Colour Away Your Worries – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Colour Away Your Worries (Buster Activity Books) is published by Buster Books and was very kindly sent to me for review by Michael O’Mara publishing. If you live in the UK and would like to win a copy head over to the pinned post on my Facebook page to enter. This book is a little different because it’s not for adults, it’s for children, but if you have kids or know any then please keep reading. I was genuinely thrilled to be asked to review this book, especially once it arrived and I saw that this is no ordinary colouring book and has a very special message and purpose. Anyone who has read my previous reviews knows that I suffer from severe mental illness which started a month before I turned 16. Mental illness had never been talked about in my life and stress and worry were just things that were accepted as normal, inevitable, unavoidable and something to be ignored as much as possible. This book wants to put a stop to that and I will state right here that I think EVERY child aged about 4-9 should have a copy of this book – yes it’s that good, and important!

While this book is a colouring and drawing activity book, its amazing features are way beyond that and run much deeper. The illustrations are charming and they really draw you, and your child, in to the activities and will keep them interested and entertained with bright, vibrant colours, quirky characters and funny comments. This book is charming to adults and sure to keep children focused and enthralled. So what’s different about this book from other colouring books and activity books? This books focuses on worries – something that on the very first page it states are very important. All children worry, as do all adults, but because we don’t talk about it, children don’t realise that they’re not the only one, that what they’re experiencing is perfectly normal and ok and they’re also not taught what to do about worries to stop them becoming more problematic and potentially even developing into mental illness when they’re older – scary thought I know but let’s face facts, it happens, and we need to do what we can to stop it before it starts. This book, in my view, is a great way to start that process. The book is narrated by a Worry Worm which is such a sweet concept and a great way of instantly making the child feel accepted and “normal” because generally the worm worries more than the child will. Common worry themes are explored and the child is encouraged to state or draw what they worry about which is a great way of them identifying it and also for mum or dad to see immediately what things are worrying their child. Some of these themes include scary films, not being played with, and monsters. The book also helps the child to identify how they look and feel when they’re worried in comparison to when they’re happy and describes the differences between worries that are sensible to have like those we might have about skydiving or bungee jumping, versus ones that might make less sense and be more confusing like worrying about what we wear or being different. It then goes on to explain that worries can sometimes seem much bigger than they really are and that they’re like plants that grow and grow if we let them. Identification of worry is a really big and important first step for you and your child but it doesn’t stop there, oh no! The book then goes on to describe ways in which worries can be managed including organising them, writing them down on paper and tearing them up or even creating a special worry box to put their worries in safely and then think about things they’re good at, thus shifting their focus on to their good qualities rather than their perceived flaws. There are a few pages explaining the importance of talking about worries so we feel less alone and this is a great point for a parent of a child who previously hasn’t wanted to talk about their worries to be there so that they can tell you and lighten their load. It also suggests plenty of ways in which the child can distract themselves from worrying until they’re feeling better. Finally, at the end there is a lovely double page of complicated tiles to colour and a couple of drawing exercises too so that they can focus on something productive (much like us anxious adults do! – If your child enjoys this then have a look through my other colouring reviews and see if any of the books might be suitable for your child to help them when they’re worrying). Right at the end there is a double page checklist where the main tips and suggestions are listed for the child, followed by notes for parents and caregivers so that they understand the message of the book and how to help their child to identify and deal with their worries.

This A4 sized, paperback book has been created by a father-daughter team who are a psychotherapist and primary school teacher and therefore have extensive knowledge and experience of children and their worries. This book has over 100 pages which are printed double-sided in full colour with loads of written prompts for your child to draw or write down their worries or fill in activities. The paper is bright white and doesn’t bleed when using water-based pens and a little of each image is lost into the glue-bound spine but I can’t see any children being bothered by this because they’ll be too busy colouring their worries away!

I highly recommend this book to anyone with a young child who worries because this book is sure to help your child identify their worries and learn how to deal with them – it might even help you as a parent to deal with yours a little better. I really can’t enthuse enough about this book. Everyone I’ve shown it to thinks it’s amazing and such a wonderful book for worried children. If you’d like to get a copy then head over to Amazon and get one before it sells out because this is sure to be very popular! Colour Away Your Worries (Buster Activity Books)

If you live in the UK then head over to my Facebook page where I’m running a giveaway for my copy of Colour Away Your Worries, I don’t have children and this book is too important and useful to leave it gathering dust on my shelf until I know a child that needs it so go and enter!

