Giveaway

From Holland with Love - Click through to read my review, see photos of inside and watch a video flick through

From Holland With Love – A Review

From Holland With Love is illustrated and kindly sent to me to review by Masja van den Berg and is published by Pepper Books. This book is the sixth book published by Masja and her five previous titles were all variations of paisley-filled designs under the title of Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld (My Wondrous World). This sixth book is a little different and is more like a love letter, or love drawing if you will, from Masja to and about Holland. The book itself is 25.5cm square, it’s hardback this time with a beautiful glowing orange cover and a compilation image of various illustrations contained within the book in blue and white. The spine is glue and string bound and relatively difficult to get it to lie flat due to it being hardback. The pages are printed single-sided and are perforated meaning you don’t have to contend with the page gutter and try to colour into it and that you can remove the pages before or after colouring in order to frame or gift them. The paper is bright white, thick and lightly textured, pencils blend and layer beautifully and water-based pens shadow but don’t bleed through, alcohol markers will bleed through so do put a protective sheet behind your work to protect the next page. The illustrations contain lots of typically Dutch objects and scenery from clogs to windmills, tulips to traditional dress and a bicycle amongst other beautiful floral patterns, drawings of women and some lovely birds. The imagery is really varied and far less paisley-filled than the previous titles but don’t despair if you love those, they don’t feel like they’re missing from this work and the illustrations are really lovely and very pretty. At the back of the book are three pages of images that can be cut out for projects, a page of card toppers, a page of social media tags where you can add your name instead of having to watermark your photos and a page including 2 small postcard style designs all of which are illustrated and colourable.

In terms of mental health, this book is great, it’s not overwhelming to colour and has enough detail to be interesting and absorbing, without being overly complex or over-stimulating. The content is familiar, fun and cute and much of it could be coloured in any palette you choose and look equally fabulous. The line thickness is mostly consistent and remains thin with a few images drawn in a spindly thin line. The intricacy and detail levels vary and range from very intricate on some of the postcard size images and social media tags to larger, more open spaces in some of the colouring pages and everything in between, you’ll need moderately good vision and fine motor control for the majority of the images and better levels for a few of the most intricate pages. A few of the pages will require a high level of concentration but many won’t need you to be at your best and require less focus so this is a good book for those of you with varying concentration levels. The pages also consist of varying amounts of content which means they take differing lengths of time to complete and there are natural stopping points if you just want to colour one section. These images would look really beautiful framed and this book would be an ideal gift for those who live in Holland, are from there, or who just love all things Dutch, it’s so representative and beautiful, I’m sure it would be a very well-received gift!

Overall, I would highly recommend this book, it’s beautiful for those who love all things Dutch and those just wanting to colour more of Masja’s gorgeous illustrations. The production quality is very high and the images are really lovely to colour.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available to buy here:
Amazon UK – From Holland with Love
Masja’s Website – https://www.masjaswebshop.nl/

The image below was coloured with a single Prismacolor Premier Pencil and a Caran d’Ache Blender Pencil.

Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld Part 5 - Click through to read my review, watch my flick through and see internal photos

Worldwide Giveaway and Review – Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld (My Wondrous World) Part 5

Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld Part 5 was illustrated and kindly sent to me to review by Masja van den Berg. Masja has very kindly sent me an extra copy of this title and part 4 and I’m currently running a Worldwide giveaway for them both over on my FB page, click here to enter by midnight GMT on the 11th of November. This book is the fifth in her series of books and my reviews of her other titles can be found HERE and she’s already created 2 more books with different titles since these. Part 5 ventures further afield than the first three books and takes us on an exotic journey through the Orient with Chinese and Japanese art and animals featured. The book itself is paperback, nearly 24.5cm square, with a gorgeous turquoise cover with beautiful gold foiled accents on a Chinese dragon image found inside the book. The spine of the book is glue-bound and therefore a little tricky to get it to lie flat unless you break the spine which could eventually lead to pages loosening, however the pages this time are perforated which is ideal if you want to remove them for colouring or framing. The images are printed single-sided this time and all of the images are therefore single page designs. The paper is white, thick (thicker than all of her previous books) and lightly textured, it provides a good surface for blending and shading pencils, it doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens and alcohol markers will be fine to use as long as you pop some protective sheets behind your work. The content is all drawn in Masja’s signature paisley style so while the images are Oriental themed, they’re very similar to the previous books and existing fans of her work won’t be disappointed. The images contain all manner of things from Chinese dragons, koi carp, ornaments, mandalas, patterns, cranes, cherry blossom, ponds, and more. The illustrations are very floral and delicate and contain a mixture of scenes and patterns, full page designs and centralised images.

