Fibre-tips

Escape to Oz: A Colouring-book Adventure – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Escape to Oz is published by Puffin Books and is from my personal collection. This book is illustrated by Good Wives and Warriors who are a creative partnership of two Glasgow School of Art graduates – their Facebook page can be found here. This book is the fourth in the Escape to… series, first was Escape to Wonderland, second was Escape to Christmas Past and third was Escape to Shakespeare’s World, they’ve also illustrated a beautiful book with a German Publisher called Exotischer Urwald which is in a different format. Escape to Oz is based on The Wizard of Oz story documenting Dorothy’s trip from Kansas to Oz, her quest to find the wizard, and the characters she meets on the way. This is a wonderful book, essential for fans of the original story, but also for those who love GWAW’s work and who love imaginative and beautiful illustrations. It is the same size and shape as the others in the series at just over 18cms square, it’s a little smaller than other bestsellers but I think this adds to the charm and it means the images are a manageable size and the book is a perfect size for travelling and colouring on the go. The book has a softback cover which is almost all double thicknesses of cardboard as it folds in on itself and when opened up it reveals a beautiful green background with white line-drawn images of flowers and gems. The cover has silvery-gold foiling accents which really add to the luxury of the book and are a lovely bit of extra detailing. The book contains 96 pages of double-sided, borderless images and is glue and string-bound meaning a little of each image is lost into the spine. I found the spine pretty tight when it arrived but with some work it has now loosened up a lot and lies flatter than it did. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads and a few of them have black backgrounds which is a really nice feature. The paper quality is very good and hasn’t bled or shadowed at all when I’ve been using water-based fineliners or fibre-tips. The paper is a creamy off-white which adds to the vintage feel of the book and is very lightly textured which I thought would be ideal for pencils but I did find it a little hard to get many layers as the tooth seemed to disappear quicker than I’d have liked or expected. However, it’s not impossible to layer and I did manage to get some nice blending. Do be sure to test the pens you’re using beforehand to avoid any disasters. Alcohol markers are a definite no because they will bleed terribly and ruin the reverse images.

The images themselves are drawn in a thin line that is pretty consistent throughout so the difficulty level doesn’t change, meaning this is not a book that will adapt to differing levels of concentration but this does lead to a really cohesive feel to the book. The images are arranged into chronological order to tell the story and a few pages contain quotes from the book to help guide you through. These quotes are helpful for letting you know where in the story you’re at, as well as hinting at what’s in the picture if you’re not quite sure. The illustrations include everything you’d expect from Dorothy and Toto, to the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, to the Wicked Witch of the West and East, the Wizard of Oz himself, and even the munchkins and flying monkeys. Iconic scenes are pictured including the tornado that transports Dorothy and Toto from Kansas to Oz, the squashing of the Wicked Witch of the East, starting off on the yellow brick road, meeting the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, arriving at the Emerald City, meeting the Wizard of Oz, arriving back in Kansas, and so much more.

In terms of mental health, I found this book great because it’s just so beautiful, charming, and instantly transported me back to my childhood and happy memories of watching the film countless times. The illustrations are very pretty and most are of real things, that have colour schemes that you could copy realistically if you wish, or in any colours you choose. Good Wives and Warriors have done a wonderful job of bringing huge amounts of charm to their illustrations of even the darkest scenes and they’re all dispersed with flowers and other pretty things meaning the book doesn’t feel negative or sad at all and just lifts your spirits, even when the witch is trying to kill Dorothy and her friends! I really enjoyed just looking through the book and reliving the story of my childhood and poring over each image, all exquisitely drawn and waiting to be coloured. The images are quite detailed and intricate but they’re not overwhelming so you don’t need perfect vision or fine motor control, though it will need to be fairly good, and the size of the book means you don’t need really good concentration levels either. If you love The Wizard of Oz, or GWAW’s work then this book is sure to be beneficial to your mental health with its positive content and detailed images filled with hundreds of things to look at and colour. I adore the work of these talented illustrators and squealed with excitement when looking through this beautiful new instalment that they’ve created!

I would highly recommend this book, especially to those who are fans of The Wizard of Oz story, or Good Wives and Warriors’ work because this book really doesn’t disappoint, not only is this a beautiful colouring book, it’s also a wonderful pictorial retelling of a classic story that so many of us love. The book is really cohesive and I found it great for my own mental health so hopefully it’ll be just as good for yours too as it transports you back to your childhood and off to the land of Oz.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Escape to Oz
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Escape-Oz-Colouring-Book-Adventure-Good-Wives-Warriors/9780141375489/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The picture below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils.

