Analysis of Bob Ross paintings

Apr 17, 2014

As a lesson on conditional probability for himself, Walt Hickey watched 403 episodes of “The Joy of Painting” with Bob Ross, tagged them with keywords on what Ross painted, and examined Ross’s tendencies.

I analyzed the data to find out exactly what Ross, who died in 1995, painted for more than a decade on TV. The top-line results are to be expected — wouldn’t you know, he did paint a bunch of mountains, trees and lakes! — but then I put some numbers to Ross’s classic figures of speech. He didn’t paint oaks or spruces, he painted “happy trees.” He favored “almighty mountains” to peaks. Once he’d painted one tree, he didn’t paint another — he painted a “friend.”

Other findings include cumulus and cirrus cloud breakdowns, hill frequency, and Steve Ross (son of Bob Ross) patterns.

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