Painted pages by Sarah Ahearn
Today’s post is a book review of Sarah Ahearn’s book Painted pages – Fueling Creativity with Sketchbooks & Mixed Media, but also a reflection on pretty books.

I got Sarah’s book not because I wanted to learn something from her, or know lots about her, but simply because I knew it would be a beautiful book and I was right. It is. Every page is pretty, oh so pretty. Pretty in the way of pastel colours, vintage bird illustrations, crayon doodles and filled inspiration boards. And that’s it. There isn’t much content and if you get a spark for a great idea it’s probably your imagination flying off from the pages not the pages taking you for a ride, if you know what I mean?

I was going to rave about this book, but then I found this amazon review by Carin Winkelman (also known as Caatje), and I think she is making a great point about “pretty books”:

    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. […] 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.

Painted pages by Sarah Ahearn

Sarah Ahearn has a very pretty blog, indeed. If you follow it you know she is not into writing much (or at all), or sharing ideas or her process, and it makes me wonder how she got to make a book in the first place. She is an artist and she shares her finished, scanned collages and news about exhibits through her blog. Her blog works as a marketing platform and maybe the book will too, if it gets into the right hands.

I personally adore her artwork and that’s why I follow her. It reminds me of childhood summers, green grass and sunshine. An artist whose art can evoke those kind of feelings is a true artist, and well worth my time.

Painted pages by Sarah Ahern

But as I said, Caatje has a point. The book is more of a blog or a magazine sprinkled with pretty photography, and you should be aware of that before buying the book… But if you’re okay with all that, and I am at this time, you can enjoy the book with a light heart and a smile.

One of the things that I want to play with is a mini notebook. Sarah recommends it as a warm-up activity, and what you do is work in a mini “scrap book” (page 38) and make quick collages. She uses the little leftover scraps on her worktable (as is, not cutting allowed) and creates small compositions in her 10×10 cm (4×4″) square notebook. Hers is, of course, super cute, and full of story. I love working in miniature books!

Painted pages by Sarah Ahearn

I’ve written before about how publishers name books wrong so many times, and this one is clearly miss-titled! Sarah’s main expression (to me) is collage, but still the book is called Painted pages? It should be called “Sarah Ahearn’s World” or artwork or something similar, because it is a portfolio, a showcase, a gallery of her creations with a few pages from her friend’s studio/work. But, a descriptive true title might not sell as good as a title full or promise to fuel your own creativity?

Painted pages by Sarah Ahearn

I hope I haven’t been too harsh on this book, because I really enjoyed it. I read somewhere about one person who would only write about books that she could recommend 100 %! I don’t really get that. The whole point of book-reviews is to give the whole picture as you see it! In a good review you will get someones opinion and then you can weight it all in and make a decision on your own.

You don’t have to believe me
, but I appreciate you taking the time to listen to what I have to say, and I know many of you trust my opinion and get books on my recommendations! It flatters me and makes me grateful that I can help you make that kind of decision. But please, look at the product, test it out yourself, and form your own opinion as you do with everything else.

I believe in free expression
and that we should be able to talk about the good and the bad in published books, products, shops, material and current events. It might hurt someones feelings that we’re not 100 % satisfied, but should we shut up because of that? I don’t think so. If there would be silence instead of words, then what would be the point of reading blogs anyway? :-)

Have you read this (or similar books) and what did you think? I’d love to hear your opinions too.

Further information

* Painted Pages more information about the book at Amazon
* Sarah Ahearn’s Blog and more of her art in her portfolio on flickr
* More Book reviews by iHanna in the archive