Relaxing Art Therapy: Doodle and Colour Your Stress Away – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Relaxing Art Therapy (Art Therapy Colouring Books) is the fifth in the Art Therapy series, and is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara publishing. There are 4 other titles in the series, all of which I’ve reviewed – Art Therapy, Creative Therapy, Colour Therapy and  Calming Art Therapy.

These books truly have worked as therapy for me and I fell in love with this one as soon as I opened its pages. I was sent the paperback copy of this book but if you want to know about the hardback versions then the information is in all of my reviews of the previous 4 titles. This is an A4 paperback book which is glue and string bound so it’s sturdy, but this binding does mean that it’s pretty difficult to get the book to lie flat without a bit of a workout (if this is an issue for you then I’d recommend the hardback version which starts off a little too tight but quickly loosens up and lies flat for colouring). The images cover the full page and are borderless so a little of each image is lost into the spine of the paperback copies. The images are printed double-sided but as with all of the Michael O’Mara books I’ve encountered, the paper quality is fantastic and I’ve never experienced any bleeding despite using a multitude of different felt-tips and fineliners though do be a little careful about over-colouring as it can start to show through after a few strokes or holding in the same spot. The 100+ images are drawn by a number of very talented illustrators so there is a huge variety but in this book it’s not instantly obvious that it’s not been created by one person and the drawings flow really well giving a very cohesive feel to the book. There are lots of swirling lines, geometric patterns and abstract shapes but in equal measure there are captivating animals, flowers and scenes all stylised and just begging to be coloured.

So, what makes this series so special? For me, as an anxious colourer, this series is different from any other I’d seen before because many of the images have some colour already added to them. This book is a little different from the first 4 titles which all had lots of splashes of colour added to the drawings themselves, in this book the majority of the backgrounds are coloured but very few of the images have coloured sections added and where they do, they’re often in less conspicuous places like down the centre of the spine rather than all over. I personally think this is a little bit of a shame because I really loved that feature in the previous titles but for those of you who really weren’t keen this title might be a happy medium. When I first flicked through the books I felt that the added colour limited me because it forced me to use a colour that I would never have chosen, however, this feature actually changed the way I colour forever because until I had these books I had always felt forced by the perfectionist in me to colour everything in realistic, natural colours. This series stopped me being able to do that and really freed up my imagination so that I felt able to add outlandish colours instead of just realistic ones. This has been very therapeutic for me and has really expanded my creativity and I’m sure it would expand yours too. Another thing that makes this, and the others in the Art Therapy series, unique is the Doodling section at the back. There are a number of pages with huge sections left blank for you to doodle in however you wish. They are all started for you so again, there is no issue with staring at a blank page and not being able to narrow down a colour scheme. You can choose the same colours, contrasting colours, colours that clash, all of the colours even. This book has been wonderful for me as someone that’s never doodled in their life because it shows so many examples of adding colour to a page without simply colouring in a block and then colouring the next block in a different colour. These techniques don’t just have to be used in the doodling section, they can be added to any of the other images in the book and you’ll find that they free up your creative juices when colouring in other books too as the number of possibilities for your colouring just expands.

The images have varying line thicknesses, different coloured backgrounds and some lines are printed in colour rather than black. A huge range of themes is contained within this book and while it’s not the most delicate, it really is an essential book to add to your collection. I find these books particularly calming and often colour them in bed when my insomnia kicks in and I find they really help to settle my mind so that I can finally get to sleep. Some images are more intricate than others but actually this book is very well suited to the majority of you because of the wide-ranging content. It really is fantastic for all of you anxious colourers out there who agonise about colours and often feel increased tension at the sight of a blank white page with black lines on. This book is already started for you so you’re just continuing the process and somehow, that makes it so much easier to just pick up a pen or pencil and start. Of all of the colouring books I now own, this series is the one that has helped my mental health the most. It’s not so intricate that it’s frustrating but is definitely for adults, not children and when I’m feeling really anxious the lines are just thick enough that I can colour without having to concentrate on every single pen stroke for fear of going over the lines. This book is beautiful, bold and full of colour and it really is a joy to colour and doodle in. I really can’t recommend this book highly enough and strongly urge you to purchase a copy just as soon as you can because it does exactly what it says it’ll do on the cover – Doodle and Colour Your Stress Away and provides Relaxing Art Therapy – What more could you want?!

