Tangle Bay: An Enchanting Colouring Book With Hidden Treasure – A Review

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Tangle Bay: An Enchanting Colouring Book with Hidden Treasure is illustrated by Jessica Palmer and published and kindly sent to me by Search Press Publishing. This is the sequel to Tangle Wood and you can read my review of that here. Tangle Wood is one of the nicest books I’ve ever seen so when I heard Jessica was creating a second book and that it would be beach-themed, I was very excited. I was a little worried that it wouldn’t live up to the beauty of Tangle Wood, especially for me as my favourite place on earth is the beach so this book had a lot to live up to. So does it hold up? ABSOLUTELY! Jessica has done it again and created another beautiful, unique book which encapsulates everything beachy! Jessica’s signature illustration style has altered a little but it’s just the right mix of empty spaces, zentangle patterns and realism. Jessica seamlessly blends animals, plants, objects and landscapes and adds her own zentangle patterns meaning you can colour lots of tiny little sections or colour whole blocks and leave the patterns as texture. This book is a work of art and the only difficulty I’ve had with it was narrowing down which image to colour first, there are just so many beautiful pages to choose from!

The book itself is square (slightly smaller in size than other square books but the same size as Tangle Wood) and softback (it’s not especially bendy so it’ll keep protected in a bag if you transport your books but also isn’t rigid and hard). The pages are thick, bright white (a deliberate change from Tangle Wood to ensure the blues you’re likely to use will show up well) and lightly textured and the 75 stunning images are printed double-sided. I experienced no bleeding when using my water-based fineliners so these should be fine for you to use (always test on an inconspicuous area to avoid ruining any designs). Pencils add colour smoothly and because the paper is textured you can add plenty of layers so you’ll be able to blend and shade beautifully. Some of the images are single pages and others are double-page spreads and the book is relatively tightly stitched and flexi-bound so some of the image near the middle is lost into the spine and it does take some stretching of the spine to be able to get it to lie flat or stay open without being held. With time though, I’ve found that spines like this do loosen up and with a book like this, it’s so worth the wait so don’t be put off, just be patient and keep working the spine so that you can reach the middle of the images. One small thing to note is that the black ink on the blackest pages does transfer when using pencils so just pop a scrap piece of paper behind your work to avoid this, it’s fully erasable if it does transfer but that saves having to get your rubber out!

This book is truly beautiful and the images are charming. I hope you’ll get some of the atmosphere through the images attached at the bottom but truly you need to see this book to realise just how wonderful it is. If you like colouring nature images that are highly detailed then you’ll just love this book. In Jessica’s first book you were taken on a journey through a wood, Tangle Bay doesn’t take you on a journey but instead Jessica wanted to create a sense of place and she’s done this beautifully and you really are transported to the beach of your childhood, your imagination, and of story books. So many aspects of the beach and the seaside are included from realistic scenes of puffins sitting on rocks and seagulls swooping, to storybook ships, mermaids and anthropomorphised animals like ducks wearing hats and donkeys dressed up having a day out at the beach on deck chairs! This book contains a mixture of styles and the majority of the images are less intricate and detailed than those in Tangle Wood (more info on this further down). This book contains such a wealth of images that it’s hard to describe them all. Jessica described it as being livelier than Tangle Wood and I definitely agree, there’s a lot more movement in the pages and more chaos, whimsy and fun. She’s added sprinkles of humour and you get hit by waves of nostalgia as you come across the image of the owl and the pussycat in their beautiful pea green boat, the Punch and Judy show, melting ice creams, deck chairs, parasols, postcards, sandcastles and flock upon flock of seagulls! This book flits between scenes of mermaids relaxing under the sea, penguins piloting an airship, day and night scenes of lighthouses, treasure troves just waiting to be made shiny and sparkly, and hordes of sea creatures from seahorses to whales, fish to crabs, dolphins to lobsters, jellyfish to seals and so much more! Scenes of typically British days at the beach are pictured including beach huts and even Brighton Pavilion (a huge plus for me as I live under 30 minutes away from it) and also underwater scenes from much further afield including coral reefs and exotic tropical fish. Hidden within the images are bits of treasure for you to hunt down and colour in and this treasure hunt aspect adds a real sense of adventure and fun to the book. Tangle Bay sparks your imagination and creates a wonderful world of escapism. Some of the images are highly detailed and intricate and many encompass typical zentangle patterns. Some of the images have large sections around or within them that have been left blank so that you can add your own details and backgrounds. These are less obvious than in Tangle Wood so the pictures won’t look at all unfinished if you choose not to add anything but the spaces are there if you want them. There are also some beautiful frames of shells, fossils, seaweed, and more, that are circular, square and even heart-shaped that you could either leave as they are or add to if your drawing skills are honed!

Tangle Wood and Tangle Bay are quite different from each other so I got in touch with Jessica to ask her about this so that I could give you all an accurate portrayal of the books. Tangle Wood is very detailed throughout whereas Tangle Bay has a fair number of much more open-spaced images with less detail and without zentangle patterns. Jessica explained that from the feedback she got about Tangle Wood, some people didn’t like the patterning so much and found it too intricate so she varied the detail levels more to appeal to more people and I have to say, this makes it ideal for those of you with fluctuating conditions because on your good days where you can really concentrate and focus, you can colour some of the really detailed zentangled pages, and on days where you’re more symptomatic you can colour the less detailed images and really practice your blending and shading skills and even have a go at adding your own zentangles to the sections. This mixture seems like a great way to reach more people and appeal to beginner and advanced colourist alike, I do personally miss a little of the detail, however, I’ve definitely been won over by the image content and shall have to get zentangling myself!

In terms of mental health, this book has a wide variety of detail and intricacy levels so it’s ideal for those of you with fluctuating conditions to keep you distracted and focused for hours on good and bad days. The line thickness varies from spindly thin to medium thickness but mostly it’s thin throughout so this book is best for those of you with fairly good vision and fine motor control. Unlike in Tangle Wood where the line colour varied, in Tangle Bay the linework is all black and there are no issues with fuzziness either so it’s great to see that’s been rectified. This book is beautiful and completely enchanting and the more I look through it, the more I notice and discover, and the more I fall in love with it, just as I did with Tangle Wood. I think this book is absolutely ideal for anyone with mental health problems because it’s so natural and calming and the subject matter is really relaxing and beautifully drawn and some of the pages are really fun and might even make you laugh (see the donkeys on deck chairs and sharks riding bicycles below). Jessica states that she puts her heart and soul into her work and this is so very clear in every page, her work is beautiful and is meticulously created. This book contains hours and hours of enjoyment and I’m sure it’s set to become a bestseller because it’s just gorgeous so if you’re wanting a copy I’d get your hands on one soon before everyone catches on to how unmissable this book is. I’ve heard that Jessica is currently working on a third title and as soon as I have any news, I will let you all know what we’re getting excited about and when we can get our sticky mitts on a copy. Like my Facebook page to be kept up to date!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Tangle Bay: An Enchanting Colouring Book with Hidden Treasure
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Tangle-Bay-Jessica-Palmer/9781782214137/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils, a Derwent burnishing pencil and PanPastels were used for the background.

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