painting like Ted Harrison

We just loved Ted Harrison's paintings.  

They are so bright and cheerful (in fact, Harrison called his work "Cheery style") and are so distinctive - we figured that they were perfect for a kindergarten painting project. 

Before we started to paint, we needed to learn about Ted Harrison and his art. 

source: Pajama Press

A Brush Full of Colour (Pajama Press, 2015) is a beautiful book, full of gorgeous, big pictures of Harrison's art. It is a bit beyond kindergarten interest and understanding (when read with a whole group), but was an excellent source of information about Ted Harrison's life and art that the kids have revisited while creating their paintings. 

We learned that Ted Harrison was born in England, that he had a twin sister, that his father introduced him to drawing when he was two, and that a teacher in school encouraged his art. 

We learned that after WW II he went to a number of countries with the British Foreign Service, and saw many sad things. As a result, he decided only to paint "happy" and "cheerful" pictures. 

We learned that he was a teacher, and moved from England to Canada to teach in a school in Alberta. From Alberta he moved to the Yukon where he found the style that he became famous for.

His retirement years were spent in Victoria, BC, an hour down the road from my wee town.  (And my claim to fame is that my kids had the opportunity to paint with him during a visit to our school  about 15 years ago!)

We looked at Ted Harrison's paintings, and saw that he made lines for the land and the sky. We noticed that the lines were not straight, they were wavy and sometimes even looked "alive". 

We made pencil lines for the land and the sky on our papers. 

I traced over the kids' lines with black marker. 

It was very evident from the beginning of the project that the kid's individual creativity was going to shine. 

We talked about paint colours. Mr Harrison painted the land and the sky a variety of different colours. Not always the colours we associate with the land and the sky. But always cheerful colours. 

The kids thought about the colours for their land and sky, and painted (tempra paints) from the top down. 

When the paintings were dry, I went over the black lines with marker again. 

Time to add the buildings. 

I precut a bunch of different size rectangles in different colours for buildings, white snow-y roofs and black and yellow windows. 

The kids decided the number of colour of their houses/buildings and glued them onto their paintings.

Would the houses be close to the front of their pictures, or back against the sky? Would there be doors and windows? A chimney? Smoke?

Some wanted to add animals or people.  I said that they needed to leave some things for when they were eight...

Details were added with pencil and crayon. 

The final step was adding snow. 

Some children used a finger, others used a q-tip.

Each painting reflected Ted Harrison's style.  And each was also reflective of the artist's creativity.

Aren't they beautiful!!

Right now we play and learn in a Ted Harrison inspired art gallery.  

How awesome is that!

Other Ted Harrison art projects for kids.
Small Potatoes
Grade ONEderful
That Artist Woman

Follow Sandi @ rubber boots and elf shoes's board art of the masters - kindergarten style on Pinterest.



  1. What a fun creative project! Their final products are just beautiful! :)

  2. Those are beautiful Sandi! I like how you had them glue on their houses. It's a cleaner look than what we did:)


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