been promised to charities, including St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.[14] This event was also repeated on October 29, 2016, for his 74th birthday.[15]

In 2015, all 403 episodes of The Joy of Painting were added to the official Bob Ross YouTube channel.[16] In June 2016, Netflix repackaged several 1991–92 episodes of The Joy of Painting under the moniker Beauty Is Everywhere.[17] A second package, titled Chill with Bob Ross, was added in December. In 2020, Tubi added 30 seasons of The Joy of Painting, totaling nearly 400 episodes, to its platform for free.[18]

In November 2017, the first teaser trailer for the 2018 film Deadpool 2 was released, featuring a parody of The Joy of Painting with Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool.[19]

The Joy of Painting has been licensed for merchandise, including a Chia Pet[20] and a breakfast cereal made by the makers of Flutie Flakes.[21]

A comedy television series in Iran called Khande Bazaar had in each episode an item called The Humiliation of Painting which was a parody of the program The Joy of Painting in which Mohammad Reza Khosravi imitated Bob Ross.[22]

The program returned to television on BBC Four as part of Culture Quarantine Programming with its first broadcast on April 20, 2020.[23]

In 2022, Goodfood Market released a parody Bob Ross TV commercial titled "Joy of Cooking".[24]

Ross's painting from the first episode of The Joy of Painting, "A Walk in the Woods", was listed for sale in 2023 priced at $9.85 million.[25]


  1. ^ "WDSC-TV 15 to Air New Bob Ross Painting Show Recorded at WDSC Studios". Daytona State University. State of Florida. Retrieved May 14, 2024.
  2. ^ Rancilio, Alicia (May 10, 2024). "Bob Ross' legacy lives on in new 'The Joy of Painting' series". APnews.com. Retrieved May 13, 2024.
  3. ^ Thill, Scott (September 5, 2008). "Annuals + Bob Ross = Such Fun". Wired. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
  4. ^ The Real Bob Ross: Meet The Meticulous Artist Behind Those Happy Trees. NPR.org (August 29, 2016), retrieved May 2, 2017.
  5. ^ Shrieves, L (July 7, 1990). "Bob Ross uses his brush to spread paint and joy". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  6. ^ Buchanan, Larry; Byrd, Aaron; DeSantis, Alicia; Rhyne, Emily (July 12, 2019). "Where Are All the Bob Ross Paintings? We Found Them". The New York Times. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  7. ^ Dana Jester Painting Bob Ross Style. YouTube. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021.
  8. ^ Sally Schenck (director). "Sunlight in Shadows". The Joy of Painting. Season 27. Episode 10. PBS.
  9. ^ "Bob Ross – Mountain Range (Season 8 Episode 11)". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021.
  10. ^ "List of guest painters on 'The Joy of Painting'". TwoInchBrush.com. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  11. ^ Leopold, Todd (October 29, 2015). "Bob Ross Marathon Underway on Twitch". CNN.com. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  12. ^ Machkovech, Sam (October 29, 2015). "Twitch launches 'Creative' category, eight-day Bob Ross Painting marathon". Ars Technica. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  13. ^ "Bob Ross channel on Twitch". The Joy of Painting Marathon – Celebrating the official launch of Twitch Creative! #painting #oilpaint #bobross. October 29, 2015.
  14. ^ Porter, Matt (November 9, 2015). "5.6 Million People Watched Bob Ross's Twitch Marathon". IGN. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  15. ^ Perez, Sarah (November 9, 2015). "After Pulling In 5.6M Viewers, Twitch Is Keeping Bob Ross On The Air". TechCrunch. Retrieved November 1, 2016.
  16. ^ "Bob Ross". YouTube.
  17. ^ Cuccinello, Hayley (June 2, 2016). "You Can Relax Now, Because Netflix Is Streaming Bob Ross". The Huffington Post.
  18. ^ "All 31 seasons of Bob Ross' 'The Joy Of Painting' have been made free online". Happy Mag. April 11, 2020. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
  19. ^ Dave McNary (November 15, 2017). "'Deadpool 2' Teaser Trailer Offers First Footage and Bob Ross-Style Painting Lesson". Variety.
  20. ^ Bob Ross Chia Pet, retrieved September 13, 2020
  21. ^ PLB Sports & Entertainment: Products - Bob Ross Cereal (The Joy of Cereal). Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  22. ^ "Khande Bazar". IMDb.
  23. ^ "BBC Four - Schedules, Monday 20th April 2020".
  24. ^ ".Goodfood Channels Bob Ross by Painting an Image of a Happy Little Dinner". August 22, 2022.
  25. ^ Vancleave, Mark; McFetridge, Scott (September 20, 2023). "First Bob Ross TV painting, completed in a half an hour, goes on sale for nearly $10 million". AP News. Associated Press. Retrieved September 21, 2023.

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