August 16, 2014

A Brush Full of Colour: The World of Ted Harrison

by Margriet Ruurs and Katherine Gibson
An Ann Featherstone Book, Pajama Press
40 pp.
All ages
For release September, 2014

I hope that the above reproduction of the book cover of A Brush Full of Colour adequately represents the brilliance of the book's images and the story of artist Ted Harrison, as told by award-winning children's author Margriet Ruurs and biographer Katherine Gibson. If I could have posted a larger graphic of the book here, I would have, because 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.  Art was nurtured from a young Harrison by his father and by his own love of reading, and thrived when living in India, Africa, Malaysia, and New Zealand, using ink and watercolours, oils, and acrylics, learning to depict only positive images, as
"There's enough sadness and misery in the world without hanging it on our walls." (pg. 14)
But it's Ted Harrison's move with his wife and son to northern Alberta and the Yukon that compelled him to break free of his early art styles which could not evoke the life and grandeur of the northern land and sky.  Incorporating the colours and techniques he'd seen in his travels, Ted Harrison explored using wild and bold colours and outlining in black, ultimately creating his effusive trademark style.
Northern Education, 1989 by Ted Harrison; Reproduced
on back cover of A Brush Full of Colour

Biographies for young readers can be difficult to write and organize successfully.  Too often, the story and details are lost in dense text, frequently with few graphics, especially when dealing with historical figures.  But A Brush Full of Colour is an exemplary youngCanLit 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.

The artwork is rich and spirited, the artist thoughtful and A Brush Full of Colour's portrayal honours both.


  1. So glad you like it! Ted is a most wonderful, kind man and I was honored to be able to share his story.

  2. What a wonderful book Margriet. Every family should have a copy.