Derwent Inktense Pencils

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.

Romantic Country: The Second Tale – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Romantic Country: The Second Tale is published by St Martin’s Griffin and is from my personal collection. Ever since Romantic Country was published in April, I’ve been eagerly anticipating this second instalment in the three-part series. I didn’t think it was possible to love a book more than Romantic Country, but I do love The Second Tale more, it feels more in depth and has even more exciting content as well as all of the beauty and charm of the first book. It’s illustrated by Eriy, a Japanese artist who creates her work using a toothpick dipped in ink. This whole book took approximately 1200 toothpicks and because of the way the lines are created they’re not a uniform thickness and aren’t a stark black colour (more on this later). This series was the series I’ve been hoping would be made, with its childlike charm but with adult levels of intricacy, it’s what I always felt was missing for me in JB’s books, don’t get me wrong, hers are stunningly beautiful, I really love them, but they’re a little too perfect for my imagined perfect series. Eriy’s books are utterly charming, not quite perfect, and truly heart-warming and that’s what makes them so wonderful.

This book is square, the same size as the bestsellers, paperback, with a removable paper dust jacket with partially coloured images from the book on the front and back. The book itself has brown card covers with a wraparound line drawing from inside the book and blank covers on the inside. The paper is a lovely rich creamy colour (it’s hard to describe but it’s a little warmer in colour than the paper in Johanna’s first two books but not yellowy and it’s the same as in Romantic Country), and it’s thick and doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens when used carefully, it also held up well to water and didn’t bleed through at all with my Derwent Inktense pencils. The paper is lightly textured and while you can’t get loads of layers, pencils do lay down well on it and it’s perfectly possible to get some lovely blending and layering. The spine is glue and stitch-bound so it’s durable but a little difficult to get to the centre of each spread, however, spines of this type do ease up with use so do persevere. The images are printed double-sided and borderless and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads so a little of each image is lost into the spine to begin with. The images themselves are beautiful, charming, and begging to be coloured and are split into the following 5 chapters: 1. The Glow of Beautiful Old Castles; 2. Magnificent Lakeside and Mountain Landscapes; 3. Fairies and Works of Nature; 4. The Witch and the Hidden Secret Forest; 5. Cheerful Town Scenes. The book starts with a single page spread showing a map of Cocot (the name of the land in which the book is set, which was dreamt up in the imagination of Eriy when she was a child), depicting the landmarks introduced in this book. Following this, are two double-page spreads showing mapped scenes of the landmarks which are pictured in more detail later in the book so you can clearly see where they’re situated in relation to each other. Following the maps, the images show beautiful scenes of mushroom villages, shopping streets, witches’ houses, shop interiors, vegetable gardens, interiors and exteriors of castles, windmills, churches, underwater scenes including a mermaid, holiday scenes including Halloween and Easter, fairy houses, village markets and so much more! Each image is shown as a thumbnail at the back of the book too with a short description telling you more about each place and life in Cocot, you will truly want to move there and never leave! At the back of the book is a removable fold-out poster featuring the main character who is followed through the book (a little girl called Elena) and her duck friend Joset, which is fully colourable and can be cut out and glued together to create two beautiful 3D scenes showing a castle interior and the forest.

In terms of mental health, I doubt there’s a book that’s better for it in all honesty! Certainly for mine anyway! The illustrations are so charming and because they have a beautiful childlike quality to them they really have a nostalgic aspect which will remind you of colouring books you used as a child but with so much more detail and intricacy that it’s still very entertaining as an adult. The content is wonderful because it whisks you off to a simpler, happier, gentler place where there is a slower pace of life and mythical creatures live alongside people and even witches are good. The line thickness varies throughout because Eriy draws with a toothpick and so it naturally varies however the majority of the lines are thin but not spindly so they’re perfectly colourable with moderate vision and fine motor control. The lines themselves are not a stark black, they’re an uneven brown because they’re drawn in dipping ink and while this may not sound great and does take a little getting used to, it truly adds so much charm to the drawings and these illustrations just wouldn’t look right drawn in harsh, black, perfect lines. The images range in intricacy and detail from large open spaces of the stained glass window page I coloured and scenery, to small intricate details of vegetables, books and leaves, and everything in between, it’s very wide-ranging but the intricacy level in this book is significantly higher in most images than in Romantic Country though most of the images would still be suitable for those with moderate, or higher, vision or fine motor control so this is a great book for nearly anybody! The images are detailed and contain lots of things to look at and colour but most are not so overwhelming that you don’t know where or how to start and because they’re all depicting real things like buildings, plants, and food, they’re easy to work out colour schemes for whether that be subtle pastels, realistic browns and greys, or bright fantastical colours, this book isn’t so perfect that you don’t want to touch it which is part of its huge appeal. The images are really cohesive and almost tell a story as you walk through the streets, castles, countryside and shops, by the end of the book you really feel like you’ve visited Cocot and you’ll be planning your next visit as soon as you can!

