Watercolour

Po Drugiej Stronie Snu (On the Other Side of Sleep) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Po Drugiej Stronie Snu is a Polish colouring book illustrated by the very talented Karolina Kubisowska who kindly sent me a copy to review. This book is periodically on Amazon UK though it’s currently very expensive there (I’m not sure why as it hasn’t always been) and Book Depository (links below, above the photos). The title translates as On the Other Side of Sleep which I’ve guessed to mean that it’s showing a dreamy fantasy land and that’s exactly what you get inside, surreal, weird, wonderful and ethereal images that would fit right in to a dream land.

The book itself is 22cm square, paperback with flexible card covers with a partially coloured image from inside the book, the inside covers are a sage green colour. The spine is glue-bound and you will need to be a little careful with it to avoid loosening the pages over time. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads with the majority being single pages, they are all full-page designs that reach the edges so a little of some of the images can be lost into the spine. The paper is bright white, medium/thick and smooth but not shiny, though, in most of the images the paper looks a little grey due to the printing (this isn’t a negative, more on this later). Water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow and pencils work well on the paper despite it not having much texture, I used Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with water and the paper held up very well with almost no warping or buckling and any that did occur was because of my inexperience and lack of ability to be sparing enough with water!

The artwork is really unusual, in fact everything about the content and style of this book is unlike anything else I’ve seen hence the whole paragraph dedicated to it. Karolina’s art is a cross between normal line art and greyscale, it’s not fully shaded or photographic but it does have heavy black shading which makes the illustrations really dramatic and really easy to make look amazing with little to no knowledge of blending or shading. In addition to this some of the pencil lines are left showing and the pen lines aren’t pristinely, accurately drawn, they feel more chaotic and haphazard but you can see that they’re all meticulously placed to give a sketched look and this creates a real feeling of movement rather than a flat, static drawing.  The backgrounds aren’t left plain, they mostly show some sort of texture from canvas-like texture to toothy watercolour paper and plenty of others, hardly any have totally white backgrounds. This book is very much like looking through an artist’s sketchbook, it isn’t perfect, it’s not polished but that’s what’s so good about it, it feels inviting, less intimidating and all it needs is some vibrant colour to finish it off. Interspersed through the colouring pages are a number of pages with text written on them, sadly this is written in Polish so I have no idea what it says but I understand that it tells the story of the dreamy land that Karolina has created. Some of these pages are black and white and others are printed in full colour. The last two colouring pages have some splashes of colour added around the edges but these aren’t intrusive to the main designs; a few of the images have black backgrounds. The image content is very wide-ranging and contains some realistic images and others which are much more imaginary, there are lots of mushrooms and gems, plants and animals as well as dolls, three-eyed girls, crying unicorns and even a haunted-looking house, there’s nothing particularly horror-themed or grotesque, but there is a little of the dark and bizarre which could be the subject of bad dreams but not nightmares.

In terms of mental health, this book is ideal, at first it appears really intimidating because the artwork is different from anything you’ll have seen before and the dark lines and shading can be off-putting but as soon as you put colour on the paper your fears will melt away and you’ll realise just how easy it is to bring Karolina’s art to life. This would be an ideal book for beginners because the shading is already added for you so you can learn about light and shade and add your darker colours where the heaviest lines are and your lightest colours in the emptier spaces but it’s also easy enough for advanced colourists to challenge themselves and make their own mark on the pages. The line thickness is varied throughout the book and each page, and ranges from medium/thin to very thick. The intricacy and detail levels also vary throughout from large open spaces to much smaller sections and everything in between meaning this book would be suitable for most people with most levels of vision and fine motor control, those with poor levels of either may struggle with a few of the images but this isn’t a book where you need to stick rigidly to colouring between the lines, Karolina’s beautiful haphazard drawing style will be very forgiving of any slips or spills so if you like the artwork then take the plunge and get a copy! The content of the images is very unusual and while none of it is nightmareish or horror-themed, some of it is quite dark and a little eerie so do check the images below if you can be affected by dark themes to ensure that it won’t negatively affect you. In terms of concentration level, this book will adapt to those with good or poor concentration, there are plenty of natural stopping points and if using watercolours you can use sweeping strokes to colour quite quickly if you so choose, you certainly don’t need to spend hours and hours on each page unless you wish to.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book, it contains a huge variety of images and they’re really fun to colour and let loose your wildest colour schemes on, it’s great for pencils, pens and watercolours and ideal for those who want to learn more about light and shade or who don’t want to be restricted by “perfect” drawings where you have to stay inside the lines, this book is really freeing, even for those of us who are anxious and perfectionists and the finished pages look amazing!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Po Drugiej Stronie Snu
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Po-drugiej-stronie-snu-Karolin-Kubikowsk/9788379452040/?a_aid=colouringitmom
Karolina’s Website – http://www.karolinakubikowska.pl/po-drugiej-stronie-snu-karolina-kubikowska-prod258962.htm

Karolina has also recently published a second book called Ticket to Dreams which is spiral-bound and available to purchase here – http://www.radostpromaminku.cz/product/omalovanky-pro-dospele/ticket-to-dreams—karolina-kubikowska/927

The image below was coloured using Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with minimal amounts of water.

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:
Flowers
Amazon UK – Painterly Days Flowers
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Painterly-Days-Flowers-Kristy-Rice/9780764350917/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Patterns
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

Art Therapy: Stained Glass – A Review

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

This is a lovely book filled with a huge range of different stained glass windows. Some are religious, some contain scenes and others include views of nature. One of my favourite aspects of the book is the fact that all of the images are of real stained glass windows and the book contains a key at the back stating where each window can be found. I discovered that if you google the information you can then find images of the original window and use that colour scheme to add colour to your image without having to stress over colour choices. I know many of us, me included, can spend hours agonising over which colour to use for an image and this often stops us from starting colouring because we’re so worried about making a mistake or it not looking like we’d imagined. Having a ready-existing colour scheme takes away all of that stress and worry because you already know what it’ll look like and it almost turns it into a colour by numbers. You can see my take on this below with an image of the original window and my take on it. This book is perfect for those of you who are anxious colourers and those who simply want to zone out and colour and not have to think about picking out colour schemes and making them work. The image outline thickness ranges from thin and delicate to very bold and black (see photos below) meaning there are loads of different levels of difficulty and that it adapts to your level of concentration – if your vision or hand control are affected you’ll still be able to find an image to colour that you won’t accidentally colour over the lines of. This book is well suited to felt-tips to give a really vibrant effect, coloured pencils to give a softer more translucent effect as if light is shining through the window, and watercolours to give it a realistic glassy effect. The image I coloured below was coloured using the Faber-Castell Aquarelle watercolour pencils which I then painted lightly over with a wet brush. Be careful when using watercolours as this isn’t watercolour paper so it does crinkle a bit if you get it too wet and I’d advise placing some spare paper or card underneath to avoid ruining subsequent pages. I love the effect it gave and this was only my second attempt at watercolour so give it a go!

You can get your copy at this link-Art Therapy: Stained Glass: 100 Designs for Colouring in and Relaxation.– Amazon UK

https://www.bookdepository.com/Art-Therapy-Stained-Glass/9781909342750/?a_aid=colouringitmom – Book Depository Worldwide

For more information about the Art Therapy series including other books and paper quality etc visit this post.

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