Happy Clouds, Happy Trees: The Bob Ross Phenomenon explores of one of the most beloved and talented artists and painting instructors ever to teach on American television. Released earlier this year, the book reacquaints readers with Bob Ross (1942–1995) as the gentle, afro’d painter of happy trees on PBS.
But Ross was a man of many contradictions. He’s famous, but few know him by name. Show someone a picture of this man with the trademark Afro and house-painting brush, and then they are likely to smile with nostalgia. On TV he emoted a rural naiveté and spoke about happy clouds and happy trees, which he simultaneously marketed to his fans from the helm of a multimillion-dollar company. He was, according to many, a mediocre painter, and yet as an artist he seems endlessly fascinating. Authors Kristin Congdon, Doug Blandy, and Danny Coeyman thoughtfully explore how the Bob Ross phenomenon grew into a juggernaut.
This book uses contemporary art theory to explore the sophistication of Bob Ross’s vision as an artist. It traces the ways in which his many fans have worshiped, emulated, and parodied him and his work.The authors address issues of amateur art, sentimentality, imitation, boredom, seduction, and democratic practices in the art world. They fully examine Ross as a painter, teacher, healer, media star, performer, magician, and networker.
The latest issue of CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries features a very positive review of the book. Reviewer E.H. Teague had this to say:
Though this is a university press publication, with thorough footnotes, it is written in a style that will appeal to a popular audience. Illustrations include portrait drawings by a coauthor that pose Ross as Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Picasso, and other artists. Thus the authors, perhaps by intent, match their approach to their subject in a style that the subject would appreciate. This book will be especially valuable for folk art collections.
Summing Up: Highly recommended.Happy Clouds, Happy Trees is now available from UPM.