Although the weather in many parts of North America is still struggling to feel like Spring, Summer is on its way, and with it the abundance of fresh, local fruit that we will see in the stores and – even better – farmers’ markets. If you are looking for some coloring to get you in the mood, or if the abundance of produce is inspiring you, you may find it difficult to find a relevant adult coloring book among all of the mandalas, fantasy, pop-culture/novelty, and animal ones on the market. However, I have tried and can recommend Fruit Garden, An Adult Coloring Book, by Lesley Smitheringale.
Fruit Garden contains 15 different designs, plus a Practice Sheet and a colorable “This Book Belongs To” first page. Subjects fall into basically two categories: still-lives with a mix of fruit and objects (tableware, leaves, flowers, butterflies) and abstract-like single fruit designs (lemon slices, watermelon, fruit mandala). Strangely, one design doesn’t include any fruit at all – just butterflies and flowers. All but two of the designs are printed twice: once with a white background and again with a dark gradient – almost black –background. When used in different designs, the fruits are the same; for example, the blueberries, strawberries, and cherries in various designs are the same style.
One of the reasons I was attracted to this book was the idea of coloring a design with both the white and the dark gradient
background. Unfortunately, except for the mandala and more abstract designs, the dark background didn’t really change or enhance the coloring experience or the finished product.
Although individual elements are pretty, I cannot say that all of the combinations result in pretty designs. For example, I love the blackberries, blueberries, and cherries used in many of the pictures, but sometimes the arrangement seems a bit awkward. And some of the elements in some of the designs seem to be just “plopped” into the picture to just fill space, such as the leaves and cherries added to a mango still life.
Level of Difficulty
I would rate the designs in Fruit Garden as medium difficulty. Although the fruit themselves can be simple, some do have ultra-fine details such as doilies and lace that can be a bit tougher.
The book promises that you will “…achieve colourings of fruit which will look good enough to eat.” Well, you can make the book more challenging by attempting advanced techniques such as pressure shading, multi-color shading, and layering. The author has provided a proprietary link to an online, step-by-step guide to coloring “realistic” cherries, along with a printable, which is most helpful, and you can also use the Practice Sheet right in the book.
Most of the designs have about 1/3 “white” space (which is dark-gradient in their double). You can add unique embellishments in these areas if you wish.
Note: Due to the level of detail on some of the illustrations, along with the light color of some of the lines, I would not recommend this book to anyone with a vision disability.
This book is standard paper size – 8-1/2” x 11”. The front and back covers are glossy, flexible paperback card. You will get the best experience and results if you place the book on a hard surface when you are coloring. The designs are printed single-sided on what I would call “standard” paper – relatively smooth and white, and maybe just a bit heavier than copier paper.
Colored pencils or gel pens are best for this book. If you use pencils, you may want to finish your piece with a colorless burnishing or blending pencil to keep white flecks from the tooth of the paper showing and to achieve richer colors. I used a Prismacolor Premier Colorless Blender Marker over Prismacolor Premier Pencils. Alcohol markers do bleed
through the pages, and water-based markers do as well if you go over an area a few times to create darker, shading-like effects. If you use markers, I recommend that you put a slip-sheet between pages if you color inside the book.
The spine is bound with glue. It is not very easy to remove pages without tearing, so an X-acto™ knife will help if you want to color directly on a clipboard or other surface like I do. However, even if you keep the pages in the book, the designs are printed sufficiently away from the center binding so you won’t
have the challenge of coloring in the seam of the book itself – there is plenty of margin. There is some slight pixelation in some of the outlines, so when you have completed coloring a design you may want to go back over the outlines with an extra-fine black lining pen if you want to keep them “crisp.” Other designs have bolder outlines.
For relaxation, focus and mindfulness, this is a great book – if you are not a perfectionist. The cover of the book does show a pretty advanced use of color, shadows and shading that most of us would love to achieve but is probably not realistic, and some may find it frustrating instead of calming. Most of the designs do require a fair amount of concentration to color which is nice and distracting.
One of the book’s unique features is playing with the effect of the dark-gradient on the designs, which I did find a bit less exciting than I thought it would be. However, I did appreciate the variety of types of designs. As well, I enjoyed focusing on practicing the tonal blends and shading from the short on-line/printable lesson. If you are looking for a book to try some advanced techniques, full of fruit, this would be a great buy for you.
Fruit Garden, An Adult Coloring Book by Lesley Smitheringale has 64 pages and is published by Engaged in Art via CreateSpace) at Amazon.com for $9.95. If you are in Canada, you can buy it here for CD$12.85, and in the UK, here for £6.70.
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