Pencils

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.

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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.

Hello! My First Video in Front of the Camera!

Hello lovelies, friends and family have been suggesting to me for the last 3.5 years to do Vlogs and I’ve never felt confident enough or had any particular desire to do it so I’ve always stuck to just blogging. However, I’m getting a bit bored currently and really want to branch out and get my voice heard just that little bit more and video posts seemed like the best way of doing this and after a fabulous pep talk on the phone with a Uni friend today, I decided to bite the bullet and record something. It was meant to be 2 minutes of me just saying Hi, but it turned into something a lot longer and a bit more informative. Please do give it a watch and let me know what you think of it. I’m hoping to use these videos to expand more on my blog posts, to reach a wider audience and to help you see the face behind mental illness and invisible conditions. The link to the post about Trichotillomania that I mention in the video can be found here.

The Book of Prehistoric Beasts – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Book of Prehistoric Beasts is illustrated by Angela Rizza, published and kindly sent to me to review by Buster Books. This book is enormous, at a whopping 29cm square, it’s hardback with gorgeous deep green covers and all printing on both covers is silver foiled so it’s a really luxurious feeling book! The spine is glue and string-bound and very durable, it’s a little tricky to get to the very centre of the images but this is only a few millimetres. The images are printed single sided and on the back of each page is lots of information about each creature that is pictured including its name, size, diet, what it looked like, when it lived and facts about its environment. The paper is bright white, medium thickness and smooth, it takes soft pencils well but harder pencils may be a struggle to build up layers for blending due to the lack of tooth; alcohol makers will bleed through the page which you may not mind if you don’t wish to read the information on the back, and water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow, though do test them in an inconspicuous area to check. The book starts with a double-page spread showing the timeline of creatures and they’re shown in this order through the book from the earliest period, Devonian, 419.2 million years ago, all the way up to Quaternary, 2.6 million years ago. The images are split into 4 chapters including different time periods: Devonian, Carboniferous and Permian; Triassic and Jurassic; Cretaceous; and Tertiary and Quaternary. The images themselves are all full page spreads, each containing a few prehistoric creatures. A huge number of creatures are pictured, 87 in fact, and these mainly consist of dinosaurs but do include other, older creatures (I’m not sure if these class as dinosaurs) and younger creatures; the beasts include: gigantoscorpio, dimetrodon, ammonite, icthyosaurus, brachiosaurus, archaeopteryx, microraptor, tyrannosaurus, quetzalcoatlus, mononykus, triceratops, basilosaurus, megalodon, glyptodon, mammuthus, smilodon and gigantopithecus, and so many more, all of the creatures are pictured on the double-page timeline at the beginning of the book and then shown drawn in their habitats and to scale in the colouring pages. This book is every dinosaur-lovers’ dream, my brother was obsessed with dinosaurs growing up and I was therefore forced into knowing an awful lot more about them than I wanted to at the time, knowledge that has come in handy for many random reasons since and this book definitely covers all of the most well-known dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures, as well as others that you may never have heard of and can start to research if you wish.

In terms of mental health, you’re unlikely to find a more distracting book. The production quality is very high and from the cover and the very first page, you’re transported back in time to millions of years ago where gigantic beasts roamed the land and the landscape was unrecognisable, you instantly become immersed in this world as you learn facts about the animals and start to colour them and their habitats. It’s not calming as such, not in the same was as colouring landscapes and more familiar animals, but it’s really is very distracting and absorbing which is great for those of us with anxious, racing minds. The line thickness is consistent throughout and remains medium and thin. The intricacy and detail levels are quite variable depending on the creature and its landscape but there are a lot of details drawn in as well as a lot of dotted shading (ideal for beginner colourists who want to learn more about colouring realistically and learning where light and shade should be), therefore you will need moderate to good levels of vision and fine motor control to enjoy this book. This book is actually published with kids in mind though they’ll need to be quite mature and artistic to get the most out of it and have a good reading age as there are a lot of tricky animal names to contend with, at a guess, I’d suggest this book for kids aged 8 and above and I’d highly recommend it for big kids (adults!) too because we could all do with learning just a little bit more about the fascinating world of dinosaurs. The illustrations have been very cleverly curated to mostly include more than one creature and sometimes all of them are land or sea creatures and other time part of the image is above ground and other sections are underwater. None of the images feel random, haphazard or badly staged, they’re all really well-drawn and feel quite like uncoloured versions of the images found in regular dinosaur fact books and encyclopaedias. The scenes and animals are drawn pretty realistically and mostly don’t have patterns added to them unless it’s assumed they had those in real life, obviously there may be some inaccuracies as with most historic representations of velociraptors which show them featherless and significantly larger than they possibly could have been, but the artist has clearly worked hard to make these look as realistic as possible within the confines of the majority only being found as fossilised skeletons and a lot of guesswork having to be done about their external features, colouring and patterns.