This book is available to purchase in hardback here (paperback copies should be available later in the year):
Amazon UK – Relaxing Art Therapy (Art Therapy Colouring Books)
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Relaxing-Art-Therapy-Richard-Merritt-Lizzie-Preston-Sam-Loman-Laur-Kate-Chapman-Hannah-Davies-Cindy-Wilde/9781782434993/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip pens.

Escape to Shakespeare’s World: A Colouring-book Adventure – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Escape to Shakespeare’s World: A Colouring Book Adventure is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Puffin Books. This book is illustrated by Good Wives and Warriors (GWAW) who are a creative partnership of two Glasgow School of Art graduates – their Facebook page can be found here. This book is the third in the Escape to… series, first was Escape to Wonderland, and second was Escape to Christmas Past and they’ve also illustrated a beautiful book with a German Publisher called Exotischer Urwald which is in a different format. Escape to Shakespeare’s World is based on various plays and sonnets written by William Shakespeare to commemorate 400 years since his death. This is a wonderful book, one that is essential for Shakespeare admirers, but also for those who love GWAW’s work and who love imaginative and beautiful illustrations. It is the same size and shape as the others in the series at just over 18cms square, it’s a little smaller than the bestsellers but I think this adds to the charm and it means the images are a manageable size and the book is a perfect size for travelling and colouring on the go. The book has a softback cover which is almost all double thicknesses of cardboard as it folds in on itself and when opened up it reveals a beautiful purple background with white line-drawn images of flowers. The cover has silvery-gold foiling accents which really add to the luxury of the book and are a lovely bit of extra detailing. The book contains 96 pages of double-sided, borderless images and is glue-bound meaning a little of each image is lost into the spine. I found the spine pretty tight when it arrived but with some work it has now loosened up a lot and lies flatter than it did. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads and a number of them have black backgrounds which is a really nice feature. The paper quality is very good and hasn’t bled or shadowed at all when I’ve been using water-based fineliners or fibre-tips. The paper is a creamy off-white which adds to the vintage feel of the book and is very lightly textured which I thought would be ideal for pencils but I did find it a little hard to get many layers as the tooth seemed to disappear quicker than I’d have liked or expected. However, it’s not impossible to layer and I did manage to get some nice blending. Do be sure to test the pens you’re using beforehand to avoid any disasters. Alcohol markers are a definite no because they will bleed terribly and ruin the reverse images.

The images themselves are drawn in a thin line that is pretty consistent throughout so the difficulty level doesn’t change, meaning this is not a book that will adapt to differing levels of concentration but this does lead to a really cohesive feel to the book. The images are arranged into collections from different plays and scattered throughout are a large number of quotes as well as the play they come from so it’s very easy to identify what scenes you’re colouring, even from plays you’re unfamiliar with or haven’t heard of. The majority of the images are scenes or representations of aspects of plays from a circular image of Romeo’s name filled with flowers to Venetian mask shaped scenes, Bottom the donkey, filled with flowers, to scenes from The Tempest, Egyptian landscapes from Anthony and Cleopatra to stage scenes of various plays. This book has beautiful, often very floral representations, that are sometimes realistic and sometimes symbolic, and these fit well with the quotes written on almost every double-page spread. The plays and sonnets depicted are: As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Comedy of Errors, Macbeth, Anthony and Cleopatra, Sonnet 18, Richard III, King Lear, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, and Cymbeline. Some of these plays and sonnets are only depicted on one double-page and others have multiple pages dedicated to them including Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s hard to describe the sheer volume of images and the beauty of them so I’ve included lots of photos from inside the book below and tried to photograph a good cross-section. The images are truly stunning and even if you’re not a mega Shakespeare fan, you’re almost certain to really like this book because there aren’t very many literal representations, it’s more filled with beautiful scenes of ships, flowers, animals and landscapes.

