Bob Ross Painting Tutorial Starter Kit For Beginners

Our Bob Ross Painting Tutorial Starter Kit will hopefully inspire you to take a break and create art as a family.

kid with painted hands

Whether your family is full of creative types or none of you have ever picked up a paintbrush, Bob Ross’ painting method is designed for anyone and everyone. With his memorable perm, an adorable pocket squirrel, and the infamous PBS program The Joy of Painting, Bob Ross will always be remembered as the painter of Happy Little Trees (and spectacular scenic landscape paintings). But how did he become such a well-known painter and American icon? This guide includes plenty of ways to bring his lighthearted approach to painting into your family’s life, even if your kids aren’t quite ready to tackle a mountain landscape scene.

Who Was Bob Ross? 🎨

Bob Ross started off in a much different career than the artistic pursuits he has become famous for. Believe it or not, Ross actually spent 20 years serving in the U.S. Air Force, during which he even served as a Drill Sergeant! It may be hard to imagine the soft-spoken man shouting orders, and that was actually the way he wanted it – Ross said later in life that he wanted desperately to get away from his former mean, harsh military persona and spread happiness in the world instead. 

bob ross painting

From a young age, Bob Ross developed his hobby of painting, and began to perfect his skills. Even during his time in the military, Ross would often go home and paint during his lunch breaks while he ate a sandwich! 

Artistically, the method Bob Ross popularized is known as the “alla prima”, or “wet-on-wet” technique. Though it has been used commonly since the 1700’s, he popularized the use of the oil method with his early Alaskan landscapes that he painted on old novelty mining pans and sold. When he retired from the military, he began painting and teaching his method full time, eventually creating the Joy of Painting PBS show which ran for over 10 years. Ross filmed the show for free in order to help people everywhere learn to love painting as he did. 

Bob Ross died in 1995 at the age of 52, but he left behind over 30,000 paintings and a legacy of making art accessible to anyone. Ross was happy to share his knowledge and love of art while encouraging viewers of his show to try their hand at painting. In Ross’ words, “I think there’s an artist hidden at the bottom of every single one of us.”

How to Get Started with the Joy of Painting Method 🖼

Bob Ross made it look easy to create stunning landscapes and picturesque scenes in a quick 30-minute TV episode. Fortunately, it’s no longer necessary to try to keep up and paint along with Bob as he speeds through the tutorials. With the Joy of Painting DVDs, you can take things as slow as you need to, pausing to perfect your Happy Little Trees and rewinding to see exactly how Bob captured the rugged mountain peaks or fluffy white clouds. 

DVD tutorials also make it much easier to follow along while painting as a family! We love the idea of setting up some easels and paints and all following along to a Bob Ross tutorial. Of course, aprons and dropcloths are probably a good idea for very little kids, too! But even they will enjoy attempting to create an original work of art – even if it doesn’t resemble Bob’s.

Just putting paint on a canvas is half the fun, and the entire family can get in on that! Following a Bob Ross tutorial on YouTube might be a good option for families with kiddos who can’t sit through an hour-long painting session – check out this Bob Ross Painting Tutorial Kid’s Edition for some inspiration!

Also be sure to check out our Supplies section below, where you’ll find some perfect artistic options for young kids to paint along while you and the older kids follow the Bob Ross method.

Ross' 3-Hour Workshop

Ross’ 3-Hour Workshop

Ready to paint your very first Happy Little Tree? For the absolute beginner, Bob Ross has a 3-hour long workshop designed to instruct anyone in his wet-on-wet painting method, even those who have never painted before. You will discover what materials you need to succeed, learn the foundational concepts of working with color and texture, and create some landscapes of your own

Joy Of Painting 10 DVD Box Set

Joy Of Painting 10 DVD Box Set

From the workshop, you can begin to branch out and attempt different scenes with diverse features such as lighthouses, autumn leaves, and nighttime lighting. This DVD includes 9 individual lessons, each one hour in length.

