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Sensational Succulents

Published by Timber Press, Artists Debra Lee Baldwin and Laura Serra

Reviewed by Alexandra Heep

· Nature Themed,Gardening

Sensational Succulents (Timber Press) is definitely not your average coloring book. It's a collaborative effort by renowned photojournalist Debra Lee Baldwin (the "Queen of Succulents") and artist Laura Serra. Debra Lee is a passionate gardener and author with three best-sellers about succulent growing and gardening under her belt. Laura is an accomplished European illustrator.

The book has 75 illustrations. The pictures are on the right hand side, with the appropriate botanical references printed on the left side. Debra Lee took the photographs on which the designs are based, and Laura drew them so the coloring enthusiasts could create their own master pieces by coloring them.

Speaking of photographs: If you feel intimidated or simply want some inspirations, you can view all the photographs that were used as inspiration for the illustrations on Debra Lee's site. The drawings are really very close to the originals. However, this is NOT a grayscale book. That is not a negative because I wasn't looking for a grayscale book. I'm just mentioning it in case you're a grayscale lover. Also, keep in mind that while cacti are succulents, the book doesn't center on those, although it has a few. Just to let you know, in case you were looking for mostly cacti.

With 75 designs, you probably worry about the paper quality, but you needn't. I'm very sensitive to weird textures. For example, I dislike the paper that Create Space uses (although it won't stop me from supporting artists who publish through that platform), but the paper in this book feels very nice and smooth.  Also, it's white, not ecru, cream or anything like that.

Something to keep in mind: If you're used to the typical 31-design books, this is obviously thicker. So, if you have trouble coloring near the spine of a book or take pages out before coloring them, you'll have to adjust. The dimension are 6.5 x 8 inches, and the book is 1/3-inch thick.

This book really is a monumental effort. Imagine having to look through hundreds of photographs to narrow selections down for a coloring book, then having someone draw them all, and match the botanical names to each page. Hence, the $12.95 retail price tag is quite reasonable.

If you're looking for good art supplies to use on Debra Lee's book and others, check out her recommendations. If you have no interest in coloring, but love succulents, you can order a nice selection of those lovelies through Debra Lee's website.

Here are some samples from the book. It does have a lot of variety, and many of the illustrations are quite detailed, but there are simpler ones as well.

Below is a picture I colored from that book (I used colored pencils), and some examples of the types of pictures within the book.

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