In terms of mental health, I found this book great because it’s just so beautiful and charming. The illustrations are very pretty and most are of real things, that have colour schemes that you could copy realistically if you wish, or in any colours you choose. I’m not a Shakespeare mega fan so I was a little worried that I’d find this book boring but that’s so far from the case, this book is captivating from the very first images of The Globe Theatre, Shakespeare’s birthplace and Shakespeare himself, all the way through the play depictions to the end page where a beautiful closed theatre curtain is pictured with the famous phrase All’s Well That Ends Well emblazoned across it with the comedy and tragedy masks. Good Wives and Warriors have done a wonderful job of bringing huge amounts of charm to their illustrations of even the darkest scenes and they’re all dispersed with flowers and other pretty things meaning the book doesn’t feel negative or sad at all and just lifts your spirits, even when murder is mentioned! I really enjoyed just looking through the book and reliving the stories that I studied at school and poring over each image, all exquisitely drawn and waiting to be coloured. The images are quite detailed and intricate but they’re not overwhelming so you don’t need perfect vision or fine motor control though it will need to be fairly good, and the size of the book means you don’t need really good concentration levels either. If you enjoy Shakespeare’s plays, or GWAW’s work then this book is sure to be beneficial to your mental health with its positive content and detailed images filled with hundreds of things to look at and colour. I adore the work of these talented illustrators and squealed with excitement when looking through this beautiful new instalment that they’ve created, it’s a true sign of talent when artists can inspire you to love content based on a subject you’re not especially interested in and this book does just that for me!

I would highly recommend this book, especially to those who are fans of Shakespeare and his plays, or Good Wives and Warriors’ work because this book really doesn’t disappoint. The artwork is really cohesive and I found it great for my own mental health so hopefully it’ll be just as good for yours too as it transports you back over 400 years and reminds you of key moments from his most famous plays.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Escape to Shakespeare’s World: A Colouring Book Adventure
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Escape-to-Shakespeare-s-World–A-Colouring-Book-Adventure/9780141371214/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The picture below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils. The partially completed picture was coloured with Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain: Dogs – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Draw Your Way to a Younger Brain: Dogs: An Art Therapy Book (Drawing) is illustrated by Anastasia Catris, and published and kindly sent to me to review by Orion Books. This book is part of a new series called Draw Your Way To a Younger Brain and you can read my review of the other two titles here: Safari and Cats. Anastasia has been very busy in the colouring book world and has also created 6 beautiful colouring books which are the same size and shape with her signature drawings and my reviews of these can be found here. This book is small at 17cms square which makes it perfect for drawing on the go and taking travelling in your bag. It’s paperback with a beautiful pink cover which matches the others in the sets beautifully meaning they look really gorgeous together on a shelf. The images are printed double-sided onto bright white medium thickness paper which doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens and has a little tooth perfect for blending and shading with pencils. The spine is glue-bound and the images are borderless so a little of each is lost into the spine though this will ease up a bit over time. The illustrations are, unusually, all double-page spreads and as this book is primarily a drawing book and secondarily a colouring book, there are lots of spaces for you to add your own drawings and patterns to. If you don’t like drawing then this is not the book for you. The illustrations take various different forms from a patterned animal on the left with a blank outline of it mirrored on the right to fill with patterns, to drawings that you can draw the other half of with a line of symmetry drawn down the middle, to scenes you can complete. There are written hints on every page to give you a suggested direction but you can complete the pages however you wish and there’s plenty of scope in many of them to go in whatever direction you choose. Some of the pages include: drawing dogs at a dog show; drawing the rest of a sled dog team; adding patterns to various breeds of dogs; and adding objects and animals to scenes. The images are very cohesive and similar in style to Anastasia’s colouring books and they’re beautifully drawn.

In terms of mental health, this book is great, as long as you like drawing! I personally really struggle with drawing and therefore don’t find it to be a remotely relaxing activity, however, this book isn’t too taxing and it gives a lot of hints to get you started with drawing. These aren’t techniques or things that will teach you how to draw but they are suggestions of what to draw and sometimes that’s all the inspiration you need. There are lots of patterns added to the completed drawings which you can use as inspiration for adding patterns to the unfinished sections. You could also use search engines to look up pictures of things you want to draw in the larger spaces so that you can try to learn to draw new creatures and objects. This book probably wouldn’t suit an advanced artist because the amount of finished work in it will probably be quite restrictive but it would definitely suit a beginner or intermediate artist, especially those who prefer to have suggestions made of what to create. Adding patterns and zentangling has been found to be relaxing and very good for practising mindfulness and the more patterns I’ve discovered and added to my repertoire, the easier it has become to add patterns to things without going blank or getting stressed about it. These books are ideal for learning new patterns but if you need more inspiration and doodling and drawing are your thing then I’d highly recommend the Art Therapy series of books which I’ve reviewed here. The images are varied in content and require various different types of drawing and doodling to be added, the line thickness is consistent throughout and is very thin so this is definitely a book for those of you with good vision and fine motor control. There is a lot of intricacy and detail added to the completed images and you can add however much intricacy and detail as you want in your own drawings. The whole book is fully colourable but this isn’t a colouring book specifically and won’t suit those of you who can’t draw because there are just too many open spaces that will look very odd without anything added to them and will leave your images looking unfinished.

