Studying the Great Artist Ted Harrison…Introducing Young Children to one of Canada’s Most Famous Artists

title1“One curator said he didn’t want my work in his gallery because it was so simple even children understood it. I thought, what a wonderful tribute!”  ~Ted Harrison

I can barely hold still as I type today’s post, I’m so excited! It’s Kids Get Arty time! If you’re new to the Kids Get Arty series, it is a bi-monthly even hosted by where we introduce a new artist to ourselves, study and then create artwork using techniques used by our chosen artist.

Of course, I called my big sister and my nephew E for advice on which artist to study this time. E suggested we do Ted Harrison.

Ted Harrison? Who’s that?

You know, the artist who did the illustrations for The Cremation of Sam McGee?

Oh THAT Ted Harrison! YES! His prints are rich with happy colour, the smalls will LOVE him!

And so it begins…

Ted Harrison became a Canadian citizen in 1973 and taught art until 1979 when he became a full-time artist and illustrator. He credits the majestic beauty of the Yukon for his bold lines and fantastic choice of colours that are so predominant in his art. In a Harrison painting, the lake may be orange, the sky a rainbow of colours, a whale pink, and a moose blue. Which is one of the main reasons I loved his artwork the moment I set eyes on it.

But the tricky part is, Mr. Harrison uses a technique called serigraphy to create his paintings. Serigraphy is a type of silk screening. We hardly have the equipment for that here in my kitchen.

And so we made do.

The following is a photo story of our introduction into the world of serigraphy and Ted Harrison’s lovely artwork. We do not claim to be technically correct, we just used our imaginations and used what we had around us to create our own, simple serigraphs. As you go along, you will see little facts or quotes about our artist, Ted Harrison, and in between photos, will be explanations of what we were doing…colourful

I set the smalls up at the table with my laptop and we went through some of Mr. Harrison’s serigraphs. We discussed a few facts about the artist and we talked about how the paintings made us feel. Coco, who is 8 years old said she felt “passion”, 6 yr old Mr. Pancakes said he felt “like smiling”, and 4 yr old Miss G said she” liked looking at the whales the best!”research

I started out by giving the smalls each a piece of cardstock on which to draw their stencil design…drawingstencils1designingstencils *Please note that with the 4 year old’s stencil, I added the second line right along her lines to form a thick line for cutting. Miss Coco created her own second line. You will know what your kids are capable of and can help them along the way.

Once they had finished their design, I carefully cut out their stencils with sharp scissors and then a craft knife to get the trickier spots. Make sure to leave a border around the outer edge to keep your stencil from falling to pieces…serigraphyfinishedstencilOnce the stencils were cut out, I taped them down onto watercolour paper with painter’s tape so the stencils wouldn’t get away from the little artists. I provided a tray of brightly coloured acrylic paints and foam rollers. If we were doing actual silk-screening, we would have used ink instead of paints…childrensbooksAnd the girls began to roll the brushes over their stencils…paintrolling2 midnightsunprocessWhere it was trickier and the spaces between the stencils were smaller, the girls used a paintbrush…littleserigraphersmediumNow by this time, you may be wondering what little Mr. Pancakes was doing while the girls worked on their prints. He wanted to try a different technique to achieve similar results. He likes do do things his own way, much to his school teacher’s chagrin…inspirationMr. Pancakes wanted bold, strong dark lines in his painting, so using a permanent marker, he drew the boundaries between the colour…currentlydarklines

Once the girls were finished painting all their white spaces, I removed the tape and the stencils. Up until now, Miss G didn’t understand fully what we were doing. Once the tape and stencil was removed, the light in her eyes was evident. She couldn’t believe she had done it all herself!happyandproudOh,  they were so proud!


Now, Miss Coco has a love for the inukshuk. She wanted to add one to her print, just like her favourite Ted Harrison serigraph. She drew it with pencil on her print and then painted it with black acrylics…drawingtheinukshukinukshuk

And now for the big reveal…Ggfinishedfinished Can you believe how pretty these are? They bring me such joy just to look at! I was so proud of all three of these little artists.  Miss Coco asked me to frame hers…you bet I will! tributeThank you so much for joining us once again for our favourite series…Kids Get Arty.

~Arlee, Small Potatoes


8 thoughts on “Studying the Great Artist Ted Harrison…Introducing Young Children to one of Canada’s Most Famous Artists

  1. Was just buying acrylic paint and canvas with my troop today – never done it before! Then I came home to find this! I am thinking I would like to do this focus on an artist as well. How often do you do it? Do you have many already on your blog? Love your ideas! You are an amazing inspiration!

    • Thanks, girl! We do it bi-monthly…if you look up in the menu bar on my homepage, you should see a category for Kids Get Arty. In there, you will find the artists and posts we have done so far! 🙂 It’s my favourite series!!

  2. Love this! Use to have ‘arty afternoons’ before I had baby no 2, he’s 1 now, and ready to join in with my 3 year old, so ready to start again! Brilliant idea! I think I’ll have a look for a local artist who’s work I could take them to see in a gallery too.

  3. Wow wow wow!! I absolutely LOVE this project! Ted Harrison is a great artist to explore with kids (we have one his books Oh Canada.. and think will have to have a go one day too). Love the idea you came up with and the final artwork. Simply beautiful and so clever!!

    Thanks for joining in with Kids Get Arty! Always LOVE seeing what you and the kids get up to!


  4. Pingback: Oh to Have a Library… | Diannajessie

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