Overall, this is a great book for those who already love prehistoric beasts, and those wanting to know more. The book is ideal for children and adults and the pages look amazing once coloured and you could even remove them from the book and frame them for you dinosaur-fanatic children (or yourself) if you wish, they’d look great as a series on the wall in a bedroom or playroom or even a classroom! The paper is pretty good and the facts and information about each beast is a huge added bonus.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book, it’s available here:
Amazon UK- The Book of Prehistoric Beasts
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Book-of-Prehistoric-Beasts-Jonny-Marx-Angela-Rizza/9781780554976/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils.

The Wellbeing Journal - Created with the mental health charity, Mind, it's filled with self-care tips, space to write, and activities. Click through to read and see more.

The Wellbeing Journal: Creative Activities to Inspire – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Wellbeing Journal: Creative Activities to Inspire is published and kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This journal has been created in partnership with the mental health charity, Mind, all royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to them and thus, by purchasing it, you can not only help yourself (more on this later), but also the countless number of us who are mentally ill in the UK and further afield who are supported by Mind and their tireless work to raise awareness and reduce stigma about mental illness. The book itself is 14.7 x 19cm (just smaller than A5), paperback, with flexible card covers with pictures of brightly coloured birds and branches. The journal is printed double-sided and contains a mixture of single and double-page spreads. The paper is bright white, smooth, and medium thickness, it shadows and occasionally bleeds with water-based pens and pencils don’t work brilliantly unless you use graphite or soft leads due to the smoothness. The majority of the pages in the journal have space to write or draw, some are plain with borders or corner imagery and others are lined, scattered throughout are pages filled with colourful patterns or bright drawings of plants and animals. There are also lots of written activities and self-help suggestions including: relaxing your body, drawing how you’re feeling, organising your time, identifying your stress triggers, and lots more, all of these things may seem simple to people who are well, but it’s often the most basic of tasks, especially anything that involves self-care that those of us who are mentally ill struggle with and it’s great to have prompts all written in the same place for us to refer to when needed. A few colouring pages are scattered through the journal and a number of inspiring and uplifting quotes that might help you look at the world a little differently or remind you that it’s not quite as dark or hopeless as you might feel.

In terms of mental health, this journal couldn’t be much better, it’s been designed with mental health in mind and the tips included are genuinely useful for helping yourself to feel just a little bit better. Journaling is often credited as being great for mental health, it’s not something I’ve ever managed to regularly stick at but I certainly find blogging helps me make sense of things and writing things down can be really useful for this so having a dedicated space to do that interspersed with tips, quotes and activities to keep you perked up is ideal. This journal would be a great present for yourself (get started on the self-care journey by investing in this as something that can help you help yourself), or for others around you who might be struggling with self-care or mental health, it’s perfect for letting someone know you’re thinking of them and starting the conversation about mental health and letting them know that it’s ok not to be ok and it’s also ok to talk about it. The journal is not only a fabulous place to write down your thoughts, feelings, and symptom diary, you could also use it as a place to write down additional self-care tips, strategies, and activities, you could even get people around you who care about you to write nice messages in it for you to read when you’re having symptomatic days and need a boost! The journal is a great size for popping in your bag for journaling on the move or having a portable self-help guide. The tips included are sadly not likely to cure you, they may not even make a huge difference to how you’re feeling, but without trying them, you’ll never know, and starting to care about yourself and for yourself is notoriously difficult when you’re very unwell, therefore having written suggestions of basic things you can try can be a really useful tool for helping yourself feel just a little bit better, even just for a moment!

