Fibre-tips

Escape to Oz: A Colouring-book Adventure – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Escape to Oz is published by Puffin Books and is from my personal collection. This book is illustrated by Good Wives and Warriors who are a creative partnership of two Glasgow School of Art graduates – their Facebook page can be found here. This book is the fourth in the Escape to… series, first was Escape to Wonderland, second was Escape to Christmas Past and third was Escape to Shakespeare’s World, they’ve also illustrated a beautiful book with a German Publisher called Exotischer Urwald which is in a different format. Escape to Oz is based on The Wizard of Oz story documenting Dorothy’s trip from Kansas to Oz, her quest to find the wizard, and the characters she meets on the way. This is a wonderful book, essential for fans of the original story, but also for those who love GWAW’s work and who love imaginative and beautiful illustrations. It is the same size and shape as the others in the series at just over 18cms square, it’s a little smaller than other bestsellers but I think this adds to the charm and it means the images are a manageable size and the book is a perfect size for travelling and colouring on the go. The book has a softback cover which is almost all double thicknesses of cardboard as it folds in on itself and when opened up it reveals a beautiful green background with white line-drawn images of flowers and gems. The cover has silvery-gold foiling accents which really add to the luxury of the book and are a lovely bit of extra detailing. The book contains 96 pages of double-sided, borderless images and is glue and string-bound meaning a little of each image is lost into the spine. I found the spine pretty tight when it arrived but with some work it has now loosened up a lot and lies flatter than it did. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads and a few of them have black backgrounds which is a really nice feature. The paper quality is very good and hasn’t bled or shadowed at all when I’ve been using water-based fineliners or fibre-tips. The paper is a creamy off-white which adds to the vintage feel of the book and is very lightly textured which I thought would be ideal for pencils but I did find it a little hard to get many layers as the tooth seemed to disappear quicker than I’d have liked or expected. However, it’s not impossible to layer and I did manage to get some nice blending. Do be sure to test the pens you’re using beforehand to avoid any disasters. Alcohol markers are a definite no because they will bleed terribly and ruin the reverse images.

The images themselves are drawn in a thin line that is pretty consistent throughout so the difficulty level doesn’t change, meaning this is not a book that will adapt to differing levels of concentration but this does lead to a really cohesive feel to the book. The images are arranged into chronological order to tell the story and a few pages contain quotes from the book to help guide you through. These quotes are helpful for letting you know where in the story you’re at, as well as hinting at what’s in the picture if you’re not quite sure. The illustrations include everything you’d expect from Dorothy and Toto, to the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, to the Wicked Witch of the West and East, the Wizard of Oz himself, and even the munchkins and flying monkeys. Iconic scenes are pictured including the tornado that transports Dorothy and Toto from Kansas to Oz, the squashing of the Wicked Witch of the East, starting off on the yellow brick road, meeting the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, arriving at the Emerald City, meeting the Wizard of Oz, arriving back in Kansas, and so much more.

In terms of mental health, I found this book great because it’s just so beautiful, charming, and instantly transported me back to my childhood and happy memories of watching the film countless times. The illustrations are very pretty and most are of real things, that have colour schemes that you could copy realistically if you wish, or in any colours you choose. Good Wives and Warriors have done a wonderful job of bringing huge amounts of charm to their illustrations of even the darkest scenes and they’re all dispersed with flowers and other pretty things meaning the book doesn’t feel negative or sad at all and just lifts your spirits, even when the witch is trying to kill Dorothy and her friends! I really enjoyed just looking through the book and reliving the story of my childhood and poring over each image, all exquisitely drawn and waiting to be coloured. The images are quite detailed and intricate but they’re not overwhelming so you don’t need perfect vision or fine motor control, though it will need to be fairly good, and the size of the book means you don’t need really good concentration levels either. If you love The Wizard of Oz, or GWAW’s work then this book is sure to be beneficial to your mental health with its positive content and detailed images filled with hundreds of things to look at and colour. I adore the work of these talented illustrators and squealed with excitement when looking through this beautiful new instalment that they’ve created!

I would highly recommend this book, especially to those who are fans of The Wizard of Oz story, or Good Wives and Warriors’ work because this book really doesn’t disappoint, not only is this a beautiful colouring book, it’s also a wonderful pictorial retelling of a classic story that so many of us love. The book is really cohesive and I found it great for my own mental health so hopefully it’ll be just as good for yours too as it transports you back to your childhood and off to the land of Oz.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Escape to Oz
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Escape-Oz-Colouring-Book-Adventure-Good-Wives-Warriors/9780141375489/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The picture below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils.

Relaxing Art Therapy: Doodle and Colour Your Stress Away – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Relaxing Art Therapy (Art Therapy Colouring Books) is the fifth in the Art Therapy series, and is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara publishing. There are 4 other titles in the series, all of which I’ve reviewed – Art Therapy, Creative Therapy, Colour Therapy and  Calming Art Therapy.