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to colour scenes, landscapes, shops, food and flowers. This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen and I’m pretty sure it’s my favourite with its charming illustrations and beautiful thick paper. This book is cute, pretty, whimsical, magical and charming and it truly is the book of my dreams, and hopefully of yours, if you don’t already have Romantic Country then get that too, this series is truly perfect!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this gorgeous book then it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Romantic Country: The Second Tale
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Romantic-Country-The-Second-Tale-Eriy/9781250117281/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can find my review of Romantic Country here. Or it’s available to purchase here:
Amazon UK – Romantic Country
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Romantic-Country-Fantasy-Coloring-Book-Eriy/9781250094469/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Romantic Country: The Third Tale will be published in May 2017 and is available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – Romantic Country: The Third Tale
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Romantic-Country-The-Third-Tale-Eriy/9781250133830/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with water which I applied as sparingly as possible.

Johanna Basford 2017 Colouring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Johanna Basford 2017 Colouring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing. I was sent a US edition of this page-a-day calendar and am awaiting confirmation from the publisher about any differences (other than spelling) between the UK and US editions, I will update as soon as I know more. This page-a-day calendar arrives in shrink-wrapped plastic which keeps the keepsake box clean and free from damage. The keepsake box is made of thick white card which is covered all over (including the bottom) with a black line drawn flower and foliage pattern most similar to the flower scenes in Secret Garden, the top and all four sides of the box have gold foiling accents. The box opens with a hinge-style (the lid remains attached at the top) with two pieces of black ribbon holding it open at a >90degree angle; the inside of the lid and the box are lined with black paper with white flower and foliage designs drawn in Johanna’s signature style; the box is fully colourable if you wish. A black ribbon allows easy access to lift out all of the loose calendar pages which aren’t bound in any way so it’s easy to pick out which ones to colour, move them around, leave them out to dry if using wet media and so on. The pages are the same size and format as any other page-a-day calendar, the illustration is on the left and takes up two thirds of the page and on the right at the top is a leafy-lettered title of the month and at the bottom is the date and day, above this in small text are written the important festivals and celebrations and the country they’re celebrated in; as with all others, Saturday and Sunday share a page so there are approximately 312 pages of colouring for you to complete over the year. The pages are bright white, thin (slightly thicker than copier paper), and lightly textured, pencils don’t build up many layers on this paper but I’m sure those of you who are more talented than me will have more luck with this and create wonderful masterpieces; water-based pens do heavily shadow and may bleed through if you’re particularly heavy-handed but the images are printed single-sided so really you can use whatever mediums you like, these pages would be ideal for testing out new mediums or trialling colour schemes.

The illustrations themselves are all taken from Johanna Basford’s three currently published colouring books, Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, and Lost Ocean, I have carefully looked through all of the images and there is one tree that I couldn’t find in any of her books and appears not to be from one and a couple of butterfly images that have been adapted from the originals to have line drawn butterflies and blacked out ones too but apart from these 3/4 images all of the images are directly from the books. Some of them are the whole page scaled down, others are sections of the page printed at the original size, others are zoomed in sections which are printed larger than the original so there is a really good mix of detailed sections, larger spaced illustrations to practice blending and shading on, and whole pages which you’ll need your finest of fineliners and sharpest of pencils to colour accurately. The lid is designed to display the current day’s page in but it will hold plenty more pages than this so you could easily place a month’s worth in there before having to move them under the proceeding days’ pages. At the bottom of the stack are 4 pages for you to test your colouring mediums on so that you can see how the paper behaves so you don’t have to accidentally ruin any proper pages.

