Purchase a physical copy of A Splash of Red here: https://www.amazon.com/Splash-Red-Horace-Schneider-Childrens/dp/0375867120
Hello, everyone, its Henry here. Listen up, because fun times are near. Fun 4 the Disabled is happy to present Children’s Books4thedisabled, fun 100%. Today we’ll be reading “A Splash of Red” written by Jen Bryant, and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. In this story, we’ll learn all about the black-disabled artist, Horace Pippin, and how he came to be a wonderful artist and inspiration. Now, here’s my friend, Vanessa.
Thank you, Henry, for that introduction. This is a fantastic story about the life of the great-black artist, Horace Pippin. Today, actress Jamie Pavlowski will be reading us the story called “A Splash of Red” written by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet and published by Alfred A. Knopf. Give a listen to Jamie reading the story of Horace Pippin’s life and art.
>> On February 22, 1888, the town of West Chester, Pennsylvania celebrated a holiday. That day in the same town, Daniel and Christine Pippin celebrated the birth of their son Horace. Horace grew fast, so fast that his mother could barely keep up with the mending. He’ll be a giant someday the neighbors would say. Grandma Pippin smiled at Horace’s long legs and big hands. She figured the neighbors were right.
Grandma’s hands were big too, rough and scarred from her slave days in Virginia, but they were just fine for giving Horace hugs. “The biggest part of you,” she said, “Is inside where no one can see.” When Horace was three years old, the Pippins moved to Goshen, New York. As the family grew larger, everyone helped out. Horace put his big hands to work. He fetched flour for his mother. He sorted laundry with his sisters. He played with his baby brother. He held the horse while the driver delivered milk.
At night, he piled wood for the stove and arranged dominoes so that his grandmother could play. Then, if he could find a scrap of paper and a piece of charcoal, he would draw pictures of what he had seen that day. Horace loved to draw. He loved the feel of the charcoal as it slid across the floor. He loved looking at something in the room and then making it come alive again in front of him. He loved thinking about a friend or a pet and then drawing them from the picture in his mind.
At school, he sat quietly at his desk, but his big hands were always busy. “Make a picture for us, Horace.” his classmates said and Horace did. His pictures made people happy, except when he made some next to his spelling list. That made the teacher mad, but Horace couldn’t stop drawing. One day Horace saw a funny face in a magazine, “Draw me and win a prize.” It said underneath. Horace drew the face and he sent it off. A few weeks later, a package arrived. Inside Horace found colored pencils, a pair of brushes, and a box of paints.
“Congratulations.” said the note. Horace had won his first pair of art supplies. “Paint a picture for us, Horace.” His sisters cried and Horace did. He painted everyday scenes in natural colors, and then he added a splash of red. Horace was in eighth grade when his father left for good. The family needed money so Horace quit school and went to work. For several years, Horace’s big hands were busy again, stacking grain in a feed store, shoveling coal at a rail yard, mending fences on a farm, carrying luggage in a hotel, making bricks in an iron factory, packing oil paints into large wooden crates.
Looking at these made Horace remember winning the art contest. How proud he’d been. How he loved those colored pencils, those brushes, and his first real box of paints. Horace was a big man now with big responsibilities. Still, he loved drawing as much as he always had. He used charcoal, broken pencils, whatever he could find. “Make a picture for us, Horace.” The other workers said and Horace did. Far across the ocean, a terrible war had begun. Horace’s big hearts wanted to help.
The good old USA was in trouble with Germany. He joined the army and sailed away. In France, Horace and his regiment dug deep trenches for protection. There were no blankets or beds. It was always wet and cold and dark. “I have not seen the sun in more than a month.” Horace wrote. He wrapped his big hands around a rifle. Planes droned overhead, shells exploded, gunfire rattled through the night. If the fighting stopped for a while, Horace put down his gun and picked up a pencil.
“Make a picture for us, Horace.” His soldier friends pleaded and Horace did. He filled his notebooks one by one. One day he climbed to the top of the trench, a shot rang out. Horace felt pain in his shoulder, he was hit. Many hours passed before help came. Horace was glad to be alive, but the bullet had badly damaged his right arm. When it healed, he couldn’t lift or move it in the way he used to. Now when someone said, “Make a picture for us, Horace.” Horace could not.
