Does Bob Ross Use Oil Or Acrylic Image

Does Bob Ross Use Oil Or Acrylic

“Believe it or not, one of the most frequent debates in the art community isn’t about abstract vs. realism, but rather: Did Bob Ross use oil or acrylic paints?”

As someone who has delved deep into the art world and explored the techniques of many renowned artists, I’ve come to uncover the mysteries behind their chosen mediums.

Many budding artists and Bob Ross enthusiasts grapple with this question, seeking to emulate his mesmerizing style.

If you’ve been puzzling over this very query, this article is tailored just for you. Dive in as we explore the following;

  • What brand of paint did Bob Ross use?
  • Does Bob Ross use acrylic or oil paint?
  • Supplies for Bob Ross painting i.e what brushes does Bob Ross use?
  • What medium did Bob Ross use?
  • Bob Ross’s canvas size

Bob Ross as an Artist and His Popularity

 Bob Ross was an iconic artist known for his soothing voice, gentle demeanor, and ability to create stunning landscapes in minutes.

His popularity soared through his television show, “The Joy of Painting,” aired from 1983 to 1994. 

Ross captivated audiences with his unique style, employing the wet-on-wet painting technique that allowed him to complete an entire scene in one episode.

What set Bob Ross apart was his unwavering positivity and the belief that everyone could paint. 

His approachable nature made art accessible to people who had previously felt intimidated by it. Ross inspired a generation of aspiring artists through his show, fostering a deep appreciation for nature and the arts.

Even years after his passing in 1995, Bob Ross continues to capture the hearts of millions worldwide.

Can You Paint Bob Ross Style With Acrylics?

Yes, you can paint in the Bob Ross style with acrylics. While Bob Ross primarily used oil paints, his techniques, and methods can be adapted to acrylic paints. The adjustments in drying time and blending techniques can help achieve similar results with acrylics.  

Wet on Wet: Bob Ross Painting Technique

Bob Ross’ technique, often called the wet-on-wet technique, was central to his unique style and the efficiency of creating his artworks. 

This technique involves applying wet paint onto an already wet or damp surface, allowing for blending and layering without waiting for each layer to dry. 

It enables artists to work quickly and achieve seamless transitions between colors. 

To begin a painting, he would apply a thin layer of Bob Ross gesso or another base color to the canvas. This wet base served as a foundation for subsequent layers of paint. 

He would then use large brushes to rapidly block the basic shapes and colors, combining broad strokes and tapping motions to create texture.

One notable aspect of Bob Ross’s technique was his ability to blend colors on the canvas effortlessly. He would use brush strokes, palette knives, or even his fingers to blend the wet paint, resulting in smooth gradients and soft transitions. 

This blending technique allowed him to create realistic skies, mountains, trees, and water bodies.

What was the typical “Bob Ross canvas size” used in his paintings?

The typical “Bob Ross canvas size” most frequently used was 18×24 inches.

This canvas size was optimal for the show’s format, allowing viewers to easily follow along with his wet-on-wet oil painting technique.

The choice ensured that the details of Ross’s serene landscapes, from majestic mountains to peaceful forest scenes, were clearly visible, making it a favorite for both the artist and his audience.

Bob Ross Painting Supplies List

Bob Ross was known for his signature painting style, and having the right supplies was essential to achieving his techniques.

Here are some of the Bob Ross painting tools;

Image of Bob Ross Painting Supplies List

Brushes: Bob Ross used a variety of brushes, including a 2-inch flat brush for large areas, a fan brush for foliage, a filbert brush for blending, a liner brush for fine details, and 1-inch landscape brush for highlights.

Bob Ross Palette Knife: The palette knife was a crucial tool for Bob Ross. He used it for mixing colors, applying texture, and creating various effects in his paintings.

What brand of paint does Bob Ross use?

Bob Ross predominantly used his own line of oil paints, “Bob Ross Oil Paints,” specifically designed for his wet-on-wet painting technique.

