Hi friends, I was delighted to get home from work on Monday night and discover that my copy of Painted Pages: Fueling Creativity With Sketchbooks and Mixed Media, by Sarah Ahearn Bellemare, had arrived. I ripped the package open and sat down and read it cover-to-cover (dinner? who needs dinner?) that night. I met Sarah last fall when I was at Squam Art Workshops – she taught a class called "Sketchbook Explorations," which I thoroughly enjoyed – and I've been eagerly anticipating getting my hands on this book. It's beautiful: and informative: and inspiring! Sarah is a mixed-media artist (check out her Etsy shop) who uses her sketchbooks as places to record daily life, gather inspiration, doodle, and audition ideas. In the book, she shows how she uses her sketchbook as a place to develop colour schemes, themes and stories – and then uses that work to inform her larger artworks. Different chapters outline materials and work processes, with testimonials from other artists, exercises to encourage you to use your sketchbook, and examples of how to take a piece from a sketch to a full-fledged painting. I don't have much experience at all with the world of mixed-media, and I was fascinated to peek behind-the-scenes into an artist's studio. Of course, this has inspired me to pick up a sketchbook again (that's what I was hoping for!). I used to be good at recording my ideas and crafty projects, wish lists and to-do lists, and little sketches (in words and pictures) of everyday life. When I filled the book (and hoo, it's bursting!): ...I got out of the habit. But I love looking back at old projects: ...so I think it's time to start again. In fact, it's at the top of my to-do list for this long weekend. I can't wait! (And I'm sure I'll end up browsing the aisles of my local art-supply store. Fun times!) Do you use a sketchbook, journal or scrapbook to inspire and develop your crafty ideas? I'd love to hear about it.