Book Review: Painting with Bob Ross - Learn to Paint in Oil Step by Step!

Painting with Bob RossWhen I got the chance to review Painting with Bob Ross, I was fairly excited. Although I haven’t painted in years with real paints, I have been trying to get into digital painting. With supposed lifelike brushes available now on tablets, I really thought that I could use the techniques and try to transfer them to the new medium. I remember decades ago watching Ross on television and thinking that he made his lessons look like anyone with a little artistic ability could do it. I thought it would be a fun experiment and a unique way to review the book.

Painting with Bob RossUnfortunately, I was not very successful. It worked more in theory then practically. I admit, I’m not super skillful with painting, but I have dabbled in the past and thought that it would at least give me a better understanding of the basics.

It may be more the format, being a book rather than a video, or it may just be that it doesn’t transfer well into digital, but I did not find the book super helpful. I at least expected it to have a feel of some of the books I’ve read in the past, but this is more of a tips than step by step book, in my opinion, unless you are already fairly proficient at oil painting. The reason I say that, is it doesn’t actually show any strokes, instead saying things such as to use “long horizontal strokes,” or “short sweeping strokes,” or to "tap downward." At least for me, I’m not sure that would be super helpful even in real painting, for beginners at any rate.

It does, however, provide oil painting techniques and what brush sizes and exact paint colors to use for the landscapes. It shows each step in photos how it should look as you add each layer of paint, but unless you really already know how to paint, again I’m not sure how helpful it is. Perhaps for inspiration or if you are a fan of Ross, it could also be more beneficial. It does include quotes from Ross which is nice for the fans.

I realized after reading that I am obviously not the right intended audience for this book. I would say even using real oil paints, it doesn’t seem like a beginner “step by step” guide, at least to me. I think, however, if you perhaps watched some of his lessons and used it as a companion guide it could be very useful.

If you are a fan of Ross or fairly experienced in oil paints, it could be a good buy, I just honestly don’t feel like I’m at the right level to make a completely fair assessment. I will say, however, the graphics are beautiful, I did enjoy the quotes, and if you can follow the more written instruction approach to art, it may well be a great addition to your collection.

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