In terms of mental health, this page-a-day calendar is fantastic because it provides you with a manageable size of project to attempt each day, you could colour the page in a few minutes or really take your time to try out new techniques and spend much longer, it’s entirely up to you. You could colour the day’s page ahead of time or on the day itself, you could even spend the next 6 months colouring the whole thing ready to look at your beautiful work throughout the coming year, or even to gift to someone else (what a labour of love that would be and it would make an incredible present if you could bear to part with your work, perhaps you could start if off for them to finish?). The pages are a great size to practice colour schemes for your copies of the actual books, or even to try out colouring mediums on a smaller page. The loose pages make it easy to access the page you need without having to move the whole block around all the time and it means you don’t have to worry at all about bleed through. At the end of the year you could even cut out all of the images and create collages, small framed pictures or gifts or even add them to cards or craft projects so this is a really versatile product that goes way beyond just being a calendar! There isn’t a treasure hunt element in this calendar and there are no written hints for drawing though there are plenty of spaces on a number of images to be able to add your own details or backgrounds to really make the pages your own but this of course isn’t necessary and it’ll look finished without the need to draw at all. This page-a-day calendar is perfect for fans of Johanna’s work and it is a beautiful new way of using her illustrations. The line thickness varies a little throughout from thin to spindly thin and the intricacy and detail levels are higher than in the books because many of the images are shrunk down to fit the pages so you will most definitely need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this calendar if you’re wanting to colour it; you could of course leave it blank and just admire the illustrations because they really are beautiful to just look at with no need to add colour if that’s too challenging. The images aren’t arranged into any order and there are no duplicates, a number of the calendar pages show parts of the same original image but these are all of different aspects of it, with varying size or depicting different areas (see images below) and this is by no means the majority of the pages, most are of entirely separate illustrations or aspects within them. The page size is much more manageable and less daunting to colour and this is ideal for those of you with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels because these pages are much quicker to finish and likely to cause less frustration, they’re also fantastic for trying out new things without worrying about ruining a whole page in your books.

I would highly recommend this page-a-day calendar to fans of Johanna’s work and to those who love to be organised. It’s a great size and format, ideal for those who find the full-size book pages too daunting. It’s also great for practising colour schemes or using new colouring mediums and it’ll be a lovely keepsake to work through from beginning to end and see how you’ve progressed over the year it runs for; you can even remove the images afterwards and frame or gift them or even using them in craft projects and the box will make a wonderful keepsake.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
UK Edition (Publishes 1st of August)
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford 2017 Colouring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box
Book Depository Worldwide –
US Edition (Publishes 12th of July)
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford 2017 Coloring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Johann-Basford-2017-Coloring-Day–Day-Calendar-Johann-Basford/9781449478803/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Can’t get enough of Johanna’s illustrations and the ability to organise your life? Then check out the following reviews for the Lost Ocean and Enchanted Forest Wall Calendars, and a 16-month weekly planner too.
Lost Ocean 2017 Wall Calendar
Enchanted Forest 2017 Wall Calendar
16-Month Weekly Colouring Planner

