Class teaches to ‘Paint Like Bob Ross’

Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Wearing a Bob Ross wig, Andrew Ball of Jasper paints during the "Paint Like Bob Ross" event at the Dubois Branch Library on Saturday. Ball has been watching "The Joy of Painting" on Netflix recently and is a big fan of Bob Ross. 


DUBOIS — Bob Ross fans filled Dubois Branch Library Saturday to learn to paint like the late American artist.

Brian Sutton with Art Party Unlimited of Laconia led the sold-out class of about 20 people through painting “A Trace of Spring” from Ross’ “The Joy Of Painting” television series. The four-hour class used the same large brushes Ross was known for, as well as oil paints from the Bob Ross product line — complete with drawings of Ross’ face on the tubes — and painting knives.

“The knife is designed to be used flat against the canvas,” Sutton explained as he demonstrated how to paint a landmass using a painting knife. “You can’t use it like a pencil.”

While Sutton led the class, Karen Saunders worked her way through the class, helping the students. 

Most of the students watch Ross’ show, which aired on PBS from 1983 to 1994, but is still available on streaming services. Justin Baker and his wife, Angela, of Birdseye attended the class because they’re long-time Bob Ross fans.

“It’s surprisingly harder than I thought it was going to be,” Justin said. “It’s different to watch it than to do it.”

The couple previously attended a painting workshop at Patoka Lake about a year ago, but Saturday’s class was only Justin’s second time painting.

Hayden Brumley, 15, of Owensboro, Kentucky, watches as instructor Brian Sutton demonstrates a technique during the "Paint Like Bob Ross" event at the Dubois Branch Library on Saturday. Hayden was in Dubois visiting her grandma and wanted to attend the class.

Cathy Wagner’s experience was opposite Justin’s.

“I’m surprised at how easy it is,” Wagner said, dabbing her brush on the canvas to add green grass to a brown landmass.

Wagner and her friend, Connie Archer, both of Celestine, regularly attend the monthly craft programs at Dubois Branch Library, so the painting class gave them another craft for the month.

To lead the class, Sutton had to attend a three-week class at the Bob Ross Art Gallery and Workshop in Florida to get certified in Bob Ross’ style. He completed the class in September and now teaches about three to four classes a week. Saunders plans to complete a course there this year.

Most of the students in Sutton’s classes are too young to remember Ross when he was alive, Saunders said. Although he’s still well-known today, Ross died in 1995. Seeing a new generation become Ross fans and develop an interest in painting is Saunders’ favorite part of the classes.

Bob Ross paints sit on a table during the "Paint Like Bob Ross" event at the Dubois Branch Library on Saturday. 

“I think it’s a nice little break from the fast-paced technology of our world,” she said.

The Dubois Branch added a second “Paint Like Bob Ross” class in May. Branch Manager Anita Murphy said it has already filled, but people can still sign up for the wait list through the library’s website, Classes are $50.

Murphy plans to continue hosting the Bob Ross classes at the library, with the goal of offering at least one a month.


Participants learn a technique from Brian Sutton, a certified Bob Ross instructor, during the "Paint Like Bob Ross" event at the Dubois Branch Library on Saturday.

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