Worldwide Giveaway and Review of PanPastels

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.

Berni from PanPastel very kindly sent me a set of 10 pastels in a palette tray along with a whole assortment of Sofft tools to use with them and boy have I had fun experimenting. Head over to my Facebook Page where I’m running a Worldwide Giveaway for 3 sets of 5 PanPastels and some Sofft Tools – you have until 10pm GMT on Sunday 11th of October.

I have used pastels once before, which was about 8 years ago when I was at school and I hated them at the time because they were so messy, difficult to use, dusty and my work looked like a 6 year old had attacked my page with chalky hands. I was very interested to try the PanPastels because I’d read reviews and product descriptions which stated that PanPastels were very different but most of these were written by artists and professionals who were clearly capable of using normal pastels really well so I was dubious about my ability to use these as a complete novice. As soon as I started using these pastels I was won over and realised just how easy they are to use and indeed how different they are from anything else I’ve previously used.

PanPastels come in a whopping 92 shades including 80 normal colours and a number of metallic and pearlescent colours too. The sheer number of shades available is wonderful and they can all be bought individually as well as in themed sets like Seascape, Painting, Portrait and Greens which come in set sizes of 3, 5, 10 and 20 depending on the theme. Some of the sets come in individual stacks and others come in a palette tray (these can be bought separately), some come with a selection of sofft tools and these are also available separately so you can get tools in just the right size and shape for your own projects. I found the large oval shaped sponges and the small, eyeshadow applicator-shaped tools the most useful for large expanses of backgrounds and the detailed areas that needed a more delicate touch but the sofft tools come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and styles so have a hunt for which ones you think will work best. They are all washable with warm, soapy water and are reusable once they’ve been air dried so as long as you’re careful and don’t use them on rough surfaces which will cause the sponges to deteriorate, they will last plenty of time.

The PanPastels themselves come in round plastic pots containing a compressed pastel powder which is highly pigmented. They are really vibrant and give great coverage without having to press hard or go over the area much, they fill the tooth of the paper really quickly and easily giving very even coverage with no white areas left. You only need to swipe your applicator once or twice over the surface of the pastel you’re using and it’ll be loaded with colour and away you go. The PanPastel website describes these pastels as similar to paints which I didn’t understand because they’re dry and not wet but once I received them and started using them I realised why – it’s because they give such bright, smooth coverage and can easily be blended together on the paper to create infinite numbers of new shades or gradients (shown below) so that you really only need a few basic colours to be able to create a rainbow of colours and different shades.

PanPastels work on any type of paper and because they’re dry there is no bleeding. They also create very little or no transfer to the opposite page as long as they’ve been buffed properly so there is no need for fixatives, and they are fully erasable dependent on paper type. Panpastels are lightfast and semi-transparent, meaning the black lines of your colouring images can still be seen, and they create very low dust so there is almost no waste and no mess (see close-up photos below of dust amounts). The only negative is that PanPastels are pretty expensive but you can get some good value sets of 5 for about £15 which I’ve added links to below. While they are expensive, they’re really high quality and great value because they are reported to give 4-5 times more coverage than ordinary pastels meaning they last a really long time so they’re a pretty good investment. Cotton wool balls are an absolute must-have to wipe away any excess and to blend colours either just to create even coverage or to smooth the lines between mixed colours to create a seamless blend (see the fish and sunset pictures below).

I would highly recommend these pastels for anyone wanting to create backgrounds on their colouring or wanting to branch out and colour with something new. While they are quite pricey, they’re definitely worth the money and I will be purchasing some extra colours when I can afford to. They’re unbelievably easy to use and create wonderful effects to enhance your colouring and it’s easy to work out how to create new effects as you work with them but if you need some help there are loads of techniques and tips on the PanPastel website which can be found here. You can also see all of the colours and products and find local stockists of PanPastels here.

