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The Country House Colouring Book is illustrated by Amy Jane Adams, and published and kindly sent to me to review by Pavilion Books. This book is landscape (21.6 x 27.9cm), paperback with flexible card covers and ½ flaps, the cover has a partially coloured image which is contained within the book and has bronze foil accents adding a touch of luxury. The spine is glue and stitch-bound so it’s sturdy and a little tricky to get to lie flat and to reach the centre of the pages however, there is a border around most images so only a few enter the spine and this will loosen up with use. The paper is bright white, lightly textured and heavily shadows with water-based pens and these will bleed through if you’re not careful; pencils work well on this paper and you can build up a few layers for blending and shading. The book contains 96 pages of double-sided illustrations, most are contained to a single page but a few are double-page spreads.
The images are all of National Trust country houses from all over the UK, the images are each titled with the name of the country house and which county it’s in and these are arranged into alphabetical order which makes finding specific places very easy to do. At the back of the book is a 5-page alphabetised list of all of the country houses that are included, as well as a short paragraph explaining what each image specifically depicts which is very helpful as a number of the illustrations are fairly abstract or are compilation pictures which can be difficult to decipher if you’re not familiar with the specific content. The images range from showing the front of the property in a relatively realistic drawing style to items found within the country house including paintings, dresses or furniture pieces, surreal representations of the buildings to compilations of buildings, items, and even associated historical people. The illustrations are very stylised and most aren’t drawn very realistically or especially neatly. The style is quite random and chaotic with line thickness haphazardly changing and lines joined up unnecessarily or not joined where they should be. It’s very difficult to describe the style so I’ve included lots of photos below but to me it looks almost like they’ve been drawn on an etch-a-sketch which isn’t a criticism, they’re just not drawn in the style I expected and this may prove surprising or disappointing to people who aren’t pre-warned. The illustrations depict a huge number of country houses from Anglesey Abbey to Corfe Castle, Hardwick Hall to Packwood House, Speke Hall to Wightwick Manor and heaps more, it includes castles, houses, manors, objects, and even historical figures.
In terms of mental health, I personally found the illustration style quite challenging and chaotic and therefore didn’t find it relaxing at all because it’s difficult to identify different parts of the drawing and work out how to colour each section. The line thickness varies throughout the book and within some of the images and ranges from spindly thin to medium thickness so there’s a real range and the random variations mean some of the images look a little untidy or not quite finished. The intricacy levels vary hugely throughout from extremely intricate to much larger open spaces so in order to fully enjoy this book you’re likely to need very good vision and fine motor control. A fair few of the images have very large open spaces where you could add your own details or backgrounds, there are no written hints though so you don’t have to do this at all but a few of the pages look a little sparse with one object in the centre and nothing else. The illustrations vary in size so this is an ideal book for those of you with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels because you can focus on a page of an object on your bad days or a full page of a building front on your good days. I think it would suit people who are more artistic than myself who can appreciate the surreal nature of the images and who don’t mind such varying line thicknesses.
I would recommend this book to the very artistic, who feel able to decipher the imagery and get colouring. The paper isn’t suited to pens so I’d strongly advise using pencils to get the most out of the artwork. Please do check out the photos below to decide if the art style suits you or if it’s a little too abstract. I’m sure people could create wonderful finished pages with this book, sadly I’m not able to really do it justice as it’s so far out of my comfort zone.
If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Country House Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Country-House-Colouring-Book-Amy-Jane-Adams/9781909881778/?a_aid=colouringitmom
The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.