Black Canvas – Season 1, Ep 3 – “Ebony Sunset”

This post was a bit delayed, but the painting is done. This one was full of challenges. This was also the first time I nearly gave up on this project.

This weeks painting was: Ebony Sunset. A classic Bob Ross painting that apparently groups regularly do in Bob Ross style painting classes.

A black canvas painting by Bob Ross

“Ebony Sunset” by Bob Ross, from The Joy of Painting, Season 1, Episode 3. Image from

Today, we’ll be working with black canvas. Bob Ross DOES give you instructions about what exactly he’s talking about as far as this goes – but only does so once you’re already well into the episode. I got advice from my Art Supply Friend (thanks, Friend!) who got me to just buy a black prepared canvas – which was about the same price as a regular prepared canvas.

It’s safe to say now that if you are attempting this same project (especially as a beginner painter – like me) that you should always¬†watch the entire episode before you begin to paint. Although oil paint does not dry quickly, it would be a shame to begin working only to realize half-way through that you need different equipment.

This week’s painting was on a black canvas, and instead of covering the canvas in Liquid White – we were covering it with Alizarin (A Lizard In) Crimson. To make this suitable for the canvas, rather than covering it with straight Crimson, I blended it with the walnut oil – as I have been doing to make my Liquid White.

The painting was actually going very very well. I was amazed at the depth of colour and how bright everything could look on such a dark background.

And then it happened.

My Almighty Easel, was truly NOT Almighty. The front legs pushed back and caused the canvas to slip off the frame. I caught it just before it hit the floor…with my hand… in the paint…right on the part I was most happy with.

I kind of broke down then. All of my frustrations and my feelings of inadequacy in my painting and my inability to do visual art came out and I just…kind of lost it.

My very supportive partner helped me clean up the mess and convinced me that this was an opportunity to challenge myself and fix the painting.

And I kept plugging away.

Overall, it turned out not too bad. I wasn’t able to fix everything. I also decided that while Bob wants there to be a happy little path with a friendly rock – I do not. Too much paint on the canvas and the challenge of making the palette knife work for me was more than I could take on. So, since it’s my world, I turned it into more of a grassland.

Finished Product:

A worse version of Bob Ross's painting

My attempt at “Ebony Sunset”

Amount of Time: 3 hours?

Special Equipment: Black Canvas; Liquid Alizarin Crimson

Overall Verdict: I get the whole black canvas concept much better now. It really does have a depth to it that the white ones haven’t had yet. It’s a bit hard to photograph, and Bob mentions that in every light it will look a bit different – and he’s completely right. I guess in all it’s not too bad, considering I had my hand in the middle of the painting earlier on.

What I like the most: Sun tipped grassy knolls. Good ol’ fanbrush – it was invaluable for those!

I took a week off from painting, but look forward to next week’s “Winter Mist”, which already has me feeling intimidated!


Bob Ross Lied to Me! (Season 1, Ep 2 – “Mt. McKinley”)

This week, we (Bob Ross and I) attempted to do a painting of Mt. McKinley. I’ve never seen Mt. McKinley, and all I know about it is that it’s in Alaska, and is the highest mountain peak in North America. This was going to be interesting. I know mountains are one of the most common items in Bob Ross paintings, so I was actually looking forward to getting into them.

A screenshot showing Bob Ross's completed painting from Season 1, Episode 2

“Mt. McKinley” – by Bob Ross – from The Joy of Painting, Season 1, Episode 2

Bob Ross’s painting of Mt. McKinley in Season 1 Episode 2 of The Joy of Painting
Bob Ross’s Mt. McKinley, from Season 1, Episode 2 of The Joy of Painting
I thought I’d take a look at what we’d be doing in advance, so I sat down and watched the episode. Good thing I did too – because Bob Ross lied to me! In episode one, he outlined all of the equipment we would need for the first season (at least). But almost immediately into the second episode (while working on the sky), he says “Now, let’s get our our almighty fan brush.” … This was not on the list of tools in the introduction, nor did he make a special introduction in this episode. Just out of the blue – we needed to have a fan brush (doesn’t everyone just have one?). I picked one up at the art supply store the next day, but was more than a little miffed at Bob for not really providing me with details.

When it was time to paint, I set everything up and put a layer of liquid white on my canvas, as I’d been shown in the previous video. Everything started out alright – although, again I mixed too much green in with my blue for my sky – and I was ready when he told me to get out my fan brush…but unfortunately, everything kind of went downhill from there. I couldn’t (and still can’t) figure out how to use this fan brush to make fluffy clouds. Or how Bob blended the whole sky together using the large 2.5″ brush, without making it into a general wash. Or how to get that wonderfully smooth slope of the snow on the mountains. Or how to get the shadowing on the mountains.

By the end of the episode I finally understood how to make the evergreen trees – although it doesn’t really show in my painting.

My own painting, trying to resemble Bob Ross's (but failing)

My completed painting of Mt. McKinley – I just realized that mine is portrait while Bob’s is landscape.

Ultimately, this one went way worse than the first. I’m not expecting to be amazing – but because the first week went so well, I guess I had higher hopes for myself. I’m feeling a little down about this one, but I guess in reality it’s not THAT bad – I mean, for someone who has very limited painting experience. Also, for the record, I definitely could not have done this painting in a 1/2 hour like Bob does I didn’t even bother trying. This one took over 3 hours, but I didn’t keep track of the time specifically.

Next week, it looks like the painting is: Ebony Sunset!¬†(Oh god I just looked at it and now I’m afraid!)