I would highly recommend this book, and the others in the series, for anyone who likes to draw and needs a little inspiration in order to get going. The images are lovely and the nature theme is very calming and the portable size means they’re great for colouring and drawing on the go.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Draw Your Way to a Younger Brain: Dogs: An Art Therapy Book (Drawing)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Draw-Your-Way-Younger-Brain-Dogs-Anastasia-Catris/9781409165477/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was added to with a Stabilo Point 88 Fineliner and coloured using Staedtler Triplus Fibre-Tips.

Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain: Cats– A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Draw Your Way to a Younger Brain: Cats: An Art Therapy Book (Drawing) is illustrated by Anastasia Catris, and published and kindly sent to me to review by Orion Books. This book is part of a new series called Draw Your Way To a Younger Brain and you can read my review of the other two titles here: Safari and Dogs. Anastasia has been very busy in the colouring book world and has also created 6 beautiful colouring books which are the same size and shape with her signature drawings and my reviews of these can be found here. This book is small at 17cms square which makes it perfect for drawing on the go and taking travelling in your bag. It’s paperback with a beautiful yellow cover which matches the others in the sets beautifully meaning they look really gorgeous together on a shelf. The images are printed double-sided onto bright white medium thickness paper which doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens and has a little tooth perfect for blending and shading with pencils. The spine is glue-bound and the images are borderless so a little of each is lost into the spine though this will ease up a bit over time. The illustrations are, unusually, all double-page spreads and as this book is primarily a drawing book and secondarily a colouring book, there are lots of spaces for you to add your own drawings and patterns to. If you don’t like drawing then this is not the book for you. The illustrations take various different forms from a patterned animal on the left with a blank outline of it mirrored on the right to fill with patterns, to drawings that you can draw the other half of with a line of symmetry drawn down the middle, to scenes you can complete. There are written hints on every page to give you a suggested direction but you can complete the pages however you wish and there’s plenty of scope in many of them to go in whatever direction you choose. Some of the pages include: drawing more cat toys; drawing what a cat has found up a tree; adding patterns to plain big cat shapes; and adding objects and cats and other animals to scenes. The images are very cohesive and similar in style to Anastasia’s colouring books and they’re beautifully drawn.

In terms of mental health, this book is great, as long as you like drawing! I personally really struggle with drawing and therefore don’t find it to be a remotely relaxing activity, however, this book isn’t too taxing and it gives a lot of hints to get you started with drawing. These aren’t techniques or things that will teach you how to draw but they are suggestions of what to draw and sometimes that’s all the inspiration you need. There are lots of patterns added to the completed drawings which you can use as inspiration for adding patterns to the unfinished sections. You could also use search engines to look up pictures of things you want to draw in the larger spaces so that you can try to learn to draw new creatures and objects. This book probably wouldn’t suit an advanced artist because the amount of finished work in it will probably be quite restrictive but it would definitely suit a beginner or intermediate artist, especially those who prefer to have suggestions made of what to create. Adding patterns and zentangling has been found to be relaxing and very good for practising mindfulness and the more patterns I’ve discovered and added to my repertoire, the easier it has become to add patterns to things without going blank or getting stressed about it. These books are ideal for learning new patterns but if you need more inspiration and doodling and drawing are your thing then I’d highly recommend the Art Therapy series of books which I’ve reviewed here. The images are varied in content and require various different types of drawing and doodling to be added, the line thickness is consistent throughout and is very thin so this is definitely a book for those of you with good vision and fine motor control. There is a lot of intricacy and detail added to the completed images and you can add however much intricacy and detail as you want in your own drawings. The whole book is fully colourable but this isn’t a colouring book specifically and won’t suit those of you who can’t draw because there are just too many open spaces that will look very odd without anything added to them and will leave your images looking unfinished.

