“The Joy of Painting” TV show host Bob Ross is celebrated on Google’s homepage today with a Google Doodle paying tribute to the artist known for teaching PBS viewers to paint landscapes, including mountains surrounded by happy little clouds and trees.
Google’s logo depicts the soft-voiced and bushy-headed Ross holding his trademark palette and paintbrush, a squirrel seated on his right shoulder. The lower case g in Google’s logo appears as the centerpiece of Ross’ canvas with a mountain view in the background, with Ross serving as the big G, while the rest of Google’s letters appear as light gray.
Why the squirrel? Ross, who was born on this date 70 years ago in 1942, had a great affection for injured and abandoned squirrels, and the small critters even made some special appearances on “The Joy of Painting” through the years.
Ross’ half-hour show debuted in 1983 and ran until 1994, and at its peak was reportedly watched by 80 million viewers on about 300 PBS stations nationwide. Using a wet-on-wet oil painting technique, Ross’ soothing voice would remind viewers that mistakes are “happy little accidents.”
''Traditionally, art has been for the select few,'' Ross said in a 1990 interview. ''We have been brainwashed to believe that Michaelangelo had to pat you on the head at birth. Well, we show people that anybody can paint a picture that they're proud of. It may never hang in the Smithsonian, but it will certainly be something that they'll hang in their home and be proud of. And that's what it's all about.''
Ross canceled his show after being diagnosed with lymphoma. He died July 4, 1995.
Interestingly, the Orlando, Florida, native created his short-form painting technique while he served in the U.S. Air Force so he could create art during work breaks which he could then sell.
In addition to the TV show, Ross put his name on a line of art supplies, how-to books, videos – and even a fleet of instructors taught in the “Bob Ross method” to teach painting classes.