These books truly have worked as therapy for me and I fell in love with this one as soon as I opened its pages. I was sent the paperback copy of this book but if you want to know about the hardback versions then the information is in all of my reviews of the previous 4 titles. This is an A4 paperback book which is glue and string bound so it’s sturdy, but this binding does mean that it’s pretty difficult to get the book to lie flat without a bit of a workout (if this is an issue for you then I’d recommend the hardback version which starts off a little too tight but quickly loosens up and lies flat for colouring). The images cover the full page and are borderless so a little of each image is lost into the spine of the paperback copies. The images are printed double-sided but as with all of the Michael O’Mara books I’ve encountered, the paper quality is fantastic and I’ve never experienced any bleeding despite using a multitude of different felt-tips and fineliners though do be a little careful about over-colouring as it can start to show through after a few strokes or holding in the same spot. The 100+ images are drawn by a number of very talented illustrators so there is a huge variety but in this book it’s not instantly obvious that it’s not been created by one person and the drawings flow really well giving a very cohesive feel to the book. There are lots of swirling lines, geometric patterns and abstract shapes but in equal measure there are captivating animals, flowers and scenes all stylised and just begging to be coloured.

So, what makes this series so special? For me, as an anxious colourer, this series is different from any other I’d seen before because many of the images have some colour already added to them. This book is a little different from the first 4 titles which all had lots of splashes of colour added to the drawings themselves, in this book the majority of the backgrounds are coloured but very few of the images have coloured sections added and where they do, they’re often in less conspicuous places like down the centre of the spine rather than all over. I personally think this is a little bit of a shame because I really loved that feature in the previous titles but for those of you who really weren’t keen this title might be a happy medium. When I first flicked through the books I felt that the added colour limited me because it forced me to use a colour that I would never have chosen, however, this feature actually changed the way I colour forever because until I had these books I had always felt forced by the perfectionist in me to colour everything in realistic, natural colours. This series stopped me being able to do that and really freed up my imagination so that I felt able to add outlandish colours instead of just realistic ones. This has been very therapeutic for me and has really expanded my creativity and I’m sure it would expand yours too. Another thing that makes this, and the others in the Art Therapy series, unique is the Doodling section at the back. There are a number of pages with huge sections left blank for you to doodle in however you wish. They are all started for you so again, there is no issue with staring at a blank page and not being able to narrow down a colour scheme. You can choose the same colours, contrasting colours, colours that clash, all of the colours even. This book has been wonderful for me as someone that’s never doodled in their life because it shows so many examples of adding colour to a page without simply colouring in a block and then colouring the next block in a different colour. These techniques don’t just have to be used in the doodling section, they can be added to any of the other images in the book and you’ll find that they free up your creative juices when colouring in other books too as the number of possibilities for your colouring just expands.

The images have varying line thicknesses, different coloured backgrounds and some lines are printed in colour rather than black. A huge range of themes is contained within this book and while it’s not the most delicate, it really is an essential book to add to your collection. I find these books particularly calming and often colour them in bed when my insomnia kicks in and I find they really help to settle my mind so that I can finally get to sleep. Some images are more intricate than others but actually this book is very well suited to the majority of you because of the wide-ranging content. It really is fantastic for all of you anxious colourers out there who agonise about colours and often feel increased tension at the sight of a blank white page with black lines on. This book is already started for you so you’re just continuing the process and somehow, that makes it so much easier to just pick up a pen or pencil and start. Of all of the colouring books I now own, this series is the one that has helped my mental health the most. It’s not so intricate that it’s frustrating but is definitely for adults, not children and when I’m feeling really anxious the lines are just thick enough that I can colour without having to concentrate on every single pen stroke for fear of going over the lines. This book is beautiful, bold and full of colour and it really is a joy to colour and doodle in. I really can’t recommend this book highly enough and strongly urge you to purchase a copy just as soon as you can because it does exactly what it says it’ll do on the cover – Doodle and Colour Your Stress Away and provides Relaxing Art Therapy – What more could you want?!

This book is available to purchase in hardback here (paperback copies should be available later in the year):
Amazon UK – Relaxing Art Therapy (Art Therapy Colouring Books)
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Relaxing-Art-Therapy-Richard-Merritt-Lizzie-Preston-Sam-Loman-Laur-Kate-Chapman-Hannah-Davies-Cindy-Wilde/9781782434993/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip pens.

Escape to Shakespeare’s World: A Colouring-book Adventure – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Escape to Shakespeare’s World: A Colouring Book Adventure is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Puffin Books. This book is illustrated by Good Wives and Warriors (GWAW) who are a creative partnership of two Glasgow School of Art graduates – their Facebook page can be found here. This book is the third in the Escape to… series, first was Escape to Wonderland, and second was Escape to Christmas Past and they’ve also illustrated a beautiful book with a German Publisher called Exotischer Urwald which is in a different format. Escape to Shakespeare’s World is based on various plays and sonnets written by William Shakespeare to commemorate 400 years since his death. This is a wonderful book, one that is essential for Shakespeare admirers, but also for those who love GWAW’s work and who love imaginative and beautiful illustrations. It is the same size and shape as the others in the series at just over 18cms square, it’s a little smaller than the bestsellers but I think this adds to the charm and it means the images are a manageable size and the book is a perfect size for travelling and colouring on the go. The book has a softback cover which is almost all double thicknesses of cardboard as it folds in on itself and when opened up it reveals a beautiful purple background with white line-drawn images of flowers. The cover has silvery-gold foiling accents which really add to the luxury of the book and are a lovely bit of extra detailing. The book contains 96 pages of double-sided, borderless images and is glue-bound meaning a little of each image is lost into the spine. I found the spine pretty tight when it arrived but with some work it has now loosened up a lot and lies flatter than it did. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads and a number of them have black backgrounds which is a really nice feature. The paper quality is very good and hasn’t bled or shadowed at all when I’ve been using water-based fineliners or fibre-tips. The paper is a creamy off-white which adds to the vintage feel of the book and is very lightly textured which I thought would be ideal for pencils but I did find it a little hard to get many layers as the tooth seemed to disappear quicker than I’d have liked or expected. However, it’s not impossible to layer and I did manage to get some nice blending. Do be sure to test the pens you’re using beforehand to avoid any disasters. Alcohol markers are a definite no because they will bleed terribly and ruin the reverse images.

