Bob Ross Materials

Landscape and Seascape

There aren't great secrets about paintings with this technique. Let's say that there are some "ingredients" to create the recipe! We need to learn some basic principles, we need to practice them and we need to desire painting:

"We count on our joy of painting; it is like a cherished friend that is always there when you need it. Whether you paint everyday or only as the mood strikes, painting provides a constant source of enjoyment that you can depend on for always. What a fantastic feeling!" - Bob Ross

And of course we need the proper equipment to achieve the best possible results!

All the products we use have been specifically created to enhance this technique.

The paints for Bob Ross technique are firmer than normal oil paintings and this allows creating unique effects on the canvas, like the snow covering the mountains or a crashing wave.

Highlights colours (yellows) are manufactured to a thinner consistency, following one of our golden rules: thinner paint will stick to thicker one! For glorious bushes and luxuriant foliage on our trees!

We only need 13 basic colours to create almost endless possible combinations. They are:

  • Alizarin Crimson*
  • Bright Red
  • Dark Sienna*
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Indian Yellow*
  • Midnight Black*
  • Prussian Blue*
  • Sap Green*
  • Phtalo Blue*
  • Phtalo Green*
  • Titanium White
  • Van Dyke Brown*
  • Yellow Ochre
Some of the colours are transparent or semi transparent (*) and may be used as underpaints where transparency is required.

A main characteristic of this technique is that is a "wet on wet" method. Before we start painting, we apply on the canvas a thin even coat of a special base paint, a medium that makes and keeps the canvas wet throughout the painting. This allows us to mix and blend the colours directly on the canvas. How easy to blend the colours in a sunset or to create instant reflections on the water! DO NOT allow the medium to dry before you begin!

Three mediums are available:

  • Liquid White: it's a white creamy base paint that will blend the intensity of the paints, creating a softer appearance.
  • Liquid Clear: it's transparent and does not dilute the intensity of the paints. So the darks remain… dark, perfect backgrounds in seascape! Fantastic on black canvasses, to create misty magical effects when blending transparent colours with opaque ones. Must be applied very sparingly on the canvas.
  • Liquid Black: it's a black creamy medium that does the opposite of Liquid White, darkening the colours.

Brushes are another important part of our equipment. They are specially designed for this technique in order to achieve those amazing effects that make this method so extraordinary. There are many of them available; the most commonly used are the 2", 1", 3 and6 fan brushes, 6 filbert and 2 script liner.

The 2" brush is so versatile: we can use it to quickly cover large areas (applying the mediums, sky, water, background, mountains…) but it will surprise you when you see the fine details such a big brush allows to create.

The 1" brush has similar uses but it's smaller, so it's useful for smaller areas. Typically used to paint bushes!

The fan brushes are… great fun! Properly loaded with paints, they can create clouds, mountains, tree trunks, highlights, magic waterfalls and the very famous Bob Ross evergreens! A fully loaded fun brush let you create a beautiful evergreen (and its little friend!) in just a few seconds!

The filbert has short rigid bristles and is most used in seascape, for tree trunks and details.

The liner brush is used for details. The long bristles easily hold the paint thinned to ink consistency to paint fine branches, twigs, grasses and, at the end, allows you to complete the painting with your signature!

More information about other brushes can be found in Bob Ross book series. Remember that these brushes are not water (and soap!) friendly and need to be cleaned with the provided thinner. The odour less thinner never wears out: the paint settles down on the bottom of container after a few days and the thinner can be reused.

The knives, small and large, are not used just to mix the paints! Mountains, trees, rocks, river banks, water lines, paths, buildings and details can be created with these fantastic tools. If you have seen Bob Ross in the videos, then you know how… we can move a mountain with a simple touch of the knife or drop in a little cabin in the woodland!

To complete the series of tools used in the technique I just mention the brilliantly designed palette, the easels and the canvasses. A double primed, good quality canvas is indispensable. Bad quality canvasses will absorb the medium, leaving a dry surface quite unsuitable for a wet on wet technique!

There are also gesso canvas primers available (white, grey and black). They are liquid acrylic primers that can be used in some projects as underpaints. Have you ever painted on a black or partially black canvas? They are brilliant for a dark background or for seascape!

I hope these few notes about the materials we can use, will encourage you to pick up the brushes and join me in discovering Bob Ross world!

Have fun and… happy painting!