Painterly Days: Woodland – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Painterly Days Woodland is published by Schiffer Publishing and was illustrated and very kindly sent to me by Kristy Rice whose Facebook page can be found here. This book is something totally new for the adult colouring market and I’m very excited to bring it to your attention. Many people have been venturing into the world of watercolour either with traditional paints or watercolour pencils. I myself bought some Faber-Castell Aquarelle Pencils and Derwent Inktense pencils last year which seemed like a great idea for colouring and blending until I realised that the paper in most colouring books can’t hold up to any water, let alone the amount of water a novice watercolourer manages to accidentally add. Kristy’s book solves that problem in an instant because the designs are printed onto watercolour paper which is much more absorbent, toothy, and doesn’t pill or feather as soon as it sees water, nor does it buckle.

This book is A4 and paperback with fold out card covers that contain helpful hints, tips and even a colour wheel on the insides so this is almost an all-in-one watercolouring kit. The book contains 25 designs, 24 of which are printed twice. The images are printed double-sided and each leaf of paper is printed with the same design front and back except for the last image which is printed with notes and acknowledgements on the back. The images are drawn in a pale grey line rather than harsh black which is ideal for watercolour and other types of paint because you can relatively easily disguise the lines and make it look more like you’ve painted it freehand rather than colouring in a printed design. The paper is luxe watercolour paper and I will point out here that I have no knowledge about watercolour paper at all and so I can’t tell you if this is good or bad in comparison to other watercolour paper however in comparison to normal colouring books, this paper is better than any others for holding up to water, it doesn’t bleed, pill, buckle, or warp and it has a longer ‘open’ time to be able to move the pigment around on the page before the water dries and the colour is stuck. The paper is white, thick and lightly textured and it shows up the colours of the paints beautifully. The book has a lay-flat binding which is absolutely ideal because there is no image-loss, and the book stays open on its own so there’s no issue with the pages accidentally closing during painting, and you don’t have to hold it open. This binding is also ideal because pages are easy to remove so if you wanted to remove them for painting you can, or for framing or gifting afterwards. The images are each contained to a single page and they are drawn in a beautifully cohesive style and are really pretty. They’re not particularly scenes or landscapes but more woodland-style patterns and collections of birds, fruit, leaves, plants, animals and flowers and a number of the images also include a quote written in a beautiful cursive style.

In terms of mental health, this book is wonderful. It’s brilliantly put together and the image content is incredibly calming and will surely soothe the most anxious of minds and brighten the darkest of days. Because the images aren’t scenes, they don’t have to be coloured in hugely realistic colour schemes and you can go to town colouring blue and orange tree frogs like I did, glowing berries and vibrant leaves, or use a much more sedate and natural colour palette, the choice is entirely yours. The intricacy and detail level varies throughout from a medium level to extremely intricate and I would suggest novices might want to use a combination of watercolour paints and watercolour pencils for the more detailed areas. This book is definitely one for those of you with pretty good vision and very good fine motor control, the paintbrushes I was using for the detailed sections of my page are much thinner than pencils and I really struggled to keep within the lines because I suffer from a tremor so be aware that this may be an issue for those of you who don’t have such a steady hand. The line thickness varies but mostly stays at the thin level so it’s manageable to stay within as long as you’re careful and patient when painting. One of the best features of this book is the section at the front of the book where there are 6 pages with a section about each image describing what the image is showing and why it’s been included, a painting tip which might suggest colour schemes or techniques and a couple of related sentences about being an artist. This is a wonderful touch and something that as a complete newbie to watercolour I found really helpful and interesting. I’ve always felt quite frightened and wary of watercolour and haven’t done any since childhood when I had to attempt it (without much success) at school but this book is inviting rather than intimidating and because the images are natural and realistic, it makes it much easier to jump in and get started. I had a go with watercolour paints which Kristy very kindly sent me to try and which I definitely need more practice with, and also Derwent Inktense pencils which you can see a video of me using on another book here. I found the pencils much easier to use and more controllable as a beginner but this book will definitely be what I will use to branch out and learn how to use watercolour paints. These images take a deceptively long time to paint so although you get fewer images in it than conventional colouring books, you’ll probably get the same amount of ‘colouring’ time out of it. It does require quite a lot of concentration and especially when you’re new to watercolour it may not be the most relaxing activity but once you get into the flow of it and get used to how the paints/pencils work, it’s much more enjoyable.