This brand was developed to work seamlessly with his unique approach, ensuring the iconic results he achieved in his popular TV series, “The Joy of Painting.”

Base Coats: Bob Ross often started his paintings with a base coat of liquid white or other base colors. These base coats helped create a smooth foundation for subsequent layers of paint and facilitated blending.

Evidence for Bob Ross Using Oil Paint

The following evidence is available to support the notion that Bob Ross used oil paint in his works:

i. Television show

In his television show, “The Joy of Painting,” Bob Ross consistently referenced and demonstrated the use of oil paints. 

He gave instructions and guidance on using oil paints, their properties, and techniques specific to working with them. 

ii. Interviews and quotes

In various interviews and quotes, Bob Ross mentioned his preference for oil paints. He emphasized the slow drying time and blendability of oils, which allowed him to achieve the wet-on-wet technique. Ross discussed the benefits and characteristics of oil paints, indicating his expertise and extensive experience with them.

iii. Artistic style and effects

Bob Ross’s artistic style, characterized by his soft, blended landscapes, was best achieved using oil paints. 

The slow drying time of oils allowed him to blend colors and create smooth transitions on the canvas. The texture and depth achieved with oil paints contributed to the realistic and vibrant nature of his artwork.

iv. Materials used in show demonstrations

Bob Ross often displayed and discussed specific oil paint colors in his television show. He dwelled on how to mix them on the palette and apply them to the canvas.

The consistency, viscosity, and behavior of the paint during the demonstrations show the use of oil paints.

Evidence for Bob Ross Using Acrylic Paint

Picture evidence for Bob Ross Using Acrylic Paint

While Bob frequently used oil paint and soft pastels, there is evidence that he also used acrylic paint. This was very minimal with a few of evidences done using acrylics , including underpainting.  

In some of his later works, he would use a technique known as dry brushing with acrylics to achieve an airbrushed effect.

According to Bob Ross Inc., the company responsible for distributing his materials and products (like bob ross gesso), Bob used Acrylic paints in all of his television shows, but only for very specific areas or details such as the reflection in a lake or for highlights on his painting.

Oftentimes, he used oil paint but the medium is expensive for beginners, so acrylic is a great alternative.

What medium did bob ross use?

Bob Ross primarily used the wet-on-wet oil painting technique, known as “alla prima.”

This method allows artists to layer fresh paint over still-wet layers, creating smooth blends and transitions.

His unique style, showcased in “The Joy of Painting” TV series, was achieved using his specially formulated brand of oil paints.

This approach and medium combination became emblematic of his artwork, captivating fans globally.

Acrylic Substitutes for Bob Ross Painting List

Bob Ross Main Acrylic Paint ColorsAcrylic Substitutes
Crimson Alizarinperylene maroon
Bright RedDark Red or Scarlet
Cadmium YellowLemon yellow
Dark SiennaBrownish-yellow
Indian YellowReddish yellow
Midnight Black Jet Black
Mountain BlendGreyish brown
Blue PhthalocyanineUltramarine

Oil vs. Acrylic: Advantages and Disadvantages

Oil and acrylic paints are two popular mediums artists use, each with advantages and disadvantages. Here are the key differences and characteristics of oil and acrylic paints:

Oil Paint


Blending and Textures: Oil paints have a slow drying time, allowing artists to blend colors smoothly and create intricate textures. This makes them ideal for achieving subtle gradations and realistic effects in paintings. If you are in a hurry, you can make oil paints dry faster with various proven techniques.

Depth and Richness: Oil paints offer a depth and richness of color that is often highly prized. They have a natural luminosity and can create a wide range of tonal values, enhancing the visual impact of the artwork.

Longer Working Time: The slow drying time of oil paints gives artists extended working time, allowing for more flexibility and the ability to make changes or corrections even after days or weeks.

Traditional Feel: Oil paints have a long-standing history and are often associated with traditional art practices, giving them allure and timeless quality.


Drying Time: The extended drying time of oil paints can be a disadvantage for artists who prefer quicker results or need to work on multiple layers within a shorter timeframe.

