Review: Fruit Garden Coloring Book

Fruit Garden Coloring BookAlthough 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.

Designs

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.

Construction
Fruit Garden Coloring Book

One of the more abstract designs

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

Fruit Garden Coloring Book

Water-based markers bleed-through

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

Fruit Garden Coloring Book

“Mandala”-style Design

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.

 

 

Therapeutic Benefit

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.

Summary

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.

Products mentioned in this post:

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5 Comments on “Review: Fruit Garden Coloring Book

  1. I must say that I only recently acquired Lesley Smitheringale’s “Fruit Garden” Adult Colouring book and have to say I am thrilled to see an array of gorgeous designs in both standard line art & designs in greyscale. It’s fabulous how Lesley has included in the book “Colouring tips & Techniques” and “digital” examples of how these designs can be coloured in either ordinary line art or greyscale. I also love the fact that there’s also a practice sheet which is a fabulous idea to print off as often as you like to try out different techniques or different mediums & combinations before you start on your actual design page. I too have an background in art & after thoroughly going through the whole book, I must say each page is definitely a well designed & interesting composition appealing to the eye. A personal favourite of mine is the apple blossoms & butterflies page – you also have a choice of both standard line art & greyscale with this one too. Certainly some designs have a lot of detail, (which I don’t mind at all), while others are less complicated and most likely quicker to complete for some. In my colouring experience, occasionally if I come across designs with fine lacey sections for example, I often leave them uncoloured or enhance the design with colour as I see fit. After all, colouring is a stress free art or hobby for some, and what a sense of achievement as each piece is completed. If you are a colourist who uses markers as I do too from time to time, I would probably copy the desired page just in case your markers bleed through – I’m not one to cut out or rip out my pages as I highly value my colouring books, so copying a page is a stress free option. As with Lesley’s follow up work that I’m also familiar with, I definitely highly recommend this book to colourists on all skill levels. Worth every cent!!

    • Tina – thanks for sharing! I do agree that copying pages may be a better solution than tearing them out of the book, if you have a good printer and paper. I did enjoy Lesley’s book particularly because of the fruit – I will try another, too!

  2. Reading the review and enjoying the art work makes me lust for Spring and Summer to arrive. The Fruit Garden Coloring Book could definitely soothe the Winter Soul!

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