Monday, October 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Study finds everything you ever wanted to know about Bob Ross and his 'happy trees'

It's been 20 years since Bob Ross' The Joy of Painting ended after an 11-year run, but the man's presence in our pop culture consciousness still remains. So much so that, in fact, we now have a full statistical breakdown of every "happy tree" or "almighty mountain" the man ever painted. Finally, the world's prayers have been answered.

Study finds everything you ever wanted to know about Bob Ross and his ‘happy trees’

It’s been 20 years since Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting ended after an 11-year run, but the man’s presence in our pop culture consciousness still remains. So much so that, in fact, we now have a full statistical breakdown of every “happy tree” or “almighty mountain” the man ever painted. Finally, the world’s prayers have been answered.

Compiled by FiveThirtyEight’s Walt Hickey, the study into Bob Ross’ beloved TV program found that across 381 paintings during his The Joy of Painting run, there is a 91 percent chance that he would have painted a tree. But, what’s more, if Ross painting has one tree, there’s a 93 percent likelihood that it contains a second one as well. Among other observations:

What percentage of Bob Ross paintings contain an almighty mountain?

About 39 percent prominently feature a mountain. 

What about footy little hills?

Hills appear in 4 percent of Ross’s paintings. He clearly preferred almighty mountains.

How about happy little clouds?

Excellent question, as 44 percent of Ross’s paintings prominently feature at least one cloud. Given that there is a painted cloud, there’s a 47 percent chance it is a distinctly cumulus one. There’s only a 14 percent chance that a painted cloud is a distinctly cirrus one.

What about charming little cabins?

About 18 percent of his paintings feature a cabin. Given that Ross painted a cabin, there’s a 35 percent chance that it’s on a lake, and a 40 percent chance there’s snow on the ground. While 72 percent of cabins are in the same painting as conifers, only 63 percent are near deciduous trees.

However, if you don’t have time to read about Ross’ painting preferences, we luckily have this handy-dandy reference chart:

A varied and stunning array of natural painting, to be sure. Let it not be said that Bob Ross was anything other than a master of his craft.

Still, though, it apparently was not Ross’ painting that kept viewers tuned into his show—as Bob Ross Inc. founder Annette Kowalski says, most viewers “have no interest in painting.” Instead, they stuck around for “his calming voice.” 

That, and all those happy, happy accidents.

[Death and Taxes]

Nick Vadala Philly.com
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