Thursday, 11 January 2018

A new year and a new challenge - 'In the moment' series

The photographer, Ann Davis (@annld60 on Instagram) and I have collaborated and will host a competition to win one of three Artful Blogger magazines (recent Nov/Dec/Jan 2018 issue of the magazine).

This magazine is produced by Stampington & Company that publishers a range  of other magazines that you may be familiar with, including Bella Grace, Artist’s CafĂ© and A Somerset Holiday etc. For more of their beautiful publications, to sign up to newsletters or read their blog, visit Stampington & Company

Ann, who is an accomplished photographer, loves flowers. Her speciality is taking photos of bunches of lush flowers in vintage vases using white backgrounds. Seeing her photos in my feed as I browse Instagram, is an uplifting moment in my day.

I asked Ann a few questions about her photography and what inspires her.

1.  Have you always been interested in creating and how did you become involved with photography?

We had cameras around our house from the time I was eight years old. I became the family photographer. In college, I took my first Photography class. When I met my husband 42 years ago, he liked taking pictures and it has been our hobby ever since.


2.  What photographers inspire you and why?

Claire Brocato (@claireb_photography Claire photography on Instagram)   is inspired by many of the things in life that are important to me -  nature, traveling and flowers. Her use of colour and composition is so inspirational.

Another favourite is Barb Brookbank (@keepingwiththetimes on Instagram). Barb’s photography is so inspirational every single day and her willingness to share information about gardening, styling, learning, food…. there are so many more … but I think I will stop here!

3.  What are you happiest doing creatively and why? 

I love taking pictures, whether it is on a road trip with my husband, walking the neighbourhood, snapping flowers, or still life in the studio. They all make me happy and contribute to my wellbeing.

4.  How do you store your images and what editing tools do you use? 

   I store my photos on both my computer and an external hard drive (always). I use Lightroom and Photoshop to edit my photos and have taken many Kim Klassen @kimklassen classes to help me with both Lightroom and my still life photography. 

5.  What approach do you follow when you find you are creatively stuck?

When I am creatively stuck I will do one of two things. Go for a walk or cruise around Instagram looking for inspiration.

6.  Having a word for the year has become really popular. What is your word to work / live by and that you will follow as your mantra? 

I am still using the same word, or should I say phrase, with a few variations and that I chose a few years ago. Embracing the moment. For me I have found that I seem to do better if I live in the moment. You will see me using Embracing Stillness - to help me slow down, Gratitude and I am going to use Kindness too this year.

Keeping Ann’s beautiful images in mind, this photographic challenge is to capture the little moments in life that are meaningful to you or that bring you stillness.

Inspiration can come from incidental everyday moments that make you smile or give you a feeling of wellbeing, or that represents your chosen word for the year. 

It could be as simple as the way a fabric falls in the light, or a steaming cup of tea on a chilly day or a simple curation of your foraged items. 

To participate and be eligible to win one of the Artful Blogging issues in the competition, you need to:
  1. Follow @annld60 and @adiandbert
  2. Post a new photo with the theme in mind
  3. In your opening caption include tags to @annld60 and @adiandbert and #ab_inthemomentseries

The competition closes on 31 January and is open worldwide.

Ann and I will feature entries in our Stories on Instagram and Ann will select the three winning entries after the competition closes.  

We look forward to seeing your lovely entries.

Enjoy the moment. Claudia x

Monday, 1 January 2018

In my January garden - Sweet peas and ultra violet

It’s such a feast for my tired eyes to walk from my garage through my laundry into my house and view sweet pea blooms through the laundry window. It's an instant lift after a stressful day. The scent of the sweet pea certainly is sweet as its name suggests. It is fresh and unmistakable.

Sweet peas were so popular in the early 1900s in England, that the Victorians started the English National Sweet Pea Society. And why wouldn’t you - the varieties and abundance of flowers at that time would be nothing like today and such elaborate botanical design and fragrance most certainly needed celebrating.

This climbing rambler has tendrils to help it wind its way through neighbouring plants. Providing a climbing frame is a way to help train the vine upwards and to be able to show off the blooms. New varieties now include a shrub-like sweet pea for which you do not need to provide supporting structures and en masse or in a border, look spectacular.