The images themselves are drawn in a thin line that is pretty consistent throughout so the difficulty level doesn’t change, meaning this is not a book that will adapt to differing levels of concentration but this does lead to a really cohesive feel to the book. The images are arranged into collections from different plays and scattered throughout are a large number of quotes as well as the play they come from so it’s very easy to identify what scenes you’re colouring, even from plays you’re unfamiliar with or haven’t heard of. The majority of the images are scenes or representations of aspects of plays from a circular image of Romeo’s name filled with flowers to Venetian mask shaped scenes, Bottom the donkey, filled with flowers, to scenes from The Tempest, Egyptian landscapes from Anthony and Cleopatra to stage scenes of various plays. This book has beautiful, often very floral representations, that are sometimes realistic and sometimes symbolic, and these fit well with the quotes written on almost every double-page spread. The plays and sonnets depicted are: As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Comedy of Errors, Macbeth, Anthony and Cleopatra, Sonnet 18, Richard III, King Lear, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, and Cymbeline. Some of these plays and sonnets are only depicted on one double-page and others have multiple pages dedicated to them including Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s hard to describe the sheer volume of images and the beauty of them so I’ve included lots of photos from inside the book below and tried to photograph a good cross-section. The images are truly stunning and even if you’re not a mega Shakespeare fan, you’re almost certain to really like this book because there aren’t very many literal representations, it’s more filled with beautiful scenes of ships, flowers, animals and landscapes.

In terms of mental health, I found this book great because it’s just so beautiful and charming. The illustrations are very pretty and most are of real things, that have colour schemes that you could copy realistically if you wish, or in any colours you choose. I’m not a Shakespeare mega fan so I was a little worried that I’d find this book boring but that’s so far from the case, this book is captivating from the very first images of The Globe Theatre, Shakespeare’s birthplace and Shakespeare himself, all the way through the play depictions to the end page where a beautiful closed theatre curtain is pictured with the famous phrase All’s Well That Ends Well emblazoned across it with the comedy and tragedy masks. Good Wives and Warriors have done a wonderful job of bringing huge amounts of charm to their illustrations of even the darkest scenes and they’re all dispersed with flowers and other pretty things meaning the book doesn’t feel negative or sad at all and just lifts your spirits, even when murder is mentioned! I really enjoyed just looking through the book and reliving the stories that I studied at school and poring over each image, all exquisitely drawn and waiting to be coloured. The images are quite detailed and intricate but they’re not overwhelming so you don’t need perfect vision or fine motor control though it will need to be fairly good, and the size of the book means you don’t need really good concentration levels either. If you enjoy Shakespeare’s plays, or GWAW’s work then this book is sure to be beneficial to your mental health with its positive content and detailed images filled with hundreds of things to look at and colour. I adore the work of these talented illustrators and squealed with excitement when looking through this beautiful new instalment that they’ve created, it’s a true sign of talent when artists can inspire you to love content based on a subject you’re not especially interested in and this book does just that for me!

I would highly recommend this book, especially to those who are fans of Shakespeare and his plays, or Good Wives and Warriors’ work because this book really doesn’t disappoint. The artwork is really cohesive and I found it great for my own mental health so hopefully it’ll be just as good for yours too as it transports you back over 400 years and reminds you of key moments from his most famous plays.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Escape to Shakespeare’s World: A Colouring Book Adventure
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Escape-to-Shakespeare-s-World–A-Colouring-Book-Adventure/9780141371214/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The picture below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils. The partially completed picture was coloured with Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

Animorphia: An Extreme Colouring and Search Challenge – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Animorphia: An Extreme Colouring and Search Challenge is illustrated by Kerby Rosanes, and published and very kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This book is the most unusual and quirky book I’ve seen and while it’s not to everyone’s taste, it’s one that grows on most people. I found it really overwhelming when it arrived because it was just so different and such a mixture between realistic animals and quirky, cartoon aliens and other creatures and objects, that I just had no idea where to start, what colours to use, or whether I even liked it. Having had it for a couple of months I can now say with certainty that I love it and its quirkiness and unusual style is absolutely its selling point. The book is square, the same size as other bestsellers by JB and MM, it’s paperback with a black card cover with glowing orange lettering and a tiger in Kerby’s signature style which hints at what’s inside. The paper is bright white, very lightly textured and medium thickness, it does shadow with water-based fineliners but doesn’t bleed so you could use them very carefully but always check your pens somewhere inconspicuous to make sure you don’t ruin any reverse images. The paper is perfect for pencils and allows for plenty of layers for blending and shading. The ink does transfer a little so when you’re using pencils pop a scrap piece of paper behind to avoid transfer of images. The book contains over 80 images which are printed double-sided and include single and double-page spreads. The book has a glue-bound spine which is fairly tight on arrival and the images are borderless so you do lose a strip of each image into the spine and unfortunately a few of the images haven’t been designed very well for this type of spine, most notably the peacock image (photographed below). The images are all focused around a realistically drawn animal which then morphs (hence the title animorphia) into lots of different creatures and objects, this is done so seamlessly that it’s difficult to tell where the animal stops and the creatures start. A whole host of animals are featured from tigers to elephants, whales to toucans, butterflies to turtles, crocodiles to owls, cockerels to fish and so many more!

