Have you heard that beloved artist Bob Ross, of “The Joy of Painting” is now streaming on Netflix? It’s true! You can now stream the Bob Ross “Beauty is Everywhere” show for free. And if you don’t have Netflix – you can still see episodes of Bob Ross on YouTube as well! So there is no reason for your family to do without “happy little clouds” anymore!
And while I admit our family has watched lot’s of old Bob Ross episodes as a form of relaxation, we have also used the episodes as a private art class! Painting along with Bob Ross is actually really easy to do, and a lot of fun. But helping kids to paint with Bob Ross takes a little bit of extra planning!
Here are a few tips for painting with Bob Ross, and helping your child to paint along…
Great Episodes to start with:
The two paintings we started with first can be seen in the photo above. They had limited special techniques in them – and we could not believe how GREAT they came out. Seriously! My daughter is 7 here, and she did them herself! S1:E1 does use masking tape for one technique, so be sure to have that on hand if you choose that painting.
If you’d like to try one of the two episode that we started with above, they are…
Bob Ross: Beauty is Everywhere (we streamed on Netflix)
- S1:E14 – “Mountain Ridge Lake” (This is the painting in the lower left corner.)
- S1: E1 – “Cliffside” (This is the painting in the upper right corner.)
Some Tips on Set Up:
- If you already own an easel, this is obviously a great time to get that sucker out! But if not, you really dont need your painting to be vertical while it’s painted! Any flat, stable table works great for kids. Just make sure it’s at a comfortable height for them to stand behind.
- You will need to set up in a room where the TV can be seen easily. Because this means you may need to let your kiddo paint in your living room, or a room that you don’t want paint all over – I suggest you find old sheets and drape them on the floor, as well as over the table you are placing your canvas on!
- We had a painters palette, but found a large plastic plate much easier to mix on. Bob Ross does a LOT of mixing. you will likely need more than one plate.
- One of dad’s old shirts on backwards makes a great smock for kids. We often just use an old t-shirt, turned inside out for painting. Just know paint will get on whatever they are wearing, so dont be attached to it!
Tips For Helping Adapt The Show To Kids:
- At the beginning of each show, Bob will list the colors you need. Assemble everything you need ahead of pushing play on the episode.
- Bob Ross covers a lot of ground on each show. And he paints fast. Most kids will need your help pausing the show at fairly frequent intervals to allow them to work on each step Bob shows.
- Put your remote control in a ziplock bag if you are allowing your child to stop the show as they need. They will have paint on their hands and not even realize it. If you are pausing for them, you may still want the ziplock cover on!
- Older kids may enjoy doing all their own color mixing. But younger kids are very likely to need your help. Each time Bob Ross gave colors he was going to mix, I’d squeeze the closest colors we had onto a plate, and then let my daughter combine them. This kept the project moving forward. Stopping constantly to mix colors can get frustrating for younger kids. So plan to help with this step as needed.
- Bob Ross is GREAT at speaking to viewers in a positive and encouraging way. But there is a learning curve to the techniques he shows. It may help your young artist to know that not every painting is going to look just like Bob painted it! And that’s good. Don’t let perfectionism steal your young artists joy! Point out how Bob Ross uses “happy accidents” to create his work. That will help your kiddo get over mistakes they are sure to make!
Some Tips on Tools We Used:
Paint. If you want to be able to look at the paint color names listed on each Bob Ross episode, so that you can mix the exact same shades and tones of paint – you may want to get a Bob Ross approved paints kit. Those will correspond with the brush names, and paint color names Bob refers to during his show. (Affiliate links below.)
- Using the Bob Ross brand of supplies, certainly makes sense if your priority is taking the guesswork out of paint mixing. Here is an example of a kit like that….
- However, cheap often speaks to me. So when we first started this adventure, I bought my daughter a set of very basic canvases to paint on. And very Basic paints. In fact below, you will find the same tools we used.
- These 16 x 20 canvases worked great for us. Keep in mind most any size canvas will work – but painting smaller is harder.
- On many paintings, Bob Ross asks you to “wet” your canvas down with white paint to begin. So knowing that, I bought extra white paint. I also bought a few extra colors that I thought would be nice to have on hand without mixing.
- The names of the colors on the brand we used below do not correspond directly (in most cases) with the names talked about on the show. But as long as you are willing to be a few shades different than what Bob Ross has – thats no big deal. If he’s using a dark green paint, mixed with a bright yellow – you can easily choose the colors you have that are closest to that in your kit. And that’s what we did. But again – if you want exact matches, and less having to guess at what to use, by all means by Bob Ross’s kit!
The hardest part of getting thrifty supplies, was finding quality brushes that weren’t super pricey. Ultimately, we bought a fairly basic Paint Brush set – and added a nicer “fan brush” as a single purchase. Bob Ross uses a fan brush on almost every painting! So it’s pretty critical that you have a brush like that before you begin. We used this fan brush….
- For the most part I am perfectly happy with the cheaper purchases we made! If in the future my daughter starts taking art really seriously we can always upgrade. But for now, she is able to affordably enjoy painting along with Bob Ross – and I don’t stress as much about her use of paint (or mistakes she may be making) because I know that the materials are not going to bankrupt me!
- That said – we did end up with some brush hairs that shed in her paintings. It’s barely noticeable, and for the great price I paid I’m not upset. But if you are looking for perfection – invest in high quality brushes and cleaner.
I hope these tips will help you and your children to experience “The Joy of Painting” with Bob Ross on a totally new level! Painting with Bob Ross would make an excellent cheap birthday party theme, or rainy day activity! The possibilities are endless. And the look on kids faces when they see the amazing pictures they can paint themselves – is just priceless!
I highly recommend firing up Netflix and painting some happy clouds someday soon!
Melanie Thomas says
Very cool idea. My homeschooled 6 year old has a video based art curriculum at the moment that is supposed to last a year. However she loves art so much it won’t last more than a couple months. I would never have thought of supplementing with Bob Ross but if your 7 year old did those amazing paintings then this sounds like a great idea.
Thank you for sharing this! Can you tell me how long it took for them to complete? Did you have to start and stop a lot?
Shannon Schmid says
The time each Bob Ross painting project takes varies. I did stop the video several times to let my painter catch up with more difficult techniques she wanted to complete slower. I would say, if you have all your colors and brushes ready to go – there is minimal pausing. But if you are going to need to stop the project to mix colors or find different brushes – you may want to be prepared for lengthier pause breaks! Hope that helps! Happy painting!
Ann Leach says
Thank you so much for sharing this. I have watched BR for YEARS and have always thought I could do that. Finally, I am giving it a go along with my 10 yo daughter and our arts & crafts zoom meet-up group.
Using acrylic paints, did your children have any problems with the paints staying wet while they were still working?
I couldn’t find Episode 14 of season 1 anywhere listed.
But the name “Mountain Ridge Lake” found the episode as: Season 23 Episode 3