Pretty Simple Coloring: Joy by Adams Media

subtitled 45 Easy-To-Color Pages Inspired By Whimsy And Fun. With bonus review of Pretty Simple Coloring: Love: 45 Easy-To-Color Pages Inspired By Happiness And Love, as the publicist generously sent me a copy of that book, as well!

Adult coloring books are still going strong, with the market increasingly diversifying to cater to various interests and skill levels. This often means greater detail in the books’ artwork, which also means more time and effort spent on the process: awesome for people who want to go into that level of detail, but maybe a little too complicated for those of us who just want to make something pretty without having to think too hard about it or, worse, work too hard at it. Coloring, for me at least, is a meditative process with a creative outcome. Having a sore hand at the end of the page feels a bit counterproductive.

So it was something of a relief to be offered books featuring pieces that are genuinely easy to color, without sacrificing beauty or even too much artistic complexity. Even within each volume there are different amounts of line- and pattern-work, so you can choose to color as broadly or in as much detail as you please. In general, however, the shapes are large and clear, allowing for the addition of detail should you wish to, but not losing anything in loveliness should you not.

The subject matters hew closely to each title, though Love’s is perhaps more on the nose, with hearts and roses and other romantic symbols aplenty. Joy is filled with balloons, flowers, food, cute animals and whimsical quotes. Each book is a heartwarming treat that makes a great thematic gift for the coloring enthusiast in your life.

I decided to take colored pencils to Joy and work on an Eid-coded crescent moon, stars and clouds. For being quite smooth, the paper grabs the color well, and the stark white background offsets the colors beautifully. You could, ofc, color in that background, but I was quite pleased with what I managed in about two thirty-minute sessions, using only a single application of color. The end result isn’t fine art but is very pretty, and was very relaxing to make while listening to obscure 90s grunge rock favorites. Best of all, I had zero hand fatigue at the end of it, a big deal for a semi-serious cellist and oil pastel artist like myself.

Since I’d also been sent a copy of Love, I decided to put that volume through its paces with alcohol markers. The paper felt of a decently heavy weight to stand up to the medium, but the proof is in the application. Markers are, ofc, even less stressful on the hands than pencils, and I loved how my assortment glided across the smooth surface of the paper. Aside: I was also impressed by how well my Sketchbox, Le Plume and Faber-Castell markers came out of hibernation for this, with juicy ink flow right off the bat. If only the same could be said for my Tombow ABT Pros and Spectrum Noir Illustrators!

Because my color palette was somewhat limited by the markers I had available, I didn’t finish this piece but felt that I definitely did enough to test out the paper. The fact that each illustration is printed only on the right-hand side of the pages means that bleed generally doesn’t matter, a nice touch that I wish all coloring books had! This also means that you can more easily cut out and frame a particularly nice piece, if you like, without sacrificing the illustration on the other side.

Interestingly, I did have the tiniest bit of bleed-through to the next page with my lightest-colored Le Plume in OR823-Ochre Beige, an issue I didn’t have with the darker shade (OR827-Camel) or even with my other, even darker markers in red, green and purple. I didn’t think I’d used a particularly heavy hand on the Ochre Beige bits, so would definitely recommend slipping a blank sheet in between this and the next coloring page, if you decide to use markers, too.

Finally, I wanted to say that I appreciated how the artist of each coloring piece was credited on the back of their relevant works. I have a lot of thoughts on the compensation of artists and other creatives forced to turn to gig work in the modern economy, so just seeing credit given where it’s due was heartening.

Pretty Simple Coloring: Joy was published March 5 2024 by Adams Media and is available from all good booksellers, including

Pretty Simple Coloring: Love was published January 9 2024 by Adams Media and is available from all good booksellers, including

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