In terms of mental health, this is one that’s absolutely fantastic for distraction! It takes quite a lot of concentration to identify all of the parts of the picture let alone start choosing colours so this really is a book that will help you get through the days when your mind is racing and you need to be able to switch off. It’s not a book for the faint-hearted because each image takes a long time and a lot of work but it’s so worth it and the effects you can create are amazing! This is also an ideal book for the really creative amongst you because there are quite a number of images that just have outlines with large sections for you to add your own doodles to and a few written hints of what these could include. I’m personally not a fan of this because I really can’t draw but you could easily just colour those sections in blocks, or use them to practice your blending and shading or why not brave it and give doodling a go? You might just surprise yourself! The majority of the images are finished so if you’re not a fan of doodling, don’t let this put you off because there’s heaps that you can colour that only needs colour adding, no drawing talent needed! The images are really cohesive and aren’t “pretty” or girly so this is an ideal book for male and female colourers. The line thickness varies throughout but mainly sticks around the thin mark so you need fairly good vision and fine motor control, but definitely not perfect to enjoy this book! Some of the pictures are quite heavily shaded and dark which is just something to be aware of, most of the images have some shading and texture drawn in but not loads (check out the pictures below to decide if you like this feature or not). There is also a treasure hunt with 3 pages at the back of the book showing all of the items you can hunt for within the images. This book is ideal for those of you who have a fairly good attention span so that you can really get involved in the images and the content is so absorbing that you really do get out of your head and away from your thoughts and become immersed in what you’re colouring. The images have a variety of intricacy and detail levels so you can use simpler images on bad days and more detailed images on days where you’re able to focus better so it’s a great book for those of you with fluctuating conditions.

I would highly recommend this book for male and female colourers who love to doodle and draw, who love all things weird, wonderful, and quirky, and who love animals and nature mixed with alien creatures. This book is packed with amazing images that are great fun to colour and I was thrilled to hear that Kerby is currently working on a sequel called Imagimorphia which can be pre-ordered below. This book is stunning, overwhelming at times and one that really gets your creative juices flowing so grab your pencils and get colouring yourself quirky!

Animorphia can be purchased here:
Amazon UK – Animorphia: An Extreme Colouring and Search Challenge
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Animorphi-Kerby-Rosanes/9781910552070/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you can’t get enough of Animorphia then next month we’ve got some treats coming!
Animorphia Postcards
Amazon UK – Animorphia Postcards
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Animorphi-Postcards-Kerby-Rosanes/9781910552247/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Animorphia Notebook
Amazon UK – Animorphia Notebook

Imagimorphia can be pre-ordered here in both the US and UK versions which have different covers and publishing dates.
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Imagimorphia
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Imagimorphi-Kerby-Rosanes/9781910552148/?a_aid=colouringitmom
US Edition
Amazon UK – Imagimorphia: An Extreme Coloring and Search Challenge
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Imagimorphi-Kerby-Rosanes/9780399574122/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and the background with Pan Pastels.

Escape to Christmas Past: A Colouring Book Adventure – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Escape to Christmas Past: A Colouring Book Adventure is published by Puffin Classics, illustrated by Good Wives and Warriors and is from my personal collection. This book is the second offering from this pair of very talented illustrators and it’s another beauty of a book – their first book, Escape To Wonderland can be found reviewed by me here. Escape to Christmas Past is loosely based around the story of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It is the same size and shape as their first book at just over 18cms square, it’s a little smaller than the bestsellers but I think this adds to the charm and it means the images are a manageable size. The book has a softback cover which is almost all double thicknesses of cardboard as it folds in on itself and when opened up it reveals a beautiful red background with white line-drawn images of poinsettias. The cover has silvery-gold foiling accents which really add to the luxury of the book and are a lovely bit of extra detailing. The book contains 96 pages of double-sided, borderless images and is glue-bound meaning a little of each image is lost into the spine. I found the spine very tight when it arrived but with some work it has now loosened up a lot and lies flatter than it did. The paper quality is very good and hasn’t bled or shadowed at all when I’ve been using water-based fineliners or fibre-tips. The paper is a creamy off-white which adds to the vintage feel of the book and is very lightly textured which I thought would be ideal for pencils but I did find it a little hard to get many layers as the tooth seemed to disappear quicker than I’d have liked or expected. However, it’s not impossible to layer and I did manage to get some nice shading. Do be sure to test the pens you’re using beforehand to avoid any disasters. Alcohol markers are a definite no because they will bleed terribly and ruin the reverse images.