Toxicity and Odor: Some oil painting materials, such as solvents, can have a strong odor and require proper ventilation. Certain pigments and mediums may also contain toxic substances, necessitating caution in handling and disposal.

Acrylic Paint


Quick Drying: Acrylic paints dry relatively fast, allowing for faster layering and quicker completion of artworks. Artists who prefer a more immediate process can benefit from this characteristic.

Versatility: Acrylic paints can be used on various surfaces, including canvas, paper, wood, and more. They are also compatible with different mediums, enabling artists to achieve a wide range of effects.

Water-Soluble: Acrylic paints are water-based, making them easy to clean up with water and eliminating the need for strong solvents. This makes them a more convenient and environmentally friendly option.

Flexibility: Acrylic paints can be applied in thin washes like watercolors or in thick impasto layers similar to oil paints. They offer a wide range of techniques and can be used to achieve different styles and effects.


Color Shift: Acrylic paints can slightly darken or change color as they dry, making it necessary to account for this when mixing or matching colors.

Blending Challenges: Acrylics dry quickly, which can make blending colors on the canvas more challenging compared to oil paints. Artists may need to work quickly or use mediums to extend drying time for blending.

Lack of Traditional Luminosity: Acrylics may not possess the same level of depth and luminosity as oil paints, which can impact the visual richness of certain artworks.

How to Paint Bob Ross with Acrylics

Painting in the style of Bob Ross with acrylics can be a rewarding experience. While Bob Ross primarily used oil paints, here are some ways to adapt his techniques for acrylics:

Choose an easy painting

Select a Bob Ross painting tutorial or reference image suitable for beginners or those new to acrylic painting. 

Look for simpler landscapes with fewer intricate details, making them easier to replicate and achieve a similar style.

Easiest Bob Ross paintings

Some Bob Ross paintings are relatively easier for beginners to recreate. These may include landscapes with basic elements like mountains, trees, and water bodies.

Examples of such paintings include “Happy Little Mountains,” “Cabin at Sunset,” or “Winter Frost.”

Use acrylic effectively

Although acrylics dry faster than oils, you can still adapt Bob Ross’s wet-on-wet technique. Begin by applying a thin paint of acrylic gesso or a light-colored acrylic paint to the canvas.

Keep a spray bottle filled with water nearby to mist the canvas periodically, keeping the acrylics moist and workable for blending.

Layering and blending

Work in thin layers if you have thick paint, building up colors gradually. Acrylics can be blended by layering wet paint onto partially dry or damp layers using a soft brush or a dry brush technique. 

For smooth transitions, use acrylic glazing mediums or extenders to increase the open drying time.

The Best Kind Of Acrylic For Wet-On-Wet

Here are some of the best kind of acrylic for wet-on-wet: 

Open Paint acrylics

Open paint acrylics are fluid acrylic types with a slow drying time. This makes it ideal for wet-on-wet painting, which combines two colors while still wet. 

The open time allows you to blend the colors together and create interesting effects with the brushwork. 

The colors will remain vibrant, and the paint won’t crack or flake while drying. 

Interactive acrylics

Interactive acrylics are a type of acrylic designed for use in wet-on-wet painting. 

This type of paint has a different consistency than traditional acrylic paints, allowing it to blend together easily. 

You can create interesting layers of colors with the brushwork. It is also great for creating special effects with its slow drying time. 

Acrylic gouache

Acrylic gouache has more pigment and body than normal acrylics. This makes it ideal for wet-on-wet painting as it will hold up to the blending process. 

Gouache also has a longer drying time. This allows you to create more interesting and vivid effects with brushwork. The colors will remain vibrant and won’t flake when drying.

If you do not know what acrylic gouache is, you need to look at our article, “Gouache vs acrylic paint” for more insight.

How to Improve Wet-on-Wet Acrylic Painting? 

Use Bob Ross’ painting technique

Bob Ross was a painter known for his wet-on-wet acrylic painting technique. This method of painting involves applying layers of paint while the previous layer is still wet, allowing colors to blend and create interesting textures. 

