Coloring isn’t just for kids. Sometimes we grown-ups need our artsy time. Sometimes we doodle, sometimes we make crafts. But there’s something so meditative and simple about coloring in areas delineated by black lines. And when those black lines are a work of art in and of themselves, even better.
I recently discovered Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book by Johanna Basford. The line drawings in this book are so beautiful, I was drawn to them right away. To start, the book cover is filled with ink drawings of plants, flowers, bees, butterflies, and more, all intricately woven together. Occasional flowers and more boast gold foil to set them off. You can take the cover off of the book and color the inside, if you like, because it is drawn in such a way as to invite coloring in.
The book itself is a brown paperback with more black ink of plants and bugs, and is filled with a backyard of wonderment. Each new scene or shape has little critters hiding, so while you color in the leaves, flowers, and branches, you can also search for frogs, butterflies, bees, birds, keys, snails, and even a treasure chest. (The answer key is in the back.) Some of the pages guide your drawing and coloring, encouraging you to draw song birds or plants, while others are mostly already filled in, and ache for your choice of color. There are mazes in which to get lost. A treehouse. A peacock. Topiaries. A backyard. A flower garden. A wreath. A lantern. Plenty more.
While Secret Garden is certainly appropriate for slightly older kids who know how to color in the lines when they need to, it is also perfect for grown-ups who love to color fine drawings and who long for nature. The book will encourage you to draw, color, and imagine.
Reminding me a bit of Zentangles, this book is gorgeous to look at, and is an oh so pleasant place to spend some time. The author’s bio is short and sums up her work very succinctly: “Johanna Basford is an illustrator and ink evangelist who creates intricate and hand-drawn illustrations rooted in the flora and fauna that surrounds her home in rural Scotland.”
Following the Secret Garden theme, there are journals, postcards, and notecards also available. I was able to see the notecards, which come in a hinged box of 12, patterned after the book. The box is covered in black and white foliage patterns with occasional gold foil thrown in. Inside, there are four styles of card, with designs in circle (with a peacock), square (with a well), heart, and tree shapes. The notecards, while meant for sharing these beautiful images via postal mail, are also suitable (in my opinion) for framing, colored in or not.
Note: I received these products for review purposes.