The images themselves are drawn in a thin line that is pretty consistent throughout so the difficulty level doesn’t change, meaning this is not a book that will adapt to differing levels of concentration but this does lead to a really cohesive feel to the book. The images are in the correct order to tell the story and a few pages contain quotes from the book to help guide you through. Everything you need for a traditional Christmas is included from Christmas puddings to poinsettias, stockings to snowflakes, a goose, crackers, presents, paper chains and baubles. Of course, dispersed throughout these images are the key scenes and characters from A Christmas Carol including Scrooge and his characteristic phrase of Bah Humbug!, the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, and Tiny Tim. The ghosts in this book are beautifully drawn and two of the three are very cleverly created out of the objects used to describe them in the original novel. Some of the images are also themed around items in the song The Twelve Days of Christmas including partridges, French Hens and Swans, I have a feeling a number of other items from the song may be hidden within the pages but I’m yet to find them.

In terms of mental health, I found this book great because it instantly brings some festive cheer to what have been some very dreary days recently with very grey, wet and windy weather here in the UK. You can’t help but feel uplifted looking through the images of beautiful decorations, delicious food and the other aspects of Christmas that we look forward to throughout the year. A Christmas Carol is quite a dark and dingy story so I was a little worried that this book might be quite negative and not much fun to colour but Good Wives and Warriors have done a wonderful job of bringing huge amounts of charm to their illustrations of even the darkest scenes and they’re all dispersed with a healthy amount of much cheerier Christmas-themed images meaning the book doesn’t feel negative or sad at all and just lifts your spirits. I really enjoyed just looking through the book and reliving the story and poring over each image, all exquisitely drawn and waiting to be coloured. The images are quite detailed and intricate but they’re not overwhelming so you don’t need perfect vision or fine motor control and the size of the book means you don’t need really good concentration levels either. If you enjoy Christmas then this book is sure to be beneficial to your mental health with its positive content and ability to remind you of happy Christmases spent with family and having fun and if you’re not already filled with Christmas cheer, this book is sure to rectify that!

I would highly recommend this book, especially to those who are fans of Christmas and on the look-out for all things festive. The book is really cohesive and I found it great for my own mental health so hopefully it’ll be just as good for yours too as it transports you back to Christmas past and gets you ready for Christmas future which is just 6 short weeks away!

If you’d like to purchase a copy you can find it below:
Amazon UK – Escape to Christmas Past: A Colouring Book Adventure
Book Depository – https://www.bookdepository.com/Escape-Christmas-Past-Colouring-Book-Adventure-Good-Wives-Warriors/9780141366760/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The picture below was coloured using Stabilo 68 fibre-tip pens.

Color Me Stress-Free – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Color Me Stress-Free: Nearly 100 Coloring Templates to Unplug and Unwind (Zen Coloring Book) is published by Race Point Publishing and was very kindly sent to me by Quarto Group to review for you all. This is the third instalment in the Color Me series and you can find my review of its predecessors Color Me Calm and Color Me Happy here. This book is the same shape (almost square) and size as the previous two books and matches them perfectly so it looks and feels like a beautiful set on the shelf. The book is flexibound with a stiff cover. The binding in these books is pretty tight so they don’t like lying flat however all of the images are printed with a large border around them so you don’t have to contend with trying to colour into the spine. This book contains almost 100 images, all split between 7 differently named chapters that are areas of our lives that can stress us: Disorganisation, Relationships, Finances, Work, Health, Time, and Travel and Commuting. Unlike the first two books in this series whose images were related to each chapter title (Music, Children, Water etc), the images in this book aren’t obviously related to the chapter titles and there are far more abstract and random patterns than scenes which I personally think is a shame. The images are printed single-sided onto bright white medium thickness paper which does bleed with water-based pens but this isn’t an issue as long as you put a protective sheet behind when you’re colouring. This paper is also fairly well-suited to alcohol markers and when I tested mine the ink obviously bled through but didn’t especially spread as long as I was careful so this is a good book for all of you Copic, Spectrum Noir and Promarker colourers. All of the images are created by one illustrator Angela Porter so this book has a lovely cohesive style and flows really well.

In terms of mental health, this book is great for calming you down in an effort to become stress-free. The pictures are calming and not too intricate meaning they are perfect for using pencils, felt-tips or even paints or watercolours on, just slip a sheet of scrap paper underneath to protect the subsequent pages. This is a great book for those of you who find intricate images fiddly or too difficult and frustrating to colour. It’s also great for inspiration because at the beginning of each chapter a couple of the pictures are shown coloured in so you can follow their colour schemes or brave it and add your own funky colour combinations. This book is a nice size and you get a good sense of satisfaction because each image is small enough that it doesn’t take hours or even days to complete meaning this book is perfect if you don’t have a great attention span or high level of concentration. Don’t worry though, it’s also good for those of you who can sit and colour all day, it just means you’ll get plenty of pictures completed! The images mostly consist of patterns which are known to be very calming because many of them are repetitive and this really keeps you concentrating and distracted from any negative thoughts. There is huge variety within the patterns from swirling and flowing to sharp corners and harsh lines, geometric shapes to abstract designs, symmetrical to random, it’s all in there. There are a few scenic images but they are much fewer in number than the previous two titles in the series which is great for those of you that preferred the patterned designs but not so great for those of you who preferred the scenes. The line thickness is medium throughout and this book is perfect for those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control but don’t want to colour simple or basic images. This is a really happy medium between intricate and detailed and simple and basic and would be ideal for elderly colourers and those who struggle with small images or thin lines.