With this technique, you can achieve beautiful results with ease by simply layering colors, blending them together, and lightly tapping with a brush to create soft feathered edges.

Detailing and layering

To improve your wet-on-wet acrylic painting, focus on adding details by carefully layering the acrylic paint

Start with a lighter base color, then add darker layers of paint over it to bring out the details. 

You can also use a dry brush to blend edges and create interesting textures.

Color mixing

Improving wet-on-wet acrylic painting involves proper color mixing as well. Before applying any paint, mix your colors to ensure they blend well. This way, you get the right shade of color and avoid any unwanted discolorations.

Upgrade the acrylic painting

To take your wet-on-wet acrylic painting to the next level, you can add different elements. These include glazes, varnishes, or special paints to create unique textures and effects.

Also, adding a few drops of mediums like inks and gels can also help you achieve a more sophisticated painting. 

Tips to Paint Like Bob Ross and Still Save Money

Paint like Bob Ross on a budget by emulating the following tips:

Use any size canvas

Unlike traditional painting techniques that may require specific canvas sizes, Bob Ross’s style is adaptable to different dimensions. Opt for smaller canvases or even repurpose old canvases by priming them with a fresh layer of gesso. This way, you can experiment and practice without investing in expensive, larger canvases.

Use acrylic paints

While Bob Ross primarily used oil paints, you can still paint like him using acrylic paints, which are generally more affordable than oils. 

Acrylics offer a wide range of colors, fast drying times, and easy clean-up with water. 

Look for student-grade acrylic paints that provide good quality at a lower cost. 

Interesting Read: What Happens if You Mix Oil and Acrylic Paint

Use a makeshift palette

Instead of purchasing an expensive palette, consider using a makeshift palette. You can use a glass or plastic surface like an old picture frame, a sheet of glass, or even a sturdy piece of cardboard covered in wax paper. 

This allows you to mix and blend your acrylic paints without the need for a dedicated palette.

Buy in bulk or economical sets

To save money on acrylic paints, consider buying in bulk or economical sets. 

Many art supply stores offer discounted sets of acrylic paints that include a variety of colors. Buying in bulk or larger quantities can also be more cost-effective in the long run.

Take advantage of sales and discounts

Keep an eye out for sales, discounts, and promotions at art supply stores, both online and in-person. 

Sign up for newsletters or follow social media accounts of art suppliers to stay updated on special offers. By being patient and strategic with your purchases, you can take advantage of discounted prices and save money.  


What kind of paint does Bob Ross use?

Bob Ross typically uses oil paints. He used a special oil paint called alkyd, which is fast-drying and allows for painting than traditional oils.

The colors of line are mostly limited to a range of 37 colors, which he called his “magic palette”. 

What brushes did Bob Ross use?

Bob Ross used various brushes of different shapes and sizes to create different textures and effects in his paintings. H

e typically used two-inch wide flats, one-inch wide flats, round brushes, fan blades, script liners, and detail brushes. Overall, the type of brush was determined by water mixable oils. 

Can you use acrylic paint for Bob Ross?

It is possible to use acrylic paint for Bob Ross techniques; however, it is not recommended. Acrylic paints dry faster, and the colors can become muddy more easily than oil paint. 

What is Bob Ross’s favorite color?

Bob Ross had many colors he favored in his palette, however, his absolute favorite was phthalo blue. He frequently incorporated shades of blue into his landscapes, using them for skies, water bodies and as a base for creating depth and dimension in his paintings.

Wrap Up: Learning from Bob Ross’s Legacy

Bob Ross has left a remarkable legacy of creativity, inspiration, and joy. His impact is still seen in the art community today and will continue to influence generations of artists yet to come. 

Bob’s passion, talent, and endless optimism are something every artist can learn from. He believed that everyone had an inner artist – and those beliefs inspired many to find wellsprings of creative potential within themselves.

We can take his advice and strive to add more beauty to the world with our own imaginations. 


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