This book is beautiful and I would highly recommend it for those of you who are new to watercolour and don’t know where to start. This book has wonderfully natural illustrations, really useful hints and tips, wonderful paper and is a great all-in-one starter kit that just needs to be accompanied by some paints or pencils and away you go!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Painterly Days Woodland
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Painterly-Days-Woodland-Kristy-Rice/9780764350924/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Kristy has also created two more titles in the series which can be found below:
Amazon UK – Painterly Days Flowers
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Painterly-Days-Flowers-Kristy-Rice/9780764350917/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Amazon UK – Painterly Days Pattern
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Painterly-Days-Pattern-Kristy-Rice/9780764350931/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The finished image below was coloured using Derwent Inktense pencils activated with water. The incomplete page was painted with Artist’s Loft Watercolor Paints. The brushes I used for both can be found here.

Derwent Inktense pencils are currently available on Amazon in various sized sets
Derwent 700929 Inktense 24 Watercolour Pencils Tin – Set of 24

The Fractured Art of Tiffany Budd Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Fractured Art of Tiffany Budd Colouring Book: Create your own colourway! is illustrated, self-published and was kindly sent to me by Tiffany Budd. Tiffany is an artist who created her own technique for paintings which she calls “Fractured”. This is a great description for how her artwork looks as the object of the image is obvious but the scene is altered by the large fractures across it which distort the picture. Tiffany was asked a number of times by fans of her work if she’d create a colouring book of her paintings and she managed to eventually fit it in around raising her children (no mean feat at all and, no corners were cut in this process either).  The book itself is just shy of A4 size, paperback and glue-bound. The images are all printed single-sided with a border around them so none of the image is lost into the spine. This means that you can use whatever mediums you like with no worries about bleed-through and you can also remove the pages afterwards and gift or frame them. This book contains 20 of Tiffany’s original paintings all hand-drawn with the colour removed so you can either copy her colour scheme or create your own masterpiece and switch up the colours. The first page in the book is a colour copy of miniatures of all of the included paintings so that you can see what they looked like originally which is great for those of you that might need a little bit of colour inspiration. Each image is titled to give you a clue of what’s included in the slightly more abstract images and some are portrait and others are landscape. A wide variety of themes is included from landscapes to leaves, cityscapes to still life and my personal favourite, a Stormtrooper from Star Wars! All of the images are beautifully drawn and are great to colour with pencils or pens or you can venture out and try your hand with more challenging mediums like paints or watercolours because these images having originally been paintings, really do lend themselves to more fluid mediums. The paper is bright white and fairly thin with a little bit of tooth so it’s well-suited to most mediums.

In terms of mental health, this book is ideal because most of the images are nature-based which is great for calming the mind and keeping you grounded. The colour page at the beginning showing the original paintings is really helpful for those of us who are anxious colourers who struggle with choosing colours. You can see how it looks when coloured how Tiffany originally painted it, and this may inspire you to completely copy her colour scheme, reverse it, pick a limited colour palette or even just go it alone and colour it however you’re feeling at the time. The line thickness is the same throughout and is thin but not very thin so it is a little forgiving so you don’t need perfect vision or fine motor control to be able to enjoy this book. The pictures are made up of lots of small sections but they don’t feel overly intricate or detailed and you can easily use colour washes with watercolours or really pick out small details so it’s certainly a book that adapts to your concentration levels and ability on any given day. I found the book really calming to use and it was a great time to test my brand new Derwent Inktense pencils which I will review at a later date. The watercolour pencils I felt worked brilliantly with the watery landscape image I chose and I was pretty pleased with it for a first go! The images are very cohesive because of the fractured way they’re drawn, despite having a number of quite varied subjects depicted.

I would highly recommend this book for those of you that would like to venture into watercolour or using watercolour pencils, the images are really unusual and very calming and the sample page at the front is great for helping out anxious colourers with colour schemes.