I’ve spent a couple of hours scouring the internet to find the best priced sets and the best starter sets and while I assumed Ebay would be the cheapest it actually wasn’t and I found some great starter sets on Amazon. Sorry for the number of links but because they can be used for so many different things I’ve added lots that are useful for backgrounds but also for colouring things so I’ve linked to lots of sky and sea tones and also gorgeous brights for flowers and birds etc for you to check out below.
PanPastel 5 Colour Starter Set – Painting Set
PanPastel 5 Colour Starter Set – Shades Set
PanPastel 10 Colour Set – Painting Set
Panpastel Pearlescent Artist Pastels Set 9Ml 6/Pkg-Yellow,Green,Orange,Blue,Red And Violet
Panpastel 7 Color Mixed Media #2 Set
PanPastel 10 Colour Set – Seascape Set
PanPastel 10 Colour Set – Greens Set
Pan Pastel Ultra Soft Artists’ Painting Pastels Basic Colours Starter Set
PanPastel 20 Colour Set – Shades Set

Don’t forget that I’m running a Giveaway of these until the 11th of October which you can enter here.

Secret Garden Artist’s Edition – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Secret Garden Artist’s Edition: A Pull-Out and Frame Colouring Book is published by Laurence King Publishing and was very kindly sent to me to review by Midas PR. Secret Garden, illustrated by Johanna Basford is the worldwide bestselling colouring book and with good reason – the images are stunning, beautifully detailed, tantalisingly intricate and beautifully put together. However, many of us colourers found that the spine caused a problem because some of the middle of each image was lost into it and the double-sided printing meant that those of us who wanted to use pens of any kind had to sacrifice a number of images on the reverse or resort to colouring with mediums we weren’t so keen on. These issues were taken on board by the publisher and they have responded with this Artist’s Edition.

This book includes 20 of the most popular original images from Secret Garden. The pages are made of thick card which will hold up to just about any colouring medium. I tested my Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and they didn’t even shadow onto the back and they also didn’t bleed sideways or into the card, they seemed to glide on top instead of saturating the paper like so often happens with thick pages. The card is cream which I know isn’t everyone’s favourite, however, I love it because it makes it feel like a classic book with age and luxury. It also means there’s a less harsh contrast between the colouring and the background if you leave the background uncoloured and also allows you to easily add white as highlights or as a colour where white paper simply doesn’t. The pages are all removable, they’re not perforated so there’s no risk of them not being fully perforated and you ripping a page when trying to remove it, they’re all glued onto the spine in a similar way to memo blocks but these pages don’t end up with a curly corner when you remove them. The removable nature of the pages is ideal for two reasons, firstly, its main purpose, which is so that they can be displayed, framed, or gifted to friends or family so your colouring is no longer destined to stay hidden away in a book; secondly, it makes it much easier to colour if you remove the page first – the book is very large when fully open which makes it difficult to colour on your lap or even on a clipboard because it’s over A3 size when opened, but when you remove the page you can turn it to any angle you please so that you can colour each section easily without having to have your hand hanging off one corner or be rubbing over previously coloured areas and accidentally smudging bits.

The images included are a good selection from the original Secret Garden book and I didn’t notice any of my favourites missing but this will obviously vary for everyone (I’ve included plenty of images from inside below). The circular images are almost exactly the same size as in the original book but the (mostly) portrait and (couple of) landscape images are zoomed in sections of some of the single and double-page spreads from the book – I’ve shown this in the owl comparison photo below. This means that a few of the images have slightly larger spaces meaning the ability to really go to town and blend and shade is increased which I personally really enjoyed when working on my owl picture ready for this review. I’m very new to using pencils and have a lot to learn about blending and shading and the sizes of the leaves was ideal for practising these techniques and I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. But rest assured, the majority of the images are printed on the same scale as Johanna’s original book meaning it’s packed full with delicate leaves and intricate flowers all just crying out to have colour added to them.

I’ve already highlighted the majority of the ways in which this book is different from the original but a couple more things to note are that this book doesn’t have a treasure hunt aspect and none of the included images are designed to be added to, though of course you may still wish to add backgrounds or borders, there aren’t any images with large spaces or written suggestions like in the original so just bear that in mind. The book comes wrapped in thin plastic film so you won’t be able to look through it in stores but this means that the cover is well protected and won’t be at risk of staining or marking which I personally think is pretty sensible, though it’s a shame they didn’t do a preview on the back of what images are included. Because of this, I have included a large number of images from inside the book below so that you can “see inside” before you buy it.