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

Johanna Basford 2016-2017 16-Month Colouring Weekly Planner – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Johanna Basford 2016-2017 16-Month Colouring Weekly Planner is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing. I was sent a US edition of this planner and am awaiting confirmation from the publisher about any differences (other than spelling) between the UK and US editions, I will update as soon as I know more. This planner is the perfect combination of organisation with space to write plans, appointments and notes, whilst also having weeks and weeks of colouring for you to do too. This planner is paperback with flexible card covers which have a beautiful black floral and foliage design on the front and back with the negative image drawn in white on the insides of the covers, the front cover has gold foiling accents and the front and back cover have removable brown card strips with the information about the planner and the barcode etc printed on them. The planner is spiral-bound and measures 21.6 x 19.6cm, the covers aren’t especially sturdy so I’d be careful about travelling with it much and you’ll want to keep it safe somewhere rather than stuffing it in a bag or it’ll get damaged very quickly. This isn’t the best planner I’ve seen in terms of features and organisation, but for the combination of colouring and organising, it’s perfect and strikes a really good balance. The planner runs for 16 months and starts from the 29th of August 2016 all the way to the 31st of December 2017. The planner is printed double-sided and starts with a one-page overview of the year 2017 and then the planner itself starts with an image on the left of each double-page spread from one of Johanna’s three colouring books, images from all three (Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest and Lost Ocean) are included, and the week’s days and dates with writing space for each on the right (this is in the same style as normal planners with added leafy accents and leafy lettering for the month title at the top). Each week runs from Monday to Sunday with equal space to write for each day, the dates are on the right and important festivals and bank holidays etc are written in small text on the left of the page, as well as the country it’s celebrated in. After the planner pages, which make up the vast majority of the book, there is a double-page spread with sections for each month of 2018 for you to add your advance plans to. Following this is a full page of 2016 dates and a full page of 2018 dates, followed by 7 lined pages where you can write notes (all with added leaf accents) and the final page is a colouring test page where you can test out your mediums to check for bleed through.

The paper is bright white, lightly textured and medium thickness, sadly it does shadow a fair bit with water-based pens but it doesn’t bleed through; I’d strongly advise writing in pencil throughout or you’ll ruin the image on the reverse either with shadowing or indentation from ballpoint pens. Pencils work well on this paper so I’d suggest mostly colouring with pencils and using water-based pens if you don’t mind the shadowing showing through on the planner pages. A great selection of images from Johanna’s books are included with some being sections of original images at the original size and others being the whole page shrunk down to fit on the planner page so some of the illustrations are quite tricky to colour neatly but almost none look impossible as long as you use a good set of fineliners or sharp pencils. All of my favourites from the three books are included and I didn’t notice any of the best or most iconic illustrations missing so there’s no disappointment to be had with this planner and it really is a great mix between organisation and colouring (two of my favourite things)!

In terms of mental health, this colouring planner is ideal. It gives you a manageable goal of colouring one page per week which could either be next week’s page so that it’s coloured ready for that week or this week’s page so you can colour as you plan. You could even colour it ahead if you’re quick but you’ll need to get a wriggle on with just 5 weeks until it starts. The pages are a great size to practice colour schemes for your copy of the actual book, or even to try out colouring mediums on a smaller page. The spiral-binding makes it easy to access the whole page and none of the images go into the spine, it’s also ideal because once you’ve finished using the planner at the end of 2017, the pages are easy to remove for framing or gifting if you want to get more use out of your works of art. There isn’t a treasure hunt element in this planner and there are no written hints for drawing though there are plenty of spaces on a number of images to be able to add your own details or backgrounds to really make the pages your own but this of course isn’t necessary and it’ll look finished without the need to draw at all. This planner is perfect for fans of Johanna’s work and it is a beautiful new way of using her illustrations. The line thickness varies a little throughout from thin to spindly thin and the intricacy and detail levels are higher than in the books because many of the images are shrunk down to fit the pages so you will most definitely need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this planner if you’re wanting to colour it; you could of course leave it blank and just admire the illustrations because they really are beautiful to just look at with no need to add colour if that’s too challenging. The images aren’t arranged into any order but a few have been cleverly chosen to fit celebrations like a heart for the week of Valentine’s Day and a Christmas tree shape design for Christmas week. The page size is much more manageable and less daunting to colour and this is ideal for those of you with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels because these pages are quicker to finish and likely to cause less frustration.