I would highly recommend this book, and the others in the series, for anyone who likes to draw and needs a little inspiration in order to get going. The images are lovely and the nature theme is very calming and the portable size means they’re great for colouring and drawing on the go.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Draw Your Way to a Younger Brain: Cats: An Art Therapy Book (Drawing)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Draw-Your-Way-Younger-Brain-Cats-Anastasia-Catris/9781409165460/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was drawn and added to with a Staedtler Pigment Liner and coloured using Staedtler Triplus Fibre-Tips.

Escape to Christmas Past: A Colouring Book Adventure – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Escape to Christmas Past: A Colouring Book Adventure is published by Puffin Classics, illustrated by Good Wives and Warriors and is from my personal collection. This book is the second offering from this pair of very talented illustrators and it’s another beauty of a book – their first book, Escape To Wonderland can be found reviewed by me here. Escape to Christmas Past is loosely based around the story of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It is the same size and shape as their first book at just over 18cms square, it’s a little smaller than the bestsellers but I think this adds to the charm and it means the images are a manageable size. The book has a softback cover which is almost all double thicknesses of cardboard as it folds in on itself and when opened up it reveals a beautiful red background with white line-drawn images of poinsettias. The cover has silvery-gold foiling accents which really add to the luxury of the book and are a lovely bit of extra detailing. The book contains 96 pages of double-sided, borderless images and is glue-bound meaning a little of each image is lost into the spine. I found the spine very tight when it arrived but with some work it has now loosened up a lot and lies flatter than it did. The paper quality is very good and hasn’t bled or shadowed at all when I’ve been using water-based fineliners or fibre-tips. The paper is a creamy off-white which adds to the vintage feel of the book and is very lightly textured which I thought would be ideal for pencils but I did find it a little hard to get many layers as the tooth seemed to disappear quicker than I’d have liked or expected. However, it’s not impossible to layer and I did manage to get some nice shading. Do be sure to test the pens you’re using beforehand to avoid any disasters. Alcohol markers are a definite no because they will bleed terribly and ruin the reverse images.

The images themselves are drawn in a thin line that is pretty consistent throughout so the difficulty level doesn’t change, meaning this is not a book that will adapt to differing levels of concentration but this does lead to a really cohesive feel to the book. The images are in the correct order to tell the story and a few pages contain quotes from the book to help guide you through. Everything you need for a traditional Christmas is included from Christmas puddings to poinsettias, stockings to snowflakes, a goose, crackers, presents, paper chains and baubles. Of course, dispersed throughout these images are the key scenes and characters from A Christmas Carol including Scrooge and his characteristic phrase of Bah Humbug!, the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, and Tiny Tim. The ghosts in this book are beautifully drawn and two of the three are very cleverly created out of the objects used to describe them in the original novel. Some of the images are also themed around items in the song The Twelve Days of Christmas including partridges, French Hens and Swans, I have a feeling a number of other items from the song may be hidden within the pages but I’m yet to find them.

In terms of mental health, I found this book great because it instantly brings some festive cheer to what have been some very dreary days recently with very grey, wet and windy weather here in the UK. You can’t help but feel uplifted looking through the images of beautiful decorations, delicious food and the other aspects of Christmas that we look forward to throughout the year. A Christmas Carol is quite a dark and dingy story so I was a little worried that this book might be quite negative and not much fun to colour but Good Wives and Warriors have done a wonderful job of bringing huge amounts of charm to their illustrations of even the darkest scenes and they’re all dispersed with a healthy amount of much cheerier Christmas-themed images meaning the book doesn’t feel negative or sad at all and just lifts your spirits. I really enjoyed just looking through the book and reliving the story and poring over each image, all exquisitely drawn and waiting to be coloured. The images are quite detailed and intricate but they’re not overwhelming so you don’t need perfect vision or fine motor control and the size of the book means you don’t need really good concentration levels either. If you enjoy Christmas then this book is sure to be beneficial to your mental health with its positive content and ability to remind you of happy Christmases spent with family and having fun and if you’re not already filled with Christmas cheer, this book is sure to rectify that!

I would highly recommend this book, especially to those who are fans of Christmas and on the look-out for all things festive. The book is really cohesive and I found it great for my own mental health so hopefully it’ll be just as good for yours too as it transports you back to Christmas past and gets you ready for Christmas future which is just 6 short weeks away!