After the war, Horace came back to the United States and met Jennie Wade. Jennie was a hard worker. She loved to cook. Horace was a hard worker too and he loved to eat. It was a good match. They married and settled down in West Chester. Horace was 32 years old, as big and as strong as ever, but because of his injured arm, he couldn’t find a job. “How much can you lift?” The hiring boss would say and that was the end of that. Horace did what he could. He organized the boy-scout troop. He umpired baseball games. He took the neighbor’s children fishing.
When Jennie started a laundry business, he delivered the clean clothes. As he walked along the streets of West Chester, his fingers itched to draw all the colors and textures he saw. Lacy-white curtains billowing in the windows. A splash of red geraniums blooming on a step. A yellow cat sprinting down an alley. Deep green vines spiraling up a wall. At night, his old home in Goshen, his grandmother’s slave days, and the Bible story she told him made pictures in his mind.
He longed to draw them too, but how? His arm was weak and painful to lift. The iron poker stood by the fire straight and tall as a soldier, could he? With his left hand, he grasped his right wrists. He thrusted the poker into the flames until it glowed red hot. Using his good arm to move the hurt one he scorched lines into wood. “Make a picture for us, Horace.” The neighbor said, and Horace did. With practice, his arm grew stronger and his hand steadier. “Maybe now,” he told Jennie, “I can try painting.”
There was no money for art supplies so Horace used an old leftover house paint that he found in the alleys. For a canvas, he used a clean piece of cloth. Every day and late into the night, Horace worked on his painting. He used gray, black, and white, the somber colors of war. Here and there, he added a splash of red. He used 100 layers of paint. He decorated the frame with tiny sculptures. Three years later, he finished.
Now, as he delivered laundry or fished in the river, new ideas came but he didn’t paint them right away. Before he reached for a brush, Horace planned each new scene in his head. He painted the milkman and his wagon, women working in the kitchen, children playing games in the yard, cotton fields and log cabins, John Brown and Abraham Lincoln, war scenes and Bible tales, men singing on the corner. Horace hung paintings in a shoe-store window. $5 each said the sign. He hung others in a restaurant. He even traded one for a haircut. People admired Horace’s paintings but no one bought them. Then the president of a local artists’ club saw Horace’s pictures. He told his friend, the famous painter N. C. Wyeth to come see them too. Wyeth agreed. Horace’s paintings were good. Very good. “Do you have some more?” the men asked. Horace showed them his work. He held his breath as they looked and talked.
Finally, they said, “You should have your own art show. A one-man exhibition right here in West Chester.” Horace could hardly believe it. He shook hands with the men. When they left, he celebrated with Jennie. People came from all around to see Horace’s paintings. Magazines wrote articles. Reporters took photos. An art dealer told Horace that he would help him sell his work. More than 40 years had passed since Horace won his first box of paints.
Now, at last, everyone knew he was an artist. Horace became famous. His paintings hung in big-city galleries, museums displayed them, collectors admired them, movie stars bought them. Once again, Horace’s big hands were always busy. If you stood outside his house late at night, you might see him leaning towards his easel. His left hand holding up his right painting the pictures in his mind.
>> Thank you, Jamie. Horace Pippin did many impressive things in his life. No matter what happened, he still kept chasing his dream of becoming an artist. It goes to show that anyone can do whatever they set their minds to. No matter what your abilities are if you continue to chase your dreams, you will get there. Kids, what is your dream? How would you like to leave your mark on the world? Ask a family member to help you tell us in the comments section below. We would absolutely love to hear from you.
Now I’d like to say one more thing about Horace Pippin. He went to war and was wounded for America even though that’s the country where his grandmother was a slave. As a black man in America, Horace faced racism. Racism is wrong. We must treat everyone equally with kindness and love. Remember that always kids. Remember that you’re special and wonderful no matter your color or abilities. With that, I think it’s time for our story to end. If you’d like to see more, subscribe to our newsletter. We’ve got more read alongs for you to check out. Henry, will you close us out? Bye-bye.
>> Thank you for watching “A Splash of Red” written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Let’s go. Hey kids, remember to work your hardest, like Horace Pippin, a black disabled artist. Who made his way on the scene and achieved his dreams. Because disabilities can’t stop you. You can do what you want to. No matter what it may be, hard work is the key so you can become your greatest dream. Yes, you can do anything. Thanks for stopping by. See you next time.