How Should An Original Bob Ross Painting Be Valued?
“Look around. Look at what we have. Beauty is all around us- you only need to look to see it”.
Before he was a Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force; before he became a bigger-than-life tv celebrity, art instructor, and every artist’s best friend, Bob Ross was a painter. Like his words, in the beginning, he was a deep thinker and nature’s poet. Only he wrote with a brush and not on a paper but on a canvas.
He was famous for his quick and simple “wet-on-wet” painting technique, he connected with legions of art lovers and artists around the globe through his popular TV show- The Joy of Painting.
This educational but fun program was first aired on PBS in 1983, where it took up millions of followers and ran for over a decade. The show was a hit because of the simple wisdom of Bob. He had complete control over the people who would see him on their TV screens, with his deep voice, gentle bearing, and light humor that would not crack a full-laughter but put a smile on the lips of his audience.
For some, he was supernatural with his brushstrokes and his devotion to the canvas. What made him stand apart was his ability to complete a landscape painting with vibrant colors and multi-dimensional depth around half an hour. During the shows run, many people speculated if ever the time would come when Bob Ross’s original would be up for sale by PBS.
His program, The Joy of Painting, became a force of nature in the entertainment industry and was eventually broadcasted from more than 275 TV stations. That was the level of success and public appeal for Bob and his work. Consequently, it laid foundations for the “art empire” which included art supplies, handbooks, guides, practical tips on how to paint, and art instructors endorsed by the maestro himself.
Bon never believed in being the idea of “born artist” and inspired millions of people of all ages to join him in drawing their own magnum opus and create their own “happy little trees” or “charming little cabins”.
He was one of those people who became a part of history in their own lifetime. With the legacy of rich paintings and an easy technique on drawing, it’s no wonder that many people think about buying an original Bob Ross painting. The idea brings a rush of nostalgia to own a painting that is only seen through the other side of television, painted by a beloved artist.
His “wet-on-wet” pieces are examples of the evolution of modern painting and have become a thing of mythical stature. There is no overstatement in saying that owning an original painting by such an iconic painter is no less than owning a pop culture artifact by a pop star.
Wishful thinking and concrete steps to buy one from Bob aside, there is a serious question of how much an original Bob Ross would cost a buyer, just like yourself, and how can you get your hands on it.
How Much Does A Bob Ross Painting Cost?
Just like any other significant art piece, it’s very difficult to determine how much an original Bob Ross painting would cost. Still, there are certain factors that come into play and should be kept in mind:
It means the paperwork that endorses the fact that the piece is, in fact, an authentic Bob Ross’s work. Without such documentation, Mona Lisa is not Da Vinci’s, and Weeping Woman was not painted by Picasso.
There is a lot of luck and sweat needed if you want to own an original Bob Ross. If you ever try typing in your Google’s search bar something like “buy original Bob Ross painting”, you’ll find yourself among the constellation of websites and fake art peddlers. In many cases, these “replicas” were may be painted by the sharp disciples of Ross himself who painted them in their living rooms following the instructions of their master. Now, they are expecting to earn a shiny buck for their “artistic endeavors” after learning online how to frame a canvas painting.
Next time, if you see an “original Bob Ross” under $500 with free shipping, steer clear of that deal because it is fake.
PBS auctioned off some of his paintings across the country when Bob Ross was still alive and made quite the money off them. After more than two decades of his demise, there is very little chance that PBS would think about putting one on auction, which makes it almost impossible to get one from them.
Those individuals who were lucky enough to get an original Bob Ross, when they were still around, would not want to part with them because of its sentimental value and classical stature. But even if someone is willing to cough it out, it would cost you way more than those $500 that shady eBay seller was demanding.
In terms of output, Bob Ross was a prolific artist with over 30,000 paintings over his career. The value of a specific painting depends on its popularity. For instance, Mountain Summit and the Meadow Lake each cost over $18,000 on eBay. Since they are on eBay, there are healthy odds that the paintings would be fake and you’d be blowing your money over a replica.
On the off chance that you get lucky and find an original Bob Ross’s painting, it would cost your around $8,000 to $10,000, according to Joan Kowalski, president of Bob Ross Inc.
