The Garden of Earthly Delights – A Review

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Garden of Earthly Delights:an Exotic Colouring Book for Grown Ups (Colouring Books) is published by Hardie Grant Books, illustrated by Adriana Picker, and is from my personal collection. This is a beautiful book, quite different from most other nature-themed books because it doesn’t have pictures of scenes but rather random collections and groupings of nature that would be commonly found in an Australian garden (this is originally published in Australia). The book is square, the same size as the other best sellers, paperback with a beautiful black card cover with copper foiling accents and the insides of the covers are illustrated in a beautiful black and white leafy design. The spine is glue and stitch-bound and the images are borderless so a little of each is lost into it though this will reduce over time as the spine eases up with use. The paper is off-white (not cream or yellow) with a little texture making it ideal for use with pencils, though the outline ink isn’t permanent and does transfer when coloured over hard so always put a scrap piece of paper behind your work to prevent this. Water-based fineliners shadow and bleed through a little so I’d avoid these in this book as the images are printed double-sided and you’ll ruin the reverse image. Alcohol markers are a definite no-go! The book contains 96 pages and the majority of the images are double-pages spreads either with the design mirrored on both sides, continued on spreading over the two pages, or with two similar images with a large beetle on one side and lots of small beetles on the opposite page, or an orchid and lots of orchids (pictures of this are below). The illustrations contain a wide variety of flowers, plants, leaves and garden creatures including heaps of worms, snails, lizards, frogs, beetles and more. There are pages of eggs and feathers, flocks of birds, mushrooms and fairy rings, butterflies and moths and all of them are drawn in Adriana’s distinctive style which is quite black and heavily shaded. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea because her drawings are not just outlines, she has added shading and pattern to some of them and this does lead some of the pages to be quite dark and black, especially those containing a lot of illustration but I personally really like it and the use of bright colours will liven and brighten the pages a huge amount with very little effort. The shading is also ideal for those of you who are just learning to shade because Adriana has added a little for you so you can easily work out where the light source is and where the darker colours should be placed.

In terms of mental health, this book is ideal because it’s nature-themed and the illustrations are beautifully drawn and very calming. There are lots of open spaces where you could add your own drawings or backgrounds which would really add to the garden feel of the book. Most of the images are collections of creatures and plants rather than scenes or landscapes and for me this makes the book feel less formal and somehow, less intimidating because you can colour each section rather than a whole page which feels more easy to mess up and go wrong somehow. This book is absolutely ideal for those of you with poor or fluctuating concentration because there are so many small sections that you can colour separately, whether it be one worm, one snail, or one group of mushrooms there’s something you can spend 5 minutes working on or hours if you want to on your better days. The line thickness is consistent throughout and ranges between thin and medium/thin so you don’t need perfect vision of fine motor control but you’ll struggle with the book if either of these are poor. There is a lot of detail added to the illustrations and a fair bit of intricacy but most of this you’ll be likely to want to colour over to keep it as texture rather than colour between small spaces. The large spaces that are left within the images don’t have any written hints or instructions so if you want to just leave those areas blank, this can easily be done without looking unfinished. I really love this book and despite it being nature-themed, it’s quite different from most others within this genre. The illustrations remind me of the old-fashioned field guides to nature and flowers, they’re very realistically drawn and aren’t prettified, the majority are very representative of how they’d look in the wild and this means they’re easy to identify and easy to search for accurate colour schemes if you need a bit of help choosing. You could colour the images however you like, but it’s always nice to have a colour scheme handed to you by Mother Nature to help on the days where your symptoms are through the roof and decision-making is one challenge too far. As you’ll see below, I went off piste and coloured my snails in fantastical colours so you really can colour them however you like, realistic, unusual or downright crazy would all look equally beautiful on these gorgeous illustrations.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone needing to feel calmer, who loves colouring images of nature and would like something a little different and a little less intimidating. The illustrations are beautiful, very realistic and have added shading which is ideal for learning about light sources and shading.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Garden of Earthly Delights:an Exotic Colouring Book for Grown Ups (Colouring Books)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Garden-Earthly-Delights-Adriana-Picker/9781743790953/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and blended using Zest-It blending solution and paper stumps.

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