For many millions of dollars: Bob Ross’ first TV painting is for sale

His hairstyle was distinctive, his voice was soporific, his works are not the greatest art. But TV painter Bob Ross still inspires millions of people. One of his works is now to be sold.

His hairstyle and his gentle voice contributed significantly to Bob Ross’s cult status. The first work that Bob Ross painted on television is available for sale – for almost ten million dollars. The picture has the title “A Walk in the Forest” and was made by Ross in 1983 in the first episode of his painting course “The Joy of Painting”.

Ross spent nearly half an hour transforming the blank canvas into a gray, rocky path that leads from blue water through a forest of bright yellow trees. At the time, it was not foreseeable that he would produce a total of 31 seasons with more than 400 episodes from 1983 to 1994. He wasn’t interested in creating works of art, but rather in conveying the joy of painting. Or as Ross put it: “We don’t make mistakes here, just happy little accidents.”

“Today we’re going to paint a very simple scene. I hope you like it,” he whispered to the television camera. “We’ll start in the corner. Maybe in our world it’s a simple, happy cloud that lives here.” Connoisseurs know: At the end of the half-hour real-time painting, this picture will look very kitschy – “with lots of small, happy trees.” Fans have calculated that at least one tree appears in 91 percent of the images, a sun in 20 percent and palm trees in only two percent. The works are called “Evening Peace”, “Peaks in the Light”, “Colours of Nature” and “The Old Mill”.

Ross died of cancer in 1994 at the age of 52. In the nearly three decades since his death, his notoriety has only grown. Bob Ross Inc., the company that owns the rights to his television shows, has more than 5.6 million YouTube subscribers. The more than 600 videos the company has published, including all episodes of “The Joy of Painting,” have been viewed approximately 610 million times.

“I do not need more”

“After his death, Ross became one of the most famous painters in the United States, beloved for his gentle teaching style and tireless optimism,” writes The Washington Post. “People want to paint. It’s like a secret thing that people want to do. And he’s revealed the secret,” Joan Kowalski, president of Bob Ross Inc., told the newspaper. “He constantly tells you that you can really do it.”

The painting is owned by a gallery in Minneapolis. After Ross painted “A Walk in the Woods,” he donated the work to the network where the episode was filmed, a spokeswoman for the gallery told The Washington Post. It was one of three Ross paintings that the station auctioned off later in the year. No one could remember the exact amount for which the picture was sold to a woman.

“But if the price is in line with other paintings sold at that time, [die Käuferin] “Probably paid less than $100,” said the spokeswoman. After the purchase, the painting hung in the buyer’s house for almost 40 years. The gallery does not want to reveal how much money the woman was paid for the work.

Ross didn’t see himself as a great artist. When the New York Times dedicated a major story to him in 1991, despite his huge fan base, he had only exhibited his pictures once. The newspaper compared his soothing tone to Demerol, a sleeping pill. Ross was modest: “There are thousands of very, very talented artists who don’t even become known after their death. Most artists want recognition, especially from the professional world. I’ve had my mission for so long. That’s all I need.”

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