If you’d like to purchase a copy you can find it below:
Amazon UK – Escape to Christmas Past: A Colouring Book Adventure
Book Depository – https://www.bookdepository.com/Escape-Christmas-Past-Colouring-Book-Adventure-Good-Wives-Warriors/9780141366760/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The picture below was coloured using Stabilo 68 fibre-tip pens.

Color Me Stress-Free – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Color Me Stress-Free: Nearly 100 Coloring Templates to Unplug and Unwind (Zen Coloring Book) is published by Race Point Publishing and was very kindly sent to me by Quarto Group to review for you all. This is the third instalment in the Color Me series and you can find my review of its predecessors Color Me Calm and Color Me Happy here. This book is the same shape (almost square) and size as the previous two books and matches them perfectly so it looks and feels like a beautiful set on the shelf. The book is flexibound with a stiff cover. The binding in these books is pretty tight so they don’t like lying flat however all of the images are printed with a large border around them so you don’t have to contend with trying to colour into the spine. This book contains almost 100 images, all split between 7 differently named chapters that are areas of our lives that can stress us: Disorganisation, Relationships, Finances, Work, Health, Time, and Travel and Commuting. Unlike the first two books in this series whose images were related to each chapter title (Music, Children, Water etc), the images in this book aren’t obviously related to the chapter titles and there are far more abstract and random patterns than scenes which I personally think is a shame. The images are printed single-sided onto bright white medium thickness paper which does bleed with water-based pens but this isn’t an issue as long as you put a protective sheet behind when you’re colouring. This paper is also fairly well-suited to alcohol markers and when I tested mine the ink obviously bled through but didn’t especially spread as long as I was careful so this is a good book for all of you Copic, Spectrum Noir and Promarker colourers. All of the images are created by one illustrator Angela Porter so this book has a lovely cohesive style and flows really well.

In terms of mental health, this book is great for calming you down in an effort to become stress-free. The pictures are calming and not too intricate meaning they are perfect for using pencils, felt-tips or even paints or watercolours on, just slip a sheet of scrap paper underneath to protect the subsequent pages. This is a great book for those of you who find intricate images fiddly or too difficult and frustrating to colour. It’s also great for inspiration because at the beginning of each chapter a couple of the pictures are shown coloured in so you can follow their colour schemes or brave it and add your own funky colour combinations. This book is a nice size and you get a good sense of satisfaction because each image is small enough that it doesn’t take hours or even days to complete meaning this book is perfect if you don’t have a great attention span or high level of concentration. Don’t worry though, it’s also good for those of you who can sit and colour all day, it just means you’ll get plenty of pictures completed! The images mostly consist of patterns which are known to be very calming because many of them are repetitive and this really keeps you concentrating and distracted from any negative thoughts. There is huge variety within the patterns from swirling and flowing to sharp corners and harsh lines, geometric shapes to abstract designs, symmetrical to random, it’s all in there. There are a few scenic images but they are much fewer in number than the previous two titles in the series which is great for those of you that preferred the patterned designs but not so great for those of you who preferred the scenes. The line thickness is medium throughout and this book is perfect for those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control but don’t want to colour simple or basic images. This is a really happy medium between intricate and detailed and simple and basic and would be ideal for elderly colourers and those who struggle with small images or thin lines.

I would recommend this book and the others in the series as a great purchase for those of you who like simpler, less intricate images to colour, those of you using pens that bleed easily, and those of you that maybe don’t have the patience or desire to sit colouring one image for days in order to get it finished. They’re great starter books and contain really good images for practising shading with coloured pencils. These books are lovely and work well on their own or as a set and I look forward to seeing Color Me Fearless when it’s released in March 2016 – I hope to be reviewing it!

You can get purchase a copy of Color Me Stress-Free here:
Amazon UK – Color Me Stress-Free: Nearly 100 Coloring Templates to Unplug and Unwind (Zen Coloring Book)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Color-Me-Stress-Free/9781631061608/?a_aid=colouringitmom

And you can pre-order a copy of Color Me Fearless here:
Amazon UK – Color Me Fearless: Nearly 100 Coloring Templates to Boost Strength and Courage (Zen Coloring Book)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Color-Me-Fearless-Lacy-Mucklow/9781631061950/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip pens.