Sweet peas are like clematis in that they like their flowers to be in the sun and their roots cool and shaded, so covering their roots and surrounding soil with pea straw enables them to flourish. If you want information about cultivating sweet peas, The Old Farmer’s Almanac site has some useful tips and advice.

Now that I’m on my summer holiday, I’ve cut some of my little crop of sweet peas and they are sitting on my dresser in a vase for me to enjoy their distinctive fragrance every time I walk by.

These butterfly-like beauties are very similar in colour to the Pantone colour of the year is PANTONE18-3838 Ultra Violet. 

I have noticed over the years that I wear more mauve and pinks as I grow older, but I am not so sure I am ready to wear this heady purplish-violet colour yet. 

What about your wardrobe, do you like these bright striking violet colours? According to Gogol Bordello, it’s time to start wearing purple my friends! This You Tube clip made me smile and I hope it will make you smile too. 

And finally, since it's my first blog post of the year, I felt it called for a little poetry and I was rather taken by this poignant poem by E Clearfoster Sheppard (Nov.2014).


You mesmerize
With eyes like the Sun; But
blind me, just the same.

For now I'm left in darkness, clueless
In Oblivion. The world
is now Invisible. So

You are all I see;
And You are all I can. So
more I stare in

Pain & Wonder

How you hypnotize
My mind. Now I stare and
wonder how I'm happy
Being blind.


I hope to be more regular with my blog posts this year and intend to do a post every month, inspired by a plant in my garden. I hope you will follow along.

Have a wonderful year and I hope that only good things will come out of life's trials and tribulations -  that with every sorrow there will be joy, and with every hardship there will be release. And keep on being creative - Claudia x


Julia Jones and Barbara Deer. 1989. The National Trust calendar of gardening lore. Dorling Kindersley, London.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac. 2010?. Sweet peas - how to plant, grow, and care for sweet pea flowers. Retrieved 2 January 2018:

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Gratitude journal

Creating an advent calendar using bits and pieces collected from my 100 days projects provided a catalyst to spark the imagination for my gratitude journal leading up to Christmas. I wasn't sure what I was going to say each day, but let the composition speak to me and guide my thinking about what I was grateful for. There is so much. This is what I shared on Instagram over the 25 days.

Grateful for the light after dark
and the rain that ends the drought 
for the abundance of choice 
and the spring that chases winter out

Grateful for the rhythm of daily life 
for the connections that bring us together
for the fruits of our labours 
and the fortitude we have for the hardships that we weather 

Grateful for the place that is home
and for the fragrance of the rose
for the wonder of language 
and for the music that life grows 

Grateful for the sound of birdsong at the break of day
and the respite to be found in a cup of tea
for the richness of life and the wisdom of age
for experience to know when to let it be 

Grateful for writers and their wild imaginations
and the beauty of tumbling waves that rush to the shore 
for the thoughtfulness of friends 
and for enough, not needing more 

Grateful for the forests and those who protect them 
for the routines of the everyday 
for the proponents of peace who soldier on 
and for the abundance of love that has come my way 

Especially grateful. For today. It's Christmas. 
It's my Birthday.

Hope you have a peaceful Christmas with the people that you love and that the new year brings you many good things - Claudia x

25 days of gratitude is also on Steller Stories

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Bumping into debris: The 2017 100 Days Project

The 2017 100 days project has been my most enjoyable yet. It’s the third one I have completed and was an enlightening trip down a creative path of collage.  This recent project helped me change the way I approached my making. It enabled a bolder creative expression, connecting the written word with the visual and moving my work into the realm of abstract. My drawing style became less deliberate and loose. It was totally liberating.

Experimentation with materials, included dragging an old credit card through smears of inks and acrylics, creating  merged coloured textures and when dry, tearing it up into strips. Old, discarded library index cards provided backgrounds. Words on index cards that caught my attention, provided inspiration. So did current events that at times, triggered an idea for a title or design with the result that behind every collage, lies a story. Nothing was out of bounds and I even repurposed some of my previous 100 days project drawings.

