The first-ever painting completed on television by Bob Ross — the beloved, perm-sporting artist who celebrated his “happy accidents” — is on sale for US$9.8 million (over C$13.2 million).
Ross painted A Walk in the Woods in 1983 during the first episode of his TV show The Joy of Painting, which captured the hearts (and paintbrushes) of audiences around the globe. For 27 minutes, viewers watched Ross as he demonstrated how to paint a scenic, autumnal tree line.
A Walk in the Woods was listed for sale by Ryan Nelson, who owns the art gallery Modern Artifact. The listing calls the artwork “the most historically significant Bob Ross original painting ever created.”
“It is exceedingly rare to find any Bob Ross episode pieces, and this is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to own the very first one,” the gallery wrote.
The painting includes a red “Ross” signature from the artist, and comes with a written statement from the original, and only, owner who was there at the time this piece was painted by Bob Ross.
The previous owner, who is not named by Modern Artifact, bought the painting in an auction to raise funds for a local PBS station. After purchasing the piece for an undisclosed amount, the woman hung A Walk in the Woods in her home for 39 years, The Associated Press reported.
Though Ross normally painted three versions of his works — a reference image before filming the TV show, one during filming and another for his step-by-step books — the version for sale was proven to be the one painted by Ross on camera. The Washington Post reported it took art analysts at Bob Ross Inc., the company that owns the rights to his TV show, two days to determine Ross’ brush strokes and knife work was identical to the version of A Walk in the Woods now owned by Modern Artifact.
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The gallery is accepting offers to purchase A Walk in the Park, but also hopes the large price tag will keep the work on display for the public for as long as possible.
Ross died of lymphoma in 1995 when he was 52 years old. As a teenager, Ross attended his first painting class while stationed in Alaska as a member of the United States Air Force in the 1960s. He went on to make a career of the “wet-on-wet” oil painting technique, which sees an artist apply oil paint on top of still-wet oil paint.
Ross inspired, and continues to inspire, a generation of amateur artists. He created more than 400 paintings on the PBS program The Joy of Painting. He constantly encouraged his audience to find tranquility in painting, without the stress of having the art be visually perfect.
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While he painted A Walk in the Woods on the first episode of The Joy of Painting, Ross encouraged his viewers to do their best, as he always did.
“I think there’s an artist hidden in the bottom of every single one of us, and here we will try to show you how to bring that artist out, to put it on canvas,” he said.
The Joy of Painting began in 1983 and ran for 11 years.
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