If you’d like to purchase a copy you can find it here:
Amazon UK – The Fractured Art of Tiffany Budd Colouring Book: Create your own colourway!
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Fractured-Art-Tiffany-Budd-Colouring-Book-Tiffany-Budd/9781517472801/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Derwent Inktense coloured pencils and then painted over with water.

Dragons and Fountain of Imagination Colouring Pages – A Review

Sarah of Mad March Moon Designs, very kindly sent me the digital files of both of her 5-page colouring sets that she sells through her Etsy page and boy was I glad she did. Firstly, if you think you’ve seen detail, think again! These pages are delicately hand drawn and contain heaps and heaps of detail and added extras that keep you interested and discovering new things all the time. These pages are fantastic value for money because they will keep you entertained for hours and hours with all of the tiny parts that Sarah has pain-stakingly drawn. Her images are beautiful and you are instantly transported into a fantasy land that will draw you back in each and every time you go to colour one of her stunning pages. These images are wonderful for both male and female colourers and the possibilities are endless when it comes to how to colour and what to use. The pages are designed to be printed A4 size and certainly any smaller than that and you’d need a magnifying glass to get into all of the nooks and crannies. You will definitely need a good set (or 2, or in my case 6, don’t judge me) of fineliners or some very sharp coloured pencils to be able to really make the most of the intricacy of these images. You will also need good eyesight and fine motor control to enjoy these images fully or you may find them frustrating. The line thickness is fineliner thickness so there isn’t a lot of wiggle room meaning you’ll really need a decent light source when colouring these images (I personally sit in front of a huge, south-facing window when colouring so my page is flooded with natural light) but don’t let this put you off, I went over the lines a number of times with mine and found that actually it just adds to the character of the finished piece.

Sarah has created two beautiful sets of images that are the perfect level of intricacy to truly keep you occupied and concentrating and distracted from any anxious or low thoughts. They are highly detailed and are well suited to the more experienced colourer or potentially beginners who are feeling brave. These images draw you out of the real world, away from the stresses and worries of reality and into a wonderful fantasy world filled with imagination and possibilities and the fountain of imagination images really take you back to childhood where your creativity knew no bounds and your thoughts were hijacked by all manner of weird and wonderful creatures and scenarios.

The images are both portrait and landscape and as with all digital files they are very versatile because you can print them as many times as you like onto whatever paper you fancy. These pictures would lend themselves wonderfully to watercolours, coloured pencils, alcohol pens, fineliners and anything else you fancy playing with and you can print them onto paper suited to each medium for the best results possible. Mistakes are no longer an issue because you can just re-print and start again and if you want to try out a new colour scheme then just go ahead! You could print 3 of the same picture and colour them all differently and then frame them to hang as a series – they would make wonderful additions to the walls of any child’s bedroom, or the walls of anyone whose inner child is alive and kicking. The hand drawn nature of these images means that they all contain quirks and slight sizing oddities or continuation hiccups but this truly adds to the charm of the pictures and as yet I’ve not found anything glaringly obvious that hasn’t just added more character to the overall effect.

These pages are fantastic for mental health problems because they provide total escapism and will occupy you for hours. The images are charming, beautiful and really appealing. If you’re a fan of dragons and all things mythical and magical then head over to Sarah’s Facebook page where you’ll find everything from sculptures to earrings, hair accessories to colouring pages, all of which can be purchased in her Etsy shop or commissioned from her through Facebook I believe. I would highly recommend these colouring pages for anyone who wants to rediscover their inner child or enter the realms of a dragon-filled fantasy world and I’ll be keeping an eye out for any future pages from this very talented artist because they’re sure to be stunning and fantastical.

Faber-Castell 24 Art Grip Aquarelle pencils: A Review

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

Earlier this week I was sent the loveliest email from a lady at Faber-Castell, I had contacted them asking to review their products and was expecting to hear a no back from most places as my blog is pretty small in comparison to many others. Despite not having anything like the 10,000 followers usually needed to be considered, they sent me a beautiful set of 24 watercolour pencils as my blog is unique in reviewing adult colouring books and mediums from a mental health perspective. I was so incredibly touched and was moved to tears by their lovely email and kind gift and I hope that I will be able to review more of their products in the future.

