Bubble Bob

Something happens to you when you watch Bob Ross for an ungodly amount of time. Like his perm, all lines are blurred, and you start thinking of blues as “phthalos” and baby deer as potential pets. You want all beings in nature to be happy and all clouds to have feelings. And the colors – he uses a base arsenal of 13 and goes all over from there. I’ve spent so much time with these colors that I had to map them all out.


There it is, a bubble chart of all these base colors Bob Ross uses in “Beauty is Everywhere,” a collection of 26 episodes from “The Joy of Painting.” Titanium white and midnight black are his pillars, used in every painting in the series. He leans on phthalo blue, dark sienna, van dyke brown, and alizarin crimson (which he pronounces like it’s a fancy lizard). These dark hues and subdued reds carry him into the yellows – ochre, cadmium, Indian, with a touch of sap green and bright red. Bob also likes to throw some Prussian blue in for some cobalt sass, and when he’s feeling especially frisky, phthalo green moodies up his forests. Bob’s got feelings, y’all. (Did he and John Denver ever meet? Maybe they have now.)

From these humble columns, he builds such scenes as you might see in a chiropractor’s office as “Wilderness Cabin,” “Frosty Winter Morn, and “Mountain Rhapsody.” (This is not a slight to either Bob Ross or chiropractors; both of them have the potential to realign my spiritual spine and I’m ok with that.) Bob loves such titles:


I don’t know why I wanted to make a word cloud of his paintings’ titles, but there it is. Again, this is my brain on Bob Ross. Bob really loves him some winter, blues, and wilderness, with secluded cabins thrown in. Much as he was known as a “master of relaxation,” a man who painted on television and spoke like a more artistic Mr. Rogers, I think there was part of him that wanted to climb inside his paintings and never come out. He had to paint those things three times for each show, so I don’t blame him. Plus the upkeep of that perm must have driven him to madness at some point.

Bob did love a little hut in the middle of nowhere, a mountain looming in the distance. His colors drew him back to those images repeatedly. He seems like he could have become a forest witch, employing squirrels to find him acorns to grind for flour and other natural elements to make pigments. He painted little spells on canvas, and I think he wanted to conjure up some more, alone in the wilderness except for baby deer and some mail owls. There was darkness in that soul, hence his most-used colors. Or perhaps I just know nothing about painting, which is definitely true. I just know the effect these images have on my gnarled brain, and it’s some sorcery.

In any case, the colors in these paintings clearly cause some spiraling, so be careful. But Bob knows what he’s doing with these tranquil mountain wintertime wilderness bliss cilffside lake pastel fantasies, so I’ll let him handle the brushes from now on.


Suits I Have Seen and Loved

It has come to my attention that certain celebrities have been sporting sundry suitage of late. Specifically, three of the best famous people at work today have showed out in suits that telegraph their talent, their esteemed personage, the David Byrne-esque boxiness that says “I cannot be contained. But I’m wearing a suit that draws a map of my territory.”

Before I present the suit saviors, I need to establish my qualifications. My grandma wore a homemade suit to her wedding in 1947, smashing the patriarchy and serving a timeless look. She meant fashion business even with limited resources at her disposal. So I know from good suitage. Let’s begin.


Sandra Oh hosting Saturday Night Live


To host SNL on March 30, Ms. Oh and her fabulous hair rocked a blue tartan suit with a drop blazer (I’m making that a thing), and I now want to make that fabric my family crest. She noted it was her one-year anniversary of becoming an American citizen while recognizing her Korean and Canadian roots. Can we please have Ms. Oh in every editorial from now on? She and fellow visionaries like Whoopi Goldberg are underappreciated fashion plates who have discovered all the secret pathways in Mario Kart while the rest of us can’t even figure out how to get up the ramp in Koopa Troopa Beach. It takes someone with both verve and poise to wear a suit of less conventional proportions, and she gives us a lecture in making style your own. I want to attend her class and sit in her office hours. This country is beyond lucky to have Ms. Oh grace its screens, let one count her as one of its citizens. We are not worthy.

Harry Styles at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


Mr. Styles had the honor of introducing Stevie Nicks at this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony. (She is the first woman to be inducted twice, which is something I needed to lie down after hearing. Induct all the women multiple times, you soulless award-hoarding men.) And he certainly came correct: a royally blue velour suit, an ultramarine dream, also with a drop blazer and wide-legged pants, complete with Navy-esque white shoes and buttons. All aboard the SS Styles. After saying things about our Stephanie like “she’s the magical gypsy godmother who occupies the in-between,” and “She is a beacon to all of us. Whenever you hear her voice, life gets just a little bit better. When she sings, the world is hers, and it is yours,” he bowed down to her like the royalty she is. Naturally, he knew blue was the only true color to wear on such a divine occasion.

Steven Van Zandt at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


Not one to be showed up by younger generations, E Street veteran Little Steven brought his own brand of suiting to the same fete as Mr. Styles. Also royally resplendent in a monochrome purple ensemble, the Jersey don rolled up looking like a rock and roll turtle, the kind that lives forever and bears the markings of history on its shell. My theory is that while not on tour with Bruce Springsteen, he moonlights as an enforcer for Grimace, hence all the purple suiting he has apparently accumulated. I stand in awe of his accomplishment in making myriad McDonald’s spokesman violet tones look regal. Or I might just be blinded by the light. But as Bruce himself says, any good magic trick begins with the setup, and Little Steven has Set It Up.

Views on Hues: Bob Ross

How many people have written about watching Bob Ross paint? I don’t know why I’m asking that question because I don’t care about the answer. I’m joining up.


His dual-color brush move is a killer. One moment, you’re looking at his relaxed hand smoothing some beautiful forest green down a mountainside underneath some lavender-mauve clouds, and the next he flicks the brush in the other direction and a gorgeous emerald tone appears on the other side of the mountain. He is painting a dream with all the right colors, the ones you see in your mind but can never seem to recreate or even name to any satisfaction. But Bob knows how.

What I didn’t remember is that at the beginning of each episode, Bob runs the names of all the colors you’ll need for your own painting at the bottom of the screen. He thinks you can do this, too – that you can take these very same pigments and do what he does. But even a simple background – the basis for a cliffside, say – he’s made a shade of black that you will never recreate. There are many blended colors that make it a unique hue, and even with Bob spelling out its recipe, your cliffside black will not match his. But you can look at it all you want, and that is enough.

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