How to Paint a Landscape like Bob Ross

Arts and Literature


Bob Ross, the legendary painter and host of the television show “The Joy of Painting,” captivated audiences with his soothing voice and remarkable ability to create stunning landscapes in a matter of minutes. His unique technique and approach to painting have inspired countless artists around the world. In this article, we will delve into the step-by-step process of painting a landscape in the style of Bob Ross. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced artist, following these instructions will help you create your own masterpiece.

Materials Needed

Before we begin, let’s gather all the necessary materials:

  • Canvas or canvas board
  • Oil paints
  • Palette knife
  • Paintbrushes (various sizes)
  • Easel or painting surface
  • Odorless paint thinner
  • Palette
  • Paper towels
  • Reference image or Bob Ross painting

Lights, Camera, Hankins! | Episode 22 | The Joy of Bob Ross – A Happy Little Podcast™

Choosing the Right Reference Image

When painting a landscape, it is crucial to have a reference image or a Bob Ross painting to guide you. Look for images that have a good balance of elements such as mountains, trees, water bodies, and sky. It is also important to choose an image that matches your skill level. Start with simpler landscapes and gradually progress to more complex ones as you gain experience.

Preparing Your Canvas

Before you start painting, it is essential to prepare your canvas. Stretch your canvas onto an easel or a painting surface. If you are using a canvas board, make sure it is securely mounted. Apply a thin layer of liquid white or liquid clear to your canvas. These products act as a base and make it easier to blend colors.

Setting Up Your Palette

Bob Ross often used a specific color palette for his landscapes. Here are the colors you will need:

Color Bob Ross Color Name
Cadmium Yellow Cadmium Yellow
Phthalo Blue Phthalo Blue
Titanium White Titanium White
Alizarin Crimson Alizarin Crimson
Van Dyke Brown Van Dyke Brown
Midnight Black Midnight Black
Indian Yellow Indian Yellow

Arrange these colors on your palette, leaving enough space between each color for mixing. Bob Ross often mixed colors directly on the palette to achieve the desired shades.

Creating the Sky

The sky is an essential element of any landscape painting. To create the sky, load your brush with a mixture of titanium white and a touch of phthalo blue. Using horizontal strokes, apply the paint starting from the top of the canvas and gradually moving downward. Blend the colors well to create a smooth transition from light to dark.

Painting the Background

Once you have painted the sky, it’s time to move on to the background. Select a reference image or Bob Ross painting that features distant mountains or trees. Load your palette knife with a mixture of van dyke brown and a touch of alizarin crimson. Apply the paint using gentle upward strokes to create the illusion of distant mountains. Use a clean brush to blend the colors slightly, creating a soft and hazy effect.

Adding Mid-Ground Elements

The mid-ground elements include trees, bushes, and other objects that are closer to the viewer but still farther away than the foreground. To paint these elements, use a fan brush loaded with a mixture of van dyke brown, alizarin crimson, and a touch of cadmium yellow. Apply the paint using quick, tapping motions to create the appearance of foliage. Vary the pressure and direction of your brushstrokes to add depth and dimension to the trees and bushes.

Creating the Foreground

The foreground is the closest part of the landscape to the viewer. It often includes grass, rocks, or water bodies. To paint the foreground, load a palette knife with a mixture of van dyke brown, alizarin crimson, and a touch of indian yellow. Apply the paint with short, horizontal strokes to create the texture of grass or rocks. Use a fan brush to add highlights and details, such as blades of grass or small pebbles.

Adding Water and Reflections

If your landscape features a water body, it’s time to add water and reflections. Load a clean brush with a mixture of titanium white and a touch of phthalo blue. Apply the paint using horizontal strokes, starting from the bottom of the canvas and moving upward. To create reflections, gently drag the brush vertically through the wet paint, creating a mirror-like effect.

Final Touches

Once you have completed the main elements of your landscape, it’s time to add final touches and details. Use smaller brushes to add highlights, shadows, and finer details to the trees, mountains, and other elements of your painting. Remember to step back occasionally and assess your work from a distance to ensure a balanced composition.

Cleaning Up

Oil painting can be messy, so it’s important to clean up properly. Wipe excess paint off your brushes using paper towels. Rinse your brushes in odorless paint thinner and gently wipe them clean. Store your brushes in a brush holder or wrap them in a clean cloth to keep them in good condition. Clean your palette and painting surface using a palette knife and paint thinner.


Painting a landscape like Bob Ross requires patience, practice, and a willingness to experiment. By following the step-by-step process outlined in this article, you can develop your own unique style and create beautiful landscapes. Remember to enjoy the process and embrace any mistakes or happy accidents that may occur along the way. Happy painting!

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