In terms of mental health, this book is wonderful. Secret Garden was one of 3 adult colouring books that I purchased when I first developed my anxiety disorder 18 months ago and it’s provided countless hours of calming distractions and this new Artist’s Edition has been just the same. It arrived on Friday and I’ve spent all daylight hours since then (6 days) colouring in it, often forgetting to eat and not noticing the hours passing because I’ve been so engrossed and focused on colouring each section. Johanna’s books are not for the faint-hearted and are quite an undertaking and they’re not for those of you with poor eyesight or challenged fine motor control. However, for anyone who is mentally ill and doesn’t have poor eyesight, this book is ideal because not only are the images stunning but they’re also completely grounded in nature which is perfect for calming you down and relaxing you. When colouring these images, it feels like you’re taking a leisurely walk through a beautiful garden and this is sure to lift your mood and focus your thoughts so that even the most racing of minds will be quietened, at least for a short while. The details and intricacies force you to concentrate and become immersed in a world filled with brightly coloured foliage and enchanting creatures and you’re sure to feel your anxiety lessen and your dark thoughts soften a little. It’s by no means a cure, but this is a fabulous book for distraction and the fact that you can remove the pages and display them means that all of your hard work and creativity can be prominently displayed and used to brighten up your darker days and remind you that you can create beautiful things which I often find gives me a huge self-esteem boost.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If you liked Johanna’s original books or want to delve into her inky world for the first time then I’d strongly recommend purchasing it. With the best paper quality that I’ve come across in a colouring book, it contains the most stunning images and the feature of removable pages is one that I hope will catch on with future publications because who wants to spend hours colouring a stunning image and then leave it in a book when you could be decorating your walls with your work or giving wonderful, thoughtful presents to family and friends?! This book exudes quality and luxuriousness from its thick card pages, to the signature gold foil accents on the front cover and the tiny flower image printed on the reverse of each picture, it is a work of art in itself and will be transformed into a masterpiece once you unleash your creativity upon it. I truly can’t enthuse enough about this book, it is a must-have and one that if you have been umming and ahhing about whether you should purchase it should be bought at once because I can just about guarantee that you won’t regret it. This book is ideal for anyone who is struggling with their mental health and anyone who just wants something truly beautiful to colour. I really hope that there will be Artist’s Editions created in the near future of Enchanted Forest and the soon-to-be-released Lost Ocean.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this stunning book, then head over to Amazon where it’s already selling for significantly less than the RRP. Secret Garden Artist’s Edition: A Pull-Out and Frame Colouring Book

The images below were coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

If you have any further questions, comments or would like to show off your colouring then connect with me on Facebook – I love hearing from you all and getting feedback.

Color and Relax: Peaceful Patterns – A Review and GIVEAWAY

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Color and Relax: Peaceful Patterns: Volume 1 is set to be a series of themed colouring books and the first title Peaceful Patterns has been kindly sent to me by the illustrator Jo Shiloh who has also very generously sent 4 copies for me to give away (more details below). So, on with the review! Peaceful Patterns is paperback and contains 40 single-sided images of patterns and abstract designs of varying complexities. Each image is surrounded by a thick white border to ensure none of the image is lost into the spine. The paper is bright white and thin and does bleed a fair bit but this is not a problem as long as you put some scrap paper behind your work. The line thickness varies from medium to thick so there are no issues for those of you with poor vision or problems with fine motor control. None of the images are overly intricate or detailed so if teeny tiny spaces aren’t your thing then this book may be ideal for you.

In terms of mental health, this book is great because it contains abstract and unusual patterns which can be coloured in any colours you fancy. You don’t have to make it look realistic or natural, you can just pick up a pen or pencil and start colouring. This means that if decisions are difficult for you to make you may find this helpful because you just need to pick a medium and can even just close your eyes and dig around in the container you keep them in and pick out a random one and get going. The patterns range from square and blocky to swirling and flowing and cover everything in between. This book really reminds me of the altair design colouring books of my childhood and if you liked those then you’ll be sure to like this book. Patterns are great for practising mindfulness while you colour and the repetitive nature of the designs is very calming and relaxing. The image below was coloured using Staedtler Fibre-Tip pens.