I would recommend this book and the others in the series as a great purchase for those of you who like simpler, less intricate images to colour, those of you using pens that bleed easily, and those of you that maybe don’t have the patience or desire to sit colouring one image for days in order to get it finished. They’re great starter books and contain really good images for practising shading with coloured pencils. These books are lovely and work well on their own or as a set and I look forward to seeing Color Me Fearless when it’s released in March 2016 – I hope to be reviewing it!

You can get purchase a copy of Color Me Stress-Free here:
Amazon UK – Color Me Stress-Free: Nearly 100 Coloring Templates to Unplug and Unwind (Zen Coloring Book)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Color-Me-Stress-Free/9781631061608/?a_aid=colouringitmom

And you can pre-order a copy of Color Me Fearless here:
Amazon UK – Color Me Fearless: Nearly 100 Coloring Templates to Boost Strength and Courage (Zen Coloring Book)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Color-Me-Fearless-Lacy-Mucklow/9781631061950/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip pens.

The One and Only Enormous Colouring Book for Adults

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The One and Only Enormous Colouring Book for Adults (One and Only Colouring) is published and was kindly sent to me for review by Phoenix Yard Books. This book has card covers and is genuinely enormous at slightly larger than A3 – the biggest book I’ve seen and significantly larger than Secret Garden Artist’s Edition. This book has single-sided images that are perforated meaning you can easily remove them before or after colouring (I’d recommend removing before colouring unless you have a large table to colour at because this book is huge when open!) and can then be framed or stuck up on the wall if you so choose. This book has been specifically created so that you can colour socially with friends or family around the kitchen table and the pictures are so large that there will be plenty of space for you all to sit around comfortably without bashing into each other. The pages are made from thick, white, smooth paper which didn’t bleed when using Staedtler fibre-tips or Stabilo fineliners, not that bleeding matters given that there is no image on the reverse so you can break out the alcohol markers and go to town. The images are all printed to the edges of the page with no border but nothing is lost into the spine because the pages are perforated (do be very careful when removing pages because perforations can be a little temperamental and could rip without care).

This book contains 30 images, mostly consisting of patterns some of which are swirling, others abstract and some more nature inspired. There are also a number of animal-themed and floral themed images all filled with lots of zentangle style patterns. One thing to note is that the image on the front is not included inside, this isn’t an issue but it’s always good to know! The images are drawn in a variety of line thicknesses from thin to really really thick so there is definitely something for everyone and it also means that they’re suitable for using with any age child and they’ll still be able to colour within the lines with mum and dad. The images aren’t scenes, they’re all pattern style so each of you can sit and work on a corner and either make it match or go all out and try and outdo each other and see what you all create with the same pattern and different colours or even different mediums (see what my boyfriend and I coloured together a few nights ago below). There is a large variance in levels of detail and intricacy throughout the pictures so you can work on the teeny tiny bits with adults and focus on the less detailed pictures when colouring with children or people who have poorer vision or fine motor control. This book is a great all-rounder and you’re sure to find something to suit all of the people you want to colour with.

In terms of mental health, this book is ideal because it brings a social aspect to colouring which you’re probably already hooked on by now. You may have friends who’ve never tried it before who you want to convert or friends who are avid colourers who you just want to work together with on a project – either way, this book is great for working together to create a beautiful image that can be displayed and remind you that you’re supported and cared about as well as brightening up your walls on dark days. The images are ideal for just zoning out and focusing on colouring rather than putting the right colour in the right place in scenic images.

I would highly recommend this book for those of you who would like to colour socially or create giant works of art for your walls. You won’t find a larger book on the market and the sheer variety of images, line thickness, levels of detail and intricacy is astounding and great if you have a fluctuating condition or want to use the book to colour with children and adults. Get the pens, pencils, pastels and paints out and get creative! You can order a copy via Amazon here The One and Only Enormous Colouring Book for Adults (One and Only Colouring)

The images below were coloured using PanPastels (fish picture) and Staedtler triplus fibre-tips and Stabilo Point 88 fineliners (pattern picture).

The Third One and Only Colouring Book for Adults – A Review

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

The Third One and Only Colouring Book for Adults is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Phoenix Yard Books. This book is the third in the One and Only series, you can read my review of its predecessor – the Second One and Only Colouring Book for Adults here. It is smaller than A4 but larger than A5, paperback and pretty thick as it contains a whopping 144 images! The paper-quality is pretty good, bright white, non-textured and fairly thick and I found that as long as I didn’t over colour with my felt-tips it didn’t bleed but did a little with my fineliners so be aware of this before getting stuck into an image with a reverse that you’re also very keen to colour. As with the other books in the One and Only series, this book contains a truly huge variety of images which are mostly patterns, shapes and line designs but with a fair helping of floral images thrown in – there are a lot of images of different leaves in this one (at least 15). The line thicknesses vary enormously from fineliner thickness to much thicker, marker-style lines and everything in between. A few of the images have black backgrounds with small white spaces to colour and a couple of these also have white outlines (see tree picture below). Sadly, this book is heavily glue-bound meaning the spine is very tight and stiff making it difficult to lie it down flat for colouring and also meaning a fair strip of each image is lost into the spine and unable to be coloured. The book is printed double-sided; most of the designs are single pages but some are double-page spreads and obviously the middle of these can’t be reached.

