Review-Clairefontaine Artist Coloring Book: Birds #Clairefontaine #AdultColoringBooks #ExaclairUSA

It's time for me to host another giveaway for Exaclair, USA!

One line of products they distribute is from Clairefontaine, a French paper manufacturer noted for producing quality paper that is fountain pen friendly, resistant to show-through or bleed-through.  They have a series of coloring books and for this review/giveaway I chose their Artist Coloring Book: Birds.  There will be six winners.

Giveaway is now closed

No of Pages: 36 
Paper: 120g Clairefontaine drawing paper
Size: 7 7/8 x  7 7/8
Binding: Glued
Also available: Nature, Design, Flowers & Mandalas

Look & Feel
The cover is cardstock with the information, 'Coloring Book', and 'For Adults' repeated in French, English and German and part of an illustration from inside the book. The back has the full illustration watermarked on it.  It's attractive, but not flashy, so it would make an elegant coffee table item after you've finished the pages.  Or it would look attractive on a shelf along with other books in the line.

The binding is glued, but the spine is flexible enough that you can bend the book backwards to hold it while coloring if you wish.

There are illustrations on both sides of the paper which means that you do need to be careful with your choice of medium or you'll get show-through or bleed-through interfering with another illustration or messing up your previous coloring.  But it does mean you have more illustrations per book, while keeping it light, making it a good prospect for carrying around so you can color while traveling or sitting in doctor's offices.

The pages lie flat, though you may need to gently fold the book in half, as pictured above, before it will do so. 

The paper stock is thick, almost edging on cardstock, but more flexible.

The illustrations are all of birds in nature, with a mix of the usual black drawing lines on white, and white on mostly black pages. 

NOTE:  I photographed this at an angle so that it couldn't be copied.

Some of the pages are double-spreads covering two pages.  A few have mirrored images with the same birds in reverse and a different background.  Usually the background on the mirrored spreads is black on one page.

The paper is heavier and has more tooth than the paper found in most of Clairefontaine's journals and notebooks, making it better for colored pencil and wetter mediums.

Since the paper in this coloring book is from Clairefontaine, I expected it to be high quality and to accept a wide range of mediums, with little to no bleed through, feathering, or dimpling of the paper. I wasn't disappointed.

For my first page, I used watercolor pan paints (Koi) with a watercolor brush.  I deliberately stressed the paper by thoroughly saturated the page, and adding wet paint into wet paint.  This way I learn what the limits of the paper are.

The results were better than average.  There was no curling of the corners, but I did get some dimpling, and the texture of the paper changed to give it that crinkly sound when you turn the page. I love that sound, actually, so it isn't a problem for me, but may disturb some.  

There was a little pilling (bits of paper coming off the page) which I expected given how soggy I got the page in places.  This is the trade-off in formulating a paper for mixed media.  There was NO color bleed-through to the back, which did surprise me. 

Having tortured the paper for this test, I wanted to do a second, less wet watercolor for my second test.

This time I used watercolor markers, which by there nature are less wet and give an even flow.  I did use a watercolor brush to add water in a few places to lighten the color, because brush pens tend to have more saturated pigment.  I used mostly light wash, with small areas of medium.  There was NO curling, pilling, texture change or bleed-through.

Note that different brands of watercolor brush pens vary in the level of saturation, so results may differ.  I used Distress Markers for my test.

The black on the birds and the background is part of the illustration.

I decided to do two colored pencils examples, because I wanted to show how it looks on both the white background and the black background pages.

I had no trouble building up layers of color.  Unfortunately, my scanner didn't pick up the blending (the color at the bottom of the lake is much more solid to the eye) and makes both the paper and the coloring look much rougher than it is.  I did keep the coloring lighter in areas with lots of detail because I found that when the color got too dark, some of the drawn detail was lost.  I also did some erasing, and found that I could lift quite a bit of color.  Those areas (such as the top part of the water) look better in real life than they do in the scan.

I had to be more careful with the saturation of color on this second page because of the intricate detail.  If I did over-color, it was easy to erase some of the color away, and this subtractive technique gives a nice effect to the page.  I wish it showed better in the scan.

ALCOHOL MARKER (Sharpies, Copics, Spectrum Noir, etc)
Alcohol markers bleed-through, leaving color on the back of the page.  They can also feather - the color spreading out when touch the tip to the paper.  On decent paper, feathering can be controlled by how long you keep the marker in one place. On good paper, it is almost impossible to get feathering at all.  The same thing with pilling.  Cheap paper will pill with alcohol marker.

One of the illustrations, has a peacock on the front and the same peacock reversed on the back with the main difference being the white vs black background.  Since I knew my paper wasn't heavy enough or specially treated for alcohol marker), I knew this would be a good page to test for that medium.

The black background was the back of the page.  I did no coloring on the back whatsoever.  I colored the front, and added the curls in the background.  If you look close at the black, you'll they show there too.  

There was NO feathering and NO pilling.  

The paper in this adult coloring book is heavier, with slightly more tooth than you find in most journals and notebooks with Clairefontaine paper.  It is light in weight, but feels sturdy so will be good to carry.  There are illustrations on both sides of the paper, so you'll have to be careful with wetter mediums.  The book lies flat and can be folded back so it can be held in one hand.


What Is the Prize?   Six (6) winners will each receive a 'Clairefontaine Artist Coloring Book: Birds' like the one reviewed here.

How to Enter? Cut and paste these words: 'I Want to Win a Clairefontaine Artist Coloring Book: Birds' into the subject line of an email, and send it to me at  LifeImitatesDoodles [at] gmail [dot] com. (replace the words enclosed in [ ] with an @ and a . and make sure there are no spaces)

When does the giveaway start and end?  The giveaway starts on Sunday 4/2/17 at 06:00 AM PDT and ended Sunday 4/9/17 at 11:59 PDT.  I'll notify the winners on Monday 4/10/17 by responding to the email they sent as entry.

Who Can Enter? Sorry. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only

Who is Giving Away the Prizes? I'm hosting the giveaway, but the prizes are coming from Exaclair USA.  They will mail the prizes to the winners.  I want to thank them (and Karen, in particular) for their generosity.

Exaclair USA is the American subsidiary of Exacompta Clairefontaine, a French family of companies including Exacompta, Clairefontaine, Rhodia, Quo Vadis, G. Lalo, J. Herbin, Brause, Schut Papier, Decopatch, Avenue Mandarine and Maildor. They are the exclusive U.S. importer and distributor of these companies' finished products. Their warehouse is located in Hamburg, NY and includes printing presses and a bindery for Quo Vadis planners, Habana notebooks and customized products.

Disclaimer:  I received the Clairefontaine Artist Coloring Book: Birds from Exaclair USA for the purpose of this review and giveaway. I was allowed to choose the item from the line of products that Exaclair USA distributes.  I'm excited about hosting this giveaway, but tried not to let it influence my opinion, and all opinions are my own.  I received no other compensation.