Bill Alexander (painter)
Alexander presenting The Magic of Oil Painting which ran from 1974 until 1982
2 April 1915|
East Prussia, German Empire
|Died||24 January 1997
Powell River, British Columbia, Canada
William "Bill" Alexander (2 April 1915 – 24 January 1997) was a German painter, art instructor, and television host. He is best known as the creator and host of The Magic of Oil Painting (1974-1982) television programs that ran on PBS in the United States. The Art of Bill Alexander (1987–1994) was a series of books on wet-on-wet oil painting. He is also remembered as the teacher of celebrity and popular television painter Bob Ross.
Bill Alexander was born in East Prussia, but his family fled to Berlin during World War I. Apprenticed as a carriage maker, Alexander was drafted into the Wehrmacht during World War II. Captured by Allied troops, he made himself notable by painting portraits of Allied officers' wives and he soon made his way to the United States.
Alexander is best known for the television program The Magic of Oil Painting (1974-1982), which ran on PBS in the United States. In The Art of Bill Alexander (1987–1994), Alexander teamed with other wet-on-wet painters, including Lowell Speers, Robert Warren, and Buck Paulson to produce a series of books.
TV host and prolific painter Bob Ross studied under Alexander, from whom he learned his wet-on-wet technique, a method of allowing oil applications to run together rather than waiting long periods for each layer to dry. Ross dedicated the first episode of the second season of The Joy of Painting to Alexander, explaining that "Years ago, Bill taught me this fantastic technique, and I feel as though he gave me a precious gift, and I'd like to share that gift with you [the viewer]".