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May 7, 2019

Bob Ross’s Strategies for Survival

What does Bob Ross’s art say about the natural world? (Photo: Bob Ross name and images are registered trademarks of Bob Ross Inc. Used with permission.)
What does Bob Ross’s art say about the natural world?

Bob Ross is one of the most beloved painters of his generation, and he focused almost exclusively on the outdoors. Depicting the “happy trees” and “friendly mountains” of Alaska and the greater western U.S. for his TV show, The Joy of Painting, he earned a following that has only grown since his death. But surprisingly little is known about his life. Famously private, he granted only a handful of interviews and never really spoke about his deeper motivations. So how should we remember Bob Ross, and what does his art say about the natural world? Data journalist Walter Hickey took on these questions, analyzing all 381 of the paintings Ross did for his show. What he found will have you looking at the artist in a whole new light.

The Outside Podcast

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Outside’s longstanding literary storytelling tradition comes to life in audio with features that will both entertain and inform listeners. We launched in March 2016 with our first series, Science of Survival, which was developed in partnership with PRX, distributors of the idolized This American Life and The Moth Radio Hour, among others. We have since expanded our show and now offer a range of story formats, including interviews with the biggest figures in sports, adventure, and politics, as well as reports from our correspondents in the field.