Bob Ross

Stacy Conradt
Stacy Conradt

Whether or not you’re artistically inclined, there’s a good chance that you, like millions of others, have been captivated by Bob Ross’s instructional landscape paintings and soothing voice.

In fact, it was his dulcet tones that caught Annette Kowalski’s attention. Kowalski—credited as the woman who "discovered" Bob Ross—took a five-day instructional course with Ross in 1982. The classes had originally been the brainchild of Bill Alexander, an Emmy Award-winning TV painter who used a more exuberant version of Ross’s positive patter. When Alexander stopped teaching, he tapped Ross, his protégé, to take over.

Though Kowalski had originally hoped to take the course with Alexander, she quickly became enamored with Ross’s calming voice and positive messages. In addition to newfound painting skills, Kowalski left the class with a new client—she became Ross’s manager, helping him broker the deal for The Joy of Painting television show with PBS, and later, a line of Bob Ross art supplies.

Though Ross's shows seemed effortless, the paintings didn’t come as easy as they appeared to. Though he liked to talk about “happy accidents” on camera, Ross was a perfectionist. He recreated each painting on his show at least three times: One was used off-camera as a reference for the seemingly impromptu painting he did on-air; he painted the second one during the show; and he created a third, more detailed version for his instruction books.

His lines about happy trees and friendly clouds weren't ad-libbed, either. “He told me he would lay in bed at night and plan every word. He knew exactly what he was doing,” Kowalski has said.

The careful planning paid off. A hit with artists and non-artists alike, The Joy of Painting ran for an impressive 403 episodes over 31 seasons. Ross knew his pieces weren’t exactly Van Goghs, but that was never the goal. Most people, he said, didn’t watch the show with the goal of learning to paint like the masters—they simply watched to unwind: “We’ve gotten letters from people who say they sleep better when the show is on.”

The Happy Painter had more up his sleeve—a non-painting children's show was in the works, for one—when he was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1994. The Joy of Painting was canceled in order to give Ross time to focus on his health, but he passed away the following year, at the age of 52.

Stacy Conradt

If you'd like to pay your respects—maybe with some cheerful little woodland creatures like the ones above—you can find Bob Ross at Woodlawn Memorial Park in Gotha, Florida. While his headstone may be understated and unassuming, there's no doubt who it belongs to.

National Portrait Gallery Celebrates Aretha Franklin With Week-Long Exhibition

Courtesy of Angela Pham BFA
Courtesy of Angela Pham BFA

With the passing of Aretha Franklin on August 16, 2018, the world has lost one of its most distinctive voices—and personalities. As celebrities and fans share their memories of the Queen of Soul and what her music meant to them, the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery will pay tribute to the legendary songstress's life with a week-long exhibition of her portrait.

Throughout her career, Franklin earned some of the music industry's highest accolades, including 18 Grammy Awards. In 1987, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Nearly 30 years later, in 2015, the National Portrait Gallery fêted Franklin with the Portrait of a Nation Prize, which recognizes "the accomplishments of notable contemporary Americans whose portraits reside in the National Portrait Gallery collection." (Madeline Albright, Spike Lee, and Rita Moreno are among some of its recent recipients.)

Milton Glaser's lithograph of Aretha Franklin, which is displayed at The National Portrait Gallery
© Milton Glaser

Franklin's portrait was the creation of noted graphic designer Milton Glaser, who employed "his characteristic kaleidoscope palette and innovative geometric forms to convey the creative energy of Franklin's performances," according to the Gallery. The colorful lithographic was created in 1968, the very same year that the National Portrait Gallery opened.

Glaser's image will be installed in the "In Memoriam" section of the museum, which is located on the first floor, on Friday, August 17 and will remain on display to the public through August 22, 2018. The Gallery is open daily from 11:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. and admission is free.

This Wall Chart Shows Almost 130 Species of Shark—All Drawn to Scale

Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

Shark Week may be over, but who says you can’t celebrate sharp-toothed predators year-round? Pop Chart Lab has released a new wall print featuring nearly 130 species of selachimorpha, a taxonomic superorder of fish that includes all sharks.

The shark chart
Pop Chart Lab

Called “The Spectacular Survey of Sharks,” the chart lists each shark by its family classification, order, and superorder. An evolutionary timeline is also included in the top corner to provide some context for how many millions of years old some of these creatures are. The sharks are drawn to scale, from the large but friendly whale shark down to the little ninja lanternsharka species that lives in the deep ocean, glows in the dark, and wasn’t discovered until 2015.

You’ll find the popular great white, of course, as well as rare and elusive species like the megamouth, which has been spotted fewer than 100 times. This is just a sampling, though. According to World Atlas, there are more than 440 known species of shark—plus some that probably haven't been discovered yet.

The wall chart, priced at $29 for an 18” x 24” print, can be pre-ordered on Pop Chart Lab’s website. Shipping begins on August 27.

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