The Joy of Painting an Autobiography

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The Life of Bob Ross as imagined and written by Lakshmi Singh

Introduction: by Bill Alexander

People worldwide have long enjoyed the wonderful PBS series, The Joy of Painting starring the late Bob Ross. Airing for 12 years, The Joy of Painting was, without a doubt, the most successful art show in public television history. Bob Ross, aside from plagerizing my luminary techniques, shamelessly employing my own special paint creation (Magic White) and marketing it as his own (Liquid White), deserves his place in the annals of PBS history. His enthusiastic yet gentle demeaner belies that fact that, "The Man Beneath the Fro", was a tragically complex individual. A tormented man who, despite years of substance abuse, failed marriages, incarceration and bouts of suicidal depression triggered by post traumatic stress disorder, somehow managed to turn "my" ideas into a veritable industry culminating in the "Bob Ross" brand. Narrated from beyond the grave, in "Bob's own words", the reader will delight in this wonderful and charming autobiography written through the imaginative clairvoyance of Lakshmi Singh, noted International Female Field Reporter and NPR Talk Show Host.

Bill Alexander

Excerpts from Chapter One: (I take on Bob's Spirit)[edit]

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I had finished my sixth cocktail and was working on my seventh when I first made contact with Bob's spirit. It was short lived but I sensed, or rather felt it. I had made contact with the spirit world before, I do it all the time, but it rarely happens at work. This time something was different? I put it out of my mind and looked at my watch. 8:15am; I still had time to go over my notes. I had been preparing my interview with Gordon Brown for three weeks and was under alot of stress. Reluctantly, I stuffed the Gin bottle back in my handbag and hurried out of the ladies room. Three hours and a couple of Xanax later, the interview concluded. I found myself in the parking lot of my local pub checking the car for blood or dents. The hell with Gordon Brown my next appointment's with Johnie Walker. Ignoring my text messages, (I didn't want to check them anyways), I stumbled into the bar. God knows what I said during the interview? I was fucked up as a nigger's checkbook at the time. I figured I needed a couple of belts to help me deal with that asshole boss of mine. At any rate, if I was rat assed I wouldn't feel so guilty about having to sleep with him in order to keep my job. I briefly turned my attention to my cellphone, switched the damned thing off and ordered another drink.

I remember the relief of getting out of that God Damned sun and knocking back a shot of Jack! I'd forgotten all about the vision, when about the third shot it started coming back. Much like the dream you finally remember from the night before, just before you go to sleep. "Why don't you have a happy little drink?". I knew that sexy voice, but it wasn't possible? I was alone in the bar, anyway, the man they called the "Elvis of Art" was dead. His voice however; was unmistakable, how many hours had I spent with a two inch brush in my hand? Stroking the canvas with the pointy end to make "Happy Trees". No way, not Bob Ross? Indeed the creator of the "Thirty Minute Masterpice" was communicating with me from the spirit world. I felt myself getting really excited. I was so...

Excerpts from Chapter 12: (My Old Kentucky Home)[edit]

The Turnkey was gently nudging my badly bruised ribs with the pointy toes of his "Shitkickers". "Your goddamn lucky them Cowboys didn't kill ya Bob, they take their livestock real seriously." My head was throbbing and I was bleeding out my ass, Real Bad! "Where the fuck am I?" He offered me a cigarette, then lit it for me. "You're in Rock Falls Wyoming Bob." He said, "In the Cheyene County Jail." Then Turnkey went on to say, "Gotcha in here on charges of animal cruelty. It seems as though you hung one of Old Man Shellbacks sheep. I Reckon, one of the Claymores put you up to it."

It was coming back to me then. I had rode the rails from Comstock to Rock Falls. An aquaintance had told me there was a Gold Rush goin' on up there and a man could make his fortune. Well, I had been freezing my backside off in that boxcar for four days. I had $3.00 in my pocket, I was hungry and I was dying for a drink. Hankering for some whisky, I headed for the first saloon I could find. Mind you, not a happy little saloon like the ones I would later employ in my landscapes to add perspective. This was the Wild West! I remember getting real hungry after getting a little drunk. There were some sheep grazing peacefully across the way and I vaguely remembered one of those happy Cowpokes letting me borrow has lassoo so I could hang one and kill it. Obviously, he was one of the Claymores having a little fun with me. They all must of thought it was real funny when the Shellback boys showed up! The last thing I remembered was an angry mob of townspeople yelling things like, "Kill that fucking hippie" and "get his trousers off."...