So, without further ado, here’s the review of their set of 24 Art Grip Aquarelle (watercolour coloured pencils). In short, these pencils are truly fabulous! I’m not saying this lightly and I can assure you that my review would be equally emphatic if I’d bought these pencils because they really are wonderful. Anyone who knows me will know that I cannot draw or paint which is a huge reason why I’m so into adult colouring. I love being creative but can’t create my own drawings without them resembling a young child’s. I’ve not touched a coloured pencil since I left school and when I picked some up for the first time last week I really struggled. I found them hard, difficult to shade with, impossible to blend and I wasn’t far off throwing them across the room because I kept messing up the pictures. I was therefore very wary about my ability to do these new pencils justice in a review. However, when I picked them up yesterday and had a tentative play with them I was shocked at just how easy they were to use. I watched two basic video tutorials on YouTube about shading techniques and away I went.

These pencils are wonderful as they are easy to use, comfortable to hold thanks to the triangular shape and rows of little bumps down the sides, and you can get great coverage of the palest colour by pressing as lightly as possible onto the page. They don’t streak or create huge direction lines as long as you’re a little careful with your technique and they build up colour well. This may sound like I know what I’m talking about but this is me faking being an expert after watching 20 minutes of artists telling me how to colour like a pro, I truly am a beginner. The colours are similar enough to each other that you can blend them nicely and I’m sure with a blending pencil this would work even better (I don’t own one so can’t test this yet). They give a beautifully professional look to your work after just a couple of minutes of practice and my confidence has really built over the hours I’ve spent using them. Each time I’ve finished colouring a bunny or a flower I’ve been utterly shocked that I’ve created the effects I have on the paper when a week ago I was all for giving up on pencils for good. The amount of different colour you can get from one pencil was astounding to me and I’ve been shocked at the versatility and range of just 24 colours. I haven’t thought even once that I wished there had been another colour that wasn’t in my tin, though if you do feel like that then they do larger tins containing 36 or a whopping 60 pencils.

The second way of using these pencils is as watercolours. The tin encloses a small instruction booklet detailing the 3 ways you can get the watercolour effect: using a wet paintbrush after you’ve coloured, using damp watercolour paper to draw directly onto, and using a spray bottle to give a very light watercolour effect. I tried the first method after colouring in the yellow daisy-style flower in the photo below. This is the first time I’ve used watercolours since I was about 14 so I have no skill at this yet and found that the shading I had coloured wasn’t contrasting enough once wet and therefore merged into one colour more than I’d have liked. However, I’d like to make it very clear that this was not the pencils but merely my lack of ability to use them properly. With some more practice I can tell that I’d be able to get some really beautiful effects that would open up more possibilities in my colouring and I look forward to experimenting further with them. Those of you who like to paint would love using these I’m sure as you get a preciseness that you won’t be able to get as easily, if at all, with paints.

Faber-castell 011 Faber-castell 012

In summary, these pencils are pretty much worth their weight in gold. I was a true beginner when I started using them and while I’ve got a long way to go, I already feel like an artist thanks to the ease of use and professional looking results from these pencils. If you need all the help you can get, like I do, then I’d highly recommend these pencils because I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with the results and the fact that they’re two mediums in one is a huge bonus, particularly for those of you more adept at watercolour than me. These pencils are great for stress-free colouring thanks to their usability and beautiful vibrant and calming colours (depending on pressure) and they will give you the desired effects very quickly without hours of frustrating practice. Despite having a severe anxiety disorder and often this leading me to have confidence crises as I’m not able to colour on paper the same way it looks in my head, I never experienced this when using these pencils and was pleasantly surprised (as were my family) at what I’d managed to colour that was often better than I’d even imagined (see photos below). In my opinion, Faber-Castell have created the perfect pencil for beginners to get a wonderful effect from the very first use and this will help any budding artist’s confidence grow and grow (often much needed in those of us with mental health problems) and any of you who are not artistically challenged will just have your work improved by using these beautiful pencils. Go and buy them, you know you want to!Art Grip Aquarelle Pencils Tin 24 Pencils