If you’d like to get your hands on a copy and you live in the UK then fill in the form below the gallery of images where I’m running a giveaway for 4 lucky people to win a copy each – You have until 6pm on Wednesday the 16th of September to enter. Alternatively, you can order a copy from Amazon here Color and Relax: Peaceful Patterns: Volume 1

Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld (My Wondrous World) Part 1 – A Review

Masja has created a truly beautiful book and it really does contain a wondrous world of creatures, flowers and patterns. Her illustration style is floral, delicate and detailed without being overly intricate. Those of you who like Millie Marotta’s style should really consider this book because I am now a huge fan of the work of both of these talented illustrators.

This book is square and glue-bound making it a little hard to get completely flat to colour but because it’s paperback it’s easily moved around to get the perfect angle for each section you’re working on. The images are printed double-sided and the paper is fairly thin so I’d stick to pencils in this book as my fineliners badly bled through to the back of the page I tested. However, the paper is bright white and fairly smooth and gives a lovely surface to colour on. The line thickness is thin but not extremely so and it does vary somewhat throughout the book but at no point could it be described as thick so this book is definitely for those of you with good vision and at least moderate fine motor control so that you can really get the most from the images. The book contains 46 images including some that are double-page spreads and others that are single pages. The image content includes animals, flowers, floral patterns, and wallpaper-esque prints. It’s quite a girly book so maybe one to miss for the male colourers unless floral is your thing.

I found the images really calming and soothing and found the process of colouring the images ready for this review very relaxing because of their grounding in nature. Looking through the pages of the book is like taking a leisurely walk through a beautiful garden, past stunning flowers, inhabited ponds and swooping birds. It takes you on a journey and allows for excellent escapism which means it’s ideal for mental health problems. Masja’s drawings are delicate and intricate and need just enough concentration to keep you occupied, focused and distracted from anxious or low thoughts but aren’t so complicated that they will ever lead to frustration or cause you to feel overwhelmed. Some of the images have large open spaces where you could add your own drawings or backgrounds to truly make the book your own but there is no writing on the pages so you’re totally free to add (or not) as you choose, rather than as directed.

This book is one not to be missed and for those of you who like to colour natural scenes, especially those including animals or flowers, this is a must-have book that you should be adding to your collection because it’s beautiful and really up there with the bestsellers in that category. Masja’s book is not published in the UK or US yet but is available from her Etsy shop where it is very reasonably priced and you can also check out her other books and colouring pages, all drawn in her unique, delicate style. You can read my review of her second instalment here and you can keep up with her progress via her Facebook page. Thank you so much Masja for inviting us all into your Wondrous World and for allowing me to review your stunning book!

The images below were coloured using Marco Raffine Coloured Pencils and Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

GIVEAWAY – 1 Month’s Free Subscription to The Coloring Book Club

This is the first of two currently planned giveaways and I’m a little nervous about how it all works so you’ll have to bear with me!

What are you getting? A month’s FREE subscription to the newly founded The Coloring Book Club which is an online subscription service that delivers a free 5+ page pdf colouring book to your email address every week. Because it’s all done online there are no postage costs and best of all, you can print out the images as many times as you like so gone are the heartbreaking days where you mess up a page and can’t redo it. This means that the winner of this giveaway will receive 5 colouring books with a total of 20+ pages that you can colour to your heart’s content!

So, how do you enter? I’m running this giveaway through my Facebook page so head over there via this link and follow the instructions on the pinned post at the top. Don’t forget to follow all 3 instructions otherwise I can’t be sure that you’ll see if you’re the chosen winner. This competition will run until 6pm BST on Saturday the 8th of August. Full terms and conditions are on the competition post itself.

More info – The Coloring Book Club is a cost effective, space-saving way of fuelling your colouring addiction. They supply pages with a range of themes from mandalas, to animals, intricate patterns to nature and many more. What’s more, it’s even better than a magazine subscription because it’s delivered directly to your email address and can be printed as many times as you like onto whatever paper or card you prefer meaning it’s perfect for those of you who like to use alcohol markers that bleed horrendously on normal paper, or those who create works of art with coloured pencils and need a medium with much more tooth. It’s also ideal for those of you who like to colour with your little ones because you can both colour the same design at the same time without having to sacrifice one of your favourite books to their dreaded marker pens!

If you’d like to find out more about them then head over to their website where you’ll find some free sample pages to get you started! Happy Colouring!