Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Read Wild: Hosting a Bob Ross Like Painting Party

Edited to Add: Please note the comment at the end of the post about Bob Ross, trademark and how to officially host a Bob Ross themed party. If you don’t want to pursue an official Bob Ross party, you’ll have to leave his name and likeness out of the picture due to copyright and trademark rights.

Bob Ross is having quite the renaissance in popularity, especially among teens, in part because of Netflix. If you didn’t know, you can watch Bob Ross paint a lot of happy trees on Netflix and many teens find it to be a great way to relieve stress and anxiety. It’s also fun to host a Bob Ross like painting party.

Today’s program is being brought to you by Karen . . . and the Girl Scouts. Thing 2 is a Girl Scout and they also do a lot of programming that would work well in a public or school library setting, especially if you are already doing programming and have a good space for it. I’m putting this under our Read Wild heading because Bob Ross was famous for painting a variety of landscapes, including forest, trees, sunsets, and seaside retreats. If you have the outdoor space available, I recommend taking the painting outside so teens are painting nature while being in nature and breathing in some fresh air. This is a fun and creative way to get teens thinking about and connecting with nature.

Supplies Needed:

  • A painting surface, like a tile mentioned by Cindy earlier today or a canvas
  • A variety of paints (Bob Ross uses oil paints, but you can use acrylics)
  • Paint brushes
  • Paper plates (this will be your palette)
  • Paper towels
  • Water and something to keep it in for cleaning brushes
  • If you need to protect your painting surfaces, you’ll want to get newspaper or tablecloths

Before you start painting, you may want to prime your canvas by giving it a layer of white paint. If you want to speed up the process, you can prep canvases the day before your painting party. If you are using tiles, you don’t need to do any prep work.

Set up is pretty easy, just distribute brushes, paints, paper plates and water containers to each participant. If you are inside and have public performance rights, you can play Bob Ross in the background. The big thing here is to just let teens paint nature scenes and step back and let them be creative and expressive.

You’ll want to give a brief introduction to teens about Bob Ross. If you want to go with video there are several choices on YouTube or you can just read a brief introduction via someplace like Wikipedia (I know, I’m sorry, but it’s a quick resource). You could also print off examples of his work to have around the room or put together a slideshow which you project onto a blank wall or share via your in-house screens.

There are several online write ups of Bob Ross painting parties. It turns out, it’s a pretty popular party theme. You can find a few good ones here, here and here. Bonus points if you find and wear a Bob Ross wig.

When we went to the Girl Scout party, The Teen was just there by default. However, she had such a good time that she went home and painted a few more canvases. It was an obvious hit and I highly recommend it.


  1. Love this idea!

    Side comment: I was trying to check out some of your book lists to create a display, and several of the links that I clicked on took me back to the homepage.

    • Karen Jensen, TLT Karen Jensen, TLT says:

      Hi Faye, thank you for letting me know. WordPress recently did an update and whenever this happens there are a lot of bugs to work out. I will work on fixing them.

  2. I received this email after I hosted my Bob Ross party, now ew just call ours paint nights and watch other youtube videos:

    This is a notice from Bob Ross Inc. to all libraries intending to host or already hosting “Bob Ross” painting events.
    Bob Ross, Inc. (BRI) owns all intellectual property rights relating to the late artist Bob Ross, including his name, likeness, image, and voice, as well as books, pamphlets, instructional videos and DVDs from the popular television series “The Joy of Painting.” BRI strictly controls the use of the Bob Ross® intellectual property by, for example, limiting its use for painting instructional events solely to licensed Certified Ross Instructors (CRI®). The CRIs have undergone intensive training in the Bob Ross Wet-on-Wet Technique® and teach the approved technique exclusively with BRI-approved Bob Ross products.
    A CRI® can participate in events in a number of ways, from leading classes to showing the technique in a quick painting demonstration.
    It is BRI’s policy to require that a CRI® be actively involved in any event wishing to use the Bob Ross® intellectual property. By involving a CRI® your event will receive permission to display materials with Bob Ross’s name and likeness and show videos from “The Joy of Painting” television series while supporting a local artist and business.
    You can find a list of Certified Ross Instructors by visiting https://www.bobross.com/Articles.asp?ID=302 Contact them directly about hosting your future Bob Ross functions.
    Or become a Certified Ross Instructor yourself by visiting http://www.bobross.com/Articles.asp?ID=301.
    Happy Painting!

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