DIY Bob Ross Painting Party for Amateurs

If you are a Netflix regular, you have access to hours of quality time with the ultra calm and therapeutic painter Bob Ross. The Chill with Bob Ross series includes hours of Mr. Ross painting beautiful, Alaskan inspired landscapes. You may be lucky enough to choose an episode that features his pet squirrels or family member appearances. Nevertheless, Bob Ross paints the scenes with ease and in under 30 minutes. After watching a few episodes, you will ask yourself why you’re not standing in front of a canvas. I found myself thinking about the technique and nature scenes, and wondered how simple the paintings actually were for an unprofessional and inexperienced bystander. My husband and I picked the next closest birthday, which happened to be his and sent invites to some friends and family. The Bob Ross Birthday Party was happening, and we needed to find a way to make it a success with a limited budget!

The Painting

First thing first, you need to figure out what scene you would like to create. Our party was happening just a few days after Christmas, so we decided on a winter scene. Another factor that came into play was our budget. We were willing to spend some money on the supplies, but wanted to keep the experience as simple as possible. We figured this way, it gave us and our guests the best chance of success to paint a canvas worth hanging. Our winter scene included two types of blue, black, crimson red, and white.

Pro tip: Oil paint takes months to dry. Plan to have a well lit and warm storage area to allow your paintings to dry.

Supplies

Our invite list included around 15 people, which meant 15 of each tool. We ended up purchasing the supplies from Amazon, Michaels, the Dollar Tree, Menards, and School Specialty.

Two inch brushes are a staple for Bob Ross. We bought in bulk on Amazon.

Fan brushes make the classic pine trees and foliage. We ended up buying a few variety packs on Amazon.

Bob Ross does have his own line of oil pants, but they are pricey! A simple search on Amazon yielded low cost ($7) tubes of paint. We purchased one tube of each color needed, and it was more than enough for our group of 15! A little oil paint goes a long way!

Coating the canvas with liquid white is a must before your start painting. We purchased the Bob Ross jar of liquid white.

Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to purchase extra liquid white. We discovered oil paint held onto intense color, and white was helpful in toning down our excess color on the canvas.

Paint knives are needed for most, if not all Bob Ross paintings. Metal/wood paint knives run about $4+ at craft stores and online. I found plastic knives for $1.89/knife at School Specialty.

Michael’s Craft Store can be pricey if you don’t have a coupon or shop during a store sale. I was worried about the prices of canvas because the size Nate chose (16″x20″) ran about $15/canvas if you bought them in single packs or pair packs. We opted for lesser quality packs of five. With a pre-Christmas deal and coupon, we found packs of five canvas for around $12 per pack.

Our decision on the size of canvas ended up being much larger than I originally thought it would be. I anticipated purchasing 12″x12″ or smaller canvas to save on paint quantity and time. I’m glad we decided to purchase larger canvases. Similar to how you give young children large pieces of paper to color, inexperienced painters do better with a larger canvas. Mistakes are easier to blend or cover up. Or should I say “Happy Little Accidents” in the true Bob Ross fashion.

We purchased the “paint palates” at the Dollar Tree. We considered cardboard and wood, but did not have time to cut the ovals for all our guests. We ended up finding plastic serving platters at the Dollar Tree. This was inexpensive and the platters were sturdy enough so the guests could hold them in the true painter’s fashion.

Paint thinner was purchased at Menards. The thinner is used to clean your brushes. It evaporates quickly and we ended up needing more paint thinner than planned for. Luckily we were in my dad’s shed and he had some extra.

Nate and my dad built long wooden paint easels which we put on long covered tables.

PAINTING TIME

In the true Bob Ross, and 80s fashion, I put on my denim jumper and Nate wore white overalls. We were ready to paint!

Our guests arrived and we started painting. I had previously downloaded our episode of Chill with Bob Ross and connected a laptop to the TV in my dad’s shed. We had a guest who was not painting pause, rewind, and play the episode as needed. The group stayed mostly together during the episode in terms of progress. We re-winded many times to make sure we were using the correct colors.
The shed quickly smelled like paint thinner and we opened up doors to keep the fumes from becoming an issue.

The group took around 1.5 hours to paint the winter scene. The episode was around 30 minutes. The group took their time in painting. We frequently walked around and looked at the paintings. To our surprise, the paintings looked fantastic! Each one was different in terms of shading and details, but everyone’s looked similar to the model painting on the TV screen.

CLEAN-UP AND DRY TIME

To clean the brushes and tools, we put them all in a bucket of paint thinner the next morning. The plastic table clothes were easy to wrap up and discard. We did not save the plastic platters, but that would have been possible.

Our group did not read the back of the paint tubes before we started. We laughed upon reading “Paint may take 6–12 months to completely dry”. The paintings were mostly dry one month after the party date.

We kept the easels and painting tools for any future desire to paint like Bob Ross.

And, wallah! The paintings weren’t the exact same as Bob Ross’ original, but we didn’t expect that anyway. They weren’t 10/10, but I think that everyone was surprised with how great the paintings turned out. Most of our guests would not describe themselves as artists and most had never used oil paints before, including myself! Nevertheless, the guests knocked their paintings out the the park and loved walking around to look at everyone’s paintings.

Foodie, Traveler, Social Worker, Child and Family Therapist, Future LICSW

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