I would highly recommend this colouring planner to fans of Johanna’s work and to those who love to be organised. It’s a great combination of planner and colouring pages and the size and format is ideal for those who find the full-size book pages too daunting. It’s great for practising colour schemes or using new colouring mediums and it’ll be a lovely keepsake to work through from beginning to end and see how you’ve progressed over the 16 months it runs for; you can even remove the images afterwards and frame or gift them.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
UK Edition (Publishes 1st of August)
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford 2016-2017 16-Month Colouring Weekly Planner
Book Depository Worldwide –
US Edition (Already published)
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford 2016-2017 16-Month Coloring Weekly Planner
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Johann-Basford-2016-2017-16-Month-Coloring-Weekly-Planner-Calendar-Johann-Basford/9781449478797/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Can’t get enough of Johanna’s illustrations and the ability to organise your life? Then check out the following reviews for the Lost Ocean and Enchanted Forest Wall Calendars, and a page-a-day calendar too.
Lost Ocean 2017 Wall Calendar
Enchanted Forest 2017 Wall Calendar
Page a day calendar

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

Enchanted Forest 2017 Colouring Wall Calendar – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Enchanted Forest 2017 Colouring Wall Calendar is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing. I was sent US editions and am awaiting confirmation from the publisher about any differences (other than spelling) between the UK and US editions, I will update as soon as I know more.  This calendar is beautiful and is the same format as the 2016 Secret Garden Colouring calendar. The calendar itself is the same size as most others at 12 inches square, making it significantly larger than Johanna’s books. It includes 13 of Johanna’s signature and most well-known designs from her second colouring book Enchanted Forest (this calendar doesn’t include any new images), an illustration for each month of the year and one at the beginning for a 4-month overview of September to December 2016. I have included pictures of all of the calendar pages below so that you can decide if this is for you, as well as comparison photos of the book and calendar size. The whole calendar, including the covers, is made of thick white paper which is good quality – I thought it was going to bleed with water-based pens but there was no bleed-through at all and only very very slight shadowing when using my darkest fineliners and none with my lighter colours. Do bear in mind, when writing on the calendar I’d strongly advise using pencil so that you don’t get bleed through onto the next month’s image, or indentation from using a biro. The images are printed larger in the calendar than in the book so this is a great purchase for those of you who found Johanna’s books just a little too detailed and small. You definitely can’t use alcohol markers because the images are all printed double-sided with the dates for the previous month on the back of the page which will get ruined by bleed-through if you colour ahead but would be fine if you colour month by month. The paper is quite smooth but has a little tooth and I didn’t have any issues with getting a few layers built up with my Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils. The calendar is spiral-bound so you can easily fold it back on itself for easier colouring as it’s a little unmanageable when it’s not folded in half. Each page has a small hole at the top, this is smaller than on normal calendars and doesn’t fit a nail through it so you’ll have to very carefully hang it up with string (be careful so you don’t rip the pages). The cover has signature gold foil accents and is fully colourable, as always, and each calendar page has lots of tiny leaf accents and each month has a leafy lettering title.

In terms of mental health, this calendar is ideal because not only does it give you hours of colouring fun and distraction, you can also easily display it on your wall to brighten up even the darkest of days and you’ll get satisfaction every day looking at all of your beautiful hard work. The slightly larger image size means it’s more suitable to those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control. It’s a great project that will help motivate you with a deadline of making sure each image is ready for the first day of the following month. The pages could also be removed at the end of the year once you’re done with the calendar and could be easily framed or gifted to others to bring enjoyment for years to come. There is a small inky treasure hunt within the pages, like in the book, but I feel this was a bit of a pointless venture because some of the items you’re expected to find are the entire subject of the image e.g. one owl, one rabbit or one dragonfly, rather than hidden within the image. As with all of Johanna’s images, they are intricate and detailed and do require a fair amount of concentration which is great for keeping you occupied when you’re feeling anxious or low. Johanna’s images are really good for practising mindfulness techniques because they require a lot of focus and time to complete meaning this calendar is ideal for those of us who are mentally ill and needing to zone out. The line thickness is thin throughout but it’s not spindly so there is a little leeway when colouring.