From a mental health perspective this is a fabulous starter book because it contains such a huge variety of images, line thicknesses, intricacies and design styles. If you’re new to colouring and not yet sure what sorts of images you want to get into, or indeed if you even want to pick a specific area then this book is ideal for helping you choose as most aspects are covered with the most notable exceptions being people and mandalas. This book will keep you occupied for a very long time and every time I flick through it I discover a new image that I’ve not noticed before. The sheer number of images makes this book great value and it would certainly be one I’d be adding to my list if I’d not already been sent a copy. The variety means the images are great for lots of different moods, some are calming and soothing with flowing lines, others are more distracting (great if you’re anxious) with intricate details and beautiful petals to really take your time over colouring in, others still are vibrant and energetic and feel like they’d perk you up on a low day and increase your feeling of energy. This book is great for anyone, whether you have 20:20 vision and love to colour tiny details, or have visual problems that mean you need chunkier pictures to colour, fine motor control is not a requirement for this book because there are so many images that have thicker lines that you’ll easily be able to colour within or thinner lines that you can colour over if you so choose.

I would highly recommend this book for those of you on a tight budget who want a lot of images for your money, those of you who have a lot of variance in symptoms and want one book to cover all of your different levels of severity, and those of you who are just dipping your toe into the colouring world and want to try lots of different styles. Of course, seasoned colourers like myself should also seriously consider purchasing a copy as this book is very different from most on the market and is a lovely size being not too small but not overwhelmingly large so that it takes weeks to complete an image. The paper quality is suited to most colouring mediums so those of you who like to use mixed media would really enjoy this book. I coloured the image below using Staedtler Fibre-tips and Stabilo Point 88 fineliners. This book really is one that can be described as the only one you’ll ever need, though be warned, colouring is highly addictive and I don’t know anybody who manages to stick at buying just one book! If you’d like to purchase a copy then it can be found on Amazon The Third One and Only Colouring Book for Adults

Escape to Wonderland: A Colouring Book Adventure – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Escape to Wonderland: A Colouring Book Adventure is published by Puffin Books and is part of my personal collection. This book is illustrated by Good Wives and Warriors who are a creative partnership of two Glasgow School of Art graduates – their Facebook page can be found here.

This is a beautiful book that is essential for any Alice in Wonderland fan’s colouring collection. It is smaller than most at 18.4cms square but don’t let that put you off, it’s a gorgeous book and the size means that the images aren’t daunting and it’s also perfect for taking with you for colouring on the go. The book has a softback cover which is almost all double thicknesses of cardboard as it folds in on itself and when opened up it reveals a beautiful blue background with white line-drawn images of flowers, mushrooms, pocket watches and owls. The cover has silvery-gold foiling accents which really add to the luxury of the book and are a lovely bit of extra detailing. There are 96 pages with double-sided images which are borderless so a little of each image is lost into the glue-bound spine. I found the spine very tight when it arrived but with some work it has now loosened up a lot and lies flatter than it did. The pages are cream and lightly textured which I thought would be ideal for pencils but I did find it a little hard to get many layers as the tooth seemed to disappear quicker than I’d have liked or expected. However, it’s not impossible to layer and I did manage to get some nice shading. The paper is thick enough to use water-based pens and didn’t bleed or shadow on the sample I did but I’ve not yet coloured a whole image with pens so do be sure to test the pens you’re using beforehand to avoid any disasters. Alcohol markers are a definite no because they will bleed terribly and ruin the reverse images.

The images themselves are drawn in a thin line that is pretty consistent throughout so the difficulty level doesn’t change, meaning this is not a book that will adapt to differing levels of concentration but this does lead to a really cohesive feel to the book. The images are in the correct order to tell the story and almost every page contains a quote from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland so you always know where you are, though that’s not necessary for die-hard fans who pretty much know it off by heart but it’s good for people who are new to the story and it’s a great reminder of some of the classic quotes which never fail to put a smile on my face.

In terms of mental health, I found this book great because it instantly transported me back to my childhood and brought back happy memories of watching many different film adaptations and staring at the pictures in my illustrated versions of Lewis Caroll’s original books. Many of the images are of plants, animals and scenes or objects which are the things I’m most interested in colouring so I was in my element and really struggled to narrow it down to just one picture to colour in for my review. I really enjoyed just looking through at the images and reliving the story and while the images are fairly stylised, and different from Sir John Tenniel’s originals, it’s very obvious what each scene is depicting and who each character is. I didn’t notice anything missing apart from the Duchess who isn’t featured in any of the images but all of the classic characters and scenes are in there from the pool of tears, to the caucus race, the croquet match to the lobster quadrille and the trial to meeting the giant caterpillar, it’s all in there. Alice is beautifully drawn throughout in a number of different styles and there are individual images of the gryphon, mock turtle, white rabbit, mouse and dodo, all exquisitely drawn and just waiting to be coloured. The only drawing I’m not so keen on is that of the Cheshire cat. He’s been drawn with petals around his eyes and it just looks a little odd and not very true to the original however, this is my only gripe, and the rest of the book is truly beautiful.

