Bob Ross painting technique – time to go beyond that

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Many people started to paint by following those “wet on wet” tv painters on PBS stations. I suppose Bob Ross is the most known one of them. So when I say the “Bob Ross painting technique”  I am talking about those painters that use things like “magic brushes” or a”foliage brush” or “liquid white” and teach you to paint trees by…

“loading a corner of the 2 inch brush and tapping from side to side” – that sort of instruction.

When you watch them, it can look impressive if this is all the painting you have seen.

If you have seen good painting, and by good, I mean traditional works of art in museums, you know the paintings produced by “tapping with your 2 inch brush” don’t come close to the quality of paintings in the museums.

So this article is about going beyond that way of painting.

Because, for someone who is serious about learning to oil paint, this is not the way to paint. It is not the way the greatest painter of the past have painted and it should never be confused with traditional oil painting.

Let me explain…please take a look at this…

john constable the hay wain painting

This is a landscape painting by John Constable.

Here is another landscape, with water by Pierre Renoir…

renoir landscape painting

Now, here is a sample by those TV painters:

bob ross painting

I hope you can see the difference between the Constable and the Renoir and the paintings done by those “wet-on-wet” tv painters.

If you can’t, I suggest you get yourself to any art museum near or in a large city and look at the landscape paintings by the great painters of history.

The difference is not simply darker colors, or the traditional paintings look more real. The difference will be immense and you should be able to see it immediately.

And, when I talk about this concept, there are always a few people who defend this way of painting as being just as valid as the way Rembrandt painted. And they get angry and tell me Bob Ross was a great man, etc.

This has nothing to do with Bob Ross personally. This is about learning to oil paint.

And if you have painted in that wet on wet method here is the test that will prove it. I know this test from personal experience.

The Test:

1) Go to a park near where you live.

2) Setup your portable easel

3) Use your oil painting skills you have learned (like how to paint clouds, fir trees and tap tapping to paint bushes and such, to paint that scene you see in front of you.

4) If you don’t know where to begin….If you would get stuck while painting about what to do next…If you wouldn’t know where to begin…If you would be totally lost…

Then you have not learned to oil paint. And it’s time to go beyond what you have learned…and I know that you can.

And, here is how I know that…

Take a look at these 2 paintings

ethan semmel painting of florence

ethan semmel painting of venice

Those 2 paintings above were painted by me.

But the main reason I’m showing you them after telling you that I know that you can go beyond that Bob Ross way of painting is

I Started Out Painting with the Bob Ross painting technique like the painters on TV too!

I figured, that old master way was too hard, too tedious, took too long…and every other reason and excuse I could think of.

But, I’m proof that if you are really serious about painting better, you can do it! You can advance and go beyond that Bob Ross painting technique. I am proof of that.

What it comes down to is simple – If you get good instruction, you paint better, period.

Let me explain one of the main misconceptions people have.

Beginning artists think you learn “how to paint a  landscape” or “how to paint a tree” or “how to paint flowers”, or whatever subject matter you wish to paint.

But, the truth is – to paint in the traditional manner you don’t learn how to paint subject matter. You learn to paint – period!

You learn the rules of your art supplies and the language and techniques of painting. You learn the process of oil painting. And then you apply this process to anything you want to paint.

Please, re-read that again.

Wouldn’t you rather be painting in a way similar to Monet and Rembrandt?

Become master of your medium. Master of your tools. A set of a few tricks for one type of subject matter will not satisfy you.

If you have always wanted to become a painter in the traditional sense, you need to take that next step.

If you are content painting this way, I cannot help you. My lessons will not be for you.

It is only for people who have an interest in learning to improve and become better.

Think of it like this, If you learn the alphabet, you can spell any word. Essentially what you are doing by painting in the manner you are is just learning how to write the letter “A”.

How can you expect to spell any word you want without learning the other 25 letters?

You have gained some experience by using painting supplies though. This is a start. Now it is time to take that next step and learn more.

Learn the way painters have been painting for hundreds of years. You may like watching those video demonstrations of a landscape in 27 minutes, well I recommend you check out my set of 7 Instructional DVD’s if you want video instruction that covers traditional methods and procedures.

Remember, I started out painting by following those tv painters too. But now, I can paint anything, and any way I want to. You too can go beyond your current painting you are doing and paint the way the greatest masters in history have painted.

I can show you how with my 7 DVD Oil Painting Instruction Series

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  • Melinda Perez November 10, 2013   Reply →

    WOW, you sure are gorgeous! Aside from that, I do have a question, the painting at the very top of this page reference, “Painting with Ross, going beyond that”, oh my God, I was about to ask a really, really stupid question, and that was, did you paint that? But, as I scroll back up to make sure it in fact is the top painting, I see that is a very famous landscape by John Constable, so please disregard, however, yours are quite nice as well, I have been looking at your lessons, for, I can’t even remember but how long but, it’s been several years. Thanks for the constant direction and inspiration!!!

    I just found that Landscape to be quite beautiful, sorry, I can now no longer give you the credit!!

    OK, so perhaps, I should stick to art and avoid any online communication at the risk of looking like a complete idiot!! LOL

    Melinda in Florida

  • Gareth April 25, 2014   Reply →

    Who cares if you like Wet on wet, who cares if you like the “masters” ?

    Somedays I paint “Bob Ross” style, other times I paint something for 5 weeks “classical” style.
    Pretty much straight forward, I can let loose and have fun with the Bob Ross style and seriously that picture you used to compare is really really sad, some of my wet on wet stuff is just as good as some of my classics.

    It is all about developing your style, like what your DVDS sound about.
    But attempting to make the wet on wet technique look like a childs picture is really low, many many people get much better quality from their wet on wet.

    The problem is every one is stuck in the freaking middle ages still, who decides what is better…. YOU? Some stupid art “expert”? Surely all you need to do is go look at art exhibitions and you’ll see how pathetic the traditional arts are.

    BTW: Van Gogh….wet on wet? Am I correct? How many others painted alla prima? How is Monet or Rembrandt a better painter ? That is only your view, someone may love Jackson Pollock stuff, I don’t but it doesn’t mean that he was not an artist?
    Please do not discredit someone on your own belief, many, many out there disagree with you.

    Kind regards

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