A Brush Full of Colour: The World of Ted Harrison Reviews

School Library Journal

A Brush Full of Colour: The World of Ted Harrison. A picture book biography by Margriet Ruurs and Katherine Gibson“Gr 3-6–An outstanding, well-organized biography about the life of Ted Harrison, one of Canada’s most recognized and popular painters. The book chronicles the man’s life, from his birth in the coal mining town of Wingate, County Durham, England, where his father gave him pencil and paper and told him to draw; to art school and military service post–World War II, which gave him the opportunity to see the world; to teaching art in Malaysia; and finally immigrating to Canada and combining all the designs and techniques he had seen around the world and finding his own style. Harrison vowed that his paintings would only depict positive images. He developed a colorful, vibrant technique that reflected the joys of life. While many love his work, others are more critical. However, Harrison remains upbeat: “‘We must be who we are in everything we do, no matter what others say.’” This book is filled with quotes from Harrison and examples of his work, all demonstrating his love for vivid colors and flowing lines. VERDICT A joy to look at and an inspiration to read.”
—Paula Huddy, The Blake School-Highcroft Campus, Wayzata, MN

Booklist

“Best known for his colorful paintings of the Yukon, Ted Harrison grew up in England’s drab, gray coal country. His military duties during World War II took him to India, Egypt, and Kenya. After the war, he taught art in Malaysia and New Zealand before he and his wife moved to Canada, where they fell in love with the Yukon. Inspired by the landscape, he moved away from his traditional, formal art training and developed his own distinctive style, notable for its simplified forms, unusual colors, and underlying sense of joy. Harrison has illustrated several books, including O Canada (1993) and Robert Service’s The Shooting of Dan McGrew (1988). Ruurs and Gibson’s beautifully designed volume combines a clearly written account of Harrison’s life and work with photos of his early years and, later, many of his paintings. Seldom does an artist’s biography for children offer so many beautiful reproductions of the subject’s work. Pair this inviting book with Ashley Bryan:Words to My Life’s Song (2009), another wonderfully visual celebration of an artist following his own path.”
—Carolyn Phelan

Kirkus Reviews

“… Abundantly illustrated, the generally lively text is accessible and well-paced, and (thankfully) the didactic asides and discussion prompts are relegated to the paintings’ captions. Backmatter includes a helpful index and related books, websites and films. A child-friendly introduction to an iconic, wonderfully accessible and quintessentially Canadian artist. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)”

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CM Magazine

“This outstanding biography does more than just inform the reader of Ted Harrison’s life in a well organized way. A Brush Full of Colour is indicative of the spirit and passion of its subject and richly illuminates a national treasure! It does justice to Harrison’s artwork by including many reproductions from his early efforts to more recent drawings that are named, dated and commented upon as to the content of the drawing and its meaning. Many include a question posed to the reader. One of the highlights of this lovely book is a preface by Harrison where he refers to his art as ‘my simplistic artistic style’. He also includes a lovely tribute to meeting, over the years, students and lovers of art that have influenced him. Harrison urges readers to ‘keep on reading, writing and painting’.

An index and bibliographical references are included.

Highly Recommended.

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Resource Links

“If you have a Ted Harrison book, this is a must have. A Brush Full of Colour tells the story of Ted Harrison from his birth in 1926 England and follows his development as an artist to the present day, living in Victoria. The book is full of Harrison’s paintings, including his earlier work before he developed his recognizable style. The text is easy to read, comprehensive, and interesting.

The text is divided into chapters: Childhood, Travelling the World, Life in the North, and A Full Time Artist. Each page is filled with colourful reproductions of his paintings, photographs, memorabilia, and artist sketches. Readers will be amazed to discover the influences in his work and the growth in his style. Harrison wrote the preface and several of his quotes are interspersed throughout the text. As a result, the reader gets a good understanding of who Ted Harrison is. The authors include questions below most of the reproductions to further guide the conversation. (“What do the ravens tell us about the weather that day?”)

A foreword by Ted Harrison, Table of Contents, and Index are included in this beautifully presented book. [It also includes] Acknowledgements, Sources and Resources.

Highly recommended for all Canadian libraries.”
—Louise Sidley

Canadian Children’s Book News

“Ted Harrison, one of Canada’s most recognized and celebrated artists, died in January, 2015. Using a distinctive style that particularly resonates with children, he portrayed the Canadian west coast and Yukon landscapes in vibrant, non-traditional colours. A Brush Full of Colour follows the life and career of Harrison, from his youth in a coal-mining town in northeast England.

…This inspirational and informative biography includes many stunning examples of Harrison’s luminous artwork as well as resources, sources and a foreword written by the artist himself: “I urge you to keep on reading, writing, and painting. 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.”
—Senta Ross

CanLit for LittleCanadians

“…this book is virtually larger than life.

Within a scant 40 pages, the authors share Ted Harrison’s progression from the coal-mining County Durham in England, to art school and military service post-WWII, teaching, immigration to Canada, and full-time artistry.

A Brush Full of Colour is an exemplary young CanLit biography having: informative text, organized well under headings such as Childhood, Travelling the World, Life in the North, and A Full-Time Artist; an assortment of visuals, including photographs and samples of Ted Harrison’s artwork throughout his career; quotes from the artist; and key features of non-fiction texts such as a table of contents, index and resources section…”

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Sal’s Fiction Addition

“The table of contents for this lovely new book from Pajama Press entices with the promise of a foreword by the artist himself, and then goes on to let the reader know that soon they will learn about Ted’s childhood, his world travels, his life in the north, and his life as a full-time artist. I couldn’t wait to get started as I have been in awe of his work for many years.

…The bright colors and the dancing lights of the northern skies gave him the inspiration he needed to let his imagination grow and flourish. His family’s life in the Yukon, and the place itself, is depicted in the many wonderful pieces of art that are included in this welcome and inspiring book. His legacy lives on in the books he has written, in his paintings that hang in galleries, and public and personal collections, and in his wisdom shared about the need for art in schools, and in our lives…”

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Getting Kids Reading

“…Here’s a book that will be as interesting for you as it will be for your child.

A Brush Full of Colour is a vibrant, fact-based picture book about Canadian artist Ted Harrison.

While the book takes you (the parent) through the life of a great painter, it will also take your child on a journey of a different kind—of beauty and exploration. The paintings in the book are colourful and magnificent. You don’t even have to be able to read to enjoy looking at the gorgeous images…”

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