Excerpts from Chapter 32: (Gimme that Old Time Religion)[edit]

You see I'd never killed anyone before. Not that I didn't want to. In those days growing up on the hardscrabble plains of Oklahoma, people thought nothing of randomly taking shots at strangers just to put meat on the table. Hell sometimes some of the older boys would go plum down to Tubevillia in hopes of bagging a negro. You could collect a bounty on them back then. Times were hard and the Dustbowl was in full swing. There just wasn't much of a demand for automated process engineers, so my father had to depend on his meager earnings as the finance manager at the bank.

My father was a gentle, happy man. Seldom raising his voice in anger, but that evening, as we said our prayers before the evening meal, I could see something was troubling him. I had just finished saying grace when I inquired, "What's wrong Pa? Are you mad 'cause me and Lum boarded up that shack with the the migrant farmers in it? Then set it on fire, so they all burned to death as they slept?" He chuckled softly, as was his way and replied. "Heavens no son, those Mexicans deserved it. Nothing but a bunch of good for nothing rapscallions, poltroons, sodomists and scoundrels. Didn't you see all of those locals cheering, even long after that shanty was reduced to a heap of smoldering embers?"...

Excerpts from Chapter 8: (Charlie and I)[edit]


I had a really cushy number with the Air Force during the early years of the Vietnam War. In Vietnam they call it the American War. (I shit you not!). I was a Medical Records Technician in Florida, getting laid every day and the booze at the PX was cheap and plentiful. Life was good until sometime in late 1968, when I knocked up a Colonel's daughter. It was decided by the Air Force, in there wisdom, that a transfer to Alaska was in order. "Finest cross country skiing in the world," they said, "and think of the dog sledding!" Well it wasn't Miami but it sure as hell beat the fuck out of getting my ass shot off in some rice paddy down in the Mekong Delta! You see I was/am inherently a coward. I had enlisted in the Air Force as a Records Tech, just to avoid getting drafted. Not many medical records techs up in a line unit? If you get my drift?

Well life was real good for awhile! I actually didn't take up cross country skiing, but I learned how to use snowshoes, and Alaska's beautiful panoramas would later inspire me to create some of the masterworks for which I'm now world renowned. Sadly, Alaska is also where I was introduced to Heroin. Unfortunately; this would lead to my use of hard drugs in later years. One thing lead to another and the next thing I know I'm back in the brig. This time I'm looking at potentialy, five years of hard labor in Ft. Leavanworth, KS. I was being charged with "Impersonating an Officer" and calling in an Air Strike on a local Indian Fishing Village. It was a kinda silly thing to do looking back on it, but one of the whores from the Village had ripped off my dope! The Judge took pity on me as he didn't particularly like Indians himself. He was willing to let me off with a lesser charge, but when those darned Indians found out, they were so enraged they took several Airmen hostage, skinning one alive and burning two others at the stake. In a compromised plea arrangement I soon found myself handballing a sixty pound bazooka through triple canopy jungle with the 3d Marine Division, in some happy little place called Vietnam...

Excerpt from Chapter 3: (Monkey On my Back)[edit]

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After the fragging incident ("We don't make mistakes here, we just have happy accidents"), things got alot better in the platoon. Nobody was going to miss that old Lieutenent, besides, there wasn't enough left of him to build much of a case. If one of the other guys ever did decide to say anything, I had a whole bandolier full of those happy old M61 Fragmentation Grenades!

The new Platoon leader was a swell guy. We never made enemy contact again once Sgt. Mauser took over. We got as far as we could from the enemy while still maintaining some level of military discipline. Oh, we would torch a Ville every now and then, but only if we were sure that it was a peaceful village. We prefered to wage war on the non-combatants. That's just the way we rolled...

Excerpts from Chapter 43 (Little bit of Black, Little bit of Blue)[edit]

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I had brought enough pure China White Heroin back from SE Asia to set me up for life, or so I thought. They sent me back to San Diego to recuperate from my pungee stake injury. Although it had cost me a testicle I was finally home. Of course an injury like that wasn't enough get me a discharge, I was bucking for a Section 8 on psycological grounds. I had to figure out a way to unload some of that smack to pay off the head shrink, but I'll get to that later.

