A Brush Full of Color: The World of Ted Harrison, by Margriet Ruurs and Katherine Gibson (Pajama Press, 2015)

Jumpstarting young artists in 1st through 4th grades with guidance from A Brush Full of Color 

What the book’s about

Ted Harrison, one of Canada’s most popular and recognized painters, loved making art as a child. Always at home in nature, he grew up in England, making snowmen and sledding in the winter and exploring the woods and fishing in the summer. His imagination was sparked by adventure books, and he dreamed of traveling to far-away places, including the Canadian North, where he eventually settled with his family. Harrison developed his unique style, featuring bold colors and sinewy black lines, to paint the Yukon landscape. But his work was also influenced by travels to India, Africa, Malaysia, and New Zealand. In the foreword to the book, Harrison advises young artists: “Develop your own style and keep it honest and true to who you are. Find inspiration in the world around you, and you will make the world a happier and more creative place.” He also urges us to “spread a little happiness wherever we may be.” With its colorful illustrations and inspiring story, this new book about Harrison’s world provides a great example of how he became an artist.

Two Jumpstart Activities for 1st through 4th grades, by Jessica Young

Activity 1: Color Your World 

 From a young age, Ted Harrison was inspired by adventure books like Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. As an adult, he traveled the world and lived in many places, including the Canadian Yukon he’d read about as a kid.

Lead kids in brainstorming a list of places they’ve been or places they’d like to go, including a discussion of the places’ landscape features. What colors would they use to paint them? Ask each budding artist to then write several sentences describing one place and illustrate the description with paint, colored pencils, or markers.

Activity 2: The School of Cheery 

There are so many reasons why artists make art, and many styles and methods for creating art. Ted Harrison has described his style as “The School of Cheery.” After seeing the world’s “many moods” during his travels, he vowed to spread happiness with his art.

Discuss Ted Harrison’s motivation with kids and pose these questions: “If you wanted to spread happiness with your art — to make people feel good just by looking at it — how would you do it? What colors would you choose? What subjects would you show, or would your art be non-representational — using lines, shapes, and colors without showing a recognizable subject from the real world?”

One thought on “A Brush Full of Color: The World of Ted Harrison, by Margriet Ruurs and Katherine Gibson (Pajama Press, 2015)

  1. Brilliant Ideas, as a young student teacher it’s great to see ideas like this come up. Rest in peace Ted Harrison, he will live on through his paintings.

    Liked by 1 person

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