You want too much information? Well then, here you go. FiveThirtyEight ran all of Bob "Happy Little Trees" Ross' paintings through a giant calculator, and what they discovered is... enlightening. Unsurprisingly, 91% of his paintings contain trees, but did you know Ross refused to have any signs of humanity in his work?
It's actually really weirdly fascinating. Ross has become a strange sort of cultural punchline, but there was more to him than a mellifluously soothing voice and a smile that could sooth an enraged bear into hibernation. For instance, all of this:
I figured out the conditional probability of every Bob Ross tag against every other tag to answer the following pressing questions.
What is the probability, given that Ross painted a happy tree, that he then painted a friend for that tree?
There's a 93 percent chance that Ross paints a second tree given that he has painted a first.
What percentage of Bob Ross paintings contain an almighty mountain?
About 39 percent prominently feature a mountain.
What percentage of those paintings contain several almighty mountains?
Ross was also amenable to painting friends for mountains. Sixty percent of paintings with one mountain in them have at least two mountains.
In what percentage of those paintings is a mountain covered with snow?
Given that Ross painted a mountain, there is a 66 percent chance there is snow on it.
What about footy little hills?
Hills appear in 4 percent of Ross's paintings. He clearly preferred almighty mountains.
How about happy little clouds?
Excellent question, as 44 percent of Ross's paintings prominently feature at least one cloud. Given that there is a painted cloud, there's a 47 percent chance it is a distinctly cumulus one. There's only a 14 percent chance that a painted cloud is a distinctly cirrus one.
What about charming little cabins?
About 18 percent of his paintings feature a cabin. Given that Ross painted a cabin, there's a 35 percent chance that it's on a lake, and a 40 percent chance there's snow on the ground. While 72 percent of cabins are in the same painting as conifers, only 63 percent are near deciduous trees.
How often did he paint water?
All the time! About 34 percent of Ross's paintings contain a lake, 33 percent contain a river or stream, and 9 percent contain the ocean.
Sounds like he didn't like the beach.
Much to the contrary. You can see the beach in 75 percent of Ross's seaside paintings, but the sun in only 31 percent of them. If there's an ocean, it's probably choppy: 97 percent of ocean paintings have waves. Ross's 36 ocean paintings were also more likely to feature cliffs, clouds and rocks than the average painting.
What about Steve Ross?
Steve seemed to prefer lakes far more than Bob. While only 34 percent of Bob's paintings have a lake in them, 91 percent of Steve's paintings do.
But then things get really interesting when you consider input from Bob Ross Inc founder Annette Kowalski. As the statistical analysis uncovered, Ross hardly ever painted people. This was not an accident. Ross didn't want any signs of people in his work. Not even on, er, man-made structures.
"I will tell you Bob's biggest secret. If you notice, his cabins never had chimneys on them," Kowalski told FiveThirtyEight. "That's because chimneys represented people, and he didn't want any sign of a person in his paintings. Check the cabins. They have no chimneys."
Wow. Maybe Bob Ross wasn't all childlike grins and dulcet tones after all. Maybe he had a dark side. Or maybe he just really, really, really liked trees.
Check out the full thing through here.
TMI is a branch of Kotaku dedicated to telling you everything about my adventures in the gaming industry (and also Bob Ross sometimes apparently). It's an experiment in disclosure, storytelling, interviewing, and more. The gaming industry is weird. People are weird. I am weird. You are weird. Why hide that? Let's explore it.