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robert norman ross

April 23, 2010

Robert Norman Ross (October 29, 1942 – July 4, 1995) was an American  painter, art instructor, and television  host.
With his calm, patient demeanor, Ross came to prominence as the creator and host of The Joy of Painting, a television program that ran for twelve years on PBS stations in the United States. He parlayed this success into a commercial “Bob Ross” brand: an industry of art books and supplies.
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After graduating high school at Mills Godwin, Ross had a 20-year career in the U.S. Air Force as a medical records technician.[citation needed] Ross was living in Florida early in his military career when the Air Force transferred him to Eielson AFB (in Alaska), where he first saw the snow and mountains that later became recurring themes in his artwork; he developed his quick-painting technique in order to be able to create art for sale in brief daily work breaks. Having held military positions that required him to be, in his own words, “mean” and “tough,” “the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work,” Ross decided that if he ever moved on from the military, “it wasn’t going to be that way any more,” “vowing never to scream again”. Ross discovered after beginning his sideline in painting that he was soon able to earn more from selling his work than from his Air Force position. After leaving the Air Force, he studied with William Alexander before becoming famous worldwide with his own television program.

Ross had a son, Steven, from his first marriage to Lydia. Steven occasionally appeared on The Joy of Painting and is a Bob Ross–certified instructor. Ross and Lydia’s marriage ended in divorce in 1981. Ross married again, this time to Jane. Jane died of cancer in 1993,  and Ross himself died of lymphoma in 1995 at the age of 52.

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