The Spokane Coloring Book celebrates local landmarks and history while encouraging people to connect over art

click to enlarge The Spokane Coloring Book celebrates local landmarks and history while encouraging people to connect over art
Young Kwak photo
Kelley Hudson's detailed coloring book is now available for holiday gifting.

Kelley Hudson had little choice but to uproot her family and settle in Spokane.

It was mid-2020, and she was living in Denmark on a work visa, having moved there four years prior for her musician husband's job. As COVID raged, however, the Scandinavian country wanted temporary residents out. So the Hudsons returned to the U.S., eventually landing in Spokane where friends resided.

Hudson was quickly charmed by the friendly Lilac City. Now, two years later, she's celebrating the publication of the Spokane Coloring Book, filled with 30 of her intricate hand-drawn art of local landmarks.

"The universe gave me a gift, because how often do you end up in a town where there's no coloring books?" Hudson says on a recent snowy evening inside Indaba Coffee Roaster's Kendall Yards location.

"I've been to a lot of places, and that's usually the first thing I check out when I'm at the airport or like at a city-themed shop," Hudson continues. "They almost always have coloring books or activity books. And when I came up here, I just noticed [Spokane] had a little alphabet coloring book [that's more for kids] and that was it."

An artist since early childhood and a professional photographer for over a decade, Hudson began to explore her new hometown via highly detailed pen-and-ink drawings of historic buildings and locales like Riverfront Park and numerous longtime local businesses. She loves drawing in situ (Latin for "in place"), which she did for all of the places in the book.

Yet Hudson's initial intent was not to create a coloring book. That idea came thanks to a stranger.

"It was a guy on a plane. I was flying to San Diego to photograph a wedding, and the guy in front of me asked about my sketchbook. He was like, 'Oh, where'd you get your coloring book?'" she recalls, adding that she'd been working on her drawing of the Monroe Street Bridge.

"I've looked for him everywhere, just to say, 'Hey, thank you, you changed my life!' I'm hoping that one day he finds me. If he hadn't said that to me, I would have got off the plane, and I would have painted the whole thing."

The Spokane Coloring Book was published this fall, with 500 copies initially printed with money Hudson received from Spokane Arts Grant Awards funding and sponsorships from three local businesses, which are also featured as coloring pages in the book: Avista (she drew the Washington Water Power building near the Spokane Falls), the General Store and Chaos Arcade.

click to enlarge The Spokane Coloring Book celebrates local landmarks and history while encouraging people to connect over art
Young Kwak photo

When it came to narrowing down a long list of familiar landmarks, businesses and buildings to include in the Spokane Coloring Book, Hudson says she received invaluable feedback and support from users in two local groups on Facebook: "Spokane History Researchers" and "I Love Spokane."

"They're the people who really pushed me" to make the book, she says. "They found me almost all of the connections for anybody I needed to talk to to get anything moving forward. I owe them a lot."

One of the biggest challenges in creating the coloring book, Hudson says, was picking colorful places to include.

"People would be like, 'Do the Parkade!' but I'm like, guys, it's a white building," she says. "I mean, people could color it pink if they wanted. But then the Milk Bottle was non-negotiable at some point, and if I didn't put it in there, people were going to get frustrated with me. But it's also a white building, so if you look at it, I had to tailor it up a bit. I put flowers in the planter boxes and added a couple details to the tree and added birds."

Among the 30 locations featured are historic businesses like Doyle's Ice Cream Parlor, Dick's Hamburgers, the Moezy Inn, Maxwell House, O'Doherty's Irish Grille and the Garland Theater. Manito Park's Duncan and Japanese gardens, as well as Riverfront's Looff Carrousel and Clocktower, are also featured.

"I wanted to make sure that Spokane was there," she says. "It's Spokane's book."

There are even a few private homes Hudson drew because she admired their unique features and architecture. She intentionally chose, however, not to include prominent pieces of public art by other artists (meaning you won't find the Garbage Goat or Red Wagon inside).

Hudson incorporated nods to regional history and culture with a page of arrowleaf balsamroot flowers, another of lilacs, and a two-page spread in the centerfold that depicts the Spokane River teeming with salmon before White settlers arrived, as an homage to the region's Native tribes and people.

"The Spokane Tribe really gave me the opportunity to learn about them," she says. "I got to learn about their history, and what Spokane looked like before people came and built bridges and dams. And that whole experience was life changing and priceless."

In person: Auntie's Bookstore, Wishing Tree Books, Garland Mercantile, Indaba Coffee Roasters (all locations for the holidays), Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture gift shop

Now that the coloring book is in the hands of fellow artists, Hudson is painting each of her original drawings created for the book using watercolors. She plans to gift some to those whose properties are featured, but also hopes to do a local gallery show featuring all 30 colorized images.

"A lot of times I feel like I could pinch myself — like this isn't really happening," she says. "I've been an artist since I was a kid, and I've never had this much community support for anything I've ever done."

Besides fulfilling her desire that Spokane have a coloring book geared toward an older audience, Hudson also created the homage because of her own appreciation for coloring books as a social connector.

"I picked a coloring book because I wanted to color with people," she says. "So in Scandinavia, over the winter time, you've got to hygge, right? Which is getting cozy with yourself and your family and your friends. You sit in your house and do things like play video games and board games, drink hot chocolate, have beautiful conversations and color together.

"We did that a lot [in Denmark], and when I came here, I wanted to get cozy and hygge, but I didn't have any friends yet so I started making this coloring book," she continues. "And I have literally made so many friends, and people want to know about it, and they want to color together. Getting money for a book is great, but I want to bring people back together." ♦

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About The Author

Chey Scott

Chey Scott is the Inlander's Arts and Culture Editor and editor of the Inlander's yearly, glossy magazine, the Annual Manual. Chey (pronounced "Shay") is a lifelong resident of the Spokane area and a graduate of Washington State University. She's been on staff at the Inlander since 2012...