Here's How Other Artists Really Felt About Bob Ross

Bob Ross is an icon of U.S. public television and arguably the most well-known American painter of the past 50 years. His optimistic attitude, charming quips, and soothing voice on "The Joy of Painting" made him a favorite amongst budding painters and insomniacs alike, and the rise of YouTube and Netflix has brought his instruction to new generations. Not everyone was a fan, however, and according to Mental Floss, contemporary painters had some harsh words for the calming TV star.

Ross' paintings were lambasted for being "formulaic and thoughtless," with one artist going on to say they were "horrified" by the act of art instruction on television. Ross was not known to venture away from painting landscapes or experiment with his style, and his popularity disgruntled traditional artists, who often struggled for recognition. Ross was even shunned by art supplies stores, who kept his products tucked away in the corner, hidden from the more hardcore artists.

Other artists appreciated his role as a teacher

Bob Ross was never a major force in the world of contemporary painting, but not all disparaged him or his work. Some recognized the positive effects of his optimism and encouraging words that inspired many to pick up a paintbrush for the first time (via Frieze). "The Joy of Painting" often followed "Sesame Street," cementing the show — and the act of painting — as a pleasant source of nostalgia and joy for millions. While most of Ross' viewers used him as a lullaby rather than a learning tool, artists recognize the effect he had on bringing the act of creation into the mainstream. Although he was never meant to fill galleries or auction houses, Bob Ross is still an American painting institution.

Though his paintings are considered formulaic, there is little doubting his technique, even among traditional painters. Ross had technique and a great command of light, particularly in his skies and mountaintops. There are influences from 19th century artists, and he encouraged spontaneity and improvisation, both signs of a deeper mind behind the charming but shallow landscapes he's most well known for. Ross has had difficulty gaining respect as an artist, but stands unmatched as an instructor, a role that the art community is beginning to recognize.