These are dark days. But Bob Ross painted approximately 403 tranquil landscapes for each episode of his long-running, 21-season instructive PBS show The Joy of Painting, each peppered with babbling brooks, cloud-filled blue skies and valleys of happy little trees just so that one day, in your darkest moments, you might glean some happiness from this black world.
The artist and television host died in 1995, but he allegedly produced thousands of artworks in his lifetime, some of which he donated to PBS and others which have since been sold at auction, according to a 2012 investigation from Mental Floss. For fans looking to delve a little deeper into the works Ross created on camera, in real-time, as he painstakingly walked viewers step-by-step through each color and brushstroke so that you too might be able to paint your own masterpiece at home and know the joys of painting firsthand, look no further than Austrian coder and student Felix Auer‘s comprehensive, but “unofficial,” online database TwoInchBrush.
As Hyperallergic’s Claire Voon points out, Ross aficionados can search paintings on the database by color or season, and the site contains a section for guest painters who joined him on the show through the years, such as the artist’s son Steve or his former instructor John Thamm. Auer has gone to such great lengths to make TwoInchBrush a one-stop-shop for Ross fans, that he’s created a guide to the type of brushes the artist used to create his signature happy little trees, cute little bushes and big fluffy clouds, and even includes recommendations for paints, paint thinner, canvases and even palates to use all based on those the artist used most frequently on the show. And now that a trove of Joy of Painting episodes are available to watch in-full on YouTube, Auer includes links to the corresponding paintings in his archive whenever there’s a video available.
So go forth painters, I implore you to plumb the depths of Auer’s archive, find a landscape that calls to you like a beacon of light in this shadowy pit we call life—Season 15, Episode 12’s Deep Forest Lake, a dark and murky watering hole illuminated by a glowing rainbow bursting through the forest canopy, is the most literal example of this I can find. To borrow Ross’ words: “Happy painting.”