A Statistical Analysis of the Work of Bob Ross

by Rachel Baker on April 16, 2014

…because really, who doesn’t like Bob Ross…

Bob Ross was a consummate teacher. He guided fans along as he painted “happy trees,” “almighty mountains” and “fluffy clouds” over the course of his 11-year television career on his PBS show, “The Joy of Painting.” In total, Ross painted 381 works on the show, relying on a distinct set of elements, scenes and themes, and thereby providing thousands of data points. I decided to use that data to teach something myself: the important statistical concepts of conditional probability and clustering, as well as a lesson on the limitations of data.

So let’s perm out our hair and get ready to create some happy spreadsheets!

What I found — through data analysis and an interview with one of Ross’s closest collaborators — was a body of work that was defined by consistency and a fundamentally personal ideal. Ross was born in Daytona, Fla., and joined the Air Force at 17. He was stationed in Fairbanks and spent the next 20 years in Alaska. His time there seems to have had a significant impact on his preferred subjects of trees, mountains, clouds, lakes and snow.

Read the whole article here:
http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/a-statistical-analysis-of-the-work-of-bob-ross/

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