Anders Nilsen’s new coloring book is as delightful, as one might imagine. Pushing his intricate Big Questions style to new extremes, Nilsen presents serene but somewhat creepy alien landscapes, filled with strange flora and fauna and abandoned technology. Free of humanoid figures except for some striking examples—a giant baby, a weird little blank-faced figure floating face-up like Ophelia—the images switch between vistas of these creatures and plants in their environments, to pages with weird butterflies and ginger-like flowers floating on the page, as if captured in a 19th-century cabinet of curiosities.
The paper is thick but buckles a little with watercolor, rendering it usable for wet media, but ideal for dry media like colored pencils. Nilsen’s extreme intricacy may intimidate drawers looking for a more casual pastime, but coloring the images help draw out their secrets, some of which are listed in a checklist, “Things to Look for In and Around the Garden.” This book would benefit from placing it on a coffee table in a busy house, where a group of roommates or a family could all take a shot with one of the many large-scale drawings.
Using the book, I noticed myself using colors I’d never touched on my travel watercolor palette. A coloring book is a game played between the original artist and the person picking up drawing tools to fill in lines. I recommend playing.