When Kyley Henderson was in elementary school her mother, Elaine, encouraged her to draw, and one year a drawing of hers was used in the Robert Service School yearbook. Elaine, who is herself a landscape painter and sculptor, says that she always encouraged Kyley to develop her art as a kid.
Kyley remembers her mother telling her she ought to create a colouring book, and says that she did just that, on the sly, some of it during high school English classes, but that she kept the work fairly private.
Graduating, moving to Alberta, finding work and a relationship took precedence over the 14 pages of Klondike-themed art that she had produced, but she kept all her art materials with her.
Last winter, Elaine decided to spend the season out of Dawson for the first time in years, and went to stay with Kyley and her partner in Magrath, near Lethbridge.
Evening conversations turned to old topics and Elaine brought up the book idea again. Kyley surprised her by pulling the old pages out of storage. One thing led to another and they decided to work on a similar project together.
Kyley’s high school idea had been a book for kids to colour, but they decided to work with the current popularity of colouring books for adults. That meant none of the early drawings were useful, and they agree that the first five or so pages of the new work didn’t quite hit the mark, but they kept at it.
It took a lot longer than they had thought it would, and a project they’d intended to finish by Christmas lingered on into the late spring as each of the 41 pages took between 10 and 20 hours to produce.
Kyley’s strength was in rendering the birds and animals, so she created an image of a creature doing something interesting, refining the first take on layers of tracing paper, until she was satisfied.
Elaine provided the habitat, placing the creature where she thought it would be best for perspective on the page, and building variations on the landscape around it (more tracing paper) until they had a page they both liked.
Then Kyley would use a light box to redraw the agreed upon layout to a single page.
As a theme they chose the Taiga biome, the world’s largest terrestrial biome covering areas across North America and Eurasia, and so the 41 animals and birds come from all across Canada and northern Eurasia, stopping just below the Arctic zone.
The end result is Raven’s Colours – Taiga, a 41-page, spiral-bound (so it can lie flat), colouring book printed on 70-pound paper, so that the finished product, coloured in pencil crayons or markers can look really good.
“You could take them out of the book and frame them,” said Elaine, remarking on the detail work that makes each page look like a template for a paint-by-numbers exercise.
“This collaboration allows us to provide a book where every page has received the utmost attention and thought,” says Elaine. “Colouring can not only provide some much needed stress release and fun, but Raven’s Colours is a high quality book that may also evolve your artistic abilities should you want some extra challenge!”
Kyley and Elaine Henderson self-published the colouring book, and it can be found at the Coles bookstore in Whitehorse.
It is also available online through their own website, www.RavensColours.com, the Indigo/Chapters website and Amazon.ca.
Check out their “Raven’s Colours” Facebook page where they have posted some photos of pages from the book that fans have coloured in.