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By Stephen Barnwell

Reviewed by Alexandra Heep

· fantasy

Equinox by Stephen Barnwell is a well-produced and meticulously designed adult coloring book. You get 52 single-sided images to color. Considering that you get an average of 31 designs in most popular coloring books, Equinox gives you more to work with. The images are sorted into four chapters: spring, summer, autumn and winter.

I have the US version which is printed on 70-pound paper and has a glossy cover. I find the paper just right. Any heavier, and the book would be thicker, which isn’t always a plus in my opinion because it can make the coloring process more difficult. (To get the International version of Equinox, published via Create Space, outside the USA, you can purchase it at Amazon or Book Depository).

The preface is eloquently written. The words seem as melodic as the designs. No worries though, you don’t have to understand the works of Shakespeare. The introduction consists of four short paragraphs, covering the four seasons, and a short blurb about the meaning of Equinox.

There is plenty of space between the spine of the book and the designs so that you can color in the book easily enough without having to remove pages. I usually remove pages before coloring because of health issues, but this book was too beautiful for me to remove them (they’re not perforated), so I chose to spiral-bind it.

The artwork is absolutely fantastic. That might seem like an overused adjective, but it definitely applies here. And no, this is not your average fantasy stuff of dragons, damsels, fairies and the like (there are no “people” per se in this book).

Illustrations represented include mystical nature scenes, flying elephants, a winged pig, a hobbit’s home, trees, crystals, a gargoyle, and plenty of mystical structures. As you would expect, you also get quite a few celestial-themed designs. Some of the creations have a Stonehenge-type vibe. Each design has a black border around it.

Unlike other fantasy-themed books I (hesitate to use that term because it seems very limiting for this book but for clarification’s sake will do so), you don’t get the same types of designs over and over. Here’s a big bonus: Even guys will find plenty of material they’ll find coloring-worthy.

So, if you want to involve the men in your life in your coloring hobby, this is one of only a handful of books so far that I would recommend for that purpose. If you’re a guy and are tired of the same old, same old that seems to cater to females only, try Equinox. I had my boyfriend look at the book and he concurs. Also, the images are suitable for all age groups (even non-adults). Keep in mind though that some have smaller details.

I color with 20/1000 vision (20/20 is normal) and have some minor issues with motor skills due to chronic dizziness, but I would be able to complete the majority of the images (I would say about 90 percent). While the book starts with spring and ends with winter themes, you don’t have to do them in order, of course. Pick however the mood strikes, and no: spring doesn’t mean flower designs, and winter doesn’t mean you get snow pictures.

The seasonal terms are symbolical. As the title Equinox suggests, they deal with the opposites of day and night, sun and moon, waking and dreaming. If you’re not familiar with the term equinox, it is a meteorological term that describes the bi-annual occurrence when day and night are of equal length. Loosely translated, it can apply to balance.

Artistically, I think that the book would especially appeal to people (male and female) who relish variety in design, colorists who enjoy mysticism or escapism from the mundane, and certainly to anyone who simply appreciates good art. In regards to technique, Equinox achieves a perfect balance. You don’t get the frustration that inky books can cause for people with certain health issues, but the book is challenging enough to keep your mind occupied and distracted from daily unpleasantness.

Below, find two images that I personally colored from this book so far. If you want to see more images, you can find them on Amazon.

Okay... so, if you paid attention then you realize that this is the image that was used for the cover page. I normally don't try to color the cover page first because one will usually not do it justice. However, when I leafed through the book looking for my first image to color, this one jumped out at me. I didn't realize until after I started the background that I was coloring the picture that was used for the cover. Then I started following the color pattern on the front cover, with some small variations.

Anyway, I used a variety of colored pencils on this (I don't have large sets, mostly open stock. That is why I mix and match). I like doing this so that way people with any type of budget know they can get enjoyment out of the book. I used mostly Prismacolor Premier, some Polychromos, some Lyra Rembrandt, some Marco Raffine and a Blick pencil (red). I used brush markers for the border, and a Koh-I-Noor Magic pencil for the clouds.

This is my second picture from this book. I know that purists like to use pencils, but I want to show that you can use other media on this book because I know many people who can't work with pencils because of health reasons. I used Martha Stewart glitter markers for most of this. The rainbow was done with brush markers, the sun face with Lyra Rembrandts, and the clouds with a Koh-I-Noor magic pencil.

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