Please use this FAQ's page to find answers to questions about the Bob Ross Technique.
The information below is based apon our own painting and teaching experience over the past few years and is offered as a guide only. For definitive answers to questions or for confirmation of any information about Bob Ross products please contact Bob Ross Inc www.bobross.com
Do you have a question but can't find the answer here ? Email us we might know and need to add it to this page.
Q. How long does it take to dry?
A. This depends on the ambient temperature, thickness of paint etc. Generally speaking at normal room temperatures the surface of the paint will touch dry after a couple of days. There may still be some areas that are soft so handle with care for the first five to six days.
Q.Are Bobs paints acrylics or oils?
A. Although Bob uses acrylic gesso's for underpainting some parts of a painting all the colours are oil based.
Q. Do I have to use Bob Ross oils or will any oil paint work?
A. Bob spent many years formulating the correct thickness of paints and mediums to make the 'wet on wet' technique work. More traditional oil paints tend to be either too thin or oily to work easily.
Q. Can I use acrylics with Bob Ross brushes?
A. No. Acrylic paints are water soluble and water is the worst thing for your brushes. Use a synthetic or specially made brush for acrylics and gesso's
Q. Can I mix wet gesso's and oils?
A. No. Gessos's are water based and should be applied to the canvas and allowed to dry completely before applying and oils.
Q. Can I paint gesso or acrylic over oil?
A. This is not advisable as oils by their very nature have a surface that will not enable acrylic to bond.
Q. Should I varnish my paintings?
A. All the oil colours are light fast and will last many years without deterioration without the need to varnish.
Q. What are gesso's
A. Gesso's are acrylic paints principally used for preparation of a painting surface prior to the application of oils and other paint mediums.
Q. What is Liquid White?
A.The Bob Ross 'wet on wet' technique relays on having a painting surface that is covered in a thin even coat of an oil based paint that dries very slowly.
Liquid white has been made especially for this purpose and allows one to blend and 'move' colour on the canvas. In addition, having a wet surface means that fixing 'happy accidents' is very easy.
Q.What is Liquid Clear?
A. Liquid clear works in the same way as liquid white but is applied very sparingly. Clear is used mostly when starting out a painting with a gesso or acrylic underpainting. However for some paintings a combination of clear and white is used. This works especially well when trying to achieve a soft misty effect over the edges of a dark forest.
Q. What is Liquid Black?
A. Liquid black works the same as liquid white and is especially useful in creating mood filled or shadowed paintings and scenes.
Brushes & Tools
Q. Are Bob Ross brushes the same as household brushes?
A. No. Bob Ross brushes have been specially made for use with Bob Ross oil paints.
Q. Can I use white spirits to clean by brushes?
A. White spirits is unrefined and not good for your brushes. Apart from the smell it will make the bristles brittle and reduce the life of the brush.
Q. Can I wash my brushes in soap and water ?
A. No. Using water or water based cleaners will cause the bristles to swell and brush opens like a loo brush!
Canvases & Painting Surfaces
Q. Can I paint on canvas board?
A. Whilst you can paint on many different surfaces we would always suggest using a stretched canvas for the best results.
Q. Are all stretched canvases the same?
A. Canvases are available in many different sizes, qualities and surface finish. In general a pre-stretched double primed canvas should be suitable. This should be a 'medium tooth' canvas. "What that ?" I hear you say. The tooth refers to the roughness of the weave. If in doubt ask before buying!
Q. Do I need to prime my canvas before use?
A. A well primed canvas should need no further priming before use. However its best to test the canvas before starting your masterpiece. Simply apply a small amount of liquid white or clear to a part of the canvas ( an edge or folded over section is ideal ) and leave it for half an hour. The canvas should still be wet and able to blend colour easily. If however it feels tacky or has dried in the canvas will need additional priming to stop the oil being absorbed.
Starting your painting
Q. How much liquid white should I apply?
A. In most cases a thin even coat is applied to the whole canvas. To check coverage use your finger tips to touch the canvas and check your fingers to see if your finger prints are visible. If you have too much your prints will be lost under a wet coat of paint. Too little and you finger tips will look lightly dusted almost dry.
Q. How much liquid clear should apply?
A. In most cases a very thin even coat is applied to the whole canvas. Because clear is 'clear' the finger tip test will not work. So now we use the 'speed boat' test. Use your finger and with some pressure sweep across the canvas and see if a trail is left behind. If so too much has been added and you will need to wipe the canvas with a kitchen towel to remove excess.
Q. Can I stop and restart a painting?
A. If you know that you may not have time to complete a painting, try and pick a convenient point to stop. For instance maybe complete the sky and clouds background hills etc and leave it for another day to add the mountain!
If you have to leave a painting at short notice then try using a little liquid clear to help merge the restarted section into the completed area's. Its fiddly but achievable.
Q. Can I use landscape paints for flowers?
A. We don't advise using landscape paint for flowers for a few reasons. Firstly, the colours are earth tones. Great for landscapes but too dull for flowers. Secondly, they are specially mixed for the landscape technique and are far too heavy for floral brushes.
Q. Can I use liquid clear instead of floral medium?
A. Not a good idea as liquid clear is too thick for the floral brushes. Floral oil is much finer oil and will allow floral paints to flow easily giving a more delicate
and transparent finish. Ideal for a delicate petal.