Few people watching The Joy of Painting have an interest in learning the craft. They just want to chill, and Bob Ross, who hosted the program until his death in 1995, is a sure path to serenity. His subdued baritone and the gentle sound of a brush on canvas made him an ASMR artist for the analog age. You can almost feel stress evaporate watching the dabs and strokes coalesce into a beautiful nature scene. Here’s a look at how Ross elevated relaxation to an art form.
You’ll find few traces of civilization in the master’s canon, which is a big reason his work is so relaxing. Not only do landscapes inspire chill, but admiring them can reduce cortisol levels and boost dopamine. People, who inhabit just a handful of Ross’ works, scarcely have the same impact.
Ross favored bright hues and earth tones. You’ll often see white, red, and brown on his palette alongside smatterings of yellow, blue, and green. Researchers aren’t sure why, but cool colors promote serenity (seeing blue can reduce your heart rate), while warmer shades evoke happiness.
Note: This story previously stated that the data for these graphs was pulled from Jared Wilber’s github repo. While that was true, the original data is from TwoInchBrush. The sourcing note has been changed.