August 23, 2016 by Beth - I SNIFF BOOKS blog
In a Japanese Garden Coloring Book is Tuttle Publishing’s follow-up to Floating World Japanese Prints Coloring Book (February 2016). And let’s just go ahead and address the elephant in the room right now: In case you didn’t know (*cough* *cough*) I wrote quite an unfavorable review for Floating World — so many of the coloring pages had large areas that were just way too intricate to color, even with a fineliner. However, I am pleased to report that the art in In a Japanese Garden is highly colorable and quite lovely.
The art in In a Japanese Garden is very much garden and nature themed — there are flower pots filled with delicate arrangements of leaves and flowers, dragonflies among flowers, Japanese women in gardens, flowers with big velvety petals, orchard settings, frogs leaping into ponds, bees floating among cascading flowers, swarms of butterflies, and much more.
In a Japanese Garden begins with a two-page table of contents which includes full-color thumbnails of all the prints with titles. There is also a note explaining that the coloring book adopted its name from an essay “In a Japanese Garden” by Lafcadio Hearn that was published in the July 1892 issue of The Atlantic. (Click to enlarge photos)
Each double-page spread (full-color reproduction of the print on the left, coloring page on the right) is preceded by a page with an excerpt from the “In a Japanese Garden” essay or a nature-themed work from a haiku master. These excerpts vary in length but all are quite lovely to read and pair exceptionally with the art. The text really takes the coloring experience to a whole other level — one where you can think and reflect upon the words while you color and perhaps feel a sense of peace and calm.
Here’s a haiku by Arakida Moitaki: “Thought I, the fallen flowers / Are returning to their branch; / But lo! they were butterflies.”
An except from the title’s namesake: “In order to comprehend the beauty of a Japanese garden, it is necessary to understand — or at least learn to understand — the beauty of stones. Not of stones quarried by the hand of man, but of stones shaped by nature only. Until you can feel, and keenly feel, that stones have character, that stones have tones and values, the whole artistic meaning of a Japanese garden cannot be revealed to you.”
There are 23 prints to color — 20 have a portrait orientation and 3 have landscape orientation. None of the designs are borderless — all the images have a thin black border around them. The black inky drawing lines are thin and this is consistent throughout — although two of the pages feature slightly thicker lines in some parts to help distinguish the flowers from the tangle of leaves they are surrounded by.
All of the designs are printed single-sided on white, medium weight, perforated paper sized 9 x 12 inches — you have the luxury of using whatever color mediums you want without having to worry about shadowing or bleed-through to the reverse side. Since the pages are perforated, you could frame your completed coloring page and give it as a gift — or keep it for yourself.
Silent flick-through below, click here to view via vimeo if video does not embed.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy from the publisher in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own.
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