I would highly recommend this for any colouring fan who needs a calendar in their life. Johanna fans won’t be disappointed with this calendar, it’s beautiful with a lovely selection of designs and great paper quality and it will brighten up the darkest of rooms and moods. It would make a fabulous gift either as it is, or fully coloured for someone and it’s not only useful for the coming year as a calendar, but for years to come when you can frame your pictures to continue the joy.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it can be found here:
UK Edition (publishes 1st of August)
Amazon UK – Enchanted Forest 2017 Colouring Wall Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/JOHANN-BASFORD-ENCHANTED-FOREST-2017-W-null/9781449479855/?a_aid=colouringitmom
US Edition (publishes 12th of July)
Amazon UK – Enchanted Forest 2017 Coloring Wall Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Enchanted-Forest-2017-Wall-Calendar-Johann-Basford/9781449478780/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Can’t get enough of Johanna’s illustrations and the ability to organise your life? Then check out the following reviews for the Lost Ocean Wall Calendar, a 16-Month Planner and a page-a-day calendar too.
Lost Ocean 2017 Wall Calendar
16-Month Colouring Planner
Page a day calendar

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

Colour Your Own Dutch Masters – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Colour Your Own Dutch Masters (Colouring Books) is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Pavilion Books. This book does exactly what it says on the tin, it allows you to colour your own paintings originally created by Dutch Masters! I’m no art expert and I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t recognise most of the images in here, not because they’re odd choices, but because I really don’t know much about art so it’s been a steep learning curve getting this review ready. This book measures 20.6×29.1cm, is landscape, paperback, with a thin card front and back cover but containing a very thick card board at the back which provides a great surface to colour on but does mean the depth of the book is deceptive as almost a third of it is this card board (see image below). The book has a lay-flat binding which is ideal because there is no spine to contend with and your images will be easy to remove and display if you wish. The images are printed single-sided onto bright white, medium thickness card (approx. 160-200gsm) which is lightly textured so it allows a few layers of pencil to be built up and copes ok with watercolours though my background, even only very lightly painted with water did buckle and curl a little so be very sparing with water. The card doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens but may bleed a little with alcohol markers though this doesn’t matter because the images are single-sided so you’re free to use whatever medium you like. The book contains a mixture of portrait and landscape images and at the bottom of each page is the name of the painting and the date (but not artist) so you’ll easily be able to Google the painting if you’re wanting to copy the colour scheme of the original. The book contains 22 line drawings of famous paintings by Dutch Masters and includes paintings such as Girl with a Pearl Earring by Vermeer, The Threatened Swan by Asselijn, The Goldfinch by Fabritius, The Laughing Cavalier by Hals, and Self-Portrait with a Sunflower by Van Dyck. Each full colour image is shown on the inside covers at the front and back of the book along with more information about painting type and size, artist name and dates and the name of the painting which makes each one very easy to identify. The line drawings are heavily contoured and detailed and light and shade are outlined in either dotted or complete lines to make it easier to colour sections as if it’s a paint by numbers without the numbers. This is quite a distinctive way of illustrating and it’s certainly not for everyone and my one criticism of this book is that it would have been better to print these lines in a more subtle grey than black so that the lines could no longer be seen once the image was coloured. However, this is still a great book that enables you to colour your own famous paintings and stamp your own individual style onto them.

In terms of mental health, this book is pretty good for those of you who aren’t severely ill. This book requires a lot of concentration and has a lot of small details and intricate parts and the line thickness is spindly thin throughout so you will need very good vision and fine motor control to enjoy this book. Some of the images are simpler than others, a good example of this is the Girl with a Pearl Earring, but most are extremely detailed and will take a long time to complete. These images will certainly keep you focused and help you stay distracted but I would stick to doing them on your good days or they may provide more frustration than relaxation. The image content is varied from portraits to group scenes to animals but all are somewhat old fashioned due to the time in which the originals were created.

I would recommend this book for art-lovers and those who wish to paint without having to freehand it. There are lots of details and intricacies so it’s only suitable for those with very good vision and fine motor control. The binding is ideal for use with wet mediums as you don’t have to hold the book open and can easily remove your masterpieces once they’re done so that you can frame or gift them.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Colour Your Own Dutch Masters (Colouring Books)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Colour-Your-Own-Dutch-Masters/9781910904398/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and the background was coloured using Derwernt Inktense Pencils activated with 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