In terms of mental health, this book is lovely, it’s very calming and absorbing without requiring too much concentration so it’s a great book for good and bad days. There’s a real variety in the amount of content on each page so you can easily choose a smaller, simpler design to focus on when you’re having a bad day, or a much more complex spread when you’re feeling well, none of the images are overwhelming as they’re all contained to one side so the book feels very accessible. The line thickness is pretty consistent throughout and is thin but not spindly thin so you’ll need fairly good vision and fine motor control but certainly not perfect. The intricacy and detail level varies a lot from larger open spaces to much smaller spaces where Masja has filled the creatures and designs with patterns though of course you can always colour over these small sections rather than within each one if you prefer to colour larger areas. There are plenty of spaces where you can create your own backgrounds or add your own imagery if you wish but this is by no means a requirement and the pages will look lovely regardless. Masja’s work is very soft and flowing, there aren’t any straight lines and this really helps to create a natural, calming world that you can escape into whilst colouring. The images have a great mixture of realism and imagination added to them so they look equally good coloured realistically or outlandishly and you could even mix the two throughout the book.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who’s already a fan of the series, and those who are intrigued and new to it, the images are lovely, very cohesive, and really natural and calming and they look beautiful once splashed with realistic or imaginative colour schemes.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book, it’s available here: https://www.masjaswebshop.nl/

I’m also currently running a giveaway for a UK resident to win a copy of this, and book 5 in the series. The competition runs until midnight GMT on the 11th of November and can be entered here.

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-Tips.

Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld Part 4 - Click through to read my review, see photos and watch my video flick through

Worldwide Giveaway and Review – Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld (My Wondrous World) Part 4

Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld Part 4 was illustrated and kindly sent to me to review by Masja van den Berg. Masja has very kindly sent me an extra copy of this title and part 5 and I’m currently running a Worldwide giveaway for them both over on my FB page, click here to enter by midnight GMT on the 11th of November. This book is the fourth in her series of books and my reviews of her other titles can be found HERE as well as my review of Part 5 HERE and she’s already created 2 more books with different titles since these. Part 4 ventures further afield than the first three books and takes us on an exotic journey through India and its animals. The book itself is paperback, nearly 24.5cm square, with a bright yellow cover with beautiful blue foiled accents on a peacock image found inside the book. The spine of the book is glue-bound and therefore a little tricky to get it to lie flat unless you break the spine which could eventually lead to pages loosening. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads. The paper is white, thick and lightly textured, it doesn’t bleed and only very minimally shadows with the darkest water-based pens and provides a good surface for blending and shading with pencils; alcohol markers should be avoided as they’ll ruin the reverse image and bleed through. The content is all drawn in Masja’s signature paisley style so while the images are Indian themed, they’re very similar to the previous books and existing fans of her work won’t be disappointed. The images contain all manner of things from giraffes and peacocks, to scarabs and elephants, scorpions and florals to parakeets and ponds. The illustrations are very floral and delicate and contain a mixture of scenes and patterns, full page designs and centralised images.

In terms of mental health, this book is lovely, it’s very calming and absorbing without requiring too much concentration so it’s a great book for good and bad days. There’s a real variety in the amount of content on each page so you can easily choose a smaller, simpler design to focus on when you’re having a bad day, or a much more complex double-page spread when you’re feeling well. The line thickness is pretty consistent throughout and is thin but not spindly thin so you’ll need fairly good vision and fine motor control but certainly not perfect. The intricacy and detail level varies a lot from larger open spaces to much smaller spaces where Masja has filled the creatures and designs with patterns though of course you can always colour over these small sections rather than within each one if you prefer to colour larger areas. There are plenty of spaces where you can create your own backgrounds or add your own imagery if you wish but this is by no means a requirement and the pages will look lovely regardless. Masja’s work is very soft and flowing, there aren’t any straight lines and this really helps to create a natural, calming world that you can escape into whilst colouring. The images have a great mixture of realism and imagination added to them so they look equally good coloured realistically or outlandishly and you could even mix the two throughout the book.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who’s already a fan of the series, and those who are intrigued and new to it, the images are lovely, very cohesive, and really natural and calming and they look beautiful once splashed with realistic or imaginative colour schemes.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book, it’s available here: https://www.masjaswebshop.nl/

I’m also currently running a giveaway for a UK resident to win a copy of this, and book 5 in the series. The competition runs until midnight GMT on the 11th of November and can be entered here.

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-Tips.

Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld (My Wondrous World) Part 3 – A UK Giveaway and Review

Masja has very kindly sent me a copy to review and a copy for one lucky UK resident to win. To enter the giveaway head over to my Facebook page here and enter via the pinned post by 8pm GMT on Tuesday the 9th of February.

Masja has created a gorgeous third book, a sequel to her first and second book of the same name which can be found reviewed here(Part 1) and here (Part 2), and it really does contain a wondrous world of creatures, flowers and patterns. Her illustration style is floral, delicate and detailed without being overly intricate. Those of you who like Millie Marotta’s style should really consider Masja’s books because I am now a huge fan of the work of both of these talented illustrators.

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

I found the images really calming and soothing and found the process of colouring the images ready for this review very relaxing because of their grounding in nature. Masja’s first book was very much like taking a walk through a beautiful garden, her second book took you on a journey through a more exotic landscape and this book takes you on a journey through a winter wonderland filled with flurries of snowflakes, wolves, bears, reindeer, owls, pine cones and even a Christmas tree. It takes you on a journey and allows for excellent escapism which means it’s ideal for mental health problems. Masja’s drawings are delicate and intricate and need just enough concentration to keep you occupied, focused and distracted from anxious or low thoughts but aren’t so complicated that they will ever lead to frustration or cause you to feel overwhelmed. Some of the images have large open spaces where you could add your own drawings or backgrounds to truly make the book your own but there is no writing on the pages so you’re totally free to add (or not) as you choose, rather than as directed. This book is great for those of you who can’t deal with super intricate and delicate images but who still want to colour really pretty, patterned images.

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

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 fineliners and Staedtler Triplus Fineliners.

Don’t forget, I’m running a UK giveaway for a copy of this beautiful book which can be entered before 8pm GMT on Tuesday the 9th of February via the pinned post on my Facebook page here.

Colour Away Your Worries – A Review

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

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

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

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

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

Worldwide Giveaway and Review of PanPastels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colour Me Mindful: Seasons – A Review

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

Colour Me Mindful: Seasons (Colour Me Mindful Colouring Bk) illustrated by the very talented Anastasia Catris and published and very kindly sent to me to review by Orion Books. This book contains 50 images spanning the seasons, starting in spring and travelling through to winter. This book is laid out in a beautiful way and contains images of festivals and holidays celebrated in each season such as Chinese New Year, Easter, Hallowe’en and Christmas, as well as depicting what’s happening in nature at that time of year, the animals and plants that are commonly seen and even foods that are typically eaten like ice cream in the summer and goodies from a good haul after spending the night Trick or Treating in October. A quarter of the book is dedicated to each season but there are also images that have a quarter each drawn in the style of each season like a mandala with a quarter depicting symbols and foods from each season and the tree below which shows it from spring through to winter.

The images are all drawn in a very thin line which means very sharp pencils or fineliners are essential to enjoy your colouring experience. This book will certainly help to colour you mindful because the intricacy and detail of the drawings lend themselves perfectly to keeping you focused and occupied and grounded in the present moment. Despite being small, the images take plenty of time to complete and really do keep you busy for hours. The images all feel very positive and natural which is inherently very calming. Many of the images are covered in detailed patterns which create small spaces to colour within or to colour over if that’s too much detail for your liking. The pictures are fairly realistic in their outlines but then a little less so with the patterns within so you are free to colour using realistic or outlandish colour schemes and either would work equally well on these beautiful drawings. There is no writing on the pages but some have spaces where you could easily add your own patterns or animals to truly make this book your own. This book is gorgeous and my personal favourite of Anastasia’s 6 currently published titles. It’s really natural, detailed and very different from other nature-themed books because of its seasonal theme which takes you on a journey through the year from New Year’s Eve fireworks and spring lambs, onto beach holidays in the sun with ice cream in the summer, through to autumn with the harvest and many woodland creatures settling down to hibernate and finally onto wintry snow scenes, building snowmen and putting up the tree ready for Christmas. It really is a spectacular addition to Anastasia’s growing Colour Me Mindful collection.

For more information about the book itself including size, paper quality etc and about the other titles in the series click here.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book, it’s available on Amazon via the following link.Colour Me Mindful: Seasons (Colour Me Mindful Colouring Bk)

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners, Staedtler Triplus Fineliners and Staedtler Triplus Fibre-tips.