I was enjoying my time at NMCSD (Navy Medical Center San Diego). It was here that I was first introduced to oil painting. It was the perfect pastime, as standing for any length of time was too painful. That human feces that those little old VC had spread on that pungee stake caused a nasty infection. The one ball I had left was swelled up like a grapefruit, and my penis was grotesquely disfigured. As a result I spent most of my time in a wheelchair. Trousers of any sort were out of the question so I would have the nurse wheel me over to the Rec Room and just start painting. I'd done a little bit of Chinese Brush Painting when I was a kid, so oils were easy for me. Originaly these were macabre landscapes filled with the menacing forests of my youth, later I began painting those loveley jungle scenes that I had encountered in Vietnam.

It was also at NMCSD that I invented my famous wet on wet painting technique, allowing anyone to create a professional quality painting in 30 minutes or less. It occured to me that if I applied a base coat to the canvas that retarded the curing process in the paint, I wouldn't have to wait for the paint to dry before applying another layer. One night I had a dream about pungee stakes. I had it! The next day, I had the nurse wheel me to the Rec Room as she normally did. Only this time, instead of going straight to painting, I began smearing feces on the canvas. They hadn't invented the 2" brush yet so I just got right in there with my hands, laying it on thick. Best of all, I could make my own feces anytime wanted, and don't even get me going on the sculpting possibillities. There was one more thing I hadn't thought of. I was beginning to attract the attention of some of the Doc's from the psych ward, one of whom would later become a mule (a person who transports illicit drugs) for me...

Epilogue By Dr. J.V. Van Der Meer, Curator, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam[edit]

I wept when I read this book. Mr. Ross demonstrates the best of humanity. I have always had great admiration for Bob Ross and must admit to having all 300 of his Joy of Painting episodes on DVD. I was deeply moved by the courage and depth of character he displayed throughout his life. His amazing adventures with the Gypsies, his early work creating Carnival sketch portraits and many other events of his life are what made his art so great. Ms. Lakshmi Singh has done a wonderful job of channeling Bob's Spirit so we could finely hear His story. I am fortunate to work everyday around the works of the Great Masters of the Dutch Golden Age. However; seldom has the world been blessed by such remarkable talent. Truly this man was touched by God himself. Whether you are an art lover or not, you simply must read this book.

Dr. J.V.vd Meer

Ross Quick Facts!!!:[edit]

  • Bob's favourite pet pocket squirrel was named Peapod.
  • As a child, Bob had a pet Alligator and an Armadillo who would "Tear up everything."
  • Bob would hold the 2” brush horizontally and pull straight down, then brush lightly across to give the reflections a watery appearance.
  • When painting Bob Ross evergreen trees, use just the corner of the brush to begin adding small top branches.
  • Many viewers maintain an emotionally gut wrenching, co-dependent television relationship with Bob. They simply cannot let go!
  • The Mekong river discharges 475 km3/114 cu mi of water annually.
  • That was Bob's real hair.
  • Bob's first two wives died from ingesting poisonous mushrooms.
  • Bob's third wife refused to eat the mushrooms and her body was subsequently discovered in the basement of the family home.
  • It is possible to receive a blood transfusion from a chimpanze, provided you both have the same blood type.

Ross Quick Quotes:[edit]

"We don't make mistakes here, we just have happy accidents. We want happy, happy paintings. If you want sad things, watch the news. Everything is possible here. This is your little universe."

"We tell people sometimes: we're like drug dealers. We come into town and get everybody absolutely addicted to painting. It doesn't take much to get you addicted."

"Little bit of black, a little bit of blue.. some criss-cross strokes, or little x's, whatever you want to call them. Whatever. There you go."

"The next hottest thing to the Sun, is a chicken pot pie."

external links:

[1] Amusing NPR article about Lakshmi Singh.

[2] Bill Alexenders website. His bitterness and resentment towards Bob Ross make for lively entertainment.

[3] Bob Ross Inc. Still going strong after all these years. Test your knowledge with the Bob Ross Trivia Test!

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