Bob Ross Painting Tutorial

Bob Ross Painting Tutorial

For a well-rounded collection that will showcase most of the basics of Bob Ross’s method, we’d recommend this DVD collection of 20 lessons to start out with. This is a great option when you’ve seen most of Bob Ross’s techniques already and want to try some different scenes.

Bob Ross Seascapes Collection

Bob Ross Seascapes Collection

Interested in delving into a collection of seascapes sure to provide a challenge? This Seascape collection from the Joy of Painting features 13 segments, during which you’ll learn how to paint sandy beaches, sunny skies, and pristine ocean waves.

Bob Ross: The Happy Painter

Bob Ross: The Happy Painter

Some would argue that it isn’t possible to truly capture a style of painting without knowing all about the famous artists who created masterpieces using those techniques. If you are interested in diving deeper and learning more about the man behind the method, the “Bob Ross: The Happy Painter” documentary will provide you with more information about his life away from the canvas.

Stock Up on Painting Supplies 🖌

Bob Ross made it a point to choose simple, affordable materials and paints to make the Joy of Painting method accessible to anyone. Therefore, when starting to paint at home or even as a family, it’s okay to opt for cheaper materials until you gain more skill! Here’s some of our top suggestions for essential materials to practice the Bob Ross method (plus some options for kiddos to practice a method of their own!).

Bob Ross Painting Supplies for Adults

These materials are all you’ll need to follow along with the tutorials featured on the Joy of Painting!

Bob Ross Master Oil Paint Set

Bob Ross Master Oil Paint Set

The ultimate kit that includes everything you need – even a Bob Ross instructional DVD! The easel, paints, brushes, and canvas are high quality and great for wet-on-wet oil painting.

Bob Ross Landscape Paints

Bob Ross Landscape Paints

Already have your easel and canvas? This is the oil paint set you need to get going! These quintessential Bob Ross oil paints are the exact colors that Bob Ross references in the painting series, including his oft-used Phthalo Blue, Mountain Mixture, and Titanium White.

Bob Ross Landscape Brushes

Bob Ross Landscape Brushes

It’s far easier to recreate a Bob Ross masterpiece or follow along with his tutorials if you are using the exact same oil brushes he uses! These high quality bristle brushes and paint knives/scrapers are authentic Bob Ross branded brushes, so you can be assured that they will do the trick!

US Art Supply Painting Set

US Art Supply Painting Set

Don’t feel like picking out all of the individual components? Not sure if you’re going to stick with painting, but just want to give it a try? We totally understand – this is the kit for you. It’s incredibly affordable and includes the tabletop easel, canvas, paints, and brushes you need to get started.

Bob Ross Painting Materials for Kids and Families

The younger kiddos in the family probably aren’t ready to tackle wet-on-wet oil painting. But we know they’ll love participating in the family artistic endeavor with one of these material kits!

Meeden 46 Piece Oil Painting Set

Meeden 46 Piece Oil Painting Set

Older kids will love this sophisticated painting set that includes everything they’ll need to paint an original masterpiece. Comes with a tabletop easel, a variety of brushes and paint knives, a set of 24 oil paints, assorted canvases, and more.

Ohuhu 56 Piece Oil Painting Set

Ohuhu 56 Piece Oil Painting Set

This kit includes everything they need and nothing they don’t! They’ll be ready to start painting with the basic oil brushes, paints, a few canvases, and a tabletop easel.

Bob Ross Paint-By-Numbers

Bob Ross Paint-By-Numbers

This kit includes everything they need and nothing they don’t! They’ll be ready to start painting with the basic oil brushes, paints, a few canvases, and a tabletop easel.

Time to Paint Your Own Happy Little Forest! 👩🏽‍🎨

If you’re looking for a new hobby to practice on your own or with the family, painting might be a great option! Bob Ross was a firm believer that anyone can create art, whether or not they have experience (or an adorable squirrel sidekick!). By following the Bob Ross painting method and practicing the wet-on-wet techniques, you’ll be well on your way to creating your own beautiful nature paintings. Just remember, in the words of Bob Ross – “We don’t make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.”

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