Saturday, May 21, 2011

Book review - Painted pages - Sarah Ahearn Bellemare

Title: Painted pages : fueling creativity with sketchbooks & mixed media
Author: Sarah Ahearn Bellemare
Info: 128 p. - 2011
Finished on: 10 May 2011
Acquired through:
Rating: 6-8/10

What is it with mixed media books these days? It seems a lot of the new ones are absolutely wonderful to look at and a true feast on the eyes, but also they are seriously lacking in content. This book by the very talented Sarah Ahearn Bellemare is no exception. It makes it so hard to rate the book, because I really enjoyed flipping through it and looking at all the wonderful art. In fact I have to admit that is what sold this book to me when I was looking at it at But when a book promises to show me how to work with sketchbooks to generate ideas and creativity I guess I expect more than content that mostly reminds me of a pretty blog.

I'm getting sidetracked here, but actually it kind of strangely reminded me of the Stampington magazine 'Artful Blogging'. I bought one issue of this magazine and all it seems to consist of is pictures from people's blogs and a small description of who they are. No actual inside tips on blogging or the techniques of building an artful blog and working with the available blog hosts out there or even just experiences and pointers on how to develop an audience for your blog (which is what I was expecting). Most featured artist's were just quickly talking about themselves, when they started a blog and how wonderful it all is and all the images come straight from their blogs too (To get sidetracked even a little more, this kind of bugged me, which may seem strange, but why would I pay a lot of money for a magazine that shows me pictures I can see for free online?). What I mean is, Artful Blogging is not about the act of blogging artfully, it's about showcasing people's blogs.

This book is just like that. It's about showcasing Ahearn Bellemare's work and surroundings and in a small way that of some of her friends. It seems the subject (sketchbooks as a fuel for mixed media) is just an excuse to do this and it shows wonderful work indeed and hints to interesting ideas and possibilities, but it does not follow through on them or gets into any detail at all.  Maybe it's the part of me that likes words and writing that just needs more text, more real content. If you're asking for an example of a book that does answer to my impossible standards? How about 'Collage Journeys" by Jane Davies or the art journaling books by L.K. Ludwig or the decorated pages/journal books by Gwen Diehn. They really get down to the nitty gritty of making art or art journals.

Of course it's more than okay to have a book that features the wonderful work of an artist and nothing more, that's actually great and Ahearn Bellemare's work is more than worth such a book, but then don't try to sell it to me as a book that's about the artistic process of using a sketchbook to develop ideas.

All in all I have rated this book twice. I give it 8 out of 10 for the beautiful work in it and if that's what you're going for, then by all means buy it, because it's worth it ten times over and I will be looking it over again and again for this. But I also give it 6 out of 10 for content. I guess it's obvious by now why. ;-)


  1. Ik kom t wel een keer bewonderen;)Misschien moet je zelf zo'n boek maken: jij bent inmiddels toch ook expert?

  2. Good to hear your thoughts on this's on my list of books to consider for purchase. (By the way, I agree with your thoughts on the blogging magazine!)

  3. i like your thoughts on this book and others - good observation. it seems like more 'meat' is needed, something to get ones teeth into.

  4. Ik begrijp helemaal wat je bedoelt Caatje en wat weet je het weer mooi te verwoorden! Ik word het ook een beetje beu: je ziet het ook vaak terugkomen in online workshops! Je schrijft in op een leuk geprijsd workshopje en je krijgt een uitgebreid reclame filmpje voor een nog duurder workshopje......over hoe je je eigen "art" kunt verkopen :-) Wel slim natuurlijk!
    Nog een vraag: ben errug benieuwd waar jij dat Stampington tijdschrift hebt besteld! Doe je dat online en krijg je dan een online tijdschrift?!
    Geen gek idee van je vriendin hiernaast trouwens: misschien is het in Nederland tijd voor "zo'n" boek!

  5. @Deezy
    Je kunt de stampington tijdschriften hier bestellen

    Daar zie je ze allemaal op een rij. Ze sturen ze gewoon per post vanuit de US. Je moet wel met credit card betalen (niet iedereen is daarvan gecharmeerd, dus ik zeg het er maar even bij). Het is aan de prijs, want een beetje nummer kost net zoveel als een boek, maar ze zien er dan ook prachtig uit. Ik heb er inmiddels een aantal bekeken en mij favorieten zijn Art Journaling en Sew Somerset. Maar ook Somerset Studio is de moeite waard, zij het wat wisselvallig. Wel moet je er tegen kunnen dat er zo nu en dan een hoog gehalte aan gevleugelde vintage kindertjes en vrouwtjes is, maar er blijft genoeg moois over. Artful Blogging ziet er prachtig uit, maar is eigenlijk gewoon 'fluff' en ik zou het niet aanraden. Ik geloof dat ze bij de meeste tijdschriften wel een voorbeeld geven van de inhoud.

    Ik heb het geluk gehad vorig jaar een nummer van Somerset Studio te winnen op een blog, daardoor voelde het veiliger om een keer wat andere tijdschriften van deze uitgever te bekijken.

    @Monk én @Deezy: wat dat boek betreft: aaargh, niet zulke enge dingen zeggen! ;-)

  6. Thanks. I feel the same way you do. I want some meat in the books for my money. I love Jane Davies book "Collage Journeys" and learned a lot from it. I'll be giving this one a pass. Thanks for the headsup.

  7. Caatje! Hello! I am reading and replying laTE, but I totally get what you mean. And Gwen Diehn's books really are all one needs for making journals...and Kira's or Teesha's youtube vids. I learned how to scrub painted backgrounds in Kelly Kilmer's classes, and Claudine Helmuth's book teach collaging. Yet every other book out is for this and they somehow come up short. I keep buying them though, lol. Have a great summer! xoxo


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