Artist – Johanna Basford
Publisher – Lawrence King
Pages – 96
Johanna Basford has been lauded as the mother of the new adult colouring craze. As such, Secret Garden sets the tone for many colouring books on the market now. Secret Garden is square, at 25cm x 25cm and 96 pages, making it a great size for working in.
The paper is a lovely off white – not enough to disturb any colours, but enough to make it seem very textured. The paper is a wonderful thickness, and feels almost like card. I have had no issues with bleeding or shadowing with any medium I have used – although I do not use alcohol markets such as Sharpies or Chameleons. There is a lovely texture to the pages and there is more than enough tooth on the paper to allow for many layers. The pages are double sided, although there is an Artists Edition available here that had single sided designs and thicker cardstock.
The cover is a lovely card with a design from the book transplanted onto a dark brown cover. The dust jacket is the same colour as the paper and has some gold and black embellishments, though the majority is pen and ink – allowing for the colourist to personalise the cover if they wish!
As one would expect from a book titled Secret Garden, there is a lot of garden imagery. Trees, plants, bushes, woodland creatures hidden away. There are definitely some surprises though – a lake scene, an oversize toadstool and small creatures hidden throughout the book.
The images are detailed and drawn in pen and ink, with consistent line thickness throughout. The overarching theme ties the book together with a decent amount of variety – although I will admit, the constant leaves did become a bit tedious after a time.
There is a nice variety of double page spreads, single page scenes, animals, mandalas and patterned images throughout the book, enough to suit anyone.
Like many colouring books now, there is hide and seek element, but this is easily ignored if this isn’t your thing. If it is, Basford provides a list and answers at the front and back of the book so you’ll know if you have found them all!
There is also a number of pages that implore the colourist to add their own details – again, I know many people don’t like this, and these prompts are easily ignored. For those who do enjoy them, they are a nice variety of creative prompts – add bees to the image, complete the topiary shapes etc
While this book is quite intricate, not all images require a great deal of concentration. Some are repetitive, such as some of the forest scenes, and the mandalas. There are also images that will require more concentration. As such, I think this book is great for people who may have fluctuating concentration issues, or have low concentration problems.
The variety makes it a good book for any occasion – sleepless nights, pain, just simply wanting to escape. The imagery is soothing and calms the colourist, particularly with the use of cool colours.
I would recommend this book to anyone, novice or experienced as a way to spread your wings and try some new images and techniques, or simply enjoy the scenery and journey in the book!