If you’ve never seen ‘The Joy of Painting’ then I highly recommend that you look it up. In it, artist Bob Ross inspired millions with his own ‘wet on wet’ technique, producing beautiful landscapes in minutes. If you’re wondering, ‘does Bob Ross use oil paint to do this?’ then I’ve got good news.
Bob Ross does indeed use oil paints for his ‘wet on wet’ painting technique. Typically, he would coat the canvas in Liquid White to make it wet and then he would mix thick oil paints right on the canvas. It’s really a treat to watch him go, as landscapes seem to spring up like magic.
Today I’ll tell you a little more about Bob Ross’s painting, just in case you are curious, and by the end of this article I hope that you’ll consider checking out his work. There’s a reason that so many people were inspired and you’ll see it immediately when you watch him create those scenes on canvas!
Let’s talk about Bob Ross!
Does Bob Ross only use oil paint?
In his private life, who could say? I imagine that he has experimented with many mediums, just like most of us do. On ‘The Joy of Painting’, however, Bob used oil paints and oil paints ONLY. They are important for his ‘wet on wet’ technique of painting and while you can approximate this experience with acrylics and a bit of cleverness, it’s much easier to simply do ‘wet on wet’ work with oils the way Bob does.
To describe ‘wet on wet’ painting in the simplest of terms, you start with a layer of Liquid Black or Liquid White and start painting on it immediately, painting layers on top of each other instead of waiting for them to dry out first. It allows you to do some interesting tricks, as you’ll see if you check out the show, and you can do some great detail work because your paint will be thinned down to about the same consistency as ink.
It’s kind of hard to describe but once you see it then the pieces will click together. All you need is your oils and your base coat of either retail Liquid Black or White, a little inspiration, and a quick hand and it’s something that you can do to!
Is Gesso the same as Liquid White?
No. While it looks the same, Gesso is definitely not the same as Liquid White. If you’d like to try Bob Ross’s painting style of ‘wet on wet’ for yourself, then you don’t have to buy retail Liquid White. You can make it on your own!
There are a few recipes floating around the internet which you can try out if you like. One way that you can mix Liquid White on your own is to simply take some Titanium white and dilute it with some linseed oil. Mix them up well until you get a very creamy consistency and this will give you the equivalent of Liquid white so that you can try ‘wet on wet’ painting on your own.
Just be warned… it’s addictive and you’ll probably be spending the next few weekends playing around the technique yourself!
What paint is comparable to Bob Ross’s?
If you are painting on a budget (and aren’t we all?!), then I’ve got some good news for you. You don’t have to use the ‘official’ Bob Ross paints for the wet on wet technique and there are a couple of brands which I can recommend that you can use to good effect. The first option is quite affordable and it’s going to be Blick Studio’s own house brand. These student paints are quite affordable and well-made enough that if you don’t like them, Blick has a money-back guarantee.
You’ve got to love it when a company stands behind their product in this day and age!
Another great option for wet on wet painting is going to be Gamblin’s 1980’s color series. They are a little less oily than your standard paints and this makes them fit in quite well with the wet on wet style, allowing you to jot in details with some clever brushwork so keen that you’ll surprise yourself.
Be sure to give one or both a try to see what you think… They’re quality paints and I think that you are going to love them!
Some closing comments
Today I’ve talked about whether or not Bob Ross used oil paints and as you can see, not only did Bob Ross use oil paints on his show, but that was the only type of paint that he would use there. Oil paints are perfect for Bob Ross’s wet on wet painting technique, so if you have your own oil paints then I would highly recommend that you give his technique a try.
It’s a fun way to spend a few weekends and you can definitely learn a trick or two!
Before I go, I’ll leave you with an informative 3rd party link that will give you some tips for painting on a wet canvas. It’s a little different from what you are used to but I guarantee that you’re going to have a blast learning this technique on your own.
Until next time, have fun with wet on wet painting!