The chances are slim but the deal is not totally off the table. His paintings had lasting effects on beholders and many owners would not choose to part with their pieces. Yet, artworks come with a price tag. If you are willing to spare a hefty sum to own a piece from the master himself, you are in the game.
How Can You Find Out If A Bob Ross Painting Is Authentic?
Bob Ross Inc. offers a certificate that endorses the validity of a piece and reaffirms the fact that it was painted by Bob Ross. Annette Kowalski is trusted to authenticate paintings sent to her in person.
Annette Kowalski is a legendary figure in the celebrity management circle. She discovered Bob Ross and managed him for his whole life. In the early 1980s, she first encountered the artist and was dumb-struck by his soothing voice and calm demeanor. She followed him around while he was instructing other students, instead of focusing on her own work.
Later, she persuaded Bob to instruct a class in Northern Virginia, who didn’t know he’d become a star in near future. Not long after that, they advertised for an art class in a TV commercial. Things picked up momentum from there because the station manager saw star potential in Bob.
According to Kowalski, she could recognize an original Bob Ross painting by minutely studying brush strokes and other hand gestures or moves by Bob’s hand. There is also some specific detail about Ross’s signature in all his paintings that she looked for in an original work but she refused to disclose the fact.
On the off-chance, you see a Bob Ross painting on eBay or other online marketplaces that looks legit, ask for a certificate. If they refuse to show it or do not have it altogether, they are probably selling a fake, or a replica at best.
Where Else Can You Buy An Original Bob Ross Other Than Digital Marketplaces?
It’s not about bursting your bubble or sobering your “original” art frenzy, the simple answer to the above question is: No. You can’t buy an original Bob Ross other than auctions or from legitimate owners who can produce authentic paperwork in case of transfer.
Apart from the paintings sold in the past auctions, almost every Bob Ross painting is stored in the basement of Bob Ross Inc. packed and numbered in a cardboard box. All the happy trees, lake meadows, and islands in the wilderness of Bob’s imagination are in that building. The amount of fauna on the canvas is enough to designate that building a national park.
There is no public reason why they don’t want to sell those paintings. Most probably, it has to do with Bob Ross’s philosophy with regard to his art. He never wanted to capitalize on his paintings, but only wanted recognition and acknowledgment for his talents and he reached the summit of his career through his popular TV program. It’s a far cry that he would have approved the sale of his paintings for thousands of dollars if he was alive now.
Smithsonian National Museum of American History
The landscapes of happy trees and ice-capped peaks may not be available for purchase at Bob Ross Inc. but the company donated a number of paintings to the prestigious Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The artwork sold to the museum included items such as a 1988 canvas called, “On a Clear Day”, “Blue Ridge Falls” circa 1994. Apart from these paintings, handwritten notebooks, the easel used in the first season of The Joy of Painting by Bob Ross as well as fan letters that were written to him before and after his death from lymphoma in 1995.
At the moment, the American History Museum has no intention of permanently exhibiting the artwork. They are now part of the Museum’s permanent collection and will be featured along with the work of American icons such as Julia Childs and Mr. Rogers.
Bob Ross Merchandise You Can Buy
If you are a longtime fan of the painter looking for his original paintings and still not getting any luck. Fret not, you can buy much else related to Bob Ross at only a fractional price.
Below, we have listed a couple of items that you can display in your house as a proud fan or you can use them in your daily activities.
Happy Little Accidents By Michelle Witte
Michelle Witte compiled quotes of the master in her collection called “Happy Little Accidents”. They are full of light humor, insight, and wisdom of a great artist. The book also contains a concise introduction and biography of the painter. Some of the gems included in “Happy Little Accidents” are:
“We put some dark in, only so that our light will show. You need to have dark in order to show light.”“If we all painted the same way, what a colorless world it would be.”
His deep quotes masked in the instructions about painting are adorned with the photos of his oil paintings.
Admirers of the painter can play with a tiny, pocket-sized Funko in his image. The figurine is made of vinyl and depicts a Ross dressed in his iconic button-down shirt and jeans with a painter’s palette in his hand. There are also versions of him with a big painting brush and a raccoon.
Color Changing Mug
By pouring hot water into this mug, you can change its color from black into a soothing nature landscape with trees and bushes. On the opposite side of the painting is the quote from the painter: “There are no mistakes, just happy accidents”.
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