Bob Ross Oil Painting Technique – Frequently Asked Questions
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 the softening of the hard edges and the most visible brush strokes when mixing the wet oil paint on the canvas with a clean, dry brush. When blending, an already painted area is brushed very lightly with cross strokes or by tapping with the corner of the brush. This gives the colors a smooth and natural look. Not all oil paintings are suitable for this technique; most are too soft and tend to stain. Only a thick, firm paint is suitable for this technique.
To mix paints with a marble effect, place the different colored paints in the mixing area of your palette and use your putty knife to pick up and fold the paints, then stretch it out. The 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, dilute the paint with LIQUID WHITE, LIQUID CLEAR, or INODORLESS THINNER. The rule of thumb to remember here is that a thin paint will adhere to a thicker paint.
CLEANING AND DRYING BRUSHES:
Painting with the wet-on-wet technique requires frequent and deep cleaning of your brushes with paint thinner. An empty one pound coffee can is ideal for holding your diluent or using any container approximately 5 “in diameter and at least 6” deep. Place a Bob Ross screen on the bottom of the can and fill it with odorless solvent approximately 1 “above the screen. Rub the bristles of the brushes against the screen to remove any paint deposits that will settle to the bottom of the can. .
Dry your larger brushes by gently pressing them against the inside of the coffee can, then tapping the bristles against a mixer rack mounted inside a tall kitchen garbage basket to remove the remaining diluent. Smaller brushes can be cleaned by rubbing them with a paper towel or rag (I recommend using Viva paper towels because they are very absorbent). Do not return the brushes to their plastic bags after use, this will cause the bristles to become limp. 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 up or flat.
LIQUID WHITE APPLICATION:
Use the 2 “brush with long, firm vertical and horizontal strokes on the canvas. Liquid WHITE coat should be very, very thin and even. Apply just before you start painting. Do not allow paint to dry before starting .
PLACING OIL COLORS ON THE PALETTE:
I suggest using a pallet that is at least 16 “x 20” 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 inner bristles of your brush, first hold it perpendicular to the palette and place the bristles in the paint pile. Then, holding the brush at a 45-degree angle, drag the brush across your palette and away from the pile of paint. Moving the brush from side to side will ensure that both sides are loaded evenly.
(NOTE: When the bristles reach a flat chiseled or sharp edge, the brush is loaded correctly.)
For some strokes, you may want to round the end of the brush. To do this, place the brush vertically on the palette. Pull firmly toward you by moving the brush in one direction. Raise the palette with each stroke. This will tend to round the end of the brush, painting with the rounded end facing up.
MIX TO HIGHLIGHT:
Put the tip of your brush in the can of LIQUID WHITE, LIQUID CLEAR or INODORLINNER, leaving only a small amount of medium on the bristles. Load your brush by gently dragging it through the highlight colors, repeat as needed. Gently tap the bristles against the trowel just enough to open the bristles and loosen the paint.
LOADING THE PALETTE KNIFE:
With your putty knife, pull the paint mixture in a thin layer down the length of the palette. Holding your knife straight up, pull the long working edge of your knife diagonally through the paint. 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 the desire, some basic techniques, and a little practice. If you are new to this technique, I suggest that you read the entire “TIPS AND TECHNIQUES” section before you start painting. Consider every painting you create as a learning experience. Add your own special touch and ideas to each painting you make and your confidence, as well as your 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 highlights (yellows) are manufactured to a finer consistency for easier mixing and application. Using the right equipment helps to ensure the best possible results.
Liquid Clear is a particularly interesting ingredient for wet-on-wet painting. Like Liquid White / Black, it creates the necessary smooth and slippery surface. In addition, Liquid Clear has the advantage of not diluting the intensity of other colors, especially the dark ones that are so important in seascape painting. Remember to apply Liquid Clear very sparingly! The tendency is to apply larger amounts than necessary because it is very difficult to see.
The 13 colors we use are listed below:
* Alizarin Crimson
* Sap green, bright red
* Dark Siena
* Pthalo Green
* Pthalo blue,
* Indian yellow
* Van Dyke
* Midnight black
* Prussian blue (* indicates colors that are transparent or semi-transparent and can be used as underpaints where transparency is required).
HOW DO I 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 the colors in nature and practice duplicating the colors you see around you every day. In no time you’ll be so comfortable mixing colors that you’ll look forward to each painting as a new challenge.
SHOULD YOU USE ANY ART PRODUCTS FOR THIS PAINTING METHOD?
Possibly the number one problem experienced by people when they first try this technique and the main cause of disappointment revolves around the use of products designed for other styles of painting or materials that are not designed for works of art (i.e. brushes for painting houses, thin and thick paints, etc.).
All paints 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 MY PAINT TAKE TO DRY?
Drying time will vary depending on numerous factors such as heat, humidity, paint thickness factors, paint surface, brand of paint used, media used with paint, etc. Another factor is the individual colors used. Different colors have different drying times (i.e. blue typically dries very quickly, while colors like red, white, and yellow dry very slowly). A good average time for an oil painting to dry, when painted with this technique, is about a week.
SHOULD I VARNISH MY PAINTINGS?
Varnishing a painting will protect it from the elements. It will also help keep the colors more vibrant. If you decide to varnish your painting, I suggested that you wait at least six months. It takes so long for an oil painting to be fully cured. Use a good quality spray paint varnish that does not yellow. I personally spray my paints after about 4 weeks and have not had any problems.