I would highly recommend this book, especially to those who are fans of Alice because not only is this a beautiful colouring book, it’s also a wonderful pictorial retelling of a classic story that so many of us love. The book is really cohesive and I found it great for my own mental health so hopefully it’ll be just as good for yours too as it transports you back to childhood and into the magical world of Wonderland. If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s already reduced on Amazon here Escape to Wonderland: A Colouring Book Adventure If you’re on the look out for other Alice in Wonderland themed books then head over to my review of another recent release here or go straight to Amazon The Macmillan Alice Colouring Book

The picture below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils.

Calming Art Therapy: Doodle and Colour Your Stress Away – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Calming Art Therapy: Doodle and Colour Your Stress Away (Creative Colouring for Grown-ups) is the fourth title in the Art Therapy series, and is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara publishing. There are 3 other titles in the series, all of which I’ve reviewed – Art Therapy, Creative Therapy and Colour Therapy.

This book truly has worked as therapy for me and I fell in love with it as soon as I opened its pages. Of all of the titles in the Art Therapy series, I think this one has to be my favourite because it has the largest number of animal themed images which are my favourite pictures to colour. It’s an A4 book with really thick unbendable card on the front and back cover (also available in paperback) which serves as a great surface to colour on if you’re like me and don’t like to colour at a table, and stops your book getting damaged with bendy covers and bashed corners. It has a lovely thick binding that starts off a little too tight so the pages don’t lay flat but with use mine has loosened up and now lies flat for colouring and despite the images being printed over the entirety of each page, none of it is lost into the spine (be warned – this is not the case in the paperback). The images are printed double-sided but as with all of the Michael O’Mara books I’ve encountered, the paper quality is fantastic and I’ve never experienced any bleeding despite using a multitude of different felt-tips and fineliners though do be a little careful about over-colouring as it can start to show through after a few strokes or holding in the same spot.

The 100+ images are drawn by a number of very talented illustrators so there is a huge variety but in this book it’s not instantly obvious that it’s not been created by one person and the drawings flow really well giving a very cohesive feel to the book. There are lots of swirling lines, geometric patterns and abstract shapes but in equal measure there are captivating animals, flowers and scenes all stylised and just begging to be coloured.

So, what makes this series so special? For me, as an anxious colourer, this series is different from any other I’d seen before because many of the image have some colour already added to them. When I first flicked through the books I felt that this limited me because it forced me to use a colour that I would never have chosen like blue on a rhinoceros, orange on an eel and purple on a deer. However, this feature actually changed the way I colour forever because until I had these books I had always felt forced by the perfectionist in me to colour everything in realistic, natural colours. This series stopped me being able to do that and really freed up my imagination so that I felt able to add outlandish colours instead of just realistic ones. This has been very therapeutic for me and has really expanded my creativity and I’m sure it would expand yours too. Another thing that makes this, and the others in the Therapy series, unique is the Doodling section at the back. There are a number of pages with huge sections left blank for you to doodle in however you wish. They are all started for you so again, there is no issue with staring at a blank page and not being able to narrow down a colour scheme. You can choose the same colours, contrasting colours, colours that clash, all of the colours even. This book has been wonderful for me as someone that’s never doodled in their life because it shows so many examples of adding colour to a page without simply colouring in a block and then colouring the next block in a different colour. These techniques don’t just have to be used in the doodling section, they can be added to any of the other images in the book and you’ll find that they free up your creative juices when colouring in other books too as the number of possibilities for your colouring just expands.

The images have varying line thicknesses, different coloured backgrounds and some lines are printed in colour rather than black. A huge range of themes is contained within this book and while it’s not the most delicate, it really is an essential book to add to your collection. I find this book particularly calming and often colour it in bed when my insomnia kicks in and I find it really helps to settle my mind so that I can finally get to sleep. Some images are more intricate than others but actually this book is very well suited to the majority of you because of the wide-ranging content. It really is fantastic for all of you anxious colourers out there who agonise about colours and often feel increased tension at the sight of a blank white page with black lines on. This book is already started for you so you’re just continuing the process and somehow, that makes it so much easier to just pick up a pen or pencil and start. Of all of the colouring books I now own, this is the one that has helped my mental health the most. It’s not so intricate that it’s frustrating but is definitely for adults, not children and when I’m feeling really anxious the lines are just thick enough that I can colour without having to concentrate on every single pen stroke for fear of going over the lines. It’s beautiful, bold and full of colour and it really is a joy to colour and doodle in. I really can’t recommend this book highly enough and strongly urge you to purchase a copy just as soon as you can because it does exactly what it says it’ll do on the cover – Doodle and Colour Your Stress Away and provides Calming Art Therapy – What more could you want?!

You can get your copy here-Calming Art Therapy: Doodle and Colour Your Stress Away (Creative Colouring for Grown-ups)

N.B – For the few pages that have coloured shapes (e.g. the shells, umbrellas and trees) that you’re meant to doodle on, you may want to invest in some black pigment liners because water-based fineliners are repelled by the coloured printing and don’t look remotely black and take forever to dry. I purchased a set and love them and would highly recommend them so here’s a link to them on Amazon to see if they take your fancy! Staedtler 308 WP4 Pigment Liner Fineliner Technical Drawing Pens Assorted Line Width – Set of 4

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners, Steadtler Triplus Fibre-Tips and a few own brand fineliners from The Works and WHSmith (UK stores).