Embracing imprecise lines, words and colour, was a new direction for me. There was no plan, only a response to what lay around and what my eyes fell upon. Akin to a flowing stream, I drifted in the current and let it sweep me along. As I  bumped into debris, another possibility, another combination, emerged. I came to know what being in the moment is. I know that now. I never want to give it up.
The best thing about the 100 days project was the anticipation of creating and the process of making. My favourite moment was when I blended the pieces of the collage and the composition coalesced. There were times that is it didn’t and a preconceived idea wouldn’t gel. It was best to leave it to reveal itself.
The worst thing about the 100 days project was fitting it into the hectic-ness of life and at times, having no time or energy to get things done. But such is life and I didn’t beat myself up about it.

Posting to Instagram daily was such a buzz and I am so grateful for all the likes and kind words of encouragement. It really helped me keep going. So my heart is full of appreciation. Thank you.

I would love to hear from you about any ideas for me to consider next time round. Claudia x

Thursday, 1 December 2016

What I learnt from doing the 100 days project

My 100 day project theme was 'The Botanical Series'. By signing up I committed to draw a plant a day from my garden and surrounding neighbourhood for 100 consecutive days. 

I knew it wasn't going to be easy, not only because making the time to draw daily isn't always practical and I didn't think I had access to so many plants. The later start in August. this round, meant we were heading into spring. Just when I thought what was I going to draw, the next day another plant would start flowering and there I'd have a botanical muse. I did draw some foliage-only plants, a few bought flowers and a pomegranate fruit!

So here's what I learned.

Practice does help you improve - drawing the plant form became easier and I became braver and faster at drawing

Plants are wonderfully inspiring for providing variety and subject matter

Understanding the anatomy of a plant helps to get a sense of the spatial form and how the parts are connected

Being part of a signed up project gave me permission to draw every day and my family and friends supported it 

Focusing on one thing everyday was a mindful activity that helped me forget my daily worries and stresses and wrapped me in a cloak of calm and stillness

Posting my photos to Instagram made me accountable and gave me motivation to meet my commitment

Completing all 100 days of the project gave me a great sense of achievement. Now if only I could do the same with giving up sugar!

The Instagram community was ever encouraging and supportive and for which I am grateful. As a token of thanks, I created a calendar as a giveaway that @coffeepaperyarn won in the lucky draw (please visit her feed!). 

If interested, all my pics are tagged to the hashtag #ab_100days on Instagram.

With the countdown to Christmas, its easy to think of the next creative project. What's yours?
- Claudia x

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Planthunting inspiration

A mindfulness  activity for me is being out in my garden where so easily I can spend hours pottering around, pulling out weeds, moving plants around or simply listening to the sounds of the garden. "I am a lucky woman" as Mma Precious  Ramotswe of the No. 1 Detective Agency always tells her readers. Lucky to have the luxury of time and space to 'just be' in this peaceful place over the weekend in my spare time. Lucky to be able to sit down with a cuppa and dream of what I would do if I had the energy (my ideas involve a lot of landscaping!).

As I sit and sip my tea, I reflect on my gardening influences. There are two people who come to mind. My aunt Dibbs, and her mother-in-law, Granny Mary.

Granny Mary lived in a cottage perched on huge granite boulders with a secret path winding down between massive rocks, to the beach. At high tide the path would be impassable as the icy water  raced up the narrow channel and splashed against the rocks. Granny Mary's steep section meant that she had various 'rooms' nestled in amongst the boulders with a series of paths winding between and through the garden rooms. Sweet fragrances would envelope you as you meandered along the footpath while stepping lightly over the abundant perennials and flowering bulbs proudly displayed on their elegant stems. A terraced rockery was traversed by a narrow path that zigzagged its way to the top.

Garden ornaments to delight any child, including gnomes, fairies and bird baths were plentiful and scattered throughout, presenting surprises around every corner. A total wonderland to play in as wind chimes gently filled the hazy ocean air and competed with the restless ocean bashing against the rocks as the tide came in.

Sadly, I do not have a photograph of her lovely garden, but it will be forever imprinted in my mind. It is what I reference for garden design ideas. Little curved paths carved into flower beds, with a feature at the end. A garden chair placed so that you can be immersed in the garden  to sit and ponder or just sit. A bowl of water for the birds (or cat!) to drink from.

