The following is a list of frequently asked questions about the BOB ROSS oil painting technique and some instructions on the use and care of the materials.
This technique refers to softening the hard edges and the most visible brush strokes by blending wet oil paint onto the canvas with a clean, dry brush. When blending, an already painted area is brushed very lightly with cross strokes or by tapping gently with the corner of the brush. This color gives a soft and natural look. Not all oil paints are suitable for this technique; most are too soft and tend to smudge. Only thick, firm paint is suitable for this technique.
To mix paints with a marble effect, place the different colored paints on the mixing area of your palette and use your palette knife to pick up and fold the paints, then pull them flat. Stripes of each color should be visible in the mix. Don’t over mix.
THINNER PAINTS TO ADD HIGHLIGHTS:
When mixing paints to apply over thicker paints already on the canvas, especially when adding highlight colors, thin the paint with LIQUID WHITE, LIQUID CLEAR, or ODORLESS THINNER. The rule to remember here is that a thin paint will adhere to a thicker paint.
CLEANING AND DRYING THE BRUSHES:
Painting with the wet-on-wet technique requires frequent and thorough cleaning of the brushes with paint thinner. An empty one pound coffee can is ideal for holding the diluent, or use any container approximately 5″ in diameter and at least 6″ deep. Place a Bob Ross screen in the bottom of the can and fill with odorless thinner about 1″ above the screen. Rub the bristles of the brushes against the screen to remove any paint sludge that will settle to the bottom of the can.
Dry your larger brushes by carefully squeezing them against the inside of the coffee can, then tapping the bristles against a brush beater rack mounted inside a tall kitchen trash can to remove any remaining thinner. Smaller brushes can be cleaned with a paper towel or rag (I recommend using Viva paper towels because they are very absorbent). Do not return brushes to their plastic bags after use, this will loosen the bristles. Never clean your Bob Ross brushes with soap and water or detergent as this will destroy the natural strength of the bristles. Store your brushes with the bristles facing up or lying flat.
LIQUID WHITE APPLICATION:
Use the 2″ brush in long, firm vertical and horizontal strokes across the canvas. The Liquid WHITE coat should be very, very thin and even. Apply just before you begin painting. Do not allow the paint to dry before you begin .
PLACEMENT OF THE OIL COLORS ON THE PALETTE:
I suggest using a palette that is at least 16″x20″ in size. Try to organize the colors around the outer edge of your palette from light to dark. Leave the center of the palette to mix your paints.
LOADING YOUR BRUSH:
To fully load the internal bristles of the brush, first hold the brush perpendicular to the palette and place the bristles in the paint stack. Then, holding the brush at a 45-degree angle, drag it across the palette and away from the paint pile. Flipping the brush from side to side will ensure both sides are loaded evenly.
(NOTE: When the bristles come to a sharp or chiseled flat edge, the brush is properly loaded.)
For some strokes you may want the end of your brush to be rounded. To do this, place the brush vertically on the palette. Pull firmly towards you moving the brush in one direction. Raise the palette with each stroke. This will tend to round the end of the brush, paint with the round end facing up.
MIX FOR HIGHLIGHTS:
Place the tip of the brush into the can of LIQUID WHITE, LIQUID CLEAR or ODORLESS THINNER and allow only a small amount of medium to remain on the bristles. Load your brush by gently dragging it across the highlighted colors, repeat as needed. Gently tap the bristles against the palette just enough to open the bristles and loosen the paint.
PALETTE KNIFE LOAD:
With your putty knife, pull the paint mixture in a thin layer down the length of the palette. Holding the knife in a straight up position, pull the long working edge of the knife diagonally across the painting. This will create a roll of paint on your knife.
WHAT IF I HAVE NEVER PAINTED BEFORE?
There are no great mysteries in painting. You just need desire, some basic techniques and a little practice. If you are new to this technique, I strongly suggest that you read the entire section on “TIPS AND TECHNIQUES” before beginning your first painting. Consider each painting you create a learning experience. Add your own special touch and ideas to every painting you make and your confidence and skill will increase at an incredible rate.
WHAT PAINT SHOULD I USE?
BOB ROSS’s painting technique relies on a special firm oil paint for the base colors. Colors that are primarily used for highlighting (yellows) are made to a thinner consistency for easier blending and application. Using the proper equipment helps ensure the best possible results.
Liquid Clear is a particularly exciting ingredient for wet-on-wet painting. Like Liquid White/Black, it creates the necessary smooth and slippery surface. Furthermore, Liquid Clear has the advantage of not diluting the intensity of other colors, especially the dark ones, which are so important for painting seascapes. Remember to apply Liquid Clear very sparingly! The tendency is to apply larger amounts than necessary because it is very difficult to see.
13 colors we use are listed below:
*Sap Green, Brilliant Red
* dark sienna
*Prussian blue (*indicates colors that are transparent or semi-transparent and can be used as under paints where transparency is required).
HOW TO MIX COLORS?
Mixing colors can be one of the most rewarding and fun parts of painting, but it can also be one of the most dreaded procedures. Spend some time mixing various color combinations and familiarize yourself with basic color mixes. Study colors in nature and practice duplicating the colors you see around you every day. In a very short time you will feel so comfortable mixing colors that you will see each painting as a new challenge.
SHOULD YOU USE ANY ART PRODUCTS FOR THIS PAINTING METHOD?
Possibly the #1 problem people experience when trying this technique for the first time and the biggest cause of disappointment revolves around using products designed for other painting styles or materials that are not designed for fine art (ie. say, brushes for painting houses, thick paints, etc.) .).
All paintings for this technique were created with Bob Ross paints, brushes and palette knives. To achieve the best results from your efforts, I strongly recommend that you use only products specifically designed for use with the Bob Ross wet-on-wet technique.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR MY PAINT TO DRY?
Drying time will vary based on numerous factors including heat, humidity, paint thickness, paint surface, brand of paint used, media used with the paint, etc. Another factor is the individual colors used. Different colors have different drying times (ie typically blue will dry very quickly while colors like red, white and yellow dry very slowly). A good average time for an oil painting to dry, when painted using this technique, is about a week.
SHOULD I VARNISH MY PICTURES?
Varnishing a painting will protect it from the elements. It will also help keep colors more vibrant. If you decide to varnish your painting, I suggested that you wait at least six months. This time is needed for an oil painting to fully cure. Use a good quality non-yellowing picture varnish spray. I personally spray my paints after about 4 weeks and haven’t had any problems.