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A Brush Full of Colour

The World of Ted Harrison

by Margriet Ruurs & Katherine Gibson

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art, post-confederation (1867-), painting
list price: $22.95
published: 2014
publisher: Pajama Press Inc.
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  • Short-listed, Rocky Mountain Book Awards
  • Winner, Crystal Kite Award
  • Short-listed, OLA Silver Birch Non-Fiction Award
  • Winner, Canadian Children's Literature Roundtables Information Book Award
  • Short-listed, TD Canadian Children's Literature Award
  • Short-listed, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards
  • Commended, Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection
  • Commended, Resource Links "The Year's Best"
  • , OLA Best Bet
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The true story of how a boy's passion for learning saved him from a life in England's coal mines and led him to a career as an internationally acclaimed artist and illustrator, famed for his images of Canada's north. Includes full-colour reproductions of Ted Harrison's art and a preface by the artist himself.

Ted Harrison’s brightly coloured and wildly imaginative paintings set in the Yukon have become synonymous with the North. His instantly-recognizable images of the land of the midnight sun hang in galleries and private collections around the world. But how did a boy who grew up in a drab mining town in northeast England become one of Canada’s most beloved and decorated artists?

A Brush Full of Colour is the story of a boy whose passion for learning would save him from a life in the coalmines. The books by the American writer Jack London and Canadian poet Robert Service fired his imagination with scenes of the wilderness and the Klondike Gold Rush. He wanted to become an artist and he went on to art school. A stint in the British Intelligence Service gave him the chance to travel. But Ted never stopped dreaming of the North, and when he saw an advertisement for teachers in Northern Alberta, he jumped at the chance.

Margriet Ruurs and Katherine Gibson trace the life of Ted Harrison and the influences that would lead to his unique style as an artist. Filled with full-colour examples of his vivid art and with a foreword written by Ted Harrison, A Brush Full of Colour will provide inspiration for a new generation of budding artists.


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Victoria, B.C. Dear Readers, I am pleased to write the foreword to this book, which I hope will introduce many new readers and lovers of art to my life and work. During my career as a teacher, author and artist, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting students from different parts of the world. Through the years they have influenced my simple artistic style and helped bring my stories and painting to life. If I have inspired them to find their way as artists, I am truly grateful.

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.

Affectionate regards, Ted Harrison

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Contributor notes

Margriet Ruurs is the award-winning author of twenty-six books for children. Passionate about literacy, she writes children's and educational materials, edits the web magazine KIDSWWWRITE, and conducts author visits and writing workshops at international schools around the world. When she isn't travelling, Margriet runs a booklover's bed and breakfast on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia.

Katherine Gibson is an author and keynote speaker who has also written extensively for magazines and newspapers. She spent four years interviewing Ted Harrison while researching her groundbreaking biography Ted Harrison: Painting Paradise. Katherine lives with her husband on Vancouver Island.

Ted Harrison is one of Canada’s most celebrated artists. A former teacher and author, he is best known for books he wrote and illustrated about Canada’s North, including Children of the Yukon and A Northern Alphabet. He also illustrated two poems by Robert Service: The Cremation of Sam McGee and The Shooting of Dan McGrew, which became Canadian bestsellers. A member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Ted is the recipient of many honours for his contribution to the arts and culture of Canada, including the Order of British Columbia and the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour. Born in County Durham, England, Ted and his wife emigrated to Canada in 1967 and lived in the Yukon for twenty-five years before moving in 1993 to Victoria, British Columbia. Ted passed away in early 2015.

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Editorial Review

About A Brush Full of Colour

2016 Crystal Kite Award Winner

2015 Canadian Children's Literature Roundtables Information Book Award Winner

2016 Ontario Library Association Silver Birch Non-Fiction Award shortlist

2015 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award shortlist

2015 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards shortlist

2016 Rocky Mountain Book Awards shortlist

2015 Hackmatack Children's Choice Award nominee

2015 Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection

2014 Ontario Library Association Best Bets selection

2014 Resource Links "The Year's Best" selection

"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."—Booklist

"An outstanding, well-organized biography...A joy to look at and an inspiration to read."—School Library Journal

"A child-friendly introduction to an iconic, wonderfully accessible and quintessentially Canadian artist."—Kirkus Reviews

"[A] must have...The text is easy to read, comprehensive, and interesting...[A] beautifully presented book...Highly recommended."—Resource Links

"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...Highly Recommended."—CM Magazine

"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..."—Canadian Children's Book News

"[T]his book is virtually larger than life...A Brush Full of Colour is an exemplary youngCanLit biography."—CanLit for LittleCanadians


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About the Authors

Margriet Ruurs

Margriet Ruurs is an avid traveler and has shared her 30 books with children all over the world. She lives in Salt Spring Island, British Columbia.
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Katherine Gibson

Katherine Gibson is the best-selling author of four non-fiction books. Her work has been published internationally in several languages. Katherine’s extensive research for the illustrated biography Ted Harrison: Painting Paradise was instrumental in the writing of her latest book, A Brush Full of Colour: The World of Ted Harrison, co-authored by award-winning children’s author Margriet Ruurs, which has been nominated for several awards. Katherine lives on Vancouver Island.
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