My other influence, was my lovely aunt, Dibbs, who sowed the seeds of goodness and kindness and helped me grow my approach to life. She stepped in when I lost my mother at a young age and treated me like her own. I do not know where my life would have lead were it not for the love and generosity she gave selflessly. I hope I am able to spread a mere glimmer of the joy and goodness she caste over me, which makes me a happy, and not only, a "lucky woman".

Have a great week x

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Hooray - the #ab_onmytableseries winners announced!

Helen Naylor @helen_a_naylor, the creative and inspiring ceramic artist who I am featuring for the Instagram #ab_onmytableseries photo-challenge in August, has chosen a winner. In fact, Helen has decided on sending small gifts to all of those she mentions below.Thank you Helen, what a wonderful, generous soul you are!

I shall hand over to Helen now to tell you in her own words why she chose the selections she did. Congratulations to all of you and please DM Helen on IG with your postal addresses and Helen will send you your prizes. (And lucky me, I am getting a gift too. Thank you Helen x).
Claudia x

"This was so much fun and so difficult at the same time. Every single one of you that took the time to follow Claudia's blog, commit to the rules and decide what to share with us all, what was going on, on your private table tops, deserve a prize and special mention. I really do mean that. There is not one image that I did not like looking at.

In the end I really had to pull in all sorts of issues to try to make decisions. If only I had more bowls.

Drum roll please, Claudia ..........

In 1st place is the image of Christall Lowe's @underthekowhaitree_christall outside work space illuminated by light from all directions. A table filled with all sorts of items ready to play with and two chairs. I keep looking at the wood of the table, chairs and basket and want to run my hands over them and experience them.

You can never have too many work spaces. I felt odd when we started talking about building me a second studio at the other corner at the bottom of our garden, but our spaces are so necessary even if it is a shelf in a cupboard, we all need our spaces. 

In 2nd place is ...

@elkprints - I love feathers. We had a little bird, our baby as we still call him, for six weeks shy of his twentieth birthday. Not a day goes by that we do not miss him. I love that there are the real ones to take inspiration from and her idea of them. What I like the most is the story that she is making this for her son. Well done. 

In 3rd place is 

@helen_recycledinteriors - Purple is my favourite colour, I love green with it. These kokedama plant balls, I covet, but fear I will kill them, so do not have any. The mirror, to make sure we remember who we are, along with the earthy trees behind. Well the whole setting just speaks to me. I like the light reflecting off the shinny things. If you get bored of this scene please ship them off to me please.

To our four runners up.

@partial2patina - I so want this whole box with all these lovelies inside of it. Linda, you drew me in with your words to go with this. Friendship is so important and you know how to look after your friends from what I read in this post. Again when you are bored of any of these they have a home here.

The light coming in on @junk.beaucoup's paint worn side table, which I want! Makes me think of a different light than that I have now been living with for more than half my life. Light is different on the other side of our planet. I am a sucker for Cornishware, time pieces, spoons and little tables. I have to be near the ocean too. I have my name down for your table, cup and time faces. Hahahahaha.

@che_crc's Christmas in July just tugged at me. Chrystal, glass, clay and silver with red and green with a splash of yellow, so lovely. I do miss a cold Christmas with all the rellies and frozen toes in wellies. I always think in August, oh we forgot to do Christmas in July again. The old bells given as gifts were a great dinner gift for guest. I am sure they all want to be invited again next year.

@fourcornersdesign. Cogs, time pieces, feathers, keys - oh my word! And all on dots. I would have liked to see what you made with all of these.

Well that's my wild jabberings about the pieces. I would have liked to have written more and more about all the others that came so close too. All of these were so close to the winner. It really was a hard hard task to do. I hope you are all not too disappointed that your have not been included. As I said I see you as all winners and I hope you all feel wonderful from making your images and chatting to all the others about their images and that you have found some new friends. I hope that my feed will continue to hold your interest and you will stay following me to see my journey with my son, my clay, my love of cake and this planet we live on called home.

Thank-you for waiting and being understanding while I had my surprise trip to hospital at midnight. Your words and thought were a great comfort to me, they really were. Please know that I think you're all special, lovely ladies. Thank-you.

Thank-you Claudia for your wonderful feed and blog. Thank-you for asking me to be involved with you. It was such a heart singing moment when you asked me I could not believe it. I am still smiling ear to ear.
P.S. Your bowl will be making its way down to you very soon. Helen"