He is mesmerizing
Let’s be honest. The reason Bob Ross became so popular wasn’t a sudden interest in wet on wet painting. He had a unique look, and his voice could stop a war. His soothing, dulcet tones just sent people to their happy place. There’s something about watching a guy paint clouds and trees in a pacifying voice that relaxes people. “We’ve gotten letters from people who say they sleep better when the show is on,” Ross said. And that is the truth.
There’s this thing called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR. What people with ASMR get when they hear Bob Ross is “the tingles”—a calming, pleasing feeling that is usually associated with sex. Jenn Allen, the founder of ASMR-research.org, chose the word meridian because it’s a synonym for “orgasmic.”
There isn’t any scientific support for ASMR yet, but those who experience it pity those who don’t. Have you ever heard a good song and it just gives you that feeling? That’s frisson, and it’s real. So there is a precedent for “something” happening related to sound and the arts. A common thread is that people with post-traumatic stress disorder or insomnia benefit from Bob Ross and his ASMR powers. We’ll let you decide if the phenomenon is real or not, preferably by listening to him alone in a darkened room.
He was big in Japan
When you think of the fame of Ross—especially the pop culture icon he became all these years after his death—you don’t consider it on a global scale. Yet, somehow, Bob Ross has a following worldwide.
There are certified Bob Ross instructors around the world, but for some reason, Japan took to Bob Ross-like Germans to David Hasselhoff. Japanese television station NHK aired The Joy of Painting twice a day for years, and despite a Japanese voiceover translation—something most foreign countries airing the show did not use—the smooth pipes and relaxing mannerisms carried over perfectly. Bob Ross was big in Japan. When he visited the country, Japanese fans mobbed him like he was Madonna or Michael Jackson. His legacy continues there today. Artist Kenichi Yoneda, inspired by Bob Ross, paints using computer code to create watercolors.
Friend of baby animals
The only thing that Bob Ross enjoyed more than painting was animals. Ross began his painting show in Muncie, Indiana, and immediately facilitated animal rescue organizations there—like feeding a baby squirrel in the above clip. Back at his home in Orlando, Ross turned his backyard into an animal rehabilitation center, caring for squirrels, birds, and pretty much anything that popped up in Florida—which in Florida could be something scary.
He didn’t need a big excuse to show off animals during his painting program. The official Ross site cashes in, selling animal-theme named brushes and will teach you how to paint a jaguar for a small fee. It might not be the legacy that Bob Ross intended, but such is life.