Overall, I would highly recommend this journal, the paper quality is slightly disappointing but other than that I can’t fault it, the content is great, with a good mix of activities and tips, and space for writing or drawing and if nothing else, the bright colours printed throughout might just brighten your day for the briefest of moments. It would make a wonderful present to yourself or others and better still, by purchasing it you’re helping support a wonderful mental health charity, it doesn’t get much better than that!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Wellbeing Journal: Creative Activities to Inspire
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Wellbeing-Journal/9781782438007/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured with Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

Exploratorium: A Search and Colour Mission – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Exploratorium: A Search and Colour Mission is illustrated by Lei Melendres and published and kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This book is 25cm square, the same size as the bestsellers, paperback with black covers and coloured elements from inside the book on the covers. The spine is glue and string-bound and relatively tight but it does become more pliable with use so that you can reach the majority of the image to colour it. The images are printed double-sided and all of them are double-page spreads. The paper is bright white, medium thickness and lightly textured, it takes pencil well and water-based pens don’t bleed but do shadow a little so you may not want to use these but it should get covered when colouring the other side. This book is primarily aimed at children, however, the images are pretty detailed and packed with content and therefore plenty of adults will love it too. The book starts with a short introduction explaining the premise of the book, it’s a search and find colouring mission so there are a list of objects depicted which can be found within the pages. Following this, each double-page spread is dedicated to a different world and these drastically range in theme from space and future-themed to prehistoric and historical, there are heaps and heaps of scenes from a circus to haunted house, alien invasion to science lab, candy land to the North Pole, skate park to volcano and time travel to under the sea and so much more, there is a really wide scope to the content and something to suit everyone. Lei’s art style is most similar to Kerby Rosanes’s and is very much drawn in a doodle style, the images are packed with alien creatures and strange forms and the content is really quirky, whimsical and fun. The search and find aspect is surprisingly difficult for a book that’s aimed at children, my boyfriend spent ages searching for the items in one of the spreads and in the end had to give up on the last one and look at the answers, luckily there are thumbnail pictures of the spreads at the back that identify where the hidden creatures and objects are so there’s no need for frustration if one or two elude you.

In terms of mental health, this book is pretty good, the pages are packed with content and are very distracting, there’s loads to look at, to hunt down, and then to colour and this book really will keep you occupied for hours. It’s certainly not a calming book so those of you with anxiety or a racing mind may want to keep this book for calmer days but the content is quite invigorating so those suffering from low mood may well be perked up by the humour often depicted and added into the scenes. The line thickness is fairly consistent within each page but differs between them as do the intricacy and detail levels, all have a lot of content but some are much more detailed and fine-lined than others so do check out the photos and video flick-through as you’ll need fairly good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book, it’s certainly not well-suited to young children, probably advanced 8 year olds and up. While the content isn’t nature-based, the fantasy elements and imagination of it all are great for absorbing you into a far off land in the past or future which is often better than the here and now and is great for keeping your mind busy and focused on the task at hand rather than any troublesome thoughts or symptoms you might be experiencing. A lot of the images are filled with wacky, surreal creatures and therefore don’t have a “real” colour scheme that you need to follow so you can really go to town and use any colour you fancy and it’ll look equally fabulous and even the realistic aspects can be spiced up by unusual colour schemes like trees with blue trunks and orange leaves, purple pumpkins or red rocks, just grab a pen or pencil and get colouring and you’ll soon be fully immersed in this intricate, doodle-filled world.

Overall, I would highly recommend this to older kids and adults, it’s great fun to hunt the hidden items and to colour and the different scenes make for a really varied colouring experience with each scene being different from the last and transporting you to a far off place. This book is surreal, wacky and a joy to colour for the young, the old, and everyone in between!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Exploratorium: A Search and Colour Mission
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Exploratorium-Lei-Melendres/9781910552759/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can see my silent video flick-through of the book here.